A new Internet guide with venerable roots.
Bureaucrats with 'Tude
The IRS tries to lighten up. It's a bit of a strain.
Esther Dyson wants to redesign the digital world -- or at least get the brainstorming started.
News You Can't Use
The art of the parody is alive and well.
A Prairie Home-Page Companion
Don't know what socks to wear? Ask Garrison Keillor.
The Witch's Voice
Coming out of the broom closet.
Chess on the Net
An online community where those with the best moves always mate.
For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.
November 5, 1997
Antiquarian pursuits are often anything but antiquated. The study of the classics, for example, is thriving on the Internet, and disciplines once distinct -- archaeology, history, linguistics, philology -- are now bleeding into one another online, with the exchange taking place through modems and hypertext links. Never before have so many powerful tools been available for the specialized study of the ancients, and never have so many resources been so easily accessible to novices and dabblers. One of the most important of these resources is Perseus, a digital library of the ancient world based at Tufts University.
The result of more than ten years of labor (much of which has been devoted to the production of a CD-ROM), Perseus is a massive site. Available for study are more than 380 annotated and linked texts, in Greek and in translation, by more than thirty authors -- including all of Aristophanes, Aristotle, Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer, Plato, and Sophocles. Also available are Greek and Latin lexicons, a customizable color atlas, a classical encyclopedia, and a detailed historical overview of archaic and classical Greek history -- not to mention catalogue descriptions and photographs of hundreds of vases, sculptures, coins, buildings, and architectural sites. And just last week the first installment of Latin texts was added to the site. More are sure to come.
Impressive though the sheer quantity of material may be, what sets Perseus apart from other digital archives is the degree to which its various components are cleanly, intelligently, and usefully interconnected: the historical overview and the encyclopedia are linked to primary texts that can be combed through with the search engine, help with vocabulary is available in the lexicons, the atlas is linked to archaeological site plans, the site plans have links to photographs, and so on. The result is a promising fusion of old and new, and a fitting tribute to the mythical Hellenic traveler from whom the site gets its name -- the young man who boldly announced to the parents of Andromeda, "I am Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae! Magic wings carry me through the air!"
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.