CO 73.3 [Spring 1996], pp. 96-99: World Wide Web discussed; Electronic Resources for Classics (Pantelia) and Perseus Web sites; Mythology, Artes Latinae, Latin Through the Ages, Humanist Latin Dictionary; update on Wrath of the Gods
Unless you have been playing Rip Van Winkle for the last year or so,
you should be aware that "The World According to the Internet"
has been taken over by the World Wide Web (WWW), or just "the Web,"
for short. It has been rather startling, but in many ways gratifying, to
see a truly user-friendly interface finally make the Internet the attractive
and accessible information source that its proponents have touted it as
for many years.
The Web brings a graphical user interface (GUI) to the Internet, making it work much like standard, mouse-based Macintosh and Windows software. This, of course, requires a whole new level of complexity in data transfer, which means that only newer, high-powered computers can handle the Web with much dexterity. Older machines will show a pronounced sluggishness in manipulating Web materials. If you don't have a direct Internet connection through a campus or corporate network, the other determining factor is the speed of your modem. A 14,400 bps (baud per second) modem is now considered minimal for Web usage (approx. cost: $100).
The standard upon which the Web is based is HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and its correlative, HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTML allows for the posting of sophisticated graphical images and the creation of "hot" buttons or links between words or symbols on the screen and related information. These links can be connected to another page of information or to a completely different site on the other side of the world!
Usually, your Internet server will provide you with Web "browser"
software. Many of the big, national servers, like America On-Line and CompuServe,
have their own built-in Web browsers. Others are usually some version of
either Mosaic or Netscape. The former was developed at the Univ. of Illinois
by Marc Andreessen, while he was still a grad student there. The latter
he also wrote, after starting up a new, independent business for that specific
purpose. Netscape has a few additional features that make it somewhat more
flexible and easy to use. There are versions of each that are free for use
by nonprofit, educational institutions.
Once you get your Web browser up and running, the first place I would recommend you check out is Maria Pantelia's site at the Univ. of New Hampshire. It is called "Electronic Resources for Classicists," and it is probably the most comprehensive collection of information and direct links to other sites on the topic. The address is:
Notice how a standard Web site address begins with "http://," followed by an Internet server address (ending in ".edu," ".com," ".org," ".net," or a country code), and sometimes a specific directory and filename at that address. There is now a new acronym being used for all Internet-based information sources: an "URL" (pronounced like the man's name, Earl) is a "Universal (or Uniform) Resource Locator." Some URLs might begin with "ftp://" or "gopher://" for those respective protocols. (See CO 72.3 [Spring 1995]: 97-8 and CO 73.1 [Fall 1995]: 28-9, regarding FTP and Gopher.)
If you want to see the state-of-the-art in Web sites, then you should try the Perseus site (http://medusa.perseus.tufts.edu). It contains an on-line version of portions of Perseus 2.0, allows powerful text searches and morphological analyses, and now offers forms drilling on-line, too. If you don't have a Greek font installed, you can download a font from the site to use with it.
As the Web becomes more and more interactive, it threatens to replace the need to have software installed on your own hard drive. Some people suggest that you will someday merely go on-line to do all your computing and pay user fees (by the second) for the time spent using the programs and data at each site. Ironically, such a trend could lead us back to the centralized mainframe and "dumb" terminals.
Every few months I seem to run across a new CD-ROM program for the Classics.
My latest discovery is a spanking new release from the Thomas S. Klise Co.,
a publisher of educational filmstrips and videos that is now getting into
computer-based materials. Their initial classical CD-ROM release, simply
called Mythology, is subtitled "An Introduction to Greek and Roman
Mythology." It aims to be a fairly comprehensive look at the meaning
of myths in general, using the Greek and Roman classics as models. The index
shows its range by listing references to Paul Bunyon, Aborigines, Chaucer,
Shakespeare, Freud, and O'Neill.
The program is very well-organized, with menus that lead the user progressively from a basic definition of myth to the early Greek creation myths, through the Olympic "melodramas," and eventually to Roman assimilation of the Greek originals with their own indigenous myths. Each section follows a consistent format of informative exposition followed by what are called "Fun Activities," which could be anything from a true-false quiz to the building of a personal family tree (to mimic the Olympic one). This format looks well-suited to independent work by students or even self-teaching at home. The graphics are creative and colorful watercolor renditions of mythological figures and scenes. The cost of the disk is $98.
The same publisher is about to release three other new classical CD-ROM titles in preparation, to be called The Road to Ancient Egypt/Greece/Rome ($78 each). All four programs are available in both Mac and PC formats. To receive a complete catalog or more information, contact the Thomas S. Klise Co., P.O. Box 317, Waterford, CT 06385; tel. 860-442-4449.
Waldo Sweet used the pedagogical principles of "programmed instruction"
in the late 1960s to create the Latin textbook, Artes Latinae. This methodology
was designed to break the learning process down into "bite-size bits"
and structure it carefully according to a flow-chart system of feedback
and looping, requiring a minimal level of competency before a student could
proceed to a higher level. This way a motivated and well-disciplined student
could proceed through the textbook almost entirely on his or her own. As
a result, this text has been very popular with home schoolers and anyone
else teaching themselves Latin without a Latinist friend on hand to help
them. It is also used in a number of schools around the country, especially
in multilevel classrooms.
The methodology, as you may recognize, was strongly based on systems theory and computer programming, so it makes perfect sense that this textbook should be the first one to be completely converted into a computer-based version. Bolchazy-Carducci, current publishers of the print version of Artes Latinae, have been working for the last few years with teacher-programmer Jeffrey Lyon and several other teacher-consultants to accomplish this. They have incorporated some of the supplementary materials for the textbook into the CD-ROM, including audio recordings in both the American Scholastic and the Restored Classical styles of pronunciation.
The first CD-ROM disk to be published this spring is the Level 1 text for PCs (Windows 3.1, sound card, VGA monitor), with a special introductory price of $165. Future publications will include a Macintosh version, the Level 2 text, the accompanying Graded Readers, and upgrades containing photographs and extended audio readings. To receive a free demo disk or more information, contact Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers Inc., 1000 Brown St., Unit 101, Wauconda, IL 60084; tel. 800-392-6453; e-mail: BOLCHAZY@delphi.com.
Rose Williams has been teaching Latin at various levels for over 38 years,
spending many summers searching Europe for new materials to hold her students'
attention. She wants them to realize how Latin has been used to express
many of the great philosophical and scientific ideas of Western Civilization.
By collecting some of the most interesting pieces of writing from a broad
range authors, from Vitruvius and Quintilian to Galvani and Volta, and adding
a glossary of the technical terms, lists of comprehension questions, and
photographs of some of the authors (in statue and bust form) and their inventions,
all presented in a smooth, hypermedia format, Williams has compiled what
amounts to a complete electronic textbook for a reading unit at the intermediate
level of Latin instruction.
The program is menu-driven and easy to follow, but students will still require plenty of teacher assistance to evaluate translations and answers to the essay-type questions. Although there is no grammatical assistance or interactive questioning provided by the program, all of the readings, vocabulary, and questions can be printed out for work done without the computer. The program is sold by site license ($129), so that a school only needs to purchase one master copy, which it may install on a network or on multiple hard drives in computer labs. It is available in PC format (Windows 3.1, VGA monitor) and requires 5Mb of storage space. For more information, contact Rose Williams, 2601 S. 38th, Abilene, TX 79605; tel. 915-692-5299.
There is a new option available to those looking for a Latin dictionary
in electronic form. The Humanist Latin Dictionary has been created by William
Harris, Professor Emeritus of Middlebury College, and was recently released
by Centaur Systems. It contains over 15,000 entries covering classical,
literary Latin, with commentary on issues of grammar, syntax, and morphology;
it allows searching on several levels: whole English or Latin words (main
dictionary form) and partial Latin words (both stems and imbedded roots).
There are also facilities for loading a textual passage in a separate window
or tagging word entries to create a list for quick review or printing.
The Basic version costs $95 for a school site license and $60 for a single-user, home license. A special Notes version provides more detailed notes on cultural, historical, and literary background (some of them containing adult language) and allows the creation of personal notes for any word (which may then be searched, too); it is priced at $125 (school) and $80 (home), respectively. Both versions are currently available for Macintosh; a PC version is expected later this spring. It requires 4Mb of RAM and 3.7Mb of hard disk space. There is also a demo disk available for $10 (deductible from a future purchase). For more information, contact Centaur Systems, Ltd., 407 N. Brearly St., Madison, WI 53703; tel. 608-255-6979; Web: http://www.centaursystems.com.
In my last column (CO 73.1 [Fall 1995]: 28), I mistakenly labeled Prof.
Leo Curran's set of three programs for Latin teachers as freeware when,
in fact, they are shareware. You can obtain a free evaluation copy of the
software; but, if you decide to actually use the programs with your classes,
you are expected to send $20 per program to the author. To obtain your own
examination copy of Roman Calendar, Natalis, and Vinco Bingo, send a blank,
Mac-formatted disk with stamped, self-addressed return envelope to Leo Curran,
4317 Harlem Rd., Snyder, NY 14226.
Since the release in 1994 of the now-popular, interactive fiction CD-ROM,
Wrath of the Gods (see CO 72.1 [Fall 1994]: 31-32), the publisher has developed
a detailed, 75-page teacher's guide to accompany the program for classroom
usage ($10), made extra copies of the disk available at a substantial discount
($20 each, with further discounts at quantity levels), and changed its name
from Luminaria to SOME Interactive. To find out more, you can reach them
directly at 539 Bryant St., Suite 303, San Francisco, CA 94107; tel. 800-821-2060.
Have fun wandering the Web!