Help with Latin texts: Introduction to scansion

Although we now approach ancient texts primarily through the written word, they were originally meant for performance. Poetry in particular was probably chanted or sung, as we know from the use of words relating to music in the opening lines of poems and poetic collections. Nowhere is this performance context more clear than in the use of meter in ancient poetry. Although the untrained viewer can’t see this meter in an ancient text (unlike, for example, the musical notation on modern sheet music), once you know how to scan well, you can quickly begin to recite texts as they were meant to be heard.

The nice thing about scansion is that it’s in many ways easier than other tasks beginning language students have to perform. In this first post, I’ll introduce the two major Latin meters: dactylic hexameter and pentameter.  Continue reading


Help with Research: Perseus under PhiloLogic and Logeion

In my last post, I introduced you to the Perseus Project mirror hosted by the University of Chicago, commonly known as Perseus under PhiloLogic. While my last post covered in general the great text-searching features in the Chicago mirror, in this post, I’m going to go into detail on how to use the Logeion search option.

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Perseus under PhiloLogic Part 1: Overview

In my last post I talked a little about mirror sites and the different Perseus Project mirrors. In this post, I’d like to take a closer look at one of these mirror sites: the Chicago Mirror, AKA Perseus under PhiloLogic.

Just as Perseus at Tufts is built on the Hopper, Perseus at Chicago is built on PhiloLogic. PhiloLogic, like the Hopper, is open-source and you can download and run the source code locally if that’s your cup of tea. Continue reading

Help with Research: Using Tesserae for Intertextuality, Part 2

In this post, we pick up on our discussion of using the Tesserae project for intertextuality.  At the start, we want to acknowledge the generosity of Neil Coffee, the project lead. He was very quick to respond to our questions about best practices for the site and shared a forthcoming article on some of his results with silver Latin poetry. Thanks, Neil!

After reading through some of Tesserae’s research, we decided to expand on the topic of using digital tools for linguistic analysis. Tesserae was one of the first projects to attempt this in any language, and it’s an ongoing project — there are plans for further refinements to at least some of the tools, but probably not the interface as a whole.

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Help with Latin and Greek: Gobbets

If you are not Canadian (or maybe not Commonwealth? Let us know!), you are probably wondering what is a gobbet and why do I need help with it? Readers, I know, because once I had the exact same question. I had just begun graduate school and I was taking a class on Euripidean drama. When it came time for the midterm, the professor said, oh-so-casually, “it will be a translation plus gobbets.”

To my American ears, this sounded roughly like the world’s worst Thanksgiving dinner. I was soon to learn otherwise. Continue reading

Five Tips for Sight Reading

For some reason, sight reading is often perceived as the most onerous part of upper-level language courses. In fact, many students aren’t exposed to it until graduate school (or never!). Today’s post is a joint endeavor between Mary, who has always had to read at sight and so I never learned to fear it, and Jackie, who started in grad school — and has scored sight competitions. Coming up: some advice to help you get through your first encounters with an unknown text. Continue reading