Toward a New Interlinear Gloss of De Rerum Natura

  • Proposal:

    To prepare an edition of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura with English gloss under Latin text.

    Proposed Source Text:…eus%3atext%3a1999.02.0130

    Proposed License:

    Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

    (Necessary if using the Perseus text)

    Proposed Format:

    Not yet determined.

    Brill Publishing (a printer of scholarly works, who I mention for no other reason than that they have a webpage on this subject) recommends for its authors that interlinear glosses should be typeset in a table. The linework is to be made invisible upon completion.

    The academic standard for linguistic glossing is the Leipzig System. My preference for this work, however, is for the simplest presentation, and the greatest possible focus on the Latin. To that end, I propose;

    -A two line system for the main body of the text, Latin over literal English

    -A separate glossary on each page beneath the main body of text for extraneous lexical information (word stem, part of speech, alternative meaning, etc.)

    -Snippets of translation within said glossary for more difficult passages.

    This table is a proposed gloss for Book I, line 1. Input and feedback welcome!

    AeneadumGenetrix,HominumDivomqueVoluptas, -
    (of) (the) Aeneadaemother(of) men(and) (of ) godsdelight

    Proposed Software:

    I haven't used Google Docs in quite a long time, but it does seem to be an option for ease of collaboration or even simply feedback. It might be best to use a spreadsheet for the table-work, for importing large quantities of Latin text into separate cells.

    I've been combing the internet for the last few days in search of a more elegant solution, but all of the code-based options look frankly like trouble.


  • THAT is an ambitious undertaking, but I can think of no one who is better suited to tackle the poetic aspect of Lucretius than you.

    Have you verified there's not an interlinear out there?

    I will say I have an interlinear Beowulf that I enjoy perusing from time to time.

  • Yes, Cassius and I briefly discussed that one. It only contains the first book, and even when pared down using the filters is far too cluttered for my liking.

    I did find an obscure reference to an interlinear edition in an issue of Publisher's Weekly from 1921:


    "On the Nature of Things , Lucretius , interlinear . Revellers , McBride , Broadway Pub . Co."

    I haven't been able to track it down.

  • 1 - JJ I gather that it is possible to add text into nodictionaries, and/or the website owner says he will do that upon request, if that proves helpful.

    2 - I suspect you are right that google docs is a good option. Would a spreadsheet perhaps work better, or does Brill suggest a format? I would not think "CSV" would be good enough but something like that which is text-based might work.

    3 - You've probably seen my recent comments on GITHUB in regard to working with it on the "Epicurus College" materials. I am pretty much getting to the point where it's not quite as intimidating as it used to be to me, but it has great advantages if the material you're working on can be "text-based" instead of binary like Google docs or spreadsheets would be.

    The tremendous benefit I see is that it allows VERY fine-grained collaboration, which is apparently what "merging" and "pulling" and similar terms are all about. The benefit is that the master-overseer (you) can get help from others with the others submitting "pull requests" (I think that's the term) with the material that they have typed and/or corrected. You as project leader get to see a "differential" view of each line in text format, so you see EXACTLY what is being proposed for addition or corrected, and then you "merge" the corrections/additions that meet your approval. It might be that such fine-grained supervision might not be necessary, but that's a factor that has stopped me in several efforts at collaboration in the past. It's pretty disconcerting to think that multiple people are editing the document without the main coordinator knowing what they are doing and approving their contributions. Github and similar "git" services were designed to meet those challenges and it seems to work pretty well. Here's a screenshot showing how the review system works, highlighting the original vs changed lines:

    It may seem like overkill, and it might be, but the more I get familiar with it the more I see how it's a really good fine-grained collaboration tool for multiple contributors.

    Hard to say if it would be worth your time but wanted you to be aware of it.

    PERHAPS one approach would be to start with getting all six books into no-dictionaries, generating some kind of rough draft, and then creating markdown (text) files for each book, posting them to github, and then editing them in collaborative fashion as you have time.

    Not sure, but I would dearly love to have an interlinear Lucretius. Like you, I've looked and I haven't found one, and don't believe one exists.

    Similarly I was looking for an interlinear of the DL bio of Epicurus, or Cicero's "On Ends" and haven't found any of it.

    Here is a discussion of how a text-based table looks using the markdown format that would work in a git collaboration system:…ple/1741/creating-a-table

  • The only caveat I'd provide is that an interlinear can still only give one translation for a word. In today's Lucretius Today conversation (yet to be posted) I brought up the multiple connotations of pedetemptim. Having access to that level of interpretation would be very helpful. I'm thinking specifically of Jonathan Star's edition of the Tao Te Ching: https://www.penguinrandomhouse…e-ching-by-jonathan-star/

  • No no! That's why I'm suggesting an additional glossary or lexicon on the same (or perhaps facing) page, under the line as it were. I just want to get all that extra stuff out of the main body of the interlinear text. A year or so ago I memorized the Hymn to Venus in Latin and can still recite and translate it in my head. What I want is an efficient way to read and memorize more of the text with just a helpful hint as I go through it. I'm off work again tomorrow, I'll work up a page or two to show what I mean.

  • I've discovered that it's very easy to copy and paste whole sections of text into Excel to where it puts one word into each cell and still maintains the appropriate line break. So getting the Latin text into my tables will be really simple.

    I'm betting there's also a way to "inter-leave" the rows from two different spreadsheets in a merger. If I can figure that out, then the only challenging part will be to type out the English in a word document. Then it will be a simple matter of merging the two in excel, exporting the combined table to Word (or a typesetting program like InDesign) and building out the rest of the annotations around the tables. I need to get more proficient with Excel (or the open-source knock-off I'm currently using!)

  • Here is an example using a table exported from LibreOffice Calc to Writer, and saved as a PDF.

    LaTeX is a typesetting mark-up format that's supposed to be great for this kind of thing. There's a learning curve, but I may see if I can get a handle on that before I commit to doing it this way.