Perseus Digital Library for Humanities, and more

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The Perseus Digital Library Project is an evolving digital library of resources for the study of the humanities.

It is located in the Department of the Classics, Tufts University, USA.

It is primarily a research project, although it incorporates services for users, and research is mainly focused on developing tools to provide users with improved access to various types of materials. Past work has focused on building and linking together collections while current work is based on developing tools for presentation of the materials within the library, with special attention to the matter of personalization: organizing what users see in order to meet their needs.

Since planning began in 1985, the Perseus project has explored what happens when libraries move online. Two decades later, as new forms of publication emerge and millions of books become digital, this question is more pressing than ever. Perseus is a practical experiment to explore possibilities and challenges of digital collections in a networked world.

The Library is primarily dedicated to humanities students, and the Perseus flagship collection, under development since 1987, covers the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world.

The Perseus digital library provides a variety of resources on the ancient world. There are several paths to explore what’s in Perseus: the Historical Overview, the primary texts, and some sample art & archaeology searches, along with the large site plans. General help for browsing and using the library is also available as well as a nice service for Greek or Latin novice students trying to translate a word or phrase, who can check the Greek and Latin translation tips.

The Historical Overview is an extensive description of Greek history that covers not only political history, but also cultural, religious, and social aspects of ancient Greece.

Perseus offers the most important Greek and Roman works in translation from original texts, which include Homer’s Odyssey, Aeschylus’ Agammemnon, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, Cicero’s orations against Catiline, and Vergil’s Aeneid.

The Library also contains thousands of images and descriptions of vases, coins, sculpture, buildings, and sites, and also some extended virtual resources as:

The Site of Delphi: Virtual visit the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, provided with Delphi’s large site plan, a clickable map that shows plan drawings of the buildings there, along with photographs.

Fortification Architecture: Browser for some of the remaining walls and towers of  massive fortification for ancient Greek cities

Roman Architecture: Browser for the Emperor Augustus’s Ara Pacis, an ornate monument whose sculptures show Augustus and his family, Aeneas, and Mother Earth.

There are many ways of accessing the materials in the Perseus digital library. In fact, there is more than one way of getting to the core content of the digital library.

Navigation in Perseus is extremely user-friendly and offers a wide range of tools and resources.

At the top of most Perseus pages there are handy links to the most-used pages: the Tables of Contents for the collections, the Configure Display tool for customizing Perseus according to the user’s preference, the Help Center, the Tools menu, a Search box, and more.

At the left of most Perseus pages there is a sidebar that contains links relevant to whatever user is reading. When there are place names in the text (in English), for example, the side bar will offer a link to the Atlas; when there are dates, there is a link to the Timeline Tool. When reading a Greek or Latin text, the side bar will give links to the dictionaries, grammars, and Vocabulary Tool. And there is also a short Table of Contents for the text the user is reading.

Perseus has a particular focus upon the Greco-Roman world and upon classical Greek and Latin, but it is open to collaborations with researchers outside of classical studies: Early modern English, the American Civil War, the History and Topography of London, the History of Mechanics, automatic identification and glossing of technical language in scientific documents, customized reading support for Arabic language, and other projects that have been undertaken allow Perseus to maintain a broader focus, and to demonstrate the commonalities between Classics and other disciplines in the humanities and beyond.

Learn more and explore Perseus: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/

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