Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Athenian Democracy

Students taking Greek 230 in the Spring Semester of 2012 will be reading the essay on the history and workings of Athenian Democracy as described in a text by Aristotle, or a student of Aristotle, the Ἀθηναίων Πολιτεία, The Constitution of the Athenians. In addition to studying the language of this 4th Century BCE text, and the political history it describes, they will be working with a true primary source, reading directly from the papyrus fragments that are the only surviving witnesses to this fundamentally important text.
The papyrus is P. Lond. 131, now at the British Library and formerly in the collection of the British Museum; it was purchased for the Museum in 1888, and F.G. Kenyon identified it as the Ath.Pol. in 1890. He announced his discovery in The Times of London on January 19 of 1891—the announcement ran on page 9. Kenyon published a first edition of the text in 1891.

With funding from the National Science Foundation (Grant  No. EAGER-1041949), we were able to collaborate with the British Library to take new digital photographs of the five  papyrus fragments, which range in length from three feet to five feet long. These photographs will be used as test-data for new methods of automated analysis of Greek scribal hands, using techniques developed at the National Technical University of Athens by Dr. Constantin Papapodysseus and his research team. In addition, they will provide a unique opportunity for Furman undergraduates to create a new digital edition of this priceless text.

The photography took place on November 14, 2011 at the British Library. The images will go into the BL’s digital collection of Greek Manuscript data, but Furman University will enjoy an open-content license to use them freely and to share the fruits of our use with other students and scholars. We are deeply grateful to the entire staff of the British Library, and particularly to the experts in Preservation, Photography, and Curation who worked hard on this project.

Today, November 15, 2011, we are photographing the Bankes Homer, a 9-foot long papyrus fragment of Book 24 of the Iliad. This will become part of the Homer Multitext, Casey Dué and Mary Ebbott, edd.

Further updates on this work will appear here!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hercules Vanquishing the Hydra

The Department of Classics at Furman is deeply honored and grateful to be the caretakers of the painting “Hercules Vanquishing the Hydra”, by Yvonne Arrowood of Greenville, South Carolina. This large oil painting is after a work by Guido Reni (1575–1642), which hangs now in the Louvre. On this painting, Hercules wears his distinctive lion-skin and is brandishing his club at the many-headed serpent. Furman is fortunate to have this striking work in our collection of fine art, and we are delighted that it now lives in our suite!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vitruvian design for scholarship in the humanities: Access to scholarly work

More insight on scholarly openness from Neel Smith at Holy Cross:

Vitruvian design for scholarship in the humanities: Access to scholarly work

At Furman, our undergraduates are pursuing important research. The vast majority of them will go on to important positions and rewarding careers outside of the academy. They value their research now because they see that it will increase the amount of useful knowledge in the world. Anything other than strict adherence to the principles of open access would destroy that value. That would be a grave disservice to the dedication and energy of the young scholars whose talents we are privileged to borrow for a few years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A new papyrus!

Read about the newly published Bankes papyrus here. See it here. Congratulations to David Creasey, Kylie Elliott, Talley Lattimore, and Brett Stonecipher!

New Testament Transcriptions · Matthew

We are excited to announce the publication of transcriptions of the Gospel of Matthew from two medieval manuscripts. Leah Elder has finished transcribing and editing Matthew from the 1410 Wycliffe translation of the New Testament (see this earlier post). Tucker Hannah has completed an edition of Matthew from the St. Chad Gospel.

Both texts were encoded in TEI-conformant XML and are available through the Furman Classics Canonical Text Service.

Work progresses on indices associating chapter and verse from the transcriptions to regions-of-interest on images of the manuscripts. Our goal is to publish complete digital editions of both manuscripts with closely interrelated images, texts, translations, and other data.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Manuscript Research Update - September 8

Today we finally got going on our regularly, weekly meetings of the faculty and students doing manuscript research. We have been given a generous amount of space and time by the Studio Lab at the James B. Duke Library… thanks Diane and Mike!

The current state of projects is this:

Homeric Manuscripts

Katie Phillips is going to prepare editions, keyed to the manuscript images, of the one-line summaries of each Iliadic book that appear on the manuscripts Venetus B and Escorialensis 3.

Lichfield Manuscripts

Tucker Hannah has completed the transcription and image regions-of-interest for Matthew as it appears on the St. Chad Gospels manuscript. He is going to move on to the work, begun last year by T.J. Brown, on Mark. (The St. Chad Gospel contains Matthew, Mark, and the first three chapters of Luke).

Christopher Blackwell is going to prepare indices for Matthew: folio-citation, folio-image, and image-citation. He will also get the Matthew transcription into the Furman Classics CTS Service, which already hosts texts of the Latin Vulgate and the King James translation.

Leah Eldar and Blake Williams will continue their work on the Wycliffe Translation.

Homeric Papyri

We have updated the Homer Multitext’s library of homeric papyri with editions of fifteen new documents. We have about twenty more papyrological documents in the production pipeline.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Editing Ancient Papyri

The oldest complete texts of the Homeric Iliad are the Byzantine Manuscripts, several of which students of the Classics Department at Furman are editing and turning into digital facsimile editions. But the very oldest texts of the Iliad are fragments of papyrus, found in archaeological sites in Egypt. These papyri date from as early as the 3rd century BCE.

The Homer Multitext has published a growing library of  library of homeric papyri. Furman students have been editors of these documents from the beginning.

This week we have updated the Homeric Papyri site with editions of fifteen new documents. These include the Hawara Papyrus in a new edition by Amy Koenig of Harvard University. This text contains 547 lines of the Iliad, from Books 1 and 2. The remaining fourteen documents are the results of editorial work by Alexander Loney and Bart Huelsenbeck of Duke University, and Lia Campbell, Andrew Corley, David Creasy, Kylie Elliott, Talley Lattimore, Brett Stonecipher, and Blake Williams, undergraduate students of Greek at Furman University.

In all, the Homeric Papyri Digital Library now contains 30 edited texts, containing 3,142 lines of Homeric poetry. These lines include 2,706 unique citations. The collected documents include portions of 22 out of the 24 Books of the Iliad (Books 19 and 20 are the only ones not represented at all among these published fragments).

The Homeric Papyri library is exposed via the Canonical Text Services protocol (CTS). Its website offers two different human-readable presentations of each document, as well as direct access to the raw TEI XML.

Work on these papyri continues, and we are looking forward to increasing the holdings of this open-access digital library in the near future. We are grateful for the support of the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

An Early English Bible

Leah Elder has been working for several months editing images of the 1410 Wycliffe translation of the New Testament. This book is in the care of Lichfield Cathedral, and was photographed by a team from the University of Kentucky , with some help from Furman University, during the summer of 2010. 

John Wycliffe (1320-1384) was a Christian theologian and reformer whose early translations of the Bible in English were, first of all, considered shockingly heretical, and subsequently, instrumental to the advance of the Reformation in England.

There were many editions of the Wycliffe translations. Even though production of these illegal texts must have been a dangerous business in the 14th and 15th centuries,  it is evident that the copyists could not resist making the books beautiful. The Wycliffe Testament at Lichfield Cathedral is the oldest to survive intact.
Leah’s Transcription of the Wycliffe (here, Matthew 18:1-18:6)
in XML format
Photography is only the first step in publishing a digital facsimile of a manuscript. In order to turn a directory full of digital images into a useful resource for scholars, the images must be sorted, the text transcribed, and the images indexed to canonically cited passages of text. This is what Leah has been doing.

She has been transcribing the text, reading the ornate blackletter script to capture language like this:

An othe parable Jhs spak to hem / the kyngdom of heuenes is lijk to sourdouȝ / which a woma took and hidde in there mesurisof mele; til it were al sourid / — Matthew 13.33 (Wycliffe)
For comparison, here is the King James translation:
Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. — Matthew 13:33 (KJV)
The ultimate goal for this text is a fully integrated digital facsimile with the images closely related to the transcription and to other translations. Toward this integration, Leah has been defining “regions-of-interest” on the images corresponding to particular passages in the New Testament. So we can now easily ask for the particular “quotation” of the page-image that contains Matthew 2:15 (and we can generate interactive views of passages in context ):

Work on the Wycliffe bible will progress this summer, and in cooperation with our friends at the University of Kentucky and Lichfield Cathedral, we will look forward to making the fruits of this labor available to the widest possible audience as soon as possible.

This work is possible because the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral released the images under a Creative Commons License. We are extremely grateful to everyone in Lichfield, and particularly to Canon Chancellor Pete Wilcox (who has a very excellent blog !).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homeric Papyri

(above: Ὣς οἵ γ᾽ ἀμφίεπον τάφον Ἕκτορος ἱπποδάμοιο, “Such was their burial of Hector, breaker of horses.” Iliad 24.804, from the Bankes Papyrus)

Four Furman undergraduates have begun their summer’s work as Editors for Homeric Papyri, a project of the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University. David Creasy, Kylie Elliott, Talley Latimore, and Brett Stonecipher have begun preparing a new edition of the Bankes Papyrus (B.M. Papyrus cxiv). This document, a seven-foot-long fragment from the 2nd Century C.E., contains the majority of Book 24 of the Iliad.

A description of this document in an article by E. Maunde Thompson in the 1887 issue of The Classical Review (vol. 2, p. 39) describes it thus:
This papyrus is in one piece, measuring upwards of seven feet, and containing sixteen columns of writing. It was bought by Mr. W. J. Bankes at Elephantine, in 1821, and passed into possession of the British Museum in 1879. The text is book xxiv of the Iliad, wanting the first 126 lines; well known by the collation published by George Cornewall Lewis in the Cambridge Philological Museum, in 1832. This is one of the few surviving MSS. which contain stichometrical notes, every hundred lines being numbered in the margin. From its first discovery the Bankes Homer has taken high rank as a most ancient MS., and has been quoted with veneration in palaeographical and other works. In the Museum Catalogue, however, it is assigned to the second century of our era. This later date will probably prove in the end to be much nearer the mark than the more remote century before Christ in which it has been placed. The writing is round uncials and miuch more nearly resembles the book-hand of the early Biblical Codices of the fourth and fifth centuries than the writing of the Ptolemaic period.
This papyrus figures largely in the chapter by Gregory Nagy, in C. Dué’s edited volume on the Venetus A: Recapturing a Homeric Legacy: Images and Insights from the Venetus A Manuscript of the Iliad. Center for Hellenic Studies, 2009 (link to PDF).

These students will produce two XML editions of this text. The first will present the Greek “normalized”, with conventional diacritical marks. The second will be a “diplomatic edition”, preserving only those diacritical marks that appear on the papyrus. These marks are unique among early witnesses to the contents of the Iliad, providing clues to how ancient readers experienced and understood the text.

These XML editions will be available through the project’s Canonical Text Service.

Brett, Talley, Kylie, and David will be joined in June by other collaborators, who will work on texts and images of Homeric and Biblical manuscripts.