Visitors to my personal blog know that I am currently wrestling with a particular Greek biblical tradition of the book of Kings that has failed to receive broad attention in biblical studies—the so-called Lucianic Recension. For example, no English translation of this version exists in a publicly accessible way. At least I have never found one. To that end, I endeavored on a somewhat longer project to make this text more accessible to those who may want to consult the text quickly in a more familiar language or may not have access to the Greek, while also commenting on some of the differences between this version and the majority Greek tradition generally known under the rubric of “Septuagint.” In a forthcoming post, I will cover my workflow for producing and posting my translations and commentary, but with this post, I would like to highlight some of the tools that I use in order efficiently translate the Greek text into English, relying only one freely available, online lexical and grammatical resources. Working with these resources has positively impacted my work with the Greek text, granting easier access to a breadth of materials to aid in recognizing even rare or idiosyncratic forms. Thus, I would like to share them with you.
The Perseus Digital Library
The Perseus Digital Library presents an extensive collection of resources and aids in linguistic research in Greek and Latin (among other languages). This digital library provides free and online access to a plethora of ancient language materials. But it also features an important aid for lexical research and parsing assistance. Finding this tool is not particularly easy, one of the strikes against this otherwise excellent site. To access the word study tool, click on “All Search Options” in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Now, in the right column of the homepage, you should see “Word Study Tool.” Click on “show,” which will bring up the search bar and the language menu (since you can search in Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Old Norse). Choose your language and input your query in the search bar. The site guidelines state that you have to transliterate Greek text according to the provided scheme rather than inputting it in a “Greek font.” But I have been able to search in Greek with no problems either by changing my keyboard to a Greek keyboard or copying and pasting the Greek word from other applications (like Word or Notepad).
Screenshot: Search Results in Perseus’s Word Study Tool
The results appear in easy to read tables with parsing help. Additionally, the site provides links for statistics on word frequency and a few lexica. The link to the statistics moves you to a new page, but the link to the lexical information appends the lexical information at the bottom of the page.
Screenshot: LSJ Entry from Perseus’s Word Study Tool
The lexical data also includes references to the primary literature with hyperlinks for easy access to the usage in its context, quite a useful feature. And since the library—as far as I have seen—makes the materials available in xml, the data can easily be inserted into applications that support xml. For these reasons, it is not surprising that the Perseus Digital Library provides the basis for the other resources described here, which nonetheless improve on the functionality and UI.
Ultimately stemming from the Perseus data, but provided in a more user-friendly format, philolog.us has pared down the material available in Perseus to the Greek and Latin material and functions essentially like Perseus’s “Word Study Tool.” It provides access to two Greek lexica (LSJ and Slater) and one Latin dictionary (Lewis & Short). Looking up a term with the search input in the site’s upper left corner provides the same information that you find on Perseus, but in much more digestible form. Yet the results still provides the relevant hyperlinks to evaluate a term’s lexical usage in its context.
Screenshot: Search Results from philolog.us
After looking up a term, the cursor stays in the search bar, meaning you can quickly search for another term without having to use the mouse to return to the search bar. And you can switch between the lexica for searching by using the number keys 1–3 (I learned this trick from Brian W. Davidson, whom I would like to thank for this). Two other features merit mention here. First, philolog.us permits the configuration of the information presented in the lexica by clicking on the “Configure” tab at the top of the site. With this function, you can change the look of your search results so that, e.g., lexical forms, authors, and titles all appear in distinct colors. Secondly, the rider in the upper right side of the site permits you to toggle your search history. That is helpful for quickly accessing any words that you have looked up in the recent past. (Philolog.us has an app available for a few dollars in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play Store, but I have not tested this and can therefore offer no comment on it.)
Logeion and Morpho
Also based on the Perseus collection are two offerings from the University of Chicago: Λογεῖον (Logeion) and Μορφώ (Morpho). The overviews provided on these sites generally offer the same information available at Perseus, but expounded with collation and frequency information from the university of Chicago.
Screenshot: Logeion Search Results
Logeion serves as a dictionary and provides a short definition, an estimate of the frequency based on the corpus, and a longer lexical entry. However, the examples in the lexical information are not hyperlinked, meaning you have to search for them manually if you need to appreciate the term in its context.
Morpho Screenshot 1: Top of the Search Results Page
Morpho provides parsing information, which can be helpful for the disambiguation of identical forms, as well as grammatic tables covering the word’s attested forms. Morpho allows searching the corpus for the lemma or the particular form.
Morpho Screenshot 2: Grammatic Tables
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the University of Chicago has made a fully searchable online version of Liddell & Scott available. While the lexicon is technically available on the Perseus site, the usability of the University of Chicago version is greater, even permitting a small degree of fuzzy searches.
These tools have dramatically increased the speed with which I work with my Greek sources. I hope they can do the same for you. Happy parsing and translating!
One thought on “Classical Language Tools”
Thanks Jonathan! This is very helpful!