Analytical Onomasticon: Introduction

  1. The Analytical Onomasticon
  2. Display and navigation
  3. Analytic notation
  4. Textual markup
  5. Current state of the work
  6. Persons in the Project
  7. Conditions of use

  1. The Analytical Onomasticon
  2. The Analytical Onomasticon is a reference work to persons and places in the Metamorphoses of Ovid. It is intended to assist the study of a poem that has remained curiously intractable to the literary critical quest for its coherence. The problem has not been a want of schemes, but rather too many, or at least more than can be accounted for by any one reckoning. As Brooks Otis pointed out years ago, Ovid sports with the idea of continuity: at the same time, and often with the same device, both supporting and undermining it. The Onomasticon assumes no particular theory of how the poem is constructed, nor that it has a single construction. Yet it is based on the idea that Ovid's is a serious play, not meant to scatter our attention but to redirect it. This book is intended to assist that redirection by supplying several different means for commanding the most extensive and significant body of textual evidence for the interrelation of persons, hence the interconnection of stories: the words and phrases that refer to and so name them. The Onomasticon is not limited to the quest for continuity in change, but its explicit aim is to further understanding of the poem as a coherent or, more accurately, cohesible work of literature.

    For these purposes "name" is defined broadly as any word, phrase or clause that refers to one or more persons or places, i.e. an "appellative" (OED s.v. B). The design of the Onomasticon is based inductively on the particular characteristics of Ovidian appellatives and on the nature of the entities to which they refer. Names have great potential for the study of the Metamorphoses because they are neither verbal data nor narrative but metalinguistic creations that combine properties of both. On the one hand, because names are close to data, they can be treated consistently, by explicit rules, and thus are amenable to computational processing with important consequences I will explain below. On the other hand, because they invoke the stories in which they occur, names in turn bear relatively well-defined narrative meaning. Hence they are apt for modeling patterns of interconnection otherwise quite difficult or impossible to reach systematically.

  3. Display and navigation
  4. As you will see, the browser window is divided into three frames, the top horizontal for navigation, the left vertical for the index, the right vertical for the text.

    In the top line of the navigation frame, links to the indexes are given, followed by Help (not currently implemented) and Home. The second line gives the alphabet range for the appellative you wish to see; once you select a letter, the range within that letter replaces the entire alphabet. The bottom line of the frame contains links to an experimental list of stories in the poem and to the table of contents to the tools furnished by the Perseus Project. The list of stories, structured according to the divisions in the Loeb edition, represents the intercalation of narratives; clicking on the book-and-line reference for each story summons the corresponding tagged text in the text frame, and clicking on the symbol [E] summons an English translation provided by Perseus.

    Each entry for a person in the index frame begins with the proper name of that person, which is experimentally linked to a mythological dictionary entry in Perseus; these links do not always work as one would wish but are intended to indicate an evolving range of possibilities. The number following each proper name indicates the number of appellatives assigned to that person. Entries in the persons index is structured by the kind of appellative: proper names, nominals (including nouns, adjectives and phrases of those kinds), attributes, pronouns and verbs.

    For all kinds of indexes each entry under a headword is marked by a paragraphus (i.e., ¶), which is linked to the index where the marked item is a headword. Thus, for example, under the headword for Daphne, the entry for temeraria is hyperlinked to the headword temeraria in the nominals index so that you can see who else is given that appellative; similarly, once you get there and notice that Adonis is designated temerarius in the adjoining entry, you can click on the paragraphus adjoining his name and go directly to the entry for him. The cross-references are also active hyperlinks, e.g. under Daphne VIDE Phoebus. All book-and-line references are linked to the corresponding place in the tagged text, which appears in the text frame.

    The text frame is, as just indicated, filled with the tagged text summoned by clicking on a book-and-line reference. Links from names of persons and from the appellative words to the appropriate indexes are provided.

  5. Analytic notation
  6. In order to use the Onomasticon effectively you need to know its special notation and have some appreciation for its rationale.

    Ontology in the Metamorphoses is problematic: not only do people become things and things people, but the poet also subverts even these comfortable categories in various ways, some of them quite subtle. Furthermore, well-known persons, such as Callisto, may not referenced by their usual proper names or may be entirely anonymous; proper names, such as "Scylla", may applied to more than one person; and certain anonymous persons, such as servants or companions, are most conveniently named by a possessive relationship with a named character, e.g. "Actaeon's men".

    The Onomasticon pays very close attention to all these deviations from the norm of a single individual designated by his or her usual proper name, e.g. "Cadmus". By convention each state or manner of naming is denoted by a special notation, as follows:

    Headword Meaning
    Cadmus the person named "Cadmus"
    Callisto* the person we know to be Callisto but not named as such in the Met
    two distinct persons by the same name; the numbers are assigned in the order of occurrence in the Met
    Europa > comites Europa's comites
    Baucis & Philemon the two named persons acting or referenced as one
    Hercules || taurus Hercules likened to a taurus
    Daphne | laurus Daphne in the form of a laurus

    Compound expressions are found but can be parsed using the above notation.

  7. Textual markup
  8. The Onomasticon is generated automatically by software from a densely encoded text of the poem. Tags follow the line containing the appellative or headword of the appellative phrase and are given in the order in which the appellatives occur in the line. Appellatives are normalized insofar as syntax permits; therefore distinction between singular and plural in nouns and adjectives is preserved.

    Each tag has the following structure:

    <tag-type/ standard-name : appellative>

    The major tag types are denoted by abbreviated codes, as follows. The older abbreviations, used in the online version, are shown in the left-hand column, the newer, used in the current version of the tagged text, in the right-hand column.

    Old New Meaning
    pn pn proper name
    dn nom nominal (noun)
    mn adj adjective
    on attr attribute
    pr pro pronoun
    v vrb verb

    Note that the prefixes c- and ic-, formerly attached to tag-types to indicate two different kinds of groups of persons, have been eliminated.

  9. Current state of the work
  10. The online version of the Onomasticon, dated 10 February 2002, was generated from the previous version of the tagged text. The current version of the tagged text differs in the following respects:

  11. Persons in the project
  12. The persons responsible for the Onomasticon are as follows:

  13. Conditions of use
  14. The Onomasticon is copyrighted by the principal author in all its forms, including this on-line Sampler, and may not be used or duplicated in any form without his express permission.

    Comments are most welcome and should be sent to willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk.