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Invited researcher Olson Stuart Douglas
Time span of the project
2021-2023
General information

Name of the project: Digital commentary to antique texts: ancient Greek comedy

Strategy for Scientific and Technological Development Priority Level: а

Goals and objectives

The aim of the project is the creation of digital commented editions of classical Greek comedy and the training of young researchers, building scientific infrastructure, and an information platform for further broadening of this corpus, which will be worked on after the conclusion of the project.

The practical value of the study

The project has a dual significance — for universal culture and for science. The perception of the relations between the human and social institutions, the human and the nature formulated in the ancient times are still dominant in Europe. However, in Russia there is no professional scientific commentary to ancient texts, while translations are not quite accurate. The preparation of new accurate translation and thorough commentaries, where all the problems of interpretation are discussed, and perceptions expressed in these texts –socio-political, philosophical, religious and ethical – will allow ancient literary works to enter the modern Russian culture.

This project will become a revolutionary breakthrough in international classical studies. Critical editions of ancient texts with extensive academic commentary still exist only in printed form in books. Attempts to create digital corpora of antique texts and digital issues, such as «Greek Language Thesaurus», «Perseus» or the Leipzig digital issues, solve this problem only partially. Within the proposed project, we will, for the first time in the world, create a digital platform that will provide unique opportunities for scientific work with ancient texts. This concerns a digital issue of texts with critical commentary, with lemmatisation and references to dictionaries, with precise translations into Russian and English and several levels of commentaries – textological, grammatical, poetological, real and general cultural – discussing social, political, religious and philosophical concepts. In working on commentaries, we will test new corpus-based methodologies, both linguistic (semantic and syntactic analysis) and literaturological (the extraction and analysis of repeated formal elements of the literary text),

The project corresponds with the top-priority directions of the scientific and technological development of Russia: by opening the antiquity to the Russian reader, we will increase the «capability of the Russian society to respond to major challenges», while by creating a new digital type of ancient text commentary, it will facilitate the «transition to advanced digital technologies».Greek comedy is the most suitable for the refinement of the new methodology of commentary work. It requires commenting to the highest extent: it is more related to the reality contemporary to it than other genres, many excerpts from it rely on complex wordplay that requires decryption. At the same time, good and bad commentary to it are extremely scarce even in Western science, therefore, many mysteries remain unsolved and text remain incomprehensible. Since comedies are full of references to other literary works, digital commentary to works of this genre will connect them to references to a wide range of other ancient texts.

Projected research results: 

During the first three years we are expecting to prepare issues of the Aristophanes' comedies «The Clouds», «The Knights», «The Frogs» as well as fragments from the comic poet Antiphanes. An important part of the work of the scientific team will be the training of young researchers: postgraduates and young employees will work on commentaries to text fragments and participate in a weekly scientific seminar devoted to the problems of commenting and the digital publishing of texts.

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