Text of "The Romulus Project" Paper

The ROMULUS Project was launched on the web in April l996, at the time the Perseus people at Tufts were preparing to do a Latin project like the Greek Perseus. In the following months they were able, with their excellent history of achievement with the Greek Perseus, dating from the mid l980's, to secure funding and they are in the spring of l997 in the process of assembling their materials. They will do an excellent jobs in one sense, providing Loeb Library like texts of Latin authors with English translations. This will be accompanied by a vast library of wonderful visual materials, linkable to texts and to each other.

All this will be a fine tool for teachers of Classical Civilization in Translation, but without the kind of detailed language-based notes which beginning and intermediate students need, there will be small advantage for Latin students who can still use printed texts with an electronic dictionary like the one I have completed, now available for Mac or PC.

Centaur Systems has a good description of this work.

Centaur Systems Ltd,
(Rob Latousek)
407 N. Brearly St
Madison WI 53703-1603
Phone: 608-255-6979
Fax: 608-255-6949

I had hoped in writing the original ROMULUS paper, that a group would combine forces to secure funding for assembling a set of language as well as literary notes for every Latin author. Of course this involves new work and considerable research, much perusing of the standard commentaries for what is still pertinent, and assembling commentaries bit by bit over at least a decade. But this is what is needed if Latin is to survive as an authentic discipline with study of the literature in the original language.

We are already well on the way to replace Latin with "Latin in English". Without the commentaries I believe students will be less and less likely to get the point of reading Latin prose and poetry as literature. Unfortunately Perseus has not addressed the commentary issue, although they do offer what promises to be an involved Morphological Analysis, backed up by the hugely oversize Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary last revised in l879 --- all on screen with massive text citations!

When last counted at the beginning of Jan. l998, there had been almost ten thousand readings when I took the counter off. I have had much favorable email comment. But until a major university engages to go get funding and start assembling new commentary materials suitable for the 21 st century, my views will remain interesting on paper or screen, but not to be realized in the present state of the discipline.

I should mention that the downloadable Mac Hypercard files at the head of the ROMULUS paper are the only available example of a flexible commentary format which sets a language text on the left page, while the right page contains a stack of selectable pages of comment, translation, student notes, etc. This is also available in a blank format for anyone who wants to use it for new work. However this is Mac based at the present time.

William Harris
Prof Em Classics
Middlebury College

The Romulus Project

William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College