Next Steps (by Jeffrey Rusten, December 2018)

Note: Please listen to the screencast before reading the following description.

The Thucydides lexicon is fully useful right now, since it combines the lexicon of Bétant (still in print!) With the ease-of-use of digital cross-reference, and adds new categories of information in various formats that the bulky print-lexica of the past could not include.

But Bétant’s articles are meant to be replaced over the next two years. This process is planned in two main ways:

  1. Jeffrey Rusten (with help from others) will be engaged in completing the following:
    • all the short Thucydides-specific definitions in English (based on Betant’s Latin).
    • bibliography and illustrations that have already been compiled.
    • summary definition articles for the most frequent words (prepositions, particles, others) which were not included by Bétant, and others which occur 25 times or more (excluding proper names) (these are roughly 400 words, or about 8% of the total vocabulary).
  2. The rest of the material can be divided into three categories: those occurring 5-24 times (ca. 1100), 2-4 times (ca. 1300) and one time (ca. 1800). These words will be assigned to undergraduate Classics majors at various institutions, as voluntary projects during the academic year and as paid projects for summer and vacation work.

How will the definition-articles be completed by undergraduates?

Detailed guidelines for the composition of the articles, including the possible components and a stylesheet, can be found here. They will be assigned in batches that naturally belong together, especially by stem (for example, Dimitri Spares has nearly completed the 28 forms with stem πέμπω), then by subject matter, and for the remainder perhaps by frequency (NOT by alphabetical order).

For collecting the examples, an article – builder area of the lexicon makes available to article writers a printout of all the instances of the word, with the preceding and following word isolated, and its entire sentence text included. This can be downloaded to excel and annotated and re-sorted by the categories that are eventually formulated.

How will the work of the article writers be funded?

The lexicon began as an undergraduate research project funded by Jeffrey Rusten’s research account at Cornell. It has continued with support supported from the supplementary research fund from Cornell’s Department of Classics, and Cornell’s Society for the humanities. Applications for outside funding (for hourly wages for undergraduate work, and a modest honorarium for faculty mentors) are being prepared from the Digital Extension Grants program of the American Council of Learned Societies, and perhaps other sources. It is hoped to assemble 3-7 undergraduates (mentored by 3-7 faculty mentors) working on definitions beginning summer 2019.

Why employ undergraduates rather than graduate students?

Partly because there is a great desire (at Cornell and I believe elsewhere) for undergraduate research opportunities, and it is hoped that enough Greek students exist in several Classics department at different institutions who are interested and qualified to participate under faculty supervision. We will be seeking funding for a student/faculty joint conference and publication on aspects of the vocabulary of Thucydides as the progress progresses.

Graduate students in Classics and Computer Science will however be employed as project managers and programmers as funding allows.

Exploring Future "Lexeis" Projects: Plato, Aristophanes and Euripides

The three pre-existing components of the Thucydides-Lexicon are:

  1. The Perseus-Chicago xml text with word id’s.
  2. The Database of Lemmatized Thucydides words keyed to those word id’s (this also from Perseus Chicago)
  3. The digitized Lexicon of Bétant tagged as xml (from Perseus Tufts).

It is these three elements that have been combined to produce the basic lexicon platform, to which additional information (short definitions, stems, frequency and context-counts, bibliography, semantic categories and finally entirely new definitions) could be added.

The first two components both exist for Plato, Aristophanes, and Euripides.

With regards to the third component, for Plato there is the still-useful 1835 Lexicon Platonicum (with Latin definitions) by Friedrich Ast, which is still in print; for Aristophanes, there is the Lexicon Aristophanicum by James Sanxay (2 nd ed. 1811), lesser known but with definitions in English. Both have been scanned by Google but neither has been digitized as yet. If these could be digitized and tagged with the same XML markup as Bétant-- a considerable task, especially in the case of Ast’s nearly 2000 pages-- then the same template could produce the core of new, more accurate and augmented author-lexica for them as well.

Last but not least, the remaining major author of the late fifth century, Euripides, has never received a complete author-lexicon, merely word-lists. It thus lacks the intermediate material provided by these other 19th century lexica, but implementing the rest of the template (text, complete citation-lists, short definitions and the rest of the new material short of articles) could greatly facilitate work on a full lexicon to him as well.

Part of the upcoming funding application involves the starting the digitization of Ast, and if the first stage of the Thucydides lexicon is successful these other extensions might follow on the same principles.