Bryn Mawr Classical Review 96.8.2

Robert Maier, LECTOR. Versio Demonstrationis 3.4. Frankfurt: Robert Maier, 1996. 2 Discs for IBM-compatible PC. $240 (private license), $720 (institute license), $25 (demo-version).

Reviewed by Markus Sehlmeyer, Ancient History, Untere Maschstr, 7, D-37073 Göttingen,

LECTOR was developed to retrieve the Greek and Latin texts available on the CD-ROMs by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and the Packard Humanities Institute.1 Only a demo-version of the retrieval-software was available for this review, which was limited to Latin authors with an odd filenumber, e.g. Sallust = LAT0631.TXT on PHI CD-ROM # 5.3. The DOS-Environment seems somewhat old fashioned. In fact, some knowledge is necessary to make available 540 KB of RAM in DOS or to write a PIF for Windows.

The search for a single word in some authors is too complicated in LECTOR, because the ability to "click on" authors (as one can do in Musaios or Pandora) is not available. One has to search in one author or in all authors. The results can be exported in ASCII, RTF or Wordperfect-Format. Searching with LECTOR for "?e?i???" in the historian Sallust gives 15 results: deditus (1x), desidia (2x), delicta (1x), fecisse (3x), legibus (3x), miseram (1x), regibus (1x), sedibus (1x) and relicui (2x). Pandora finds the same passages, but Musaios finds also two other passages: ne illi (Cat. 11,8) and venisse (Cat. 20,1,2). The second one is false (it's con-venisse), but the first one shows an interesting feature of Musaios: also spaces are included in the search, which is perhaps useful for epigraphic questions (filling of gaps in recently found inscriptions). In contrast with Musaios LECTOR has better printing capabilities, that are as good as in Pandora. But the Greek truetypefont delivered with LECTOR (for additional $ 35) has some ugly characters, e.g. eta with circumflex and spiritus.

It is also possible with LECTOR to search for alliterations, which could be important for the study of the interdependencies between poets. There are some epics with an impair filenumber, e.g. Ennius (LAT0043.TXT) and Lucan (LAT0917.TXT). For Lucan, if all alliterations with three repetitions or more are retrieved, then the list looks like this:

C: 0917/001/BC/Luc / 0 0 0 0 1 1 a per Emathios plus quam ciuilia campos iusque datum sceleri c
P: 0917/001/BC/Luc / 0 0 0 0 1 13 heu, quantum terrae potuit pelagique parari hoc quem ciuiles hause
C: 0917/001/BC/Luc / 0 0 0 0 1 87 concordes nimiaque cupidine caeci, quid miscere iuuat uires orbem
P: 0917/001/BC/Luc / 0 0 0 0 1 125 rre potest Caesarue priorem Pompeiusue parem. quis iustius induit arm

This is a useful function, but it is also possible to get such a list with Pandora, if single lines with "c*" and "c*" and "c*" are searched.2 In most cases, it is enough to know if an alliteration of one specific letter is existing elsewhere. Another function of LECTOR allows one to search for accumulations of the same characters, which produce similar sounds. Unfortunately this function doesn't work well. As I tried to print a list of accumulations in Lucan, an error appeared: quidam error in vocabulis quaerendis (the author thought to be useful to translate all orders and messages into Latin). I have tried several times with others authors, but the function was only able to give results on the screen, but not on the printer.

LECTOR also enables one to create a concordance, which is not possible with Musaios or Pandora. So I tried to create a concordance of the New Testament (CIV0003.TXT). This function is somewhat slow, but some time later I got (only for aa-ab) 7 hits, beginning with:

*AARWN: NT-/002-Luke-> 1, 5, 3

You can choose between ASCII- (Beta-Code), Wordperfect- and RTF-Greek. The control with a printed concordance3 showed the correctness of the output of LECTOR, but, in the interest of saving paper, a revision with text processing software would be appropriate.

To sum up, it can be said that LECTOR is, considering the price of $240, only interesting for someone who often produces concordances or needs the possibility to search for alliterations.4 For searching of single words it is too expensive. The facility of searching in a list of authors, which is not only needed in historical research, is lacking.5 The programmer should also correct the print option in the searching for letter accumulations.


  • [1] There are, of course, some other retrieval programs available for PCs: Musaios (1.0d for Windows and Windows 95), Lbase and View & Find. Chr. Schaefer, Computer und antike Texte, St. Katharinen 1993, compares the facilities of Lbase and View & Find intensively. (For Macintosh "Pandora" is wide spread. It was developed for the Perseus Project, but works also separately.) An actual list of all software is available on Internet: gopher://
  • [2] Musaios can only search two words at the same time.
  • [3] Concordantia omnium vocum novi testamenti Graeci, cura Caroli Hermanni Bruder, Göttingen 7.ed. 1913.
  • [4] For philological purposes one should have a look at View & Find, which has more searching facilities (Schaefer (note 1) p. 156-165). The program is of course much more expensive (800 DM, round about $500).
  • [5] For my personal retrievals Musaios has proved successful, but printing facilities are lacking. If I need a list of the found passages, I use Pandora on Macintosh.