Saturday, March 3, 2018

Library of Antiquity on Perseus

Perseus 5.0 Launching March 15!
As many of you no doubt have heard, the Perseus Project is getting an exciting new overhaul. Eldarion, a web development company in the US headed by a classicist/developer J.K. Tauber, will be releasing Perseus 5.0 on March 15. We’ve covered the Perseus Project in depth before in a four-part post series (links below). In honor of the coming update, we thought we’d revisit the Perseus Project and talk a little more about the project and its various forms.
Our four-post series covered Perseus 4.0,  or the Perseus Hopper, which is the Perseus Project mirror hosted by Tufts University.  Here are the links to those four posts:
The Perseus Hopper is software that was built to interact with the digitized primary sources and reference tools that make up the collections of the Perseus Digital Library. Both the complete texts and the code for the Perseus Hopper are open source.
But the Perseus Hopper is just one Perseus Project Mirror. There are two other mirror sites that also host the Perseus Digital Library. Traditionally, a mirror site is an exact copy of a website running on a completely different server that can be accessed as a backup if the main site is down or that visitors can be diverted to if the main site is receiving too many visitors. In the case of the Perseus mirror hosted out of the University of Chicago, AKA Perseus under PhiloLogic, the texts from the Perseus Digital Library are mirrored but the software that interacts with that library is slightly different. The Chicago mirror of the Perseus Digital Library runs on Logeion (but much, much, more about that in a future post!). As of the time of this blog post, the other Perseus mirror, the Berlin Mirror, is down.
Back in the day when I was an undergraduate student in classics, the internet was slow. We used to download Perseus and run it on our own computers. We could do that because the Perseus digital library and code is open source. The download page has links to download the Hopper code and the complete texts. These days most of us have access to high-speed internet, and the Perseus Hopper is fast and has very little downtime, so there is less incentive to run local copies. But you could if you wanted to. It’s worth noting that since Perseus 5.0 is launching soon, the Perseus 4.0 Hopper code is no longer being supported.
Perseus 5.0 will be known as the Scaife Reader, named after Ross Scaife who was a pioneer in Digital classics. Scaife was a professor at the University of Kentucky and founded the Stoa Consortium, an umbrella organization for digital classics that hosts projects like the Suda On Line. Scaife himself was a huge proponent of open source software. The Scaife Reader, like the Hopper before it, is open source and available on GitHub (GitHub is the most popular place these days to share open source code). You can follow the instructions in the file and have a local version of Perseus 5.0 running on your machine if you’d like (and you happen to know Python).
In honor of the Perseus 5.0 launch, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Perseus Chicago Mirror and the new Scaife viewer once it’s online and ready to go. In the meantime, if you’re curious, head on over the GitHub and fork the project! Happy coding everyone. 🙂

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