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CO 78.1 [Fall 2000], pp. 31-34: 2000 ACL Institute, VRoma; Gramma 4.0 (Greek Drills); Biblioteca Teubneriana Latina, Saur's Bibliographies of the World, Brepols' Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts, Cetedoc Index of Latin Forms; Loescher's Il CD-ROM del Castiglione Mariotti; A Smaller Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography.
Venturing to Vroma and Beyond
Twenty-four Latin teachers got a great chance to learn how
to make the most of a great new resource on the web at this year's
ACL Institute. During one of the three intensive (6-hour) pre-Institute
workshops, Barbara McManus and a loyal crew of seasoned VRomans
showed them how to establish a persona, create their own officina,
and weave their way through the Forum and the back streets of
Rome, all through a simple online connection to the Internet.
All the while, they were able to converse with each other (by
typing) in English or Latin (or any other language that others
would understand), just as they could with their students during
a class session online. There are a few simple commands to learn
to get started and a few conventions to get accustomed to, but
it soon becomes very easy to use. Now that Barbara has retired
from her teaching job at the College of New Rochelle (NY), she
is more available to coordinate and lead a workshop for any school,
college, or organization that wants to learn more about Vroma.
And now that there is a small army of teachers trained in using
Vroma, she can usually dig up a few assistants in your area to
help keep everyone on the same page in the lab. You can email
her at: email@example.com. (VRoma site: www.vroma.org)
There were several other computer-based workshops during the regular Institute sessions, including ones on creating web pages to support a class, evaluating classical software, and using creative nonfiction and historical fiction in the classroom. Michael Posey (Collegiate School, Richmond VA) gave a particularly dynamic performance to show what a diverse collection of resources he has discovered on the web to make his teaching easier and the classwork more fun for students.
Gramma Crosses Bridge to Windows
Many teachers and students of Greek will be happy to hear that
Gramma 4.0 has recently been released for both Windows
and Macintosh (Fig. 1). Gramma started out on the Mac
platform, like many other Greek programs, such as Perseus, because
of the Mac's facile handling of alternate fonts. One of the trickier
aspects of programming is dealing with multiple fonts on multiple
platforms. Christopher Blackwell was a doctoral student at Duke,
working with Prof. Peter Burian, when he did all of the programming
for Gramma 1.0 in 1992. Now a professor of Classics at Furman
University, he has done a complete rewrite of the program, combining
its three original components-Mnemonika for vocabulary, Rhemata
for verb forms, and Onomata for noun, adjective, and pronoun forms-into
a single, main-menu interface, which is virtually identical on
the two different platforms. The vocabulary section still offers
the option of using word lists from any of three major textbooks:
Athenaze (Oxford), Reading Greek (Cambridge), or
Chase & Phillips (Harvard). Forms drills cover all possible
inflections for 18 verbs and 59 substantives (noun, adj., pron.),
and you can now opt to drill without accents.
The program package includes a 63-page user manual (most of which is available through the program's help files) and an installation CD containing both versions (Win & Mac). Site license versions cost $95; individual/home licenses are $45; and upgrade discounts for previous users are available. For more info, contact Centaur Systems Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison WI 53703-1603; tel: 888-236-8287; web: www.centaursystems.com.
Classical References Crossing the Pond
I have noticed more and more classical reference works being
published on CD in Europe lately. These seem to be some of the
first major electronic publications for the Classics from outside
the US and the UK. They may not be easily accessible to most
American teachers; but, in an effort to extend the spectrum of
our involvement to a more international realm, I thought many
of you might benefit from knowing of their existence--and their
web sites are often in English!
First, perhaps the most significant in the group is the Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina (BTL) CD-ROM, which includes 500 works from the famed Teubner Library, covering 800 years of Latin literature (300 BCE-500 CE). This is something on the scale of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. Future updates will add in the remaining 200 works in the library, including several editions that have gone out-of-print over the years. The current price of the initial CD is $750 (approx.), with a discounted high school rate of $375. The updates will cost an additional $250. Network licensing is available at approximately $45 per client. The current accessing software is Windows-only. For more information, contact Robert Maier, Katherina-Geisler Strasse 16, D-85356 Freising, Germany; tel: 49-8161-872007; web: www.maierphil.de.
Maier also carries Saur's Bibliographies of the World, including a Latin bibliography with 300,000 entries from all over the world covering the 15th century to 1999. With a range like that, you might not be surprised that the price is $1880. Information can be searched in five European languages, including English.
The publication of the BTL CD was actually a joint effort between Teubner and the Brepols Group of Belgium. Brepols provided the accessing software (or text-search utility), which they had developed to use with their own reference publications, the Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts (CLCLT) and Cetedoc Index of Latin Forms (CILF). The former is largely composed of the "Corpus Christianorum", but also includes the complete works of Ambrose, Augustine, Bernard, Gregory the Great, and Jerome, with a price range of 3000-4265 euros (roughly equivalent to dollars), depending on the purchaser's status. The latter covers virtually all surviving, literary Latin forms from Plautus to the present, at a cost of 1735-1875 euros. This database includes information on the first occurrence of a form, all the works in which it appears, the authors who use it, and its frequency of occurrence throughout the centuries. For more info on either, contact Brepols Publishers NV, Begijnhof 67, B-2300 Turnhout, Belgium; tel: 32-14-448020; web: 18.104.22.168/publishers/.
A Big Latin Dictionary, A Smaller Classical One
Il CD-ROM del Castiglione Mariotti has been touted
as perhaps the largest Latin dictionary on disk, albeit in Italian.
It contains approximately 50,000 entries and is designed more
for school and college use. The print edition was first completed
in 1965, and the CD-ROM version was just released last year.
One feature which could make it attractive to almost anyone is
its ability to look up a specific inflection and tell you what
lemma it comes from. It can be purchased for 98,000 lira (approx.
$75) from Loescher Editore SRL, Via Vittorio Amedeo II 18, I-10121
Torino, Italy; tel: 39-56-54111; web: www.loescher.it.
A very different sort of dictionary is A Smaller Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. This is an example of scanning an out-of-print book, so that it might be easily accessible once again. The drawback to pure scanning, as opposed to OCR (optical character recognition), which would try to convert the scanned graphic into electronic text, is that you cannot search the text for a particular name, and the index only covers the entry headings. For more info, contact Cornwall Business Systems, Albany Rd., Redruth, Cornwall TR15 2HY, England-UK; tel.: 44-1209-217-616; web: ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/cornwall_business_systems/.
International Conference at Cambridge
In July 1999 the first Conference on ICT & Classics was held at Oxford University in England (ICT = Information & Communication Technologies). It was a truly unique opportunity for people from all over the world to come together to learn about some of the latest technologies in our field, use them in hands-on workshops, and share their own experiences using technology in the classroom. Plans are now in the works to hold a similar two-day conference at Cambridge University in July 2001. Since I had such a hard time getting the word out last time, due to the timing of my columns and the registration deadline, I want to make sure to get some advanced notice out now. The registration deadline will probably be around February 1. If you are interested in getting further information about it, please contact the organizer, Julian Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org), as soon as possible (and start setting up those grant applications for travel stipends).
Platform-Independent Perseus (PIP) 2.0 Arrives
Julian Morgan teaches at the Derby Grammar School (UK) and acts as the Computing Coordinator for JACT. He also serves on the ACL's Committee for Educational Computing Applications. Now having done the UK launches for both Perseus 2.0 and PIP 2.0, he has become something of an expert on its resources and capabilities. He has written the following critical review of PIP 2.0 (finally including a Windows version of Perseus!), which was released in the US in February.
First released in 1996, Perseus 2.0 has now been published with the same content in a new, platform-independent version, running on Mac or PC (Fig. 4). This is excellent news for PC users, who up until now have had to depend on the more limited resources of the Perseus website. PIP (Platform-Independent Perseus) comes in two versions, "comprehensive" and "concise." Comprehensive PIP comes on four CD-ROMs and contains 24,000 color images of the ancient Greek world, including 14,500 pictures of vases, 1,000 color maps and satellite images, and 3.4 million words of Greek texts. It has a collection of philological tools which permit texts to be studied, analyzed and compared. Concise PIP comes on one as opposed to four CD-ROMs and lacks about 18,000 graphic images, though it does include thumbnail views of them all. Everything else works in the same way as the Full version.
As ever, I acknowledge our debt to Greg Crane and the Perseus team at Tufts University, whose work is so vitally important to the future of Classics worldwide: Perseus is without doubt the single most important piece of classical software in the world and it is wonderful news that it can now be bought for all computer users. The Mac implementation of PIP seems identical to the PC one and the same CD-ROM can be used on both types of computers with equal ease. Especially impressive is the installation procedure, which takes very little effort, time, or hard disk space. It is possible, though not for the fainthearted novice, to customize the paths used, so if you only have one CD drive but want to use images from more than one of the CD-ROMs, you can run PIP by saving files to your hard disk (2 GB are required to store all the information included) without having to insert and eject different disks all the time.
Perseus is a must-have acquisition for any department where Greek is taught or any other course which covers Greek art, architecture, or history. For those schools where limited use of ICT is made, PIP adds a huge amount to the departmental resource cupboard, offering a comprehensive collection of materials to extend alike to teachers and students of the Greek world. Its complexity must not be underestimated, however, which makes it especially disappointing that YUP has decided not to distribute a printed manual for the new software: this can be downloaded and printed via the internet, but this is hardly a way forward.
There are other disappointments. I found it impossible to make the Greek words in proximity search work on either Mac or PC system and noted with some despair that it is no longer possible to view English or Greek texts on their own. The only possible combination now is to have Greek on the left and English on the right, so Classical Civilization students will be confronted every time with their inability to decipher Greek. Furthermore, you cannot even adjust the display by sliding the division point between the two languages, a basic feature in both Perseus 1.0 and 2.0 for the Mac.
Not all the site plans have working image buttons as in Perseus 2.0, though the composite site plans seem fully equipped in this regard. Other missing components include Jebb's notes of Oedipous Tyrannos and an apparent reduction in the usefulness of the Search Saver,which formerly could save to the Notebook on a Mac, where the search results could be used in subsequent sessions to provide active links. All of these appear as oversights in comparison to Perseus 2 for Mac.
My advice for PC users is to buy the comprehensive version of PIP as soon as possible and spend time acclimatizing to its vagaries. It is quicker and more reliable than the Internet and having an installed base is in my opinion always preferable to using a web site. For Mac users, however, I would give different advice: if you already have Perseus 2 and won't need to use a PC, don't bother with PIP--what you have already works better and you probably also have an excellent printed manual to go with it. It is very much to be hoped that PIP will continue to be developed both in terms of the software and the content on the database. In its present form it is far from perfection, though still a fantastic resource: for my part, I hope very much to see the Perseus team carry this work forward further.
PIP costs $150 for the "concise" version and $350
for the "comprehensive" one. Upgrade discounts are
available. For more info, contact Michelle Schrag at Yale University
Press, PO Box 209040, New Haven CT 06520; tel. 203-432-7620; Web:
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