Latin texts and tools (63)

Wed, 8 Mar 89 19:36:31 EST

Humanist Mailing List, Vol. 2, No. 686. Wednesday, 8 Mar 1989.

Date: Wed, 8 Mar 89 14:35:59 EST
From: elli@harvunxw.BITNET (Elli Mylonas)
Subject: Latin--belated answer

This is a tardy answer to Willard's request for information on Latin texts
available online and tools for analyzing them. The answer is that there
are none to speak of, or that the people creating and using them work
in such isolation that we don't hear of anything. Apart from the APA
Repository of Greek and Latin Machine Readable Texts, which has
a strange collection of what scholars have entered over the years, in
different formats (Livy has no line or paragraph numbers...), and the
much more standardized collection of Latin on the PHI compact disk,
there is nothing else in North America. Liege and Gottingen have
more, but I was never able to make a good contact there. Finally,
Italy (Pisa??) may have some Latin, but again, we don't hear of it over

Software that has been written specifically for Latin is even rarer. This
is curious since so much exists for Greek, and that is much harder to write
because of the non-Roman character set, and difficulty of dealing with
accents. I know of a program that parses Latin hexameter, written in
Fortran many years ago at Oberlin by Nate Greenberg. A graduate student
at Brown got it running under CMS 4, with a current Fortran compiler.

I do know of several graduate students who are using standard search tools
to work through Latin texts for their dissertations. It is amazing how
the SCAN command is CMS can produce useful results. I have used that,
also the Texas HyperCard text indexing program in my own work. The
problem with Texas is that it indexes in KWIC format, and since poetry
has fixed line lengths and is serialized in the rightmost columns, the
reference is often truncated, or lines wrap in a way that does not make

Finally, some work has been done on word repetition in Latin poetry,
by Jeff Wills who is now at the University of Wisconsin. However, his
programs (C programs running under UNIX) are more in the nature of
personal research tools than distributable software. Most work
in Latin is of that nature.

I should not neglect to say that the Ibycus can, of course, search the
PHI disk.

It would be great to learn if there are other a) texts, and b) software
for analyzing them available. Also, any ideas why there is such a
sparsity in the domain of Latin, and not in Greek? Is it because David
Packard and the other computing Classicists are Hellenists? Is it
because of the existence of the TLG? (or is that due to the same cause?)
I think that Latin is, on the surface, easier -- morphology isn't so
bad to learn, and the alphabet is the same for most of us, so the heavy
artillery wasn't considered as necessary. Actually, I have never
understood whether these developments are driven by individual
accomplishment, or the type of scholarship prevalent in the discipline.

--elli mylonas (