Intermediate Latin students typically encounter Latin poetry for the first time with Vergil’s Aeneid. After a brief tutorial on the rules and patterns of dactylic hexameter, they plunge in with arma virumque cano. They learn scansion not only for the sake of tradition and proper understanding of the poem, but also so that they can appreciate its rhythms and artistry—the same reasons English teachers have for teaching their students iambic pentameter for Shakespeare. The symphony of “longs and shorts” can seem forbidding to students at first, and the remedy for this is most often simply practice. Today, given the convenience of phone and tablet apps, and their potential to transform idle moments of otium into more productive ones, the Pericles Group, LLC has created the Latin Scansion App to help Latin AP students practice scanning Vergil.
Latinists enjoy ready access to online texts collected under names like Perseus, PHI, and the Latin Library, collections which are now as much a fixture of scholarly workflows as OCTs, Teubners, and Loebs. Descriptive data and statistics about these texts are harder to find. How many times does Lucretius use the future imperative? How many ablatives absolute are there in Cicero’s De amicitia? Where does ensis appear in Caesar’s writings?
Catullus Online is a freely available digital edition of the poems of Catullus. It can be accessed simply as a Latin text of the poems—in editor Dániel Kiss’s own edition—or with each line linked to a full apparatus. Many poems can also be viewed in photographs from important manuscripts (such as O, courtesy of the Bodleian Library). This is a useful project for its intrinsic value as a new text of Catullus, for its ease of availability, and for the directions it implies for new tools in the study of very old texts. Here I will review it briefly as a text of Catullus, as a website, and finally as groundwork for the kind of online Catullus edition we can hope for in the future.
The online Packard Humanities Institute’s Classical Latin Texts (PHI) makes freely available material that was originally included on the PHI’s CD ROM 5.3, issued in 1991. It contains the vast majority of Latin literary texts written before 200 CE, as well as a handful of Latin texts from late antiquity. It therefore offers an alternative to two other free online resources: The Latin Library and the Perseus Project. The former has already been reviewed for this blog by Ted Gellar-Goad, and some of his criticisms of it apply equally to PHI.
If you’ve studied or taught Latin in the last decade or so, you’ve probably used or at least encountered The Latin Library, administered by William L. Carey, Adjunct Professor of Latin and Roman Law at George Mason University. It’s a simple, free, HTML-based site with a huge collection of Latin texts spanning the longue durée of Latin literature. The purpose of the site is to offer digital texts “for ease of on-line reading or for downloading for personal or educational use” ( see “About These Texts”).
The online companion to the print book The Worlds of Roman Women is an important resource that should be far more widely known and used than it is. It offers annotated primary texts, images, and pedagogical materials for teachers of Latin and was called “the gold standard for a web translation resource for intermediate as well as more advanced students,” by Andrew Reinhard nearly a decade ago, and this judgment is still accurate—not because of a sleek or beautiful interface, but because of the wealth of carefully curated content it provides.
We will have to tote our manuscripts along with us every step of our journey. Manuscripts gave birth to the discipline of Classical Studies, and they will always remain our most valuable resource, necessary and indispensable dum Capitōlium scandet etc. So although e-codices (e-codices.unifr.ch) is in essence just a collection of pictures, the task it has undertaken is highly significant. Because the task is so significant, the choices made about how that task is carried out are highly significant as well.
Johan Winge’s macronizer tool is a very welcome and well-designed tool for automatic macronization of Latin texts. Appearing in the same year as Felipe Vogel’s macronizer, Winge’s macronizer tool has quickly become the best available, working equally well on multiple versions of Windows as well as MacOS X using Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. The interface is clean and easy to use. Text can be pasted or typed in (20,000 characters max.) and return times seem very quick; the whole of Catullus 64 required less than 10 seconds. There are some options to the output, such as scanning a text as dactylic or elegiac meter (which increases accuracy of the macronization), and v/u and i/j conversion. There is also a nice function to automatically copy all macronized text.