Open-Access TLL PDFs and Diogenes

Although De Gruyter has long offered an electronic, searchable version of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, access to this lexicographical database requires an institutional/library subscription (not to mention a speedy network connection). It was exciting news, then, earlier this year when the TLL offices at the Bayerische Akademie made freely available PDFs of most of their published volumes for offline access.

Downloading all these files will take up a few gigabytes of your local storage, and these open access PDFs contain uncorrected OCR text — the search function on your PDF reader might not accurately find something you’re searching for. Despite those caveats, however, it’s still worth your time to have these files on hand, especially now that the PDFs have been integrated into the latest version of Diogenes, the popular text database software for research in classical philology. (Thanks to Durham University for this great tool!) It’s worth upgrading your installation of Diogenes to the new version, released just this fall, which can automatically download all the TLL PDFs from the Bayerische Akademie website and which allows you to reference those PDFs while you browse through the PHI Latin texts.

Once you’ve installed Diogenes, you can use a handy shortcut in the menu to download all the PDFs from the TLL‘s website:

You’ll be asked for a download location, and even if you move your files around, you can always manually point Diogenes to the PDFs by clicking on Database Locations in the same menu above. For the database files of the PHI and TLG, you’ll need to ask the librarian or other specialist at your institution for access.

(Side note: You might notice that the new version of Diogenes uses Gentium, which is a great free font that correctly renders all sorts of Greek diacritical marks! It’s one of my favorites.)

When you’re browsing the texts of the PHI, you can click any word, which will bring up the dictionary entry from Lewis and Short, just like older versions of Diogenes. In the new version, however, you’ll notice a new link for the related entry in the TLL:

Assuming all goes well, clicking that link should automatically open page 102 of the PDF containing the entry for declamator: TLL vol. V 1, 180, 61. (For an explanation of the TLL‘s citation format, see this helpful FAQ).

Since the open-access PDFs of the TLL might contain some OCR errors from scanning the pages, it’s probably best to consult the hard copy or De Gruyter database version of the Thesaurus, but the convenience of the Diogenes links is a dream. Big thanks for the Diogenes developers, and happy searching!

diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting

As you say of yourself, I too am an Epicurean. I consider the genuine (not the imputed) doctrines of Epicurus as containing everything rational in moral philosophy which Greece and Rome have left us. Epictetus indeed, has given us what was good of the stoics; all beyond, of their dogmas, being hypocrisy and grimace. Their great crime was in their calumnies of Epicurus and misrepresentations of his doctrines; in which we lament to see the candid character of Cicero engaging as an accomplice. Diffuse, vapid, rhetorical, but enchanting. His prototype Plato, eloquent as himself, dealing out mysticisms incomprehensible to the human mind, has been deified by certain sects usurping the name of Christians; because, in his foggy conceptions, they found a basis of impenetrable darkness whereon to rear fabrications as delirious, of their own invention. These they fathered blasphemously on him whom they claimed as their founder, but who would disclaim them with the indignation which their caricatures of his religion so justly excite.Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Short, October 31, 1819


not tragic, just sad

I have a new review essay up at Commonweal of military historian Victor Davis Hanson’s book The Case for Trump. While Hanson’s book is more broadly a panegyric of Trumpist politics, it also makes a peculiar (but erroneous) case for seeing the president as a Sophoclean tragic hero:

Despite Aristotle’s profound influence on our idea of the “tragic,” no literary term has been so misunderstood and misapplied (with the possible exception of “ironic”). It is often erroneously taken as a synonym for “calamitous” or even simply “sad.” But the notion of the tragic—at least as Aristotle sees it—is something more complicated. He famously defines the genre as the “mimesis of an action that is serious, complete, and grand,” one which uses its principal tools of “fear and pity” in order to effect a kind of “catharsis” in viewers. A cursory search of recent academic publications in classics shows that we’re still sparring about what catharsis really means and still confused about why a drama that terrorizes through fear nevertheless produces pleasure.

With his new book, the Greek-military historian Victor Davis Hanson amplifies our misunderstanding of tragedy by shoehorning the current occupant of the White House into the tradition of Sophoclean protagonists, positioning Trump as a so-called “tragic hero.” In The Case for Trump—whose occasional trafficking in Uranium One conspiracy theories and sophomoric Homeric epithets like “polished teleprompter reader Barack Obama” I shall graciously pass over—Hanson asks us to see in Trump a modern Ajax or Antigone, or even a “tribal” “outlier” like Achilles whose “service is never rewarded commensurately by the Greeks’ deep-state leaders.” The problem, of course, is that being a tribal, “unstable loner” has nothing to do with the tragic genre, properly understood. Donald J. Trump may be many things, but a tragic hero he is not.

Head over to Commonweal to read the rest.

Update (5/17): In this article I reference the 1966 article “On Misunderstanding the Oedipus Rex” by E. R. Dodds, and there’s a copy of the article available on Google Scholar. Dodds himself says a good deal about hamartia in this article, but you might also look up Stinton’s 1975 “Hamartia in Aristotle and Greek Tragedy” in Classical Quarterly, which takes a more expansive view of the idea of hamartia, or Dawe’s 1968 “Some Reflections on Ate and Hamartia” in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Another good place to look, of course, is simply the dictionary entry for hamartanō, hamartanein (I audaciously use the second aorist infinitive hamartein in the essay) — Logeion is the place to go for that.