Using CTS for Image-Based Electronic Editions: The Venetus A Project

paper, specified "short paper"
  1. 1. Jack Mitchell

    Stanford University

  2. 2. Dorothy Porter

    University of Kentucky

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

The Classical Text Services protocol [CTS] enables
the integration of related texts – primary text
transcriptions, different editions, translations, derived works, and annotations of any of these. The MultiText H
omer project (MTH) is a difficult editing project
because it seeks to connect all these various types of texts
relating to the Iliad, starting with the oldest (and, arguably, the most important) manuscript of the text, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice, Venetus A.
In addition to the text of the Iliad, Venetus A includes numerous commentaries called scholia, which serve to describe particular aspects of the main text. The textual variants that are preserved in the scholarly commentary of the Venetus A allow us to recover some of the multiformity that was lost in the process of text fixation that gave final or near-final shape to these two monumental oral poems. Variants also give us valuable insights into the process of oral composition-in-performance. The Homer scholia help us reconstruct the broad diachronic dimensions inherent in the evolution of Homeric textual traditions. Different
Homeric textual traditions may have been definitive at different historical moments, but no single Homeric textual
version can be deemed definitive beyond its own historical context. The scholia to the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad preserve a treasury of ancient variants and allow us the opportunity to consider many possible texts at many different stages of transmission. Through the scholia, we can recover both a more accurate and a more accessible picture of the fluidity inherent in the Homeric tradition, especially during the earliest stages of the text.
The scholia, though vital for building an understanding of the Iliad, have never been completely edited, or even transcribed. The reason for this may be obvious given a cursory glance at the manuscript: their appearance on the page is incredibly complex. See Figure 1 below for one small example that shows a representative section of Venetus A. Figure 1: A slice from Venetus A, folio 111v, showing
(from left to right): Marginal numbers in the Greek
alpha-numeric system; marginal scholia (main collection);
illuminated capital, showing the first letter in a new book;
inter-marginal scholia; book title; main text of the Iliad,
including interlinear notes.
The layers of text evident throughout Venetus A are
perhaps best described by Thomas W. Allen in an article
of 1898, the last paragraph of an article concerning the
history of the creation of Venetus A [Allen]. We include
it here in its entirety:
To recapitulate the history of the MS. which we have
now reconstructed; the sheets, numbered and ruled,
were given out to be written. The scribe who received
them wrote the text and the principal scholia in the
places ruled to contain them; during the act of
writing he made corrections from time to time both
in the text and the scholia. This done, he apparently
began the book again and wrote in the irregular space
left between the scholia and the text, and between
the lines of the text, other shorter scholia in a different
type of hand. He took advantage of this opportunity
to correct in an exhaustive manner the text he had
written; he added and altered breathings, accents
and apostrophes, added and corrected critical signs,
and wrote above or in the inner margin corrections
of words. The book, thus complete in substance, was
given to the original scribe who had numbered the
quires and ruled the lines; he compared it throughout
with the archetype and noted on the edge of the page
differences; sometimes he accompanied these with
a mark to call attention; he added lines left out, and
omitted scholia either in the ruled margin or the
intermediate space. In a few places he explicitly refers
to his authority to defend himself from corrections
already made in the text by, as it would seem, the
first hand on his second round. Lastly, a third person
reviewed in detail the suggestions of the reviser;
deleted a great number of them in favour of the reading
in the text, and in other cases substituted a correction
of his own. He added likewise omitted scholia and
remarks of a general nature upon the context. This
excessive carefulness in the preparation of the book
is further seen in the numbering of the similes, the
quantitative marks, and the supplements of the
For a successful edition, we need software and encoding
support that will enable the editors to separate out and
edit these multiple layers of text, and changes made to the
manuscript over time, while specifying the relationships
among those layers.
To ensure that the TEI-XML files are accessible to CTS
querying, we need to ensure that the various manuscript
texts (main text and scholia) are encoded clearly, while
at the same time maintaining links among the texts and
between the texts and the manuscript images. We are
currently storing main text and scholia for each of the
24 books of the Iliad, plus introduction, in separate XML
files – 50 files in all. The various scholia are encoded as
separate divisions, one division each for marginal scholia
(Am), intermarginal scholia (Aim), interior marginal
scholia (Aint), interlinear scholia (Ail), book subscription
(Asub), and book metrical introduction (Amet) – six
divisions total. Within the divisions, groups of scholia
that comment upon or provide alternate readings for a
single lemma are grouped together as numbered segments
alongside the lemma. The following example shows the
encoding for the first set of marginal scholia in Book 4:
<div type=”marginal” n=”Am.4”>
<p n=”1”>
<seg type=”lemma”>Lemma for first marginal
scholia, Book 4</seg> <seg type=”schol” n=”1”>First marginal scholion, Book 4</seg>
<seg type=”schol” n=”2”>Second marginal scholion, Book 4</seg>
The “n” attributes provide the means by which CTS can access the scholia texts and build citations either from the
lowest level – all the marginal scholia (Am – all marginal scholia)– to within the individual scholion (Am.4.1.0 – the lemma for the first marginal scholia of Book 4).
In addition to the XML files we have 641 image files, one for each side of the manuscript folios that survive and contain text. We are currently using the File Section and Structural Map functions of the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard [METS] to build indices that associate image files to the corresponding areas in the main text file, and that will associate areas of the image files with the corresponding TEI-encoded scholia. For this presentation, we will describe the complex textual and physical organization of the Venetus A manuscript including display of representative folios containing all of the six types of scholia. We will illustrate how CTS along with TEI and METS provides a robust scheme for organizing and accessing a complex image-based editing project.

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info



Hosted at Université Paris-Sorbonne, Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne University)

Paris, France

July 5, 2006 - July 9, 2006

151 works by 245 authors indexed

The effort to establish ADHO began in Tuebingen, at the ALLC/ACH conference in 2002: a Steering Committee was appointed at the ALLC/ACH meeting in 2004, in Gothenburg, Sweden. At the 2005 meeting in Victoria, the executive committees of the ACH and ALLC approved the governance and conference protocols and nominated their first representatives to the ‘official’ ADHO Steering Committee and various ADHO standing committees. The 2006 conference was the first Digital Humanities conference.

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (26), ACH/ALLC (18), ALLC/EADH (33), ADHO (1)

Organizers: ACH, ADHO, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None