BMCR 2005.08.37

Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. CD-Rom Edition

, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. Leiden: Brill, 2005. 1 CD-ROM ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 insert (14 pages ; 12 cm). ISBN 9004141375 €1,500.00.

Attempts to make Felix Jacoby’s monumental and intimidating collection Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker more user-friendly continue apace. In 1999 Pierre Bonnechère produced excellent indices to Parts I-III of the work (everything done by Jacoby at the time of his death).1 At the same time, the volumes in the newly-appearing Part IV, Biography and Antiquarian Literature were provided with facing English translations.2 Moreover, a massive new edition of Parts I-III of FGrHist, under the general editorship of Ian Worthington, is being planned, and is to contain new Greek texts, a facing English translation, and new commentaries. To add to this, Brill has now provided on CD-Rom everything published by Jacoby in the fifteen-volume hard-copy of FGrHist, plus the three volumes of Bonnechère’s indices thrown in for good measure. This is overall an excellent tool for which we should be grateful, even though I have some reservations about the format in which it has been produced.

1) Installation and Requirements

Installation is quick and easy, and it takes only about 3 or 4 minutes for the files to be copied onto a hard drive. Requirements for installation are Windows 98/00/ΝΤ 128Mb of RAM, a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, and MS Internet Explorer 5.5 (with Service Pack 2 or higher) or Netscape 6.1 or higher. 200Mb of free hard disk space is needed for a stand-alone version, 600Mb for the server on a network version, and 1Mb for the client on a network version. Two fonts, Gentium and Greek, are automatically added during the installation process. (Because the publishers — “for technical reasons” — used a different font for the Greek in the indices, users of Netscape or Firefox have to manually install another font to read them: it is not difficult and the explanation is in the Help section.) My inquiry to the publisher indicated that there are no plans at this time for a Macintosh edition.

2) Layout

Installation complete, a short-cut entitled “Brill Jacoby” appears on the desktop. The program opens with whatever web application one uses, and the page appears with three frames. The top frame, which is static, contains the links “Home”, “Print” and “Help”; the left frame has the navigation and search buttons; and the right frame contains the book page or search results. The program defaults to a home page that contains an excellent detailed history of Jacoby and his work on FGrHist, written by Mortimer Chambers (this is also printed in the booklet that accompanies the CD-Rom).

The three indices that appear in the left-hand frame are as follows: (1) “1-856,” a listing in numerical order of all the historians as they appear in FGrHist; click on one and you are brought to the page beginning the collection of that historian; (2) “α” a list of all the historians beginning with Abaris and ending with Zopyrus Magnes; and (3) “Other,” which contains the indices compiled by Bonnechère divided into: (i) an alphabetical list of those surviving authors (from Achilles Tatius to Zosimus) who preserve the testimonia or fragments of the lost historians, such that, if you click on Athenaeus, for example, you will get a list of all those places where Athenaeus is used for a testimonium or fragment; (ii) a concordance that gives the details of the source text for every one of Jacoby’s fragments and testimonia, as edited and expanded by Bonnechère; and (iii) a table of contents which gives an overview of the entire fifteen-volume collection volume by volume with the sections and sub-sections of each. In all of these indices the links quickly take you to the relevant section, testimonium, or fragment.

This electronic edition, as the publishers inform us, is “page based”, i.e., each page that appears in the right-hand frame is an exact representation of the printed edition, with two exceptions. The apparatus criticus is not printed at the bottom of the page. Rather, a dialogue bubble appears on any line in which there is a textual problem or variant, and when you click on this a small pop-up window opens with the relevant information; you can leave this window open if you wish and it will change as you examine other lines. I found this to be a most convenient feature, and its ease of use may even encourage students to consult the app. crit. regularly (even though some of the older ones in Jacoby’s edition are sadly out of date). Second, the publishers note that it was impossible to render text positioned on top of other text (as one finds sometimes in notations of papyri), so in this case they have made the raised text the color green, and have used a slash (“/”) to separate the text above from the text below. The result is, at least to my eyes, pretty difficult to disentangle, but one can no doubt get used to it. These two things aside, the page appears pretty much as it does in the books, and four cursors appear at the top of each page so that the reader can move forward or backward (in each case by either 1 or 5 pages at a time).

Imitating the book, the electronic page contains the line numbers and marginalia of the printed edition. These marginalia refer the reader to the Addenda and Corrigenda sections at the end of the printed volumes: a = addenda; c = corrigenda; v = Verweise, i.e., references that could be filled out from later editions. These “references” are a result of the way in which FGrHist appeared over nearly forty years. When Jacoby published the first volume in 1923, he could not yet know what number, much less what testimonium or fragment number, he would assign to authors who appeared later in the collection. So, for example, in the very first testimonium of Hecataeus ( FGrHist 1 T 1), there is a reference to Dionysius of Miletus. The text contains only the notation “(III)” after Dionysius’ name, indicating that he would eventually appear in Part III of the collection. Once Part III appeared, however, it was possible in later printings of the first volume to indicate that the exact reference to Dionysius could now be supplied, and so a “v” was inserted into the margin. This referred the reader to Addenda and Corrigenda sections at the end of the volume, where, after some searching, he or she learned that the appropriate reference was to 687 T 2. The marginalia, alas, are not interactive, and the addenda and corrigenda sections must be manually searched. (I shall come back to this at the end of my review.)

The links on the page are clearly marked. Click on the number next to the author and you are taken to the beginning of Jacoby’s commentary on that author. Click on the fragment or testimonium number, and you are taken to Jacoby’s commentary on that specific piece. It is possible to open these links in new windows and so be able to have both Greek text and Jacoby’s commentary on your screen simultaneously. Naturally, a bigger screen means greater ease of reading: I could fit both pages on a 14-inch screen only at the “smaller” Internet Explorer setting for text; on a 17-inch screen, however, I could use the “medium” setting and even, with a bit of finesse, the “large.” Given the nature of the text and commentary, a bigger screen will make a world of difference, especially in those places (fairly common in Jacoby) where the page contains two (and sometimes even three) parallel columns.

3) Searching

The search functions in the left frame are clearly set out. There is a “Quick Search” function that allows immediate navigation to a particular testimonium or fragment, if one has a standard reference to FGrHist. So, for example, you can enter “70 F 5” and be brought immediately to the page that contains fragment 5 of Ephorus. There is no problem in using numbers plus letters for authors (e.g., 323a), but you cannot use letters with fragments or testimonia. Enter 70 T 28b, and nothing will come up. In these cases, you need to enter simply the 28, and then scroll through until you get to 28b. That is not usually a problem except when one gets very long fragments. For example, F1 of Ctesias (688 F 1) goes on for 28 pages in Jacoby’s text. The main text is Diodorus, but parallel readings are included alongside Diodorus’ text and are subdivided “1c” through “1q”. If you see a reference to 688 F 1n, you will have to begin right at the beginning of F1 and scroll through until you get to 1n — 19 pages later! It seems as if it ought to be possible to make the links more precise.

There are two word-search features. For word searches in Greek, one clicks on the box and a pop-up window with the Greek characters (a “character-picker”) appears. You “type” (actually click) in the letters of the word you wish to search. There are no breathings or accents, and the searches are not case-sensitive. There is also a search entitled “Full Text,” which is for non-Greek words, mainly German, English, and Latin. This feature is helpful for several reasons. First, some testimonia and even fragments of the historians are in Latin. Second, some fragments are given in German, if they survive only in non-Greek sources (e.g. the Armenian version of Eusebius’ Chronicle). Finally, one can now search through Jacoby’s commentary, a mine of information which is usually difficult to exploit.3 Searches can be delimited in a variety of ways: they can be limited to just the Greek texts or Jacoby’s commentary, and to just Testimonia or Fragments. In each case “All” is the default.

The search function is wonderfully swift, and most searches take no more than a few seconds. Just to check, I entered και, and got 5500 hits in about 5 seconds. A list of hits appears and by clicking on the link you are taken to the page with the searched word or words highlighted in red. You can scroll through the hits by using the buttons at the bottom of the page, which makes searching very convenient. There is also a “show hitlist” button at the bottom of each page which takes you back to the list.

4) Printing, Cutting and Pasting

Printing can be done in two ways, either by clicking on “Print” in the top frame or by using “Ctrl-P.” My experiments with printing, from very small size to very large size, were most satisfactory. The only glitch I noted was that symbols for the higher numbers in Greek always printed at the same size, whether the text was set on small, medium or large. The result is a bit displeasing aesthetically, but the important point is that it can all be read clearly at whatever size the text is set.

I found cutting and pasting to be relatively easy matters. In Microsoft Word, I had only to use “Match Destination Formatting” to change the font from that used in the program to the one I use (which is Antioch). No change is really needed, however, since the Greek font used by Brill for the program is perfectly adequate, and in fact much more attractive than many Greek fonts now in use. Users should realize, however, that longer passages cut and pasted will retain the markings of the page, i.e., the line numbers, the marginalia, the dialogue bubbles of the app. crit., and the word-breaks as they appear in the text. Removing and re-formatting these is pretty easily done. I had no success, however, in trying to cut and paste from pages with columns; in these cases, one cannot avoid copying the whole line across, whether it be two or three columns, and the result is a hodgepodge of text. No doubt with patience, even this can be worked out.

5) Summation

Overall, the people at Brill are to be commended for producing an excellent CD-Rom. It will allow easy searching throughout the texts and commentaries of FGrHist, and there is an obvious convenience in being able to use a single CD instead of 18 massive volumes. The interface is excellent, the search functions are reliable and swift, and the page face is a model of good design. I must also mention that my inquiry to the electronic support services at Brill received a swift, accurate, and courteous reply. And yet despite my great pleasure at having this new reference tool and with all due thanks to Brill for producing it, I am, nonetheless, a bit disappointed for two reasons.

First, the price for this product is astounding, even by Brill standards. I am sure that a vast amount of work and much money must have gone into producing this CD, and of course it wouldn’t be cheap these days to buy all 18 print volumes. Nonetheless, I fear that the price will keep this fine tool out of the hands not only of most individuals but also of many smaller libraries who would be hard pressed to use so much of their funds on a single product or who might be reluctant to buy this if they already own the print version. That would be a pity, since the CD has the potential to make working with FGrHist so much quicker and more convenient. It would be most beneficial if the publishers could find some way to bring the price more within the range of libraries, if not also of individuals.

Second, and more importantly, I can’t help but think that an important opportunity has been missed by producing the “electronic Jacoby” in the way that Brill has. I mentioned above that the publishers have treated the addenda, corrigenda, and references in the same way that they appear in the printed version of FGrHist. No doubt in choosing the “page-based” format they were locked into doing this. But consider what might have been. I mentioned above the failure to incorporate the cross-reference to Dionysius of Miletus at 1 T 1, and noted there that the reader needed to do quite some work to find it. At the same time, and more significantly, this same testimonium contains both “a” and “c” in the margins. The reader, therefore, has to check two different places to see what is to be added and what corrected. Eventually, he or she will discover that Jacoby wished the T1 (which comes from the Suda s.v. “Hekataios”) that you see before you actually to be T1a, and another Suda passage which also has information on Hecataeus (Suda s.v. “Hellanikos”) to be T1b. Now it takes a bit of fumbling about in the print version to discover all this, but in fact it is even more difficult to do this with the electronic version for the simple reason that in order to find these addenda and corrigenda you need to know what volume of the printed edition you are in so as to go to the correct volume. And it is much easier to flip through book pages than to scroll through the electronic screens.

And there is a lot of checking of such things to do. For the first volume alone, Jacoby had 16 double-columned pages of corrigenda (typos, wrong references, missing words) and twenty pages of addenda. Had a way been found to incorporate all of these, we would have FGrHist as Jacoby really wished to make it. And this, one would think, is exactly the benefit of electronic publication: correction is generally easier and less expensive than with printed volumes which cannot be recalled and can be reprinted only at high cost. The publishers, it seems to me, have not fully incorporated the benefits to be gotten from electronic publishing.

At the risk of great presumption, might we then hope for Jacoby 2.0 with such addenda, corrections and cross-references placed right there in the text where they belong, and with the additional fragments appearing in their proper order? That would be a truly “electronic Jacoby,” and such a version would then be far and away the edition of choice, even for us book-bound reviewers. Or at the very least might those little marginalia of “a,” “c” and “v” be made interactive, so that users could move more easily between the text and the appendices? Either of these would put us even more greatly in Brill’s debt, and would come closer to realizing the edition Jacoby would have wanted than he could ever achieve in his lifetime.

[[For a response to this review by Ian Worthington, please see BMCR 2005.09.24.]]


1. I reviewed these volumes at BMCR 2000.01.09.

2. Three volumes of Part IV, Biography and Antiquarian Literature, have so far appeared as Part IV A: Fascicle 1, The Pre-Hellenistic Period, edited by J. Bollansée, J. Engels, G. Schepens, E. Theys (1998); Fascicle 3: Hermippos of Smyrna, ed. by Jan Bollansée (1999); and Fascicle 7: Imperial and Undated Authors, by J. Radicke (1999).

3. So, for example, if you want to check out Jacoby’s important discussion of ostracism, entering that word (it just so happens that his commentary on the Atthidographers is in English!) will result in 44 hits. Enter “Entwicklung*” (an important concept in Jacoby’s view of Greek historiography) and you get 72 hits. Those interested in the history of classical scholarship can also exploit this tool, as a glance at the results from “Wilamowitz” (825 hits, though of course many are simply references to his works) will reveal.