Monday, July 22, 2013

Collaboration and new tools are keys to success for Holy Cross research teams

Summer researchers and members of the Holy Cross MID Club in the St. Isidore of Seville Lab at Holy Cross
(back row, left to right: Stephanie Lindeborg, Rebecca Finnigan, Brian Clark, Nikolas Churik
front row: Neil Curran, Debbie Sokolowski, Andrew Boudon, Christine Bannan)
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit to the College of the Holy Cross where I met members of the Manuscripts, Inscriptions, and Documents Club as well as their faculty mentors Mary Ebbott and Neel Smith. The club has four teams of dedicated undergraduate researchers pursuing three different projects within the summer research program at Holy Cross. Two teams are working as part of the Homer Multitext project to digitize portions of the Venetus A manuscript. A third team is working on a 16th century manuscript of Archimedes. Another club member is working to digitize the Athenian tribute lists. I will be sharing more about the work of these teams over the coming days. And more importantly, the teams will author posts later this summer sharing their original and substantive research. But before posting results, I'd like to share some details about how these teams go about their work and why they are so successful.  Two significant factors emerged during my visit: innovative tools and collaboration.

I want to highlight the idea of collaboration because this has become a fundamental concept for the Homer Multitext project as a whole. Collaboration in an academic setting often involves sharing results or reaching consensus in meetings, but in this case it goes much deeper; the work process of each 2-3 person team is entirely collaborative. Here's what I mean: a team of three students might work through a the text of a folio line-by-line as what Neel Smith calls a "three-headed monster": one person checking a print edition, a second checking the digital image of the folio, a third taking notes. At Holy Cross, they have multiple teams all working side-by-side in one lab, so teams support each other when questions arise. When there are issues that the students can't resolve, faculty members are available right down the hall for consultation.

In addition to this collaborative approach, the teams are benefiting from the use of new tools that speed up the work flow while ensuring the quality of data. These tool also facilitate the creation of new resources and allow researchers to ask new kinds of questions about these manuscripts and the traditions they preserve.

For instance, the first team I met on my visit included Neil Curran (class of 2014) and Stephanie Lindeborg (class of 2013), who are both veterans on the HMT. This is Stephanie's third summer of research and Neil's second. [For more on Stephanie's research, see "Scholia On Odysseus in Iliad 8, Part One.]" Right now they are working together to verify transcriptions done by earlier teams on books 1-8 of the Venetus A. Part of the verification process involves a new tool: Mandatory On-going Maintenance or MOM, which Professor Neel Smith had just updated that morning. Among other things, MOM allows the team to generate an index of Greek words used on a folio along with the lines where the word occurs.

This list can then be automatically parsed and checked against all the entries in the LSJ to find words without a match. There are typically between 5 and 30 unmatched terms, or "failures," for each folio. These failures are then tracked and checked carefully, since some of them potentially represent "new" terms that can be added to the ancient Greek lexicon.

Partial list of possible "new" terms in Book 4 of the Venetus A.

This discovery of new words alone would be exciting, but these tools will also allow the creation of new and valuable resources, such as a "core vocabulary" for reading scholia in individual manuscripts—a challenging task even for many professors working from a print edition such as that of Erbse. In this case, however, undergraduates are reading a 10th century Byzantine script marked by the frequent use of abbreviations, technical language, and letter formations that are totally unfamiliar to most students, who are accustomed to reading from a print edition such as an Oxford Classical Text. And the HMT team has already estimated that about 20% of the scholia in the Venetus A have never been published, so there is often no authority to double check. These researchers become experts on many fronts.

As these students augment the ancient Greek lexicon and redefine undergraduate research, they are also building skills they never thought they would have. When I asked the team about this, Stephanie told me about the technical skills she has gained. It happens that her father is an engineer. Since working on the Homer Multitext, she has found that she is becoming fluent in the kind of technical language her father uses on a daily basis. And Neil noted the confidence that comes from being part of the HMT: "We are prepared to learn to do anything!"

This brings me to another point about collaboration on the project. The close, work-process collaboration I saw in action is not accidental. It has been intentionally and carefully fostered by the HMT team including Neel Smith, Mary Ebbott, Casey Dué, and Christopher Blackwell. Such collaboration is part of the genuine deep learning that is taking place, and it is hard to replicate in a traditional classroom. In fact, experience has shown that these teams are typically more successful when grades and course credit are left far behind. Perhaps this is because in a typical reading class, it's very easy to hide what we don't know. But when you are working through a text as "three-headed monster" there's no place to hide. You contribute all you can, then you simply admit what you don't know, you ask for help, and your team works it out together. Even the professors are in a position that requires complete intellectual honesty and at times modesty, since many of these scholia have never been translated before. The result is that good questions are valued as much as good answers.

And here's perhaps the most important outcome of this collaborative approach: teams develop their ideas in the context of meaningful intellectual relationships that extend beyond graduation day. Here again, the faculty have lead the way. Ebbott and Dué have been collaborating since their time as graduate students at Harvard, co-teaching courses, writing books, and now co-editing the Homer Multitext. Likewise, the project's information architects, Smith and Blackwell, have collaborated on the technical infrastructure of the project for over a decade now, and regularly collaborate on numerous other projects as well.

Over the next few years, the HMT team hopes to strengthen communication across its multiple teams at various universities. They are also thinking about ways to collaborate with participants after graduation, whether they are moving on to graduate programs in Classics or to careers in law, secondary education, or other fields.

Stay tuned for more from the Holy Cross teams and HMT graduates in the coming days.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Scholia On Odysseus in Iliad 8, Part One

A guest post by Stephanie Lindeborg, Holy Cross Class of 2013

In Iliad 8, Odysseus emerges as a problematic character for critics from antiquity. As the Greeks retreat under pressure of Trojan forces, Diomedes presses forward to rescue Nestor from a chariot wreck. Diomedes calls out to those who are retreating urging them to stay and fight. Diomedes specifically calls on Odysseus, who either does not hear Diomedes or hears him and chooses to continue fleeing. The language seems to make both options possible. It becomes especially problematic for our interpretation of Odysseus’s character if he ignores Diomedes’ plea. We do not expect heroes to abandon their comrades to save themselves. It is obvious through the numerous scholia about Odysseus in Book 8 of the Venetus A and Y.1.1 manuscripts that the ancient Homeric scholars found this issue of interpretation problematic and so they attempt to explain his actions. As I edited the scholia, I began to take a closer look at these scholia about Odysseus. I will discuss these scholia over a series of blog posts since they are numerous and worthy of extended deliberation.

To begin, I will start with a pair of comparable scholia that captured my attention first in the Venetus A for its unusual set up and then in the Y.1.1 for its distinctly different choices in organization and content. This pair of scholia each take the epithet, πολυμήχανος (“resourceful”), in line 8.93 as their starting point and then begin to detail Odysseus’s various skills and occupations. The Y.1.1 explains the issue in the typical, paragraph form of scholia. It uses mostly complete sentences, introducing the roles and explaining why Odysseus is referred to as such, alluding to sections of the Iliad or Odyssey and in one instance quoting the Odyssey. I have transcribed the text of this scholion as follows:

πρὸς ἐπιστροφὴν τὸ ἐπίθετον τέθειται· δεῖ γὰρ τὸν στρατιώτην τοιοῦτον εἶναι· γεωργὸς μὲν γὰρ ἀπὸ τοῦ καλῶς ἐν πόᾳ καὶ τὴν ἅρπην· καὶ τὰ ἄλλα τῆς γεωργίας ὅπλα κινεῖν γινώσκεται· κυβερνήτης. ἀπὸ τοῦ "πόδα νηὸς" [Odyssey 10.32]. ἰθύνειν καλῶς· τέκτων, ἀπὸ τῆς εὐθεσίας τῶν λίθων. καὶ τῆς εὐπριστίας τῶν ξύλων· ναυπηγὸς, ἀπὸ τῆς νηός· κυνηγὸς. ἀπὸ τῆς κυναγωγῆς καὶ τῆς ὀρεσινομίας· μάντις ἀπὸ τῶν ἐκβάσεων· μάγειρος ἀπὸ τοῦ ὡς δεῖ ὀπτᾶν καὶ δαιτρεύειν· ἰατρὸς. ἀπὸ τοῦ νόσους γινώσκειν καὶ τάμνειν ἰούς· μουσικὸς καὶ ἀοιδὸς. ἐξ ᾠδῶν κάλλους καὶ μύθων· πύκτης καὶ παλαιστὴς ἐξ εὐστροφίας καὶ χειρῶν συμπλοκῆς· τοξότης ἀπὸ διασκέψεως ἀρίστης· ἀκοντιστὴς. ἀπὸ τοῦ εὖ πάλλειν τὸ δόρυ ῥήτωρ ἀπὸ πιθανότητος· στρατηγὸς. ἀπὸ φρονήσεως καὶ ἀνδρίας· στρατιώτης. ἀπὸ πολυμηχανίας καὶ πολυπειρίας⁑

“The epithet is used because of the retreat. For it is necessary for him to be such a soldier. For he is a farmer [as is seen] from the passage in which he knows well how to move the sickle in the grass and all the implements for farming. He is a ship-steerer because he keeps the sail straight (Odyssey 10.32). A carpenter, from the good condition of the stones. And from the skillful sawing of wood. A shipbuilder from the ship. A hunter from leading the hunting packs and from the knowledge of the mountains. A seer from the landing places. A cook from, as is necessary, roasting and cutting up. A doctor, from the passages in which he diagnoses sickness and cuts out arrows. A musician and a singer from beauty of his songs and speeches. A boxer and a wrestler from versatility and his wrestling grip. An archer, from the best ability to survey. A javelin-thrower, from the passage where he throws the spear well. An orator, from his persuasiveness. A general from his foresight and manly courage. A soldier from craftiness and great experience” (urn:cts:greekLit:tlg5026.e3:8.58).
Scholion on Iliad 8.93 in the Escorial Y.1.1 [link to full folio image]
A total of sixteen different categories are mentioned here: farmer, ship-steerer, carpenter, ship-builder, hunter, seer, cook, doctor, musician, boxer, wrestler, archer, javelin-thrower, orator, general, and solider. In some cases, it is rather difficult to know what episodes in the epic tradition each epithet might refer to, but it becomes clearer when we look at the corresponding scholion in the Venetus A.

The Venetus A does something we had not seen in the manuscript in the previous books that have been edited over the last few years, and may indeed not be repeat in any of the subsequent books (We have not seen it so far in creating editions of the scholia of Books 1–7 of the Venetus A). This scholion takes each role or occupation and organizes them into a numbered list.

Scholion on Iliad 8.93 in the Venetus A Manuscript [link to full folio image]
 This format presented a new issue for us in how we marked up this content in our digital edition of the text. Neither the Dindorf nor the Erbse edition of the text represent this scholion as a list. Neither editor formatted his edition in such a way and neither editor included the Greek numerals that are present in the manuscript’s format of this scholion. We felt that not only was the format rare, but it was also integral to the interpretation of the text. Therefore we introduced a new type of markup to our list of acceptable TEI elements: “list.” The list is then broken down into several instances of the element “item,” corresponding to each entry in the list. This combination of markup allowed us to set up the edition in a way that best reflected the fact that we do, in fact, see a list in the manuscript.

Set off at some distance, but clearly corresponding to each epithet, the scribe includes either quotes from or references to episodes from the Iliad or the Odyssey to support each occupation. Quoting is much more frequent in the Venetus A version of the scholion, appearing with eleven of fifteen roles, whereas in the Y.1.1 there is only one quoted section. We have transcribed the text of the Venetus A scholion as follows:
πρὸς επιστροφὴν τὸ ἐπίθετον⁑
Α εστι δὲ γεωργος          "ἐν ποίη δρεπανον μέν"         (Odyssey 18.368)·
Β κυβερνήτης             "ἀεὶ γὰρ πόδα νηός"         (Odyssey 10.32)

Γ τέκτων             ἀπο τῆς κλίνης
Δ ναυπηγός             ἀπὸ τῆς σχεδίας
Ε κυνηγός             ἀπὸ τοῦ Παρνασσοῦ 

Ϛ μάντις             "φημι τίς μοι φάσθω"        (Odyssey 20.100)
Ζ μαγειρος            "δαιτρεῦσαι τὲ καὶ ὀπτησαι"    (Odyssey 15.323)
Η ἰατρος             "ὄφρα οί εἴ ϊοὺς χρίεσθαι"     (Odyssey 1.262-263)
Θ μουσικος            "μῦθον ὥς τ' αοιδός"         (Odyssey 11.368)

Ϊ πύκτης            "πῦν μὲν ενίκησα Κλυτομήδεα"     (Iliad 23.634)
ΙΑ παλαιστής             "Ἀγκαῖον δὲ πάλη Πλευρώνιον"    (Iliad  23.635)
ΙΒ δισκευτής            παρα Φαίαξιν
ΙΓ τοξότης             "εῦ μὲν τόξον οῖδα"         (Odyssey 8.215)
ΙΔ ἀκοντιστής             "δουρὶ δὲ ἀκοντίζων"         (Odyssey 8.229)
ΙΕ ῥήτωρ καὶ αστρολογος     "Πληϊάδας θ' ορόωντι"         (Odyssey 5.272)·

“The epithet is for the retreat.
1. He is a farmer         "in the grass, a curved scythe"     (Odyssey 18.368)
2. A steersman             "for [I] always [steered] the sails of the ship" (Odyssey 10.32)
3. A carpenter             from the bed     (cf. Odyssey 23.189)
4. A ship builder,         from the raft (cf. Odyssey 5.243-5.261)
5. A hunter,             from [the hunt] at Parnassos (cf. Odyssey 19.428-19.454)
6. A seer,             "I say let someone speak to me"     (Odyssey 20.100)
[Allen’s OCT edition of the Odyssey reads φήμην τίς μοι φάσθω on this line instead of φημι τίς μοι φάσθω, which would make it “let someone utter an omen to me”]
7. A cook         "cutting up and roasting"        (Odyssey 15.323)
8. A doctor             "so that he might have to rub on his arrows" (Odyssey 1.262-263)
9. A musician            "a speech like a singer"         (Odyssey 11.368)
10. A boxer             "in boxing I overcame Klytomedes"    (Iliad 23.634)
11. A wrestler             "in wrestling [I beat] Ancaeus of Pleuron" (Iliad 23.635)
12. A discus thrower         against the Phaiacians (cf. Odyssey 8.186-8.198)
13. An archer             "I know the bow well"         (Odyssey 8.215)
14. A javelin-thrower         "throwing a spear"         (Odyssey 8.229)
15. An orator and an astronomer "looking upon the Pleiades" (Odyssey 5.272)” (urn:cts:greekLit:tlg5026.msA:8.78).

One of the first notable differences between these two scholia besides format, is the choice of how to explain each epithet. The Venetus A scholion relies almost entirely on quotations whereas the Y.1.1 scholion summarizes for all but one epithet. Since both scholia start the same way, πρὸς επιστροφὴν τὸ ἐπίθετον, we are almost certainly dealing with divergent traditions in how this concept was explained to the audience. Both scholia start off explaining a particular epithet of Odysseus, and then proceed to reference many other skills and roles Odysseus is known for. However, these lists are not identical and their manner of proof is significantly different. The Venetus A predominantly quotes passages, while the Y.1.1 alludes to episodes with short words or phrases. Since both manuscripts have similar material the respective scribes were likely working with sources that ultimately go back to a similar body of material. With these two scholia as our points of comparison, it is obvious that choices have been made about how to present the list and how to cite examples of each role. What is not obvious is whether the scribe of each manuscript is himself making choices in format and content, or whether each scribe received the material from his source already in the form he used. Whether it is quotation or summarization, the way the scholia explain each epithet speaks volumes about the audience of these scholia. The intended audience of these scholia presumably knew the Iliad and the Odyssey so well that they understood where the quotations came from and what episodes the scholiast alluded to in his summaries without citations.

Another difference is observed in the roles referred to in each scholion. The Y.1.1 scholion has sixteen different roles. The Venetus A also includes sixteen, but places both orator and astronomer with number 15, notably citing a quotation for astronomy but not oratory. However, matching up the roles across the manuscripts becomes even more puzzling. Although both scholia have sixteen roles, they do not correspond perfectly. Discus-thrower and astronomer appear in the Venetus A but not in the Y.1.1. The Y.1.1 contains general and solider, but the Venetus A does not. Here we likely see not just different choices in how to represent material, but also either differences in source material or different choices in what to include. Differences in sources presume that the Venetus A and Y.1.1 scribes each had material the other did not. Differences in choices presume that they had the same or similar sources and chose to include and exclude information.

Upon closer inspection of occupations 10 and 11, boxer and wrestler, in the Venetus A, I discovered that the quoted sections have nothing to do with Odysseus. Rather they refer to episodes in Nestor’s life, taken from a speech of his in Iliad 23. Klytomedes and Pleuron, named in these two quoted sections, are firmly established as opponents of Nestor, referred to explicitly in the Iliad as such. The Y.1.1 scholion avoids this discrepancy by offering as proof only Odysseus’s versatility and superior grip as a wrestler with no quoted citations. The fundamental question is: why are proofs being offered that actually refer to Nestor instead of Odysseus, who is the clear subject of this scholion? One tempting explanation is that material on Nestor may have accidentally been placed here, due to his relevance in the surrounding lines. This scholion appears very early in the scene in which Diomedes rescues the stranded Nestor from the swiftly approaching Trojan forces. When such a mistake could have occurred in the process of composing the scholia (i.e. the scribe of the Venetus A or one of his sources) is unclear. According to the Erbse and Maas editions of this scholion, the Townley manuscript contains the same two lines cited for these roles as the Venetus A, which, if this is true, would indicate that the two manuscripts likely shared a source that contained this mysterious attribution of Nestor’s boxing and wrestling to Odysseus. The roles themselves, boxer and wrestler, would seem to be otherwise valid as they appear also in the Y.1.1 version of the scholion, though it is hard to be sure when the scholia are not exactly parallel. It would be worthwhile to take a closer look at the Townley manuscript since the A and T scholia are more closely parallel according to Dindorf and Maass. There is no indication in their print edition whether or not the Townley also presents this material in list form. Their edition furthermore reads φήμην instead of φημι for the quoted evidence for “seer.” It is unknown whether the editors have made a correction or if the Townley offers a different reading from the Venetus A.

Turning to the larger issue at hand, why the interpretation of Odysseus’s actions in Book 8 is so problematic, we must consider why the manuscripts, seemingly unprovoked, include lengthy descriptions of Odysseus’s skills at the very moment he is retreating. Are the scribes and ancient Homeric scholars attempting to make Odysseus seem more favorable by reminding the readers of his more admirable qualities? This issue will be discussed more at length in the next blog post, when I treat the scholia that deal directly with the question of whether or not Odysseus heard Diomedes’ call for help.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Aural Confusion in the Venetus A Scholia?

A guest post by Michiel Cock (Leiden University), Dillon Gisch (University of Washington 2012), and Christopher Rivera (University of Houston 2013)

In this post, participants from the 2013 Homer Multitext Summer Seminar discuss a scholion in the Venetus A that provides evidence for an oral component to the writing of the scholia in this manuscript. In the ancient world and well into the middle ages, it was customary to read out loud and silent reading was almost nonexistent. (See, e.g., Svenbro's Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece and Manguel's A History of Reading. Manguel adduces among others a passage in Augustine, Confessions VI.3, in which Augustine expresses amazement at Bishop Ambrose's ability to read silently.) Many scholars argue that early scriptoriums employed dictation, which allowed multiple copies to be made at once. Even after scribes began to work alone in monasteries, it seems to have been typical practice for scribes to actually read out loud to themselves as they were copying. (Manguel [p. 50] quotes an anonymous eight-century scribe, who concludes his copying this way: "No one can know what efforts are demanded. Three fingers write, two eyes see. One tongue speaks, the entire body labours.") At some point in the middle ages, silence was enforced in scriptoriums and scribes were not allowed to read aloud. Nevertheless, and oral component to the copying likely remained, in that the scribes may have read silently, but still pronounced the words in theirs heads as they copied in a kind of "interior dictation" (on which see van Groningen, Traité d’Histoire et de critique des textes Grecs [Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, afd. Letterkunde N.S. LXX-2, Amsterdam, 1963] p. 86).

What the seminar participants found in the course of editing the scholia of book 10 of the Iliad reveals that the creation of the Venetus A in the tenth century CE, whether or not it predates the transition to silence in the scriptorium, involved a kind of orality on the part of the scribe. For another kind of orality preserved in the Venetus A, see Mitchell's 2006 Stanford dissertation, The Aural Iliad: Alexandrian Performances of an Archaic Text, which, among other topics related to reading aloud in antiquity, explores the performative aspect of many ancient scholia and their lemmata. (- Casey Dué)

On folio 128v of the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad we find the following scholion:
It comments on Iliad 10.141-142:
In this scholion there are three features that point to aural confusion, which presupposes the practice of dictation or reading aloud in the scriptorium.

First, the lemma of the scholion is not identical to the main text. Where the main text reads “ὅ τι δὴ χρειὼ τόσον ἵ̈̄κει”, the lemma of the scholion reads “έτι δὴ χρειῶ τόσον ἵκοι”. This interchange of -οι for -ει in the final word of the lemma can be accounted for by iotacism; both endings would have sounded the same. The text of the lemma can’t be a multiform because as an optative (expressing a wish), the context of this passage would not make sense. The end of the lemma “χρειῶ τόσον ἵκοι” is attested elsewhere in Homer, in Odyssey 5.189, and this may have contributed to the confusion. In the body text of the scholion, however, it reads “δὴ χρειῶ τόσον ἵ̈κει”.

The scholion addresses the use of ὅ τι as an interrogative instead of τί, and therefore we we expect to find  a “τί” in the explanation. Dindorf therefore rightly adds “τί” before “δή” in his edition of the scholia. The omission of τί can be attributed to haplography, as the vowels in τί and δή would also have sounded the same.

In the second half of the first sentence of the scholion we read “ὁπποίης δὲ Πηνειὸς”. In the word Πηνειὸς the first four letters “Πηνε” seem to have been written in a different ink, indicating that the scribe has made a correction. The phrase as corrected is problematic, however, because according to the scholion it is a quotation from Homer and no such phrase is attested. We do find “ὁπποίης τ’ ἐπὶ νηὸς” in Odyssey 1.171 and 14.188. As in the previous two cases, the confusion manifested here can also be accounted for with iotacism.

[Note: This post has been edited since it was first posted, in order to take in to account some very helpful commends made by Ineke Sluiter. Stay tuned for future posts by the students that will explore the implications of the preliminary observations made here in more detail. - CD]

Friday, July 12, 2013

Layout and Preparation of Venetus B Folios

A guest post by Kristina Birthisel, Brandeis University 2013.

This post is the first in a series that will feature research originally presented in Birthisel's senior thesis titled "Scholar or Scribe? A Case Study in the Formation of the Venetus B Manuscript of the Iliad."

Layout and preparation of Venetus B folios

The Homeric manuscripts with which we work in the Homer Multitext project were, of course, created before the advent of the printing press. They required an immense amount of time and effort on the part of the scribe. This resulted in an approach to the texts, however, in which the scribes could put their own personality into each manuscript. Each manuscript was different; even if copied by the same scribe, it was done at a different time, and thus each folio shows us how the scribe understood the passage at the moment of its copying. Only by understanding how the scribe constructed his manuscript and interacted with the text he was copying can we attempt to understand that text fully.

So what sort of people were these scribes? How much did they edit the source material in their own manuscript? How scholarly were they? Did they simply copy these manuscripts from a previous exemplar, or were they compiling a manuscript and its scholia from multiple sources?

The scribe put a great deal of care into how he laid out each page of the manuscript, to make it not only beautiful but quite functional. He displays a level of interaction with the text indicating a clear understanding of Greek and the story of the Iliad in particular. Venetus B was written not just to be looked at but to be read, and the scribe carefully planned each page to maximize its reader-friendliness.

Before he began writing, the scribe first marked out how he would use the space on each folio. On the outside edge of each folio, a series of pricks runs down the side of the page (see image on the left [urn:cite:hmt:vbimg.VB024VN-0124@0.0783,0.1289,0.0783,0.7647]):

These pricks guided a ruler to mark lines on the page, which would in turn guide the writing of the text and scholia. Pricks made at the bottom of each folio mark where the margin lines should be drawn. Lines for placement of scholia numbers, scholia and text margins, and text outdents (more about that in a minute). Folio 24 has two lines of pricks, showing the spacing for while folios 25 and 26 only have pricks for the main text spacing. Whether the other folios always had only one line, or whether the second was trimmed in the binding process is unknown. The inside pricks are spaced for the gridlines of the main text (~8.5mm), while the outside ones guided the scholia lines (~6.5mm).

Whoever prepared the manuscript also made pricks at the bottom, this time to guide margin lines. On each recto (24r, 25r, 26r), two on the far left (~8.5mm apart) mark the margin of both scholia and text; the right prick of the pair marks the margin for the text of Iliad and scholia, while the left marks the proper placement of scholia numbers, as well as outdent spacing (see example below, from 24r).

Three pricks, with lines drawn from them, appear in the center at the bottom of the page. The left two (6.5mm apart) mark the hoped-for right margin of the main text for the scribe (see example below, 25r). The middle prick also serves as a guide for the scholia numbers down the side of the main text. The rightmost prick in the group (11.5mm away from the middle prick) marks the left margin of scholia written down the side of the main text.

Two on the far right mark the right margin of scholia all down the page, though the later hand sometimes adds its own scholia in the empty space to the right (example below, 25r).

The scribe planned the layout of the page such that the guide-lines on the verso of each folio are drawn from the same pricks as those for the recto. Thus the two pricks that mark the right margin of scholia on 24r become guides for the lines marking the left margin of scholia on 24v, and so on.

Once the guiding lines were drawn and he began to write, the scribe attempted to maximize the ease with which a person could read the text. For example, while writing the main text, the scribe sometimes outdents a line a little. Within the studied lines alone, the scribe has outdented 4 lines: 2.235, 2.243, 2.265, and 2.272. Line 2.235, in the beginning of Thersites’ speech, marks a shift from speaking to Agamemnon to addressing the rest of the Achaeans. 2.243 shifts out of Thersites’ speech. 2.265 marks the end of Odysseus’ rebuttal, and in 2.272 Agamemnon begins to speak. Though not all shifts in action or speaker are outdented (the beginning of Thersites’ speech, for example, is in line), their occurrence always marks one of these shifts in the text, were we might put a paragraph break today. Thus, the outdents appear to be quite intentional.

The scribe also intentionally planned the layout of the scholia. Rather than having a hard-and-fast rule about when to start a new scholion on the next line or continue on the same line as the previous scholion, the scribe seems to make a decision based on how crowded the rest of the page is, or will be when finished. He typically conserves space at the top, letting the scholia flow into one another, and adjusts his spacing as he works down the page and sees how much space he has left. On 24v, for example, Δ starts with ~65mm of writing space left on the line:

Further down the page, however, ΙΓ starts on a new line, even though with the same spacing as above the scribe had ~86mm of writing space before the end of the line.

The spacing between the scholia down the side of the page also varies based on how many/how long the other scholia above and below are. Compare 24r, with no spaces between scholia, to 24v, with spacing between the side scholia ranging from one gridline,

to five.
This suggests that the scribe knew fairly well how copious the scholia for each page would be before he began working on it. Whether this is because he was copying from one exemplar and could see how much writing was on each folio, or because he planned which sources to use carefully before he began the writing process is unclear, though the fact that the Venetus B scholia so closely match the scholia in the Y.1.1 manuscript makes the former more likely (unless one of these two manuscripts is a copy of the other – more about this in another blog post!). [For more on the relationship between these two manuscripts, read "Are Venetus B and E3 'twins'?" by HMT researcher Matthew Davis.]

(Note: On the placement of scholia in another manuscript being studied as part of the Homer Multitext, the so-called Venetus A, see the publication of Nikolas Churik and Neel Smith announced here: projects/d-neel-smith-and-nikolas-churik-design-and-layout-of-the-richest-manuscript-of-the-iliad/ as well the article by Myriam Hequet in Recapturing a Homeric Legacy, which is available for download here:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Taking count of the Homer Multitext

In the seminar on the Homer Multitext project that wraps up today at the Center for Hellenic Studies, five teams editing Iliad 10 in the Venetus A manuscript have been working with an experimental automated validation system.  Teams are verifying that their editions of texts and related records about manuscripts and images pass a variety of consistency tests.  One important implication of this work is that we can now build new versions of the Homer Muiltitext Project's online services automatically from material passing a defined suite of tests.  

An immediate, practical consequence is that we can completely reinstall the project's online services in 5-10 minutes, a significant improvement over the earlier, more tedious process.  As an example of how easily this allows us to survey information across the HMT project, here are a few numbers about the current state of the project's editions of Iliad 1-7 in the Venetus A manuscript.

Features Number
Tokens (“words”) indexed to occurrence in a specific passage > 100,000
Distinct forms of indexed tokens > 25,000
Lexical entities (“dictionary entries”) represented by the 25,000 distinct forms > 8,000

Those numbers will change, not only as we add new material, but as we now begin to review our earlier work and assess our editions of Iliad 1-7 against the same tests being used in our current work on Iliad 8-10.