Monday, July 30, 2012

Homer Multitext receives National Endowment for the Humanities Award

We were thrilled to learn last week that the Homer Multitext has been awarded a Scholarly Editions and Translations grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. We wish to express our thanks to the NEH, as well as to the Center for Hellenic Studies, which is contributing matching funds to the project. Here is our abstract for the grant, which will cover three years of work.

Editing as a Discovery Process: Accessing centuries of scholarship in one 10th century manuscript of the Iliad

Casey Dué and Mary Ebbott

Statement of significance and impact

Our proposed scholarly edition will publish in its entirety for the first time what is arguably the single most important historical witness to the Homeric Iliad: the tenth-century manuscript held in the Marciana Library in Venice known as the Venetus A. Not only is it the oldest complete text of the Iliad in existence, the Venetus A contains abundant writings in its margins (called scholia) that preserve the otherwise lost ancient scholarship about the poem collected in the Library of Alexandria and further elucidated by generations of scholars in antiquity. This manuscript is an unparalleled resource for the study of the Iliad, but its contents and our methods for creating this edition will also contribute to larger questions in the humanities in general about the nature of authorship, the interaction between orality and literacy, modes of textual transmission, and the practices of scholarly editing, both historically and currently.

Our edition will be based on and will incorporate the high-resolution digital images of this manuscript acquired in 2007 for the Homer Multitext (HMT) project (, of which we are co-Editors. Our digital edition of the text and scholia of the Venetus A will provide a complete transcription of every item on the page of the manuscript, spatially linked to the already published high-resolution images. The transcriptions will be encoded in TEI-XML and then made freely available in both human- and machine-readable form via the Homer Multitext. Any interested user will be able to download them or reuse and/or republish them for their own purposes under a Creative Commons license. Various tools will allow users to view and search the text in multiple ways. The digitally-mapped transcriptions will make it easy for users to find texts on the images and the mark-up of the transcriptions will also make the contents easily searchable. Our preliminary work on this manuscript as well as others has shown that a significant percentage of the scholia, which transmit Homeric scholarship as old as the third century BCE, has never been published in any edition. The proposed publication, then, will provide complete access to this essential primary source for the poem that marks the beginning of Western literature to the entire scholarly community, and indeed to any interested user.

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