Back to Dio Chrysostom

Another straightforward little item which reveals all kinds of less straightforward things. The item: the transcription of the Greek original of Dio Chrysostom’s 62d Discourse, joining the English translation which has been onsite for a coupla years.

Frequent visitors to my DC orientation page know that almost all the Greek text of that author is online somewhere: nearly evenly split between my own site and the University of Louvain’s; in my Table of Contents, I provided links to theirs as well as mine.

Imagine my surprise then when a few hours ago I went to find one of theirs — and discovered that they’ve all been yanked offline. The occasional French and English translations that had been there, still are: but of the Greek, zilch. Gone. And with that, gone off the Web, as far as I know.

The first thing this little event shows is just how incomplete and, above all, fragile the Web is. One person somewhere makes a decision, for whatever reason, and zap! the world over, the efficiencies of this wonderful new medium are wiped out, sending students and profs alike scurrying back to that single copy of Dio’s Greek that may be squirreled away in their University library, if they’re lucky. As for independent scholars, or students in a small impecunious college, or a havo teacher on the island of Saba — forget it, they’re up the creek again. Of course in the case of the transcription of a common published text like Dio’s, there’s no ultimate loss; but the loss of online availability sets up all the old barriers against the people who aren’t in the academic loop. The situation is worse for original work, some of it quite good: pulled offline, it’s like it never existed.

Second concern: there’s really rather little communication out there. Despite instantaneous e‑mail and blogs like this one, and bulletin boards and mailing lists, there may be less day-to‑day communication on matters of detail like this than in the humanist age of say, the fifteenth century. The debating of grand ideas and the adjustment of additional little discoveries is in better shape than in the 15c, thanks to the blossoming of thousands of (print) journals: but the sharing of manuscripts (as it were), as one reads constantly in the letters of medieval clerics and renaissance humanists, seems to be less efficient.

Switching gears now: read on for an unabashed plug of Typinator, an extremely handy tool which allows its users, in this case me, to churn out good Greek text with minimum difficulty. Typinator is a text expander, designed to reduce the time spent typing. The idea is not new, and there are a few of them out there, and some word processors have a certain level of text expansion built into them: but Typinator goes well beyond that, and I’m very glad I have it. Of course I use it for English; but I also have a separate set for polytonic Greek. Those who struggle with typing Greek with all its (absurd and mostly unnecessary, but traditional) squiggles — breathings, accents, subscript iotas, diaereses, combining in seemingly endless ways — will understand immediately. How mind-numbing to input pages of this stuff, requiring multiple keystrokes per character! Κελτοὶ δὲ οὓς ὀνομάζουσι Δρυΐδας, yipes! But, with training, once Typinator has seen a word it will put all its squiggles on for you if you like, and get them right: you just type “Κελτοι δε ους ονομαζουσι Δρυιδασ” (yes, no need to fidget for the final sigmas, either), and it comes out correctly bedizened with its Byzantineries; even enclitics can be accommodated, if with a bit of juggling. To anyone dealing in lots of Greek, this inexpensive little piece of software is worth its weight in gold.

Anyhow, here we go with the remainder of Dio.

One Response to Back to Dio Chrysostom

  1. sftommy says:

    There was a brief moment when Google Books was a great thing. So much of the 19th Century Classic studies was available to anyone interested. I guessed, no matter what sales pitch Google, et al, were making, that freedom of access would be soon lost. Fortunately I did make copies and physically print out more than several books, which would now be lost to me by price as assuredly as the last 34 volumes of Polybius.

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