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

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Help with Ancient Texts: Perseus 5.0 Viewer Overview

Here at the Library of Antiquity we’re pretty excited about the launch of Perseus 5.0, the Scaife Viewer. This is the first major overhaul of the Perseus platform since the launch of the Perseus 4.0 Hopper in May of 2005. The Scaife Viewer is a whole new Perseus experience. The new reader, named after Ross Scaife, a pioneer and avid proponent of opens-ource, community-based projects, is intended to be a community-driven, customizable interface based off of the CTS URN data model (see below). In this post, we’ll go over using the reader in general and follow up with some additional posts about the various features (and will even cover my own attempts to contribute to the project!).

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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 Advanced Languages: Mastering your Dictionary

We’ve had a few posts on how important your dictionary skills are to your language success, and we’ve even told you some of our favorite Latin and Greek dictionaries. But there’s another trick to mastering the dictionary, and that is to figure out its abbreviation system. Abbreviations provide important information, especially about verbs, but that information is provided in a sort of secret code. It’s not consistent between dictionaries, and sometimes not even within the same dictionary, but it’s worth learning some of the most common abbreviations. Yes, every dictionary will give them to you at the front — but do you really want a dictionary for your dictionary? I didn’t think so.

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