Friday, February 20, 2009


Came across a resource offered by CUP, Lectrix:

Four Greek and four Latin texts are on offer. The main focus of the interface is on the text, which is complemented by a range of study tools including a dictionary, a grammatical parser, an English translation, basic and advanced commentaries, and a library of web pages with background material on grammar and context.

  • Clicking on any word within the text will bring up entries in the dictionary and parser windows.
  • A separate pane will display a basic commentary written specifically for and unique to Lectrix.
  • A more advanced commentary, taken from the relevant volume of the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series, is also available.
  • Each is accessed through a separate pane and is keyed to the text in the same way as the dictionary and parser.
  • A further window provides a newly commissioned English translation, again unique to Lectrix.
  • The user can decide how many windows they wish to have open at any one time.
[Re singular "they", I would be happier if we also had the option of just saying, as it might be, "For any X, if X is a user, X can decide how many windows to have open at any one time." I know singular "they" is not wrong; I know it was used by Jane Austen; when I use it, though, I feel I've been painted into a corner by the hostility to even the slapdash formulation offered above. ]

Anyway, for me, at least, this opens interesting possibilities for all books. Here are some screenshots:

Individuals are not eligible for the 30-day free trial, but there's some sort of online tour (which I have not cracked). Ruth Wedes-Melchionne of CUP USA says: In North America the individual rate is US$175 a year, for High Schools it's US$500 a year for Greek/Latin or US$300 for Latin only or Greek only.

The texts are Lysias: Selected Speeches (ed. Christopher Carey); Plato's Ion (ed. Penelope Murray); Sophocles' Antigone (ed. Mark Griffith); Euripides' Medea (ed. Donald Mastronarde); Virgil: Aeneid IX (Philip Hardie); Ovid's Heroides (ed. Peter Knox); Apuleius' The Tale of Cupid and Psyche (ed. E J Kenney); Cicero: Catilinarians 1 & 2.

To the casual reader the choice of texts seems to have been heavily influenced by instantiation in the Cambridge green-and-yellow series; if texts had to be chosen from the G&Y series, though, why didn't they include Colin Macleod's wonderful commentary on Iliad XXIV? What were they thinking? Well, presumably they thought they should have two writers of prose and two writers of poetry per language. And presumably, well, if you took a survey of readers of Plato and asked for favourite dialogues, it would come as something of a surprise if the Ion were to head the list. (What I mean is, I imagine a random group of classicists and philosophers standing around digesting the results of such a survey, and finding that the Ion had come in ahead of such also-rans as the Republic, the Symposium, the Crito, the Phaedrus, the Phaedo, the Theaetetus, the Sophist... and saying as one: The Ion?) And Dover's commentary on the Symposium is actually in the G&Y series, so, hm, maybe they thought the accusative-infinitive would be too much work for the youth of today? Or maybe they needed living editors to collaborate, so Macleod and Dover were out? Or maybe Penelope Murray is represented by Andrew Wylie, affectionately known as "the Jackal"?

I digress. It looks like a wonderful resource, they're planning to add more books, more here.

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