Sunday, December 10, 2006

Classics Majors Embark on Groundbreaking Scholarly Research in Homeric Poetry | College of the Holy Cross

This project is similar to something I've always thought would be a boon to classical scholars - the ability to embed digital copies of passages from original ancient sources about a particular event or person in history in a comprehensive reference to the event or person. Bibliographies simply are not as interactive as our computer society now expects. For example, if I am studying about political assassination in the ancient world, my research could be so much more productive and efficient if I could have the pertinent passages available as a linked pop-up window rather than a list of books that, somewhere within their pages, contain a reference to assassination.

Holy Cross University:
Classics Majors Embark on Groundbreaking Scholarly Research in Homeric Poetry

Four Holy Cross classics majors are tackling a project of epic proportions.

William Dolan ?10, Michael Kinney ?10, Katherine Schmieg ?09, and Patrick Walsh ?09 have been selected to serve a crucial role in the pioneering preservation of the world?s most important works of literature. They are working during the 2006-07 academic year with their professors on the Homer Multitext Project, a long-term analysis and electronic presentation of all the many variations of Homer?s epic poetry. As the newest Homer Multitext Fellows, their contributions will join those of classical scholars at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Furman University, the University of Houston, and several other colleges and universities.

The project is unusual in several respects, not the least of which is its electronic component. The epic poetry of Homer was originally passed on orally, taking on a slightly different form every time it was told. The work of these scholars involves examining all references and sources in all Homeric variations. When complete, every element connected to the original Homeric poetry will be available in a digital format so scholars and general readers alike will be able to experience much more than reading the plain text on a page.

?We?re putting all the components of Homeric epic as it survives today ? in medieval manuscripts, shredded scrolls from the sands of Egypt, the remnants of ancient scholarship on Homer, even vase paintings from Athens ? into a single framework, to let them ?talk? to each other directly,? explains Jack Mitchell, assistant professor of classics at Holy Cross and one of the editors of the Multitext Project. ?This is why it?s called a ?multitext?? we want as much variety as possible.?