Digital Critical Edition Of Homer (Salvagni)

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(PhD in Digital Humanities)

Working Title

“Comprehensive Odyssey”, a digital critical repository of the Odyssey and its sources: Perspectives and Consequences.



  • Dr. Elena Pierazzo (Lecturer in Digital Humanities Department of Digital Humanities King's College London)(Lead Supervisor)
  • Professor Giambattista D'Alessio (Professor of Greek Language & Literature Department of Classics King's College London)


The proposed research will analyse the possibilities of creating a digital critical edition of the first book of the Odyssey of Homer. The dissertation will describe the current situation in the printed editions of Homer. There will also be an analysis of the printed editions of the Homeric Scholia of the Odyssey. In a following part of the dissertation, the focus will shift towards the digital medium. There will be a literature review stating the status of digital critical editions, followed by a detailed analysis of two digital projects concerning Homer, The Chicago Homer and the Homer Multitext. The last two chapters will be addressed to the potential design of a digital critical edition and to the future maintenance of a possible project.

Final abstract of dissertation This dissertation includes a digital proof of concept called the “Comprehensive Odyssey”, which provides the text of the first 105 lines of the Odyssey, the secondary sources for each line and the scholia. This digital project will be the outcome of an analysis of the possibilities of the digital medium to produce a digital critical edition or rather a digital critical repository of the Homeric poems and their indirect tradition. This dissertation will depict all the stages in this analysis. As this edition will deal with Homer’s Odyssey, a chapter of this dissertation takes into consideration the present situation in Homeric scholarship. The analysis also embraces an overview of the theory of oral composition, traditional referentiality, notional fixity and the process from oral to print to digital, bearing in mind that this digital project deals with a poem whose origin is not in the form of a written composition, but of an oral composition in performance. To assess the possibilities of creating a digital project concerning Homer, a review has been carried out of digital projects in Classics, some of them about Homer. We also discussed the theories both of digital editing and of textual editing. Assessing digital theories helps when deciding about which framework to use for a digital project, and it was what assisted us in understanding the difficulties that will have to be overcome to make this project feasible. Moreover, this dissertation includes a detailed overview of all the technical challenges encountered while producing it, by this meaning the encoding process with XML and TEI and the visualisation process with XSLT. One chapter aims to provide examples of research that can stem from the collection of secondary sources and their understanding as fragmentary authors, together with an awareness of the problems arising from the creation of an edition from printed critical editions. The purpose of this dissertation is to assess the chances that this proof of concept may become a fully functional project and help understand the Homeric tradition. Most importantly, this proof of concept will be a never-ending repository which, with the help of encoding in XML and TEI, will always remain open to changes and improvements. The hindrances that the digital medium faces, such as copyright and ‘comprehensiveness’, are also pointed out. The concept of crowdsourcing is discussed, as it seems that it might serve to complete the encoding of all the sources of the “Comprehensive Odyssey”. Finally, the outcomes that might result from the above-mentioned ‘voyage’ are examined, leading to the conclusion that a project such as the one we envisaged it is too ambitious, since it contains several different aspects within one project, but not a failure. It is a worthwhile journey that made us understand the importance of studying orality in connection to collaboration in the digital medium and the value of the studies on quotations and fragmentary authors for the secondary sources.


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