Monday, April 1, 2013

Markup /= (en)coding && Perseus + Text_Encoding_Initiative == mess

First off, what I mean to do in this post is demonstrate why the text markup used in Perseus's XML markup is useless both to a human reader and to a computer program.

The demonstration is easy: just some excerpts from the markup.

From the Perseus LSJ entry on μέν :

<bibl n="Perseus:abo:tlg,0016,001:3:67" default="NO" valid="yes">
<author>Id.</author>
<biblScope>3.67<</biblScope>>
</bibl>

Question: who or what is Id.? In computing terms, a reference or pointer. A reader of the LSJ will have noticed, or be able to find in the text, the term that is referenced. A DOM (Document Object Model) parser will not. Therefore any program using such a parser will not. The markup adds text that is superfluous for a person, and useless for a computer.

<bibl n="Perseus:abo:tlg,0012,002:1:392" default="NO" valid="yes">
<author>Od.</author>
<biblScope>1.392</biblScope>
</bibl>


Question: was Odysseus author of the Odyssey? No, but the markup seems to have forced a spurious attribution. LSJ omitted to list Homer as author, on the grounds that the Iliad and Odyssey need no authorial attribution. This is markup that is wrong (likely harmlessly so) for a human reader, but error-producing for a computer program.

Correct coding will solve these problems, though the solution requires abandoning the markup and looking for a computationally richer representation of lexicon entries. I'm going to do this in my next posts.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

αὐλῇ, Odyssey 10.10

κνισῆεν δέ τε δῶμα περιστεναχίζεται αὐλῇ
ἤματα:

αὐλῇ can't refer to a court or fold. It must be related to the root of ἄημι "blow" (h2weh1). I believe it is an archaic case form of ἄελλα "gust of wind, blast, squall" that still shows the shift from e-grade to zero in the stem, and zero to e-grade in the suffix. Homeric and later ancient Greek preserved the suffix gradation,but not the stem gradation e.g.ἀργαλέων ἀνέμων ἀτάλαντοι ἀέλλῃ Il.13.795 where the dative ending reflects -eh2i but the e-grade remains in the stem. αὐλῇ shows the older pattern in which the stem is reduced to h2uh1.

Monday, October 18, 2010

'corona' in Satyricon 35

super cancrum coronam

This term for an item in the zodiacal repositorium served by Trimalchio is out of place as not being a food item, whereas the text states

super quae proprium conuenientemque materiae structor imposuerat cibum

A "wreath" won't really do, if understood in the normal sense. There is an interesting case of corona used in relation with comestibles in Martial (iii.47.10):

illic coronam pinguibus grauem turdis
described among other beati copias ruris (line 6). What the corona was exactly isn't clear, the Oxford Latin Dictionary suggests some kind of stringing together of items in a crownlike loop.

The Satyricon passage doesn't describe any such items, along the lines of Martial's thrushes. If the comparison (and reading) are correct, perhaps the description has fallen out - some kind of sea food, perhaps?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Romance indefinite article

There is an interesting possible usage of unus as a precursor of the Romance indefinite article in Satyricon 26:
unus servus Agamemnonis interpellavit trepidantes

(if unus here is not really Eunus, a proper name suggested by Heinsius).

The chief reason for interpreting it this way would be the lack of a partitive construction (unus e servis Agamemnonis, e.g.) It is worth noting that this passage is not dialogue, rather the narrative of Encolpius, who is, ordinarily, rather fastidious.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Satyricon 23

The sentence:
perfluebant per frontem sudantis acaciae riui, et inter rugas malarum tantum erat cretae, ut putares detectum parietem nimbo laborare.
(text of F. Buecheler, Weidmann 1862)

I suggest that defectum be read for detectum and labare for laborare. These are lectiones faciliores, but yield so much more direct and more vivid sense, that I am inclined to favor them. What is wanted in this passage is something easily visualized, and these readings provide them. It is true that the words printed are cleverer, in the sense of being less obvious terms with which to build the metaphor, but I feel that the more obvious terms have a decisive advantage in immediate funniness.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fire and Iron Again

The earlier posts on this subject addressed the usage of this conjunction of elements as a metaphor for the experience of battle in Ovid and Propertius, and wondered what its source might be. There is some more evidence about this from another author, Seneca, writing later than both Ovid and Propertius. In de prouidentia, iii.2 he writes

2. Difficillimum ex omnibus quae proposui uidetur quod primum dixi, pro ipsis esse quibus eueniunt ista quae horremus ac tremimus. 'Pro ipsis est' inquis 'in exilium proici, in egestatem deduci, liberos coniugem ecferre, ignominia adfici, debilitari?' Si miraris haec pro aliquo esse, miraberis quosdam ferro et igne curari, nec minus fame ac siti.
This usage clealy refers to some kind of use of fire and iron in medicine or surgery (cautery).
L & S cites this text s.v. curo (Quintilian 4.5.5):

Nam est nonnumquam dura propositio, quam iudex si providit non aliter praeformidat quam qui ferrum medici prius quam curetur aspexit...

The Metamorphoses passages referred to earlier can only be using the first sense (battle), but Propertius's cannot be so certainly determined. The poem is ambiguous enough to support either (or both?) the idea of militant lover bearing the harsh conditions of war, or the lover being cured of the amatory affliction by extreme and painful means.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Greek suffix -υγ-

The suffix also exists in a nasalized form (-υγγ-, cf. φάρυγξ,  λάρυγξ). It is analogous to suffixes in -ι(γ)γ- -and -α(γ)γ-, and especially the very productive analogue verbal stems in -ιζ- and -αζ-, derived through palatalization of the original gamma.

The unnasalized form occurs in a few well-known stems πτερυγ- , ὀρτυγ-ἀντυγ-  and in the derived island name Ὀρτυγίη. To this list we might add, on the analogy of Ὀρτυγίη, the name of Calypso's island Ὠγυγίη. This would imply a stem ὠγυ- which would have been derived from a root, *HeHg/*HoHg, perhaps. (for the shape, compare *seHg). It my be related to the segment -ηγ- in the word μεσηγύ. 

As for the suffix, it could represent a fusion of a zero-grade element -γ- with a stem final -υ- (or -i- or -H2- in the analogous suffixes. In the case of μαστιγ-, the persistent long iota indicates *-iH-. In any case the constructions are athematic.

A list of examples of these suffixes is given in Smyth, paragraph 864.8.