Digital edition: canonical citations of text re-uses

The first function for a proper representation of text re-uses of lost works is to visualize them inside their embedding context (cf. the section about Plutarch). This means first of all to select the string of words that belong to the portion of text which is classifiable as re-use.

The screenshot shows a Perseus visualization of a passage of Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 3.6 (= 3.74e) that includes a text re-use of an information drawn from the Attika of Istros:

Athenaeus 3.6 - Perseus 

The original text of Istros is lost and the passage of Athenaeus is the only surviving evidence of it:

Ἴστρος δ' ἐν τοῖς Ἀττικοῖς οὐδ' ἐξάγεσθαί φησι τῆς Ἀττικῆς τὰς ἀπ' αὐτῶν γινομένας ἰσχάδας, ἵνα μόνοι ἀπολαύοιεν οἱ κατοικοῦντες· καὶ ἐπεὶ πολλοὶ ἐνεφανίζοντο διακλέπτοντες, οἱ τούτους μηνύοντες τοῖς δικασταῖς ἐκλήθησαν τότε πρῶτον συκοφάνται.

And Istros in the Attika says that it was even forbidden to export figs produced in Attica, in order that the residents alone might enjoy them; and since many were caught in the act of smuggling them across the border, those who gave information to the courts about such persons came to be called, for the first time, sycophants [fig-detectives].


Different extensions of the passage of Athenaeus can be attributed to Istros: 1) the first sentence (Ἴστρος ... οἱ κατοικοῦντες) or 2) the whole passage (Ἴστρος ... συκοφάνται). The goal of a digital edition is to devise a tool for citing the re-use of Istros and avoiding the repetition of the text of Athenaeus, as it happens when collections of fragmentary authors are presented separately from editions of surviving authors (see Print edition: excerpting "fragments").


The Canonical Text Services (CTS) specification defines a network service for identifying texts and for retrieving fragments of texts by canonical reference expressed as CTS URNs.

A quotation can be therefore represented with a RDF triplestore: [cts-urn-1] quotes [cts-urn-2] 

In our example [cts-urn-1] is Athenaeus and [cts-urn-2] should be the passage of Istros quoted by Athenaeus himself. But, given that the original text of Istros is lost and Athenaeus is the only citable textual evidence, CTS provides a CITE Collection of quotations and text re-uses, each with its own CITE-URN. These CITE-URNs refer to modern editions of fragmentary authors, because we don't have the original text of lost authors and we have to express the citation at an edition-level.


In our example the RDF triplestore can be therefore represented in the following way, adding a substring reference to the URN for greater precision:

urn:cite:fgr21:berti.istros_12 (which is an example of a CITE Collection Object identifying the text re-use of Istros with a reference to the Berti 2009 edition, where this portion of Athenaeus' text is reproduced and classified as Istros F12)
urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0008.tlg001:3.74e:Ἴστρος-συκοφάνται (Athenaeus)

This triplet expresses the relation between an object in a Collection (an edition of a "fragment" of Istros) and a passage of a text (the Deipnosophists where Athenaeus quotes Istros).


In the case of quotations and re-uses of surviving texts, the relation is different because we have both the original text and its re-use. For example, if we have a quotation of Homer in Athenaeus, we produce a work-level CTS URN and therefore we can represent the RDF triplestore in such a way: (Athenaeus)
urn:cts:tlg0012.tlg001:X.xx (Homer)



Canonical Text Services (CTS) resources: