Help with Greek Texts: The new TLG (introduction)

The TLG remains one of the most useful Classics tools. Last year, we laid out how to use the ‘classic’ interface in a series of posts. And then (of course!) the site updated, with a completely new look and some new features. In this post, I (re)introduce the features that you’re most likely to use.

Please note: for TLG die-hards, the old TLG is still available! If you are a master at the old site, there’s no need to learn the new one — yet. But most of the features are similar enough that the move won’t hurt.

Unlike the old TLG, the new TLG lays out its main features in a horizontal bar at the top of the page. Although this post focuses on the search and browse features, the lexica (and some others that are not in the screenshot, like N-grams) are new features. The dictionaries are usable on all texts; the statistical features are not, and were not activated in any of the texts I used on my last TLG visit (all Roman-era historiographers). Stay tuned for an update.

tlg greek texts function bar

Some of these options, like browse, are actually menus. We’ll see those in action below. Right now, I’m focusing on a simple search. Like the old TLG, the new TLG offers a variety of search options. These are the same as the old TLG options, so I won’t go over what they do again; the links at the beginning of this post lead to the original explanations. I’ll draw your attention to a few changes in layout. You now have checkboxes, rather than radio buttons, for some of the search features (this allows multiple selection). And the author search space is to the right — if you have a narrow browser window, you might need to scroll over to see it.

tlg corpus search greek texts

Once you’ve started searching, you can change your search display options immediately below the keyboard. This is a change from the old TLG, where all of these features were on the left sidebar. But many of the same restrictions remain; you are limited to certain numbers of context, in the number of results you can display on each page, etc. So most of these changes are changes in layout, not changes in substance. The result is a bit more user-friendly (I also like the more neutral background colors), but it’s not a radical overhaul.

So, to illustrate the search in action, I’ve chosen to look up the name Caedicius. (I was reading about the Gallic sack of Rome, so the passages are a little unusual this week!) It’s an unusual name, so I just entered it the way I though it would be spelled in Greek:

tlg text search zonaras caedicius

I could have chosen to make this case-sensitive or an exact match, but I didn’t. Why?  A few reasons: first, because I thought this was a rare word. As it turns out, I was right — but that also means that there was no point in searching exclusively. A case-sensitive search might be helpful if you are trying to distinguish between a concept and a deity — for example, between ge and Ge. But it’s less useful when you know that the word you’re looking for is only a name. Similarly, an exact match search is useful when you’re looking for a particular form of a word: for example, how many times is Apollo addressed directly? But when you’re not sure of the spelling, or if you are 100% sure that there are alternate spellings, searching for the exact match is a poor choice. (NB: the wildcard option is also available if you know there are alternative spellings of your word.)

In any case, I wanted to maximize my options. So I went with my very basic search, and as it turns out, Caedicius is only ever mentioned once in Greek. You can see that the search term is highlighted in the results above. If you want to read more, you have a few options. You can change the lines of context available by using the dropdown menu (I would recommend this option if you have a lot of results and you’re trying to figure out which ones are most relevant), or you can click on the author’s name or the box with an arrow. Both of the latter options will take you to the TLG ‘page’ for that passage.

tlg full text greek texts zonaras

This page should look pretty familiar: it’s exactly the same as the pages in the old TLG. There are a few new features, but I’ll come back to those in the next post. Just as in the old TLG, you can navigate using the ‘Prev|Next‘ buttons at the bottom of the page, and the numbers in parentheses on the right give you line numbers starting at the beginning of each Dindorf page. The book icon at the top will take you to Zonaras’ author page.

Since this passage was fairly easy to find, could I have gotten there a different way? Yes. I could have used the Browse tool. This is one of the tools that offers a menu:

tlg browse greek texts

So, remembering that we are looking for Zonaras, we can enter his name into the search field. An interactive menu pops up. You need to know who you’re looking for — easier for some authors than others (John and Isaac Tzetzes always trip me up)!  In this case, the genre also helps.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 3.22.04 PM

After you highlight and select your chosen author, the site offers some nice interstitial graphics.

snazzy formatting tlg greek

And then you can choose from a list of works (NB: this is what I mean when I talk about an ‘author page’).

tlg browse text choose work zonaras

Now, we can select the Epitome and manually browse back to where we were, which was 7.23.3. But that requires you to know the concordance between the Dindorf page and the book number — that is, you need to know that 7.23 is the same as 2.153. If you’re not an expert, you probably don’t know that; the only reason I do is from looking it up! So the text search option is, in many cases, easier than browsing. This is probably going to be true for any author who is routinely cited by both page number (e.g., Stephanus page, Bekker page) and book number (e.g., 5.6), which includes a lot of Greek authors. Some are fairly famous, like Plato; others are less famous, like Strabo; and then there are the Byzantine authors, who are relatively obscure.

As you can see, the basics of finding your text in the TLG are pretty much the same in both versions. You have the option to searching for a word or browse an author, and the same functionality applies in either case. In the next TLG post, we’ll take a look at reading on the TLG. This is where a lot of the new changes come into play, making the new TLG a different experience.



6 thoughts on “Help with Greek Texts: The new TLG (introduction)

  1. The old TLG let one search not only by author but also by date, generic epithets, and geographic epithets. Can one do that on the new TLG? Thanks.


    • Thanks for your comment! You can limit the ‘Canon Search’ by century (much clearer than the old version), geography, and genre. The options are now in dropdown menus directly below the search bar. We’ll add advanced searching to a future post.


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