Core words not in the Aeneid

Vat.lat_.3225_0101_fr_0049r_lcroppedDiverting Latin parlor game: take a very common Latin word (in the DCC Latin Core Vocabulary) that does not occur in Vergil’s Aeneid, and explain its absence. Why would Vergil avoid certain lemmata (dictionary head words) that are frequent in preserved Latin? Sometimes the reason is simply metrical (celeriter, imperator); in other cases, perhaps a word sounded too prosaic (cibus, servusuxor, interim) for high poetry; sometimes a word just isn’t appropriate for the “prehistoric” period of the epic (provincia, praetor). Sometimes it’s a little hard to figure. Why not sapiens? Why not maiores? Why relinquo but not reliquus? Why vagor but not vagus? Check out the list below and let me know what jumps out at you. The Vergilian data comes from LASLA  (no automatic lemmatizers were used, all human inspection), as analyzed by Seth Levin. To check its accuracy, search the DCC version of Frieze’s Vergilian Dictionary, which includes definitions and citations, as well as (LASLA-based) frequency data for individual lemmata. At times there might be some lemmatization issues (for example barbarus came up in the initial list of excluded core words, since Vergil avoids the noun, though he uses the adjective twice. I deleted it from this version). Ok, here’s the list. Enjoy!

eo (adv)
mundus (adj)
solum (adv)

Image: detail of an illustration of Vergil’s Underworld, from  Fulvii Ursini schedae Bibliothecae Vaticanae (Vaticanus Latinus 3225), also known as the Vergilius Vaticanus or “Vatican Vergil” (49r), magnificent illustrated codex written in Italy in rustic capitals at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century AD. Source: Digital Vatican Library.

Summer 2016 Paid Research Internships in Classical Studies

Dickinson students are encouraged to apply for any of three 8-week paid research internships in Classical Studies in summer 2016 (the second of these positions is contingent on a pending funding decision by the Dickinson Research and Development Committee). The pay is $350 per week, plus housing on Dickinson’s campus. The work will be carried out under the supervision of Prof. Francese, and result in substantial credited contributions to the Dickinson College Commentaries and Dickinson Classics Online Projects.

Dates: May 30–July 22, 2016

Location: Carlisle, PA

Application deadline: March 11, 2016

Positions 1 and 2 Description: Digital Latin-Chinese Lexicon

Work on the digitization of the Latin-Chinese dictionary of Joaquim-Affonso Gonçalves (Lexicon magnum: latino-sinicum 1841, 779 pp.), which will eventually result in a mobile application, and a database that will form an essential part of the infrastructure of the project Dickinson Classics Online. Begun in 2015, DCO is intended to provide better access to the Greco-Roman classics to Chinese speakers. One student (position 1) will edit Gonçalves’ Chinese definitions to make sure they are properly transcribed and modernized; the other (position 2) will edit the Latin headwords to make them correspond to those of the base dictionary published by the Laboratoire d’Analyse Statistique des Langues Anciennes (LASLA). In many cases Goncalves’ headwords will have to be split or combined to conform to the LASLA headwords, and in every case the format of the Latin headwords will have to be expanded to meet modern lexicographical standards.

Positions 1 and 2 Requirements

Position 1 requirements:

  • strong written Chinese, familiarity with both classical and simplified characters
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Position 2 requirements:

  • upper-intermediate or advanced Latin
  • attention to detail
  • interest in languages
  • facility with Excel

Positions 1 and 2 Schedule

Week 1 (May 30-June 3): orientation to the project:

  • The basics of Latin lexicography, and the similarities and differences between existing dictionaries and their source material
  • Introduction to primary resources that will be used in this project: Joseph Denooz, Nouveau lexique fréquentiel de latin, Logeion, and Goncalves’ Lexicon Magnum Latino-Sinicum.
  • Explanation of LASLA’s working methods and their style of lemmata
  • Examination of the LASLA list of homonyms, and explanation of their labeling conventions and French abbreviations
  • Practice creating dictionary forms in Excel in the existing DCC style, based on
    • LASLA lemma
    • Goncalves’ lemma
    • Lemmas available in Logeion, especially Woordenboek Latijn/Nederlands (2011)
  • Practice typing Latin characters with macra (long marks over vowels) using the Maiori keyboard in Windows, and explanation of where that is necessary, and where to find accurate information about vowel quantity
  • Analysis of the Chinese OCR to determine the extent of the revisions needed to modernize it
  • Practice editing Chinese definitions to conform with edited Latin lemmata, splitting and combining as needed.
  • Practice formatting Chinese definitions to include Latin idioms as in Goncalves

Weeks 3-8: work on creating the database, going alphabetically.

Position 3 Description: Multimedia Edition of the Aeneid

Work on a forthcoming DCC multimedia edition of the Aeneid, which will include

  • Notes, drawn mostly from older school editions, that elucidate the language and the context
  • Images, art, and illustrations, annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Complete running vocabulary lists for the whole poem
  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and videos of the scansion
  • A full Vergilian lexicon based on that of Henry Frieze
  • Recordings of Renaissance music on texts from the Aeneid
  • Comprehensive linking to Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar
  • Comprehensive linking to Pleiades for all places mentioned in the text

Positions 3 requirements:

  • familiarity with the Aeneid in Latin
  • attention to detail
  • familiarity with Adobe Photoshop

Position 3 Schedule

  • Weeks 1–3: gathering, editing, and posting of images medieval manuscripts of the Aeneid
  • Weeks 4–5: transcription, upload, and linking of Aeneid scholarship excerpts
  • Weeks 6–8: creation of RDF file for linked data synching with Pelagios Project, for all places mentioned in the notes

TO APPLY: please send a letter of interest with a curriculum vitae to by March 11, 2016

Choosing notes on the Aeneid

The ideal book must contain enough material to insure an adequate presentation, yet not so much as to dismay the beginner by its amount or to perplex him by its subtlety. It is a question of perspective and proportion which must be adapted to the learner’s point of view; he alone is to be considered. The progress of the pupil, not the display of the editor’s erudition, must be the constant objective.1

As mentioned in an earlier post, we are in the process of creating a multimedia edition of the Aeneid, to include

  • Notes, drawn mostly from older school editions, that elucidate the language and the context
  • Images, art, and illustrations, annotated to make clear how they relate to the text
  • Complete running vocabulary lists for the whole poem
  • Audio recordings of the Latin read aloud, and videos of the scansion
  • A full Vergilian lexicon based on that of Henry Frieze
  • Recordings of Renaissance music on texts from the Aeneid
  • Comprehensive linking to Allen & Greenough’s Latin Grammar
  • Comprehensive linking to Pleiades for all places mentioned in the text

Here is a list of the editions we are focusing on when compiling the notes. The most promising so far seem to be those of Fairclough and Brown, Greenough and Kittredge, Bennett, and Frieze. I thought it might be interesting to post the evolving  list of criteria we are using to select notes, mainly because there is such a dearth of written discussion about the process of writing annotations on classical texts. True, there are book reviews of commentaries, but few commentators themselves seem to come out with positive statements of the sorts of notes they are trying to write.

We have already published guidelines for contributors that speak to this issue, but the practical task of selecting useful notes from older editions (and omitting the dross) has prompted me to re-phrase and focus that discussion. So here, for what they are worth, and in hopes of prompting a discussion, are the rules of thumb designed to create a useful and consistent set of notes for those who have some Latin but not much acquaintance with Vergil and his style:

Choosing Notes

Include notes that explain

  • idiomatic words and phrases
  • complex word order, where the syntactical connections between words may be for whatever reason less than clear to a first-time reader (prefer notes that re-arrange the Latin to make the logic clearer)
  • unusual grammatical constructions. Choose a note that most economically and specifically elucidates the sense and helps the reader to understand the original language. Use and Allen & Greenough reference where possible. There is no need to repeat grammatical explanations that can be found in the standard grammars.
  • cultural, historical, and literary context, such as personal and geographical names, clear and important allusions to other texts, and customs and historical items that would have been familiar to the imagined audience of a text but are not familiar to non-specialists now.
  • style and tone: Notes that observe tone, nuance, and implication are more valuable than notes that simply point out a nameable stylistic feature. When naming rhetorical or poetic figures, seek out a note that discusses the effect, rather than simply points out the figure.

Avoid notes that

  • paraphrase or translate large chunks, since this only obviates the necessity of understanding the original language;
  • simply name a grammatical construction when a judicious paraphrase or translation is also required. If an Allen Greenough reference is available, give that instead.
  • give an un-translated parallel passage in place of the other types of elucidation
  • cite parallel passages without explaining why a passage is parallel and important
  • merely say “cf.” followed by something whose relevance is not clear.
  1. H.R. Fairclough and Seldon L. Brown, Virgil’s Aeneid Books I-VI with Introduction, Notes and Vocabulary (Chicago: Benj. H. Sanborn, 1919), p. iii. []

Favorite Commentaries: James Morwood

What is your favorite classical commentary?  What place did it have in your intellectual development? Recently I asked the members of the DCC editorial board to write for the blog about these questions. Here is the response of James Morwood, of Wadham College, Oxford, author of many books, including the A Latin Grammar, The Oxford Grammar of Classical Greek, and most recently The Oxford Latin Course, College edition (Oxford University Press, 2012).

My favourite commentary is R. Deryck Williams’ Aeneid, which dates from 1973 and is now published by the Bristol Classical Press. I think that the main reason that I love it is that it is the work of a man who himself loved Virgil both wisely and well. This love shines on every page. It is a deeply civilized edition, constantly slipping into quotations from English poetry which set the Aeneid in its place near the font of European literature. It is odd that, as reception gains a more and more firm foothold, editors have become increasingly uptight about including literary parallels from the Renaissance and later in their texts. Williams read the Aeneid once a year – each time, he used to say, wondering whether Aeneas would bring himself to abandon Dido – and his understanding of the poem as a whole informs the edition throughout.

Mr. James Morwood, Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford

Of course, it is a work marked by its seventies vintage. It advances the “two voices” view of the poem that we identify with Harvard, and up to a point it tells us what to think. In fact, the two voices approach seems to have weathered well; and even if my own feeling is that editors should present the evidence objectively, giving their own view but not trying too overtly to influence their readers into accepting it, the passage of time has meant that we can regard Williams’ obiter dicta with a questioning sense of detachment. The thoughtful student of any age has nothing to fear and everything to gain from immersion in these pages.

It is not difficult to patronize Williams, as indeed Nicholas Horsfall has done. He wrote too much about this poet and was liable to repetition; his views could later slip into the banal. But he was a good scholar who lived and breathed Virgil, and that has made his edition an inspirational vade mecum for the Aeneid.