CO 71.1 [Fall 1993], pp. 21-24: CD-ROM discussed; TLG and PHI CD-ROM disks of Greek and Latin texts; text-search utilities; Pandora, Searcher, Pharos, LBase, Patrologia Latina, JPROGS' Roman Gods, Roman Technology, Theseus & the Minotaur, The Travels of Odysseus; Videotape Proposal; LATIN-L e-mail discussion group
Many of us now get anxious to hear that phrase spoken about one of our
old favorite musical albums (the ones that we already have in at least two
other formats--33, 45, or 78-rpm records and 8-track, cassette, or reel-to-reel
tapes). Well, in this case, I'd like to talk about the crossover of compact
discs from the world of music into the world of computers.
Music CDs have been around long enough now to be considered mainstream; they are pretty much taken for granted by both teenagers and radio DJs. Main of you may be familiar with the fact that a compact disc can easily hold as much music as a full, two-sided album from the old days--and then some. In fact, it can hold as much as 74 minutes of high-quality, digitized audio.
What you may not have been aware of is that, since the music on a CD is digitized, it is the electronic equivalent of a computer disk. When music CDs established a standardized format for production and became widely accepted, the cost of production went down dramatically, and this paved the way for the crossover of CDs into the computer world. (Many people don't realize that the earliest Apple II computers actually used cassette tapes for recording data before the floppy disk standards were set.) The computer equivalent of 74 minutes of sound is 660 megabytes of data--the same as 825 low-density 3 1/2-inch floppy disks or 16 40-megabyte hard disks! This may give you some idea of the complexity of digitized sound (whether it's music or voice).
The ROM part of CD-ROM stands for "read-only memory." This merely means that the data has been permanently imprinted on the disk. You cannot add new data to it, and you cannot inadvertently erase any of it either.
Since CD-ROM disks are most noteworthy for their capacity to store large amounts of data, they have been used mostly as repositories for reference materials like encyclopedias and dictionaries. Because standardized formats have been established for CD-ROM disks, it is possible for them to be used with different computer types (IBM or Macintosh, most notably) as long as there is an appropriate "front end" or accessing program for the particular computer you want to use.
In my last column I gave a fairly detailed description of Perseus 1.0 (see CO 70.3 [Spring 1993]: 106-7), which is published on a CD-ROM disk, with an optional, accompanying videodisc. Perseus has a Macintosh/HyperCard "front end," so that it can only be used on Macintosh computers at this point. However, I do understand that the editors and publisher are seriously looking into the feasibility of creating an IBM/Windows version of Perseus. They are trying to assess the demand for this, so let them know if you have a strong need for it. Contact Mary Coleman, Yale University Press, 92A Yale Station, New Haven, CT 06520; tel. 203-432-0912.
The earliest, large development project applying CD-ROM technology in
the Classics was the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG). The creation of the
TLG began in 1972--long before CDs became the medium of choice for large-scale
databases. Now, many grants later and still under the tutelage of its founder,
Theodore Bruner, the TLG has accomplished its task of collecting in electronic
form the entire body of ancient Greek literature from Homer to AD 600. It
contains over 60 million words and 3,000 authors (truly a Herculean task!),
and the work continues nonetheless. The current phase of the project aims
to make it all the way up to the fall of Constantinople in AD 1453.
The TLG CD-ROM disk is licensed for five years (institutions $850, individuals $500), so that it can be updated regularly. For more information, contact Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, Univ. of California, Irvine, CA 92717; tel. 714-856-7031.
Originally, the only easy way to access, search, and excerpt material from the TLG disk was by means of the specially designed Ibycus computer. The Ibycus had grown up almost as a sibling to the electronic TLG. David Packard, a member of one of the founding families of the Hewlett-Packard computer company, is a classicist with a strong faculty for computer applications. He created the Ibycus computer as a machine dedicated specifically to working with classical languages, complete with a Greek/Roman alphabet wordprocessor and a text-search tool for the TLG built in. Because of the limited market for such a machine and the rapidly declining prices of other personal computers and multilingual wordprocessors, attention has shifted away from the Ibycus to more standardized computer tools.
However, David Packard and the Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) continue to produce new electronic tools for the classicist. They released their first CD-ROM Demonstration Disk #1 in 1987. That disk was prepared from texts gathered, entered, and edited by PHI and CCAT (the Center for the Computer Analysis of Texts at the University of Pennsylvania). They have continued to update the amount of text stored and now publish two separate disks (#5--Latin & #6--Greek Documentary). These materials are designed to complement the TLG CD-ROM.
The Latin CD-ROM disk contains nearly all classical Latin literary texts through AD 200, together with a few later texts (Servius, Prophyry, Zeno, Justinian). It also includes several versions of the Bible (the Septuagint, Hebrew Bible, Coptic New Testament, Latin Vulgate, King James and RSV Bibles). The Greek Documentary disk includes papyri prepared at Duke University, with assistance from the University of Michigan, and inscriptions prepared at Cornell, Ohio State, and the Institute for Advanced Study.
Both disks are distributed by a license agreement which can cover either a one-year ($40 each) or three-year ($100 each) period. This way the publishers can make updates available on a continual basis. For more information, contact the Packard Humanities Institute, 302 Second St. #201, Los Altos, CA 94022; tel. 415-948-0150.
Neither the TLG nor the PHI disks are specific to any computer type.
It all depends on the text-search program you use to read them, and there
are good text-searchers for both IBM and Macintosh computers. These programs
can also be used to extract passages in various wordprocessor formats for
inclusion in scholarly articles or student handouts (within the limits of
The most commonly used text search program for the Macintosh-based classicist is called Pandora. It was developed at Harvard by Elli Mylonas, who is also the managing editor of the Perseus program. It has been updated to version 2.5 and has proved very reliable over time. It costs $50 and is published by both Scholars Press (PO Box 15288, Atlanta, GA 30333) and Intellimation (PO Box 219, Santa Barbara, CA 93116).
In the IBM world, Randall Smith has been keeping CD-ROM disks accessible to the classicist, first with his Searcher program ($15) for DOS and now with his new Pharos program ($50) for Windows. For more information, contact the author (RSmith1@cc.swarthmore.edu) or Dan Thibodeau (Humanities Computing Facility, 4421 South Hall, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.
One more IBM-based text search tool which is used generally in the language field is called LBase. It can be used with electronic text in Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic, and other languages, as well as English, Greek, and Latin. The program costs $245 and is published by Silver Mountain Software, 7246 Cloverglen Dr., Dallas, TX 75249; tel. 214-709-6364.
If you can't get enough textual material for your own appetite and money
is no object, have I got the software for you!
The Patrologia Latina Database is a complete electronic version of the classic 19th-century collection of texts edited by the ecclesiastical publisher, Jacques-Paul Migne. It covers over a millenium of work by the "Latin fathers," from Tertullian in AD 200 through Innocent III in 1216, using SGML code to expedite accessibility. (The PLD is also available in magnetic tape form.) IBM-compatible text retrieval software is included, and it requires 2MB of RAM for operation. The entire set can be yours for $50,000 (site license)! Each of four parts can be purchased separately for $14,500 a piece. For more information, contact Chadwick-Healey Inc., 1101 King St., Alexandria, VA 22314; tel. 800-752-0515.
There were at least ten different computer-related presentations at the
ACL Institute in Boulder this year! This was a big jump over the usual two
or three. Is it a sign that Classics teachers are now getting into computers
in a big way? I'm not sure. But it certainly did make for difficult planning.
We actually had to have two full, concurrent sessions of computer workshops
(four topics each). Jim Chapman (Univ. of Kentucky) impressed a large plenary
session with a practical demonstration on "Using Perseus in the Mythology
Classroom," complete with slick graphics and bit-mapped photos transmitted
from his small Macintosh PowerBook computer, a CD-ROM drive, and a portable
LCD projection panel, all of which fit neatly into a medium-size carrying
The Institute was also the occasion for the American release of a new
set of Macintosh programs for the Classics, developed in England by JPROGS
Software. The author of the programs, Julian Morgan, gave a presentation
which explained the state of computer usage in British schools and detailed
his efforts to help other Latin teachers evaluate and effectively use software
in their classes. He has written four HyperCard-based programs on classical
mythology and technology. The software makes extensive use of animation
and other graphics to narrate the stories of Odysseus, Theseus, and most
of the common Roman gods, as well as demonstrating the workings of common
Roman inventions like the aqueduct, the arch, and the spear-catapult. There
has really been nothing like this for the Classics yet. If the response
of teachers at the ACL Institute is any indication, students will surely
enjoy using these programs to help them bring these myths to life and understand
how Roman technology changed the world.
There is a series of four quizzes on each disk which give students (and their teachers) a chance to find out how well the information is being absorbed. Scores are temporarily saved on disk and can be printed out by either the teacher or the student. Teachers who are familiar with HyperCard can even change the quiz questions and answers, if they like. The four programs are: The Travels of Odysseus, Theseus and the Minotaur, Roman Gods, and Roman Technology. They will be published in the U.S. by Centaur Systems and distributed by the ACL's Teaching Materials and Resource Center (TMRC). Site licenses for each program cost $95. Contact the ACL-TMRC, Miami Univ., Oxford, OH 45056.
I apologize for my brief note about the 1993 Software Directory for the
Classics in my last column. In my haste to get the notice out, I neglected
to provide the contact information for it. At that time the cost had not
yet been set, so I can now add that onto the source listing.
Like the old Survey of Latin Instructional Software, the new, more comprehensive Software Directory for the Classics is published by the ACL's Teaching Materials and Resource Center (TMRC), Miami Univ., Oxford, OH 45056. The cost is $10 ($8 for ACL members), plus $3.70 for shipping and handling.
Last year I mentioned in this column that the ACL Committee on Educational
Computer Applications (CECA) was trying to ascertain the level of interest
and potential input for production of a videotape on the use of computers
in the classroom. We have gotten many positive responses affirming the need
for such a video. Many teachers would like to see instructive models and
sample scenarios which will help them envision possible applications in
their own classes. Several good examples have been suggested, particularly
in the Chicago area, where we presented workshops at the Illinois Classical
Conference and the ACTFL Convention last fall. But we still have need for
more. If you or a Classics teacher you know is making effective use of computers
in the classroom and would be willing to be filmed in action, please let
me know as soon as possible. If your school would like to do the filming
(for a media/communications class project?), all the better. We are putting
together a detailed proposal before we look into funding sources. Your help
is greatly appreciated.
The new electronic discussion groups, or E-groups, must be a lot easier
to administer (via list servers) than the old bulletin board systems (BBS)
since they seem to be multiplying rapidly throughout every branch of academia.
In either form they can be valuable opportunities to spread news fast and
to get immediate feedback on simple questions or major issues in the field.
In my last column I mentioned the CLASSICS E-group based at the University of Washington (CO 70.2 [Spring 1993]: 109). Now Kevin Berland has announced the formation of LATIN-L, a new E-group for anyone interested in Latin. Its Bitnet and Internet addresses are:
To subscribe, send an E-mail message to the list server address of your choice containing the single line:
subscribe Latin-L "your name"
with your own full name (not your E-mail address) and no quotes.
According to Berland, the new group is "a forum for people interested in classical Latin, medieval Latin, and Neo-Latin. The languages of choice are Latin (of course) and whatever vulgar languages you feel comfortable using. Please be prepared to translate on request. The field is open--name your topic!" For more information, contact Kevin Berland directly (firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com).
I should caution anyone who hasn't tried out an E-group yet to be prepared for a bundle of E-mail. You will need to keep a close eye on your E-mail box and regularly delete unnecessary items to make sure that your allotted space doesn't fill up. There are ways to remove your name temporarily from the distribution list, which can be useful if you expect to be out of town or otherwise detained. Consider yourself warned!