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Notes towards the catalog of deities

At the moment we don't have a usable and citable catalog of deities, from antiquity or otherwise, in the vein of VIAF (for people), of the Perseus Catalog (for authors from antiquity), of Pleiades (for ancient places), or Semium (for time) or Geonames (for places).

However, if we want to have editions as arguments and encoding as interpretation, we need to be able to tag "Apollo", "Hercules", or "Ariadne" in a text and refer to their unique and standard identification somewhere.

Possible starting points for a catalog of deities

  • Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), holding a database with fields such as "Proper name" and "Category", open to queries after registration
  • the Theoi Project, a site exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art, with encyclopedic articles and separate page for each deity listed (in English) -- but with no (visible) categories and IDs
  • a recently funded projected called SNAP:DRGN (Standards for Networking Ancient Prosopographies: Data and Relations in Greco-roman Names) "will in 2014 aim to (a) propose recommendations for linking together multiple classical person-databases into a single web of linked data, parallel to the Pleiades and Pelagios projects, and (b) help to produce RDF and stable URIs for the persons, names and other person-like entities in as many digital resources as possible"
  • dbpedia, a crowd-sourced community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and make this information available on the Web.

Deity-related DBpedia categories

It would be nice if there were a book or a cookbook on how to search for categories inside dbpedia, but a digital classicist has made some promising discoveries:

(for Jupiter):

is dbpprop:characters of

       • dbpedia:Amphitryon_(play)

is dbpprop:romanEquivalent of

       • dbpedia:Zeus

(for Mercury):


       • category:Death_gods
       • category:Deities
       • category:Messenger_gods
       • category:Roman_gods
       • category:Commerce_gods
       • category:Gods
       • category:Trickster_gods
       • category:Deities_in_the_Aeneid
       • category:Gods_depicted_by_Ovid
       • category:Gods_depicted_by_Virgil


       • yago:Cognition100023271
       • yago:Content105809192
       • yago:Deity109505418
       • yago:DeitiesInTheAeneid
       • yago:PsychologicalFeature100023100
       • yago:Abstraction100002137
       • yago:Belief105941423
       • yago:SpiritualBeing109504135

See also a PHP script that crawls dbpedia to create EAC-CPF records for people and families/dynasties, written by Ethan Gruber:

Further promising categories:

select distinct ?s1 as ?c1 where 
   ?s1 a <> .
order by desc ( <LONG::IRI_RANK> ( ?s1 ) ) limit 20 offset 0

Strategy for a catalog

  • get data from somewhere (in many languages)
  • organize a RDF set of "things" to wrap the data in
  • set up a service
  • solve any philosophical and theological questions which will arise in the process (is Ariadne a deity? Is Patria a deity? Are there several Aphrodites and Zeuses, or just one of each?)
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