BMCR 1995.04.10

1995.04.10, Jory, Epigraph

, Epigraph: A Database of Roman Inscriptions. Melbourne: Space-Time Research Pty Ltd, 1994. CD-Rom with Macintosh or IBM Installation Diskette. $400.00 (individual).

Epigraph makes available on CD Rom volume 6 of the CIL (Rome) in two databases (text only and raw data). The software program for Macintosh is user-friendly and On-line Help is comprehensive and explains just about everything.

The format and advantage of each database is clearly stated both in an info-sheet which came with the disk and in On-line Help: “[text only] contains the full text of the inscriptions and displays the data without any marks for epigraphical features or editorial annotation. It is best for searching for words or phrases, without regard to format, condition or completion”; “[raw data] contains the full text of the inscriptions plus marks for unusual letter forms, ligatures, … [It] is best for searching for particular features without regard to vocabulary or context, or for refining searches that were begun in Text Only.” For example, 2080.1-5 in CIL 6 (italics = supplement, . = lacuna):

C. Heren ni o Dol abella
L . . . . l . . . . . R ufo co(n)s(ulibus)
m agi st erio
C. Vit ori Hosidi Ge t ae
X k(alendas) Ianuar(ias)

in text only:


in raw data (all the symbols and the transliteration of Greek by the Roman alphabet are explained in On-line Help):

C .H^E^REN+%%+O +*%%%+9A^B^ELLA^*
L^ +—- +9L+—- *%+9VFO* .COS
+9ORI HOSIDI *GE^+%+αε

If one were to search for Dolabella, which seems a certain enough supplement, 2080 would not be found in either format.

Once a database has been chosen, the thing searched for is further broken down into these categories: inscription number, full text, cognomina, numerals, ligatures, reversed letters, Greek text, Claudian letters, short letters, and tall letters. Each category is fully explained in On-line Help, e.g., under full text, “The full text field represents the text of the entire record, and allows up to three consecutive words to be searched for. In the ‘Raw Data’ database, …” For word searches (i.e., full text, cognomina, or Greek text), there is the option of Whole String or Start of String.

After a search has been completed, a summary of the finds is displayed: each entry includes an inscription number followed by the first line of the text. By clicking on a particular entry, the entire inscription is displayed in detail, without, however, highlighting the object originally searched for. Several searches can be combined in various way. For example, if search 1 was on the cognomen “Caesar”, search 2 was on “Dolabella”, search 3 on the ligature “ae”, and search 4 on the Greek text “kai”, one can look for inscriptions with “Caesar” but without “Dolabella” by checking for 1 and not 2; for inscriptions with “Caesar” and “Dolabella”: 1 and 2; for “Caesar” or “Dolabella”: 1 or 2; for “Caesar” without “Dolabella” with ligature “ae” or Greek text “kai”: 1 and not 2 and 3 or 4, etc. Search results can be exported both entirely and selectively, both in the summary and the detailed format, to a Microsoft Word readable file. The searches themselves can be saved for future use.

It is hard to judge the accuracy of the program. The result count can be low due to the format of the database, e.g. Dolabella in 2080 above. Results of several searches I conducted match with those in the index volumes of CIL 6 (including Dolabella), but presumably those were done using a version of this very program. Nevertheless, it is welcome to have the computerized version of the index volumes. [[ED. NOTE: see note at end of review]]

Compared with the Ibycus or the Pandora, the Epigraph program is a little slower than the first, but much faster than the second, and although the presentation of the texts leaves something to be desired (e.g., transliteration of Greek by Roman alphabet and the non-highlighting of the thing searched), it is better organized (e.g., combination of searches) and more user-friendly than both.

Ed. Note: The compiler of the CD offers this supplementary note:

Only one comment on the review, on a matter of fact. The review reads “Results of several searches I conducted match with those in the index volumes of CIL 6 (including Dolabella), but presumably these were done using a version of this very program.” This is not quite the case. The data base was the same for the two projects but for the index volumes of CIL 6 all the programs were written by staff of the University of Western Australia, while all the software for the CD-Rom was provided by Space-Time research Pty Ltd.

Yours sincerely,