Vergil /

Edited by: Christopher Francese, Meghan Reedy, et al.

Preface

Aeneas at the tomb of Polydorus (Aeneid 3.19-24), illustration from Vat. lat. 3225 24v (detail). Source: DigVatLib.

This edition of selections from Vergil's Aeneid is intended for readers of Latin. All content is free and available for re-use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. At the time initial release (fall 2016) the commentary covers parts of Books 1, 2, 4, and 6 (1.1–578, 2.1–317, 506–623; 4.1–53, 160–361, 584–705; 6.295–336, 384–476, 788–901), a total of 1633 lines. Included are:

  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and video that combines Latin audio with illustrations
  • Original maps, made with GIS base layers and annotated to make clear how they relate to the text, with links to Pleiades and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Geography
  • A new introduction to the work as a whole by distinguished scholar of Greco-Roman epic Thomas Van Nortwick
  • Original scholarship on Renaissance musical settings of texts from the Aeneid by distinguished musicologist Blake Wilson, with scores and audio recordings
  • Fresh close readings of sections of the text, by Meghan Reedy
  • Images of the most significant medieval manuscripts on which the text is based
  • A new presentation of the illustrations of Sebastian Brant (1502) and C.G. Eimmart (1688), annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Running vocabulary lists that include all words not in the DCC Core Latin Vocabulary, based on the hand-parsed Aeneid of the Laboratoire d’Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA), with definitions from Henry Frieze’s Vergilian Dictionary (1902)
  • New research on Vergilian vocabulary based on LASLA data, with visualizations
  • A Latin text conforming to that of the Oxford Classical Text of Mynors, except in certain matters of capitalization and orthography (macrons are included over all long vowels, words that begin sentences are capitalized, third declension accusative plurals end in -ēs rather than -īs, and consonantal u is spelled v)
  • Notes keyed to the Latin, drawn mostly from older school editions, elucidating the language and the context 
  • Links to Allen & Greenough's Latin Grammar as digitized at DCC, and to other reference works such as Pleiades and Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Geography

All content will be maintained on Dickinson’s servers for the foreseeable future.

Support comes from the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies and the Mellon Fund for Digital Humanities at Dickinson College.

Background

Digital annotation of classical texts has many potential advantages. In theory it could provide easy access to all comments written on a specific passage (the “digital variorum,” Helsin 2016). It could also provide a new freedom from space restrictions imposed by the print medium (“infinitely large margins,” Fowler 1999), and multiple-audience commentaries, with the ability of users to choose the level of notes they want. Digital annotation could also open up authorship through wikis and user comment features (Carlisle et al. 2016), and allow for machine-generated comments that would parse word forms and disambiguate geographical and proper names based on automatic language processing tools or voting features (Crane 2009).

In practice, however, various problematic issues—partly technical and partly related to scholarly culture—have emerged. A machine-readable form of citation that would enable aggregation of comments on a single passage is still under development (Rebillard 2009, Blackwell and Smith 2013). A usable TEI syntax for linked annotations is not yet available (Schmidt 2014). Design issues make it difficult to include all relevant information on limited screen space, and the dividing lines between different “levels” or audiences of classical commentary are not as clear cut as initially thought (Anderson 2016). “Open” commentaries on classic works have not been very productive so far, and readers of such texts typically value scholarly expertise and are reticent about adding their own notes. Automatic parsing tools, while they are being continually improved by dedicated scholars, are not yet up to the standard of accuracy demanded by the traditions of classical philology. 

In this turbulent and developing context there are no routines and little likelihood of adequately serving all audiences. Our edition of selections from Vergil’s Aeneid is a collaborative effort intended to provide humanistic and scholarly annotation for readers of Latin. It focuses on the needs of non-professional students of the Aeneid, and prioritizes accurate scholarship, pedagogical utility, and effective design, while attempting to remain mindful of issues of infrastructure and networked data. While the annotations are not XML-encoded, there is no obstacle to doing so when the resources and a standard syntax become available. We tried to furnish guidance while avoiding the pitfall of providing too much information. The emphasis throughout is on the humanistic learning and intellectual skills to be cultivated by reading the Aeneid in Latin: precise appreciation of poetic language, close reading, cultural literacy, and skill in translation. We also tried to take good advantage of the digital medium by including audio recordings and other multimedia enhancements that we hope will enrich and enliven the reading experience, rather than distract from it.

Our edition is built in Drupal, in the traditional DCC format of two columns, one for the Latin text on the left, and another with three tabs (for notes, vocabulary, and media) on the right. Parts of the infrastructure for the whole poem are already finished, and a complete edition is the longer term goal.

Acknowledgments

I am deeply grateful to all who have contributed to this project so far, both to those formally recognized in the contributors page, and to others with whom I have met and corresponded over recent years about this project and who have given their time, thoughts, and and support in many ways, especially Sarah Dawson, Melinda Schlitt, Gillian Pinkham, Connor Ford, Paul Perrot, Richard Davis, Sarah Buhidma, Laurie Duncan, Jacqueline Lopata, Dan Cummings, Jennider Larson, Hugh McElroy, Wells Hansen, Will Harvard, and Ashley Leonard. If you have an idea about how to make the site better, please contact me directly (francese@dickinson.edu), or at the DCC email address (dickinsoncommentaries@gmail.com). Happy reading!

Christopher Francese
Carleoli apud Pennsylvanos
August 12, 2016

References

Anderson, Peter J. “Heracles’ Choice: Thoughts on the Virtues of Print and Digital Commentary.” In Kraus and Stray (2016), pp. 483–493.

Blackwell, Christopher and Neel Smith, “The CITE Architecture.” Last modified May 19, 2013. http://www.homermultitext.org/hmt-doc/cite/

Carlisle, David et al. “Cyrus’ Paradise: The World’s First Online Collaborative Commentary to an Ancient Text.” Accessed March 10, 2016. http://www.cyropaedia.org/ 

Crane, Gregory. “Cyberinfrastructure for Classical Philology.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.1 (2009). Url: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/1/000023/000023.html

Fowler, Don. “Criticism as Commentary and Commentary as Criticism in the Age of Electronic Media.” In Glenn W. Most, ed. Commentaries/Kommentare (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999), pp. 426–442.

Heslin, Peter. “The Dream of a Universal Variorum: Digitizing the Commentary Tradition.” In Kraus and Stray (2016), pp. 494–511.

Kraus, Christina S. and Christopher Stray. Classical Commentaries: Explorations in a Scholarly Genre. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Perseus. Gregory Crane, Project Director. “P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid, J. B. Greenough, Ed.” (n.d., orig. 1900) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.02.0055

Rebillard, Eric. “Canonical Citation Linking and OpenURL.” Project Description. Last modified May 26, 2009. http://cwkb.org/pubs/report-20090526.pdf

Schmidt, Desmond. “Towards an Interoperable Digital Scholarly Edition.” Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative 7 (November 2014): 1–20. DOI: 10.4000/jtei.979 URL: https://jtei.revues.org/979

Smith, Neel. “Citation in Classical Studies.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.1 (2009). URL: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/1/000028/000028.html

Vergil Project. Joseph Farrell, Project Director. 1995–pres. http://vergil.classics.upenn.edu/

Image (this page): Aeneas at the tomb of Polydorus (Aeneid 3.19-24), illustration from Vat. lat. 3225 24v (detail). Source: DigVatLib.

Cover image: Anonymous, Suicide of Queen Dido (De zelfmoord van koningin Dido) (detail), ca. 1800. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum. Source: Europeana

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