An Online Edition of the Fragments of Demetrios of Skepsis

Alexandra Trachsel (Hamburg)

Digital Classicist/ICS Work in Progress Seminar, Summer 2009

Friday 7th August at 16:30, in room STB3/6, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Demetrios of Scepsis is a Greek geographer from the 2nd century BC. His major, and only known work deals with the Homeric poems and the landscape those poems mention. He focused on the Trojan Catalog in Book 2 of the Iliad (2, 816-877) and composed a huge commentary on it.

His work is unfortunately preserved only in an extremely fragmentary way which means by quotations, mainly in Strabo and Athenaeus (75 fragments all together) . They have already been edited once in a study carried out by R. Gaede back in 1880 (R. Gaede, Demetrii Scepsii quae supersunt, Greifswald 1880). Since then little has been done on the text. The fragments are included in the FGrHist (Prof. A.M. Biraschi, University of Perugia) but volume V is still in elaboration and they have been mentioned in the project of Prof. G. Shipley (University of Leicester) entitled Re-presenting the Minor Greek Geographers (GGM). However none of these projects deals with Demetrios' fragments for themselves and my contribution will add to the fragments a larger study on this scholar and his literary and historical background. The present project focus therefore on the scholar from Scepsis and the starting point is provided by the previous edition by Gaede. The study is dealing with the edition of the text, adds a translation and provides a commentary on the text and its content. It will be carried out as an online edition (based on the TEI XML standard) and I would like to present some aspect of this work in the proposed Work-in-Progress Seminars and mention some questions I have encountered so far.

From the point of view of the structure, there will be three parts, a text-oriented introduction where readers will be following a rather straightforward text, the fragments and their translations presented in parallel and a final part where a larger commentary on the content of each fragment will be given. Therefore for the digital aspect of the project it seems more promising to deal with each part separately.

For the part dealing with the text, there will be a mixture of traditional issues about text editing necessary for the scholarly standards for text edition (with apparatus criticus as for instance in Prof. Chr. Brockmann's edition on Galen's commentary on Hippcrates, see, even if it is not yet in the XML format) and digital tools and presentations which should handle at least two language and provide help for readers not familiar with the original languag (p. ex. comments on the morphological and on the syntactical level as well as lexicographical tools, the best example here being the Perseus Digital Library).

For the larger part dedicated to the commentary on the content of the fragments additional and more heterogenous material will be added. Besides the straightforward text commenting on the relevant fragment, other forms of information will be provided. First as the topic of the work by Demetrios deals with topographical issues, obviously the study should also provide maps and pictures from the places mentioned. Further other didactic or visual tools could be added helping to understand the contribution Demetrios' works makes to the history of ancient Homeric scholarship. I mention here as examples chronological time lines, which would allow an accurate visualisation of the complexe historical and political context in which Demetrios of Scepsis composes his work (the 2nd century BC in Asia minor and in particular in the Troad), and secondly other visual presentations of rather complexe elements, such as the literary and/or scholarly links between ancient scholars in general and Demetrios of Scepsis in particular.


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)