BMCR 2005.04.41

Latin 1.0 for Windows (a software for consulting the data banks TLG E, PHI #5.3 and PHI #7)

, , Latin 1.0 for Windows (a software for consulting the data banks TLG E, PHI #5.3 and PHI #7). Pisa: Scuola Normale Superiore, 2004. €930.00 (site license).

SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows is a new and very powerful tool for working with the Greek and Latin texts available on the CD-ROMs from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and the Packard Humanities Institute.1

It is the most recent product developed by The Laboratorio Informatico per le Lingue Antiche (LILA) of the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, founded by Giuseppe Nenci, directed by Ugo Fantasia from November 1999 to December 2000 and now directed by Carmine Ampolo. The SNS-Greek & Latin has had several versions for Macintosh (since 1986/87). SNS-Greek & Latin 5.1 is the latest release for Macintosh, which allows to consult TLG release ‘ε’, Coptic texts on PHI discs, and has new indexes SNS-E for speeding up the search on the entire TLG “E”.

SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows is the first product of the LILA directed toward Windows users. I was not able to consult SNS-Greek & Latin 5.1 for Macintosh, but according to the User’s Guide, “Besides all the functionalities of the latest Macintosh release, it offers further improvements, the most important of which is undoubtedly the possibility to perform multiple parallel searches. It also features a totally renewed user interface which should be easier to use (User’s Guide by Antonella Russo and Anna Santoni, p. 14)”.

The minimum requirements for installing SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows are the following: Windows 98 SE/2000/XP; processor: Pentium or higher; RAM: 128 Megabytes; screen resolution: 1024×728; color depth: 24 Bit colors; one or more CD-ROM reader; the CD-ROM containing texts from the TLG and/or PHI; a printer (optional). It works with fonts, compatible with LaserGreek (for instance, Graecaιἰ, and Athenian for the TLG, CopticLS for Coptic texts, and Times for Latin texts; besides, it requires a special font for metacharacters, supplied separately. The program with the SNS-E indices requires nearly 900 Megabytes of hard disk drive space, which is quite a lot, but should not be a problem for the majority of contemporary users.

I have found the tool quite extraordinary. I like its really elegant and intuitively clear interface. I was working with the TLG-E bases, but I believe that in case of the CD-ROMs PHI #5.3 and PHI #7 the situation will be similar.

A particular work of a Classical author can be conveniently chosen and viewed by its canon number, name, or selected from a list of works in chronological or subject order. Thanks to the SNS-E indices search becomes really fast and easy. For instance, I have performed a ‘stupid’ search, looking for the fragment λογ in all the TLG! The SNS has found 399218 occurrences for less than 7 minutes. All these cases, classified in alphabetical order, can then be saved in a single file. In simpler cases you receive the result in seconds.

Of course, really meaningful queries are more complicated, and it is for these kinds of intelligent search that the engine is designed. To qualify the query it is necessary to use special metacharacters and other options. For instance, you can press the Case Sensitive button in order to search a string which includes an uppercase letter. This option is important if you are looking for cases which contains the proper names only. For Greek texts you can do searches of sequences in which accents, breathings, iota and apostrophe are explicitly indicated. This can be done by clicking on the related buttons and writing the symbols in the sequence. Further, the ‘Extract size’ button allows to indicate the quantity of context (in lines) to be displayed for the cases found (two lines is a default). The ‘AND proximity’ button allows to select the maximum number of lines within which the two strings are to be searched. The program also allows starting many different searches in different windows, without waiting for the other searches to be finished. I have to notice, however, that, given the speed of search, I personally was not able to use this possibility: simply, before I start another search, the first was already over! I believe this option is indispensable for those users who for some reasons (say, because of space restrictions) have chosen not to install the SNS-E indices, or have to search different databases simultaneously.

Advanced searches are performed with the special metacharacters. For instance, looking for ἁρμονία (with or without accents) and typing ‘CTRL-a armon’ you will exclude from the search all the prefixes. The metacharacter CTRL-b marks the end of the word searched. The metacharacters ‘CTRL-v’ and ‘CTRL-w’ allow looking for alternative characters inside the word, say, Omega or Omicron, Epsilon or Eta, letters u or v (in case there is no graphic distinction between these letters in the Latin texts), etc. For instance, you can type ‘eik (CTRL-v)ow(CTRL-w)n’; or ‘id(CTRL-v)ei(CTRL-w)a’. Then, the ‘CTRL-d’ serves to indicate one and only one non-defined character; ‘CTRL-p’ serves to exclude the characters between ‘CTRL+w’ and ‘CTRL+v’ following in the string. A very interesting possibility gives the metacharacter ‘CTRL-x’. Inserting this metacharacter you search for strings in which a Greek character appears from 0 to x times consecutively. This is especially useful if you want to indicate the presence of augmentum. When you search for two sequences together, further restrictions can be put by applying Boolean operators AND, OR, ORD AND (with some restrictions) and EXCEPT.

To sum up, the SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows is a remarkable achievement of the Italian scholars, indispensable for study the Classical texts and papyri. The price also appears to be quite reasonable. Of course, the PC’s users may chose among many free and commercial products 2, but the SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0 for Windows features many important searching possibilities not available elsewhere. The developers improve the program: currently a new version — SNS-Greek & Latin 1.0.1 — is produced, where some bugs are corrected and new features added (for instance, the results of a search made in a TLG set are now exported in chronological order, which is important for whose doing terminological research and looking for textual borrowings).

[[For a response to this review by Peter Gainsford, please see BMCR 2005.05.07.]]


1. The Thesaurus Linguae Grecae (reviewed at BMCR 2001.09.23) is the largest existing data base of ancient Greek texts. Presently the TLG data bank, version “E”, contains over 1800 authors that cover most literary production from Homer to Byzantine authors and also includes scholia, etymologica and lexica. The project was begun in 1972 under the direction of Theodore Brunner of the University of California at Irvine, and now directed by Maria Pantelia, who developed the Internet version of the bases: TLG On-line. The CD-ROMs PHI #5.3 and PHI #7 are produced and distributed by the Packard Humanities Institute. The PHI #5.3 contains classical Latin texts (up to the 2nd century A.D. as well as a few later texts, the Greek New Testament and the Coptic Bible). The PHI #7 contains Greek documentary papyri and Greek and Latin inscriptions; the data bank is still under development (For details cf. User’s Guide by Antonella Russo and Anna Santoni, p. 13-14).

2. For a list of popular software, such as Musaios, Lector (cf. reviewed at BMCR 1996.08.02), Antiquarium (cf. reviewed at BMCR 2002.04.16) etc., cf. TLG On-line; in addition, one can mention Diogenes which does not seem to be listed on the TLG’s web site.