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Latin and Greek Texts: What Are We Reading in Schools and Universities?


School and university curricula love Homer. This is a fact. You don’t need to be a student of Classics to know who Homer was and what he wrote. Even Hollywood is familiar with his Iliad and Odyssey. What we’re interested in finding out, however, is who else and what else we are reading during our Latin and Ancient Greek lessons, and furthermore, if every country studies the same texts.
To this end, we picked a sample of six countries, each boasting a relatively high number of students taking these subjects at various levels of proficiency. These are the USA, the UK, Germany, Croatia, Italy and Austria. For each we visited their Ministry of Education websites, secondary school examination board websites and many university Classics departmental pages. We emailed and waited. At last, we were able to compile a list of the top most read authors for each of these countries. Though fully aware that the information we gathered is only part of the puzzle, we also chose to make one list of the top three authors of Latin, and top three of Greek across all countries considered.
Here is what we found: in first and second place for Greek, was, of course, the beloved Homer – his epic poems narrating the events of the Trojan War and the return of Odysseus to Ithaca being favourites among readers; in third place we have the Histories by Herodotus – considered by many the founding work of history. For Latin the first place is awarded to Vergil’s Aeneid recounting the adventures of Aeneas following the war of Troy; second place goes to Catullus’ Poems about his hated and beloved Lesbia; in third place we have Ovid and his Metamorphoses. You may not be surprised by these findings, but you might be surprised to learn that, according to our research, the most studied Greek author in the USA is, in fact, not Homer, but Aristophanes and his comedies Frogs and Clouds. However, just as we thought that the Americans were having all the fun, we discovered that the number one Latin text read in colleges is the far more serious Confessions by Augustine. The UK and Germany, on the other hand, stick to tradition with Homer, Vergil and Ovid. Croatia and Austria enjoy Apollonius’ Argonautica for Greek, which tells the myth of the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts. Our most unusual find is the Italian first choice of Greek text. Our study reveals that, above all, Demosthenes is the Italian number one with On the Crown and the First Philippic. As regards Latin, Italy’s choice is Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita, a chronicle of ancient Rome.
If you wish to take a closer look at these results, download the file below and tell us what you think by leaving a comment or by emailing us at efranzini(at)informatik(dot)uni-leipzig(dot)de !

Book Scanning Contract

SLUB logoThe Open Greek and Latin Project has recently signed a contract with the Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB) to scan books dating between 1922-1984*. In particular, we are digitising editions that are in the public domain under European law. The EU allows its state members to assert copyright protection over scholarly editions for up to 30 years after publication. The argument has been made that an edition’s critical apparatus constitutes a separate work. In light of this debate and of all applicable copyright regulations, we have adopted the following strategy:

  • Editions published after 1922 whose editor(s) died before or during 1943 are being digitised in full (reconstructed text and critical apparatus).
  • Editions published after 1922 whose editor(s) died after 1943 are only partially digitised (reconstructed text only).

The contract runs until the end of 2014 so we need to be selective. While starting, of course, with Lipsiae: Teubner editions, our list will extend to other series.

SLUB scans will be added to SLUB’s digital collection and will ultimately be ingested in the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek.

Please address any comments, suggestions or questions to Greta Franzini at franzini(at)informatik(dot)uni-leipzig(dot)de


*Most editions predating 1922 have already been digitised and are available online via the HathiTrust Digital Library and

Different Cultures, Different Perceptions: HELP ME BY COMPLETING THIS SURVEY!

People from different cultures have different ideas about one single event, or even a historical figure in the ancient world. This may have an influence on how people interact while they are learning a historical language collaboratively.

I am trying to understand if this hypothesis is true. HELP ME by completing this survey.

Just click on the following link to participate in this study and I will be forever grateful!

Thank you for your feedback!

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Lange Nacht der Wissenshaften, Universität Leipzig, 27.6.14

The Historical Languages eLearning Project would like to extend a warm thank you to all of you who came to the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften to learn and play with Ancient Geek. Your feedback was invaluable and has helped us bring our research and development to the next level!










Long Night of Science / Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften!!

Tonight (27th July) from 6pm to 12am in the main building of the University of Leipzig our very own Historical eLearning Project team will be showcasing Ancient Geek, a user-friendly web application providing localized support to learners of Ancient Greek.

The project started in September 2013 and is now already at the point of offering a fully functional platform enriched with history snippets, gamified exercises, aligned text, parse trees, all designed with the sole purpose of teaching an ancient language, not through traditional grammars, but through direct contact with the text and active participation. So far, the text at the user’s disposal is a section of The History of the Peloponnesian War by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, whose literal translation is made available in English, Croatian and Farsi.

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The project’s working name is Historical Languages eLearning Project and is part of the wider Open Philology Project led by Prof. Gregory Crane, Humboldt Professor of DigitalHumanities at the University of Leipzig and funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the European Social Fund and the Sächsische AufbauBank.

Ancient Geek was born and blossomed in the capable hands of three Research Associates at the University of Leipzig — Monica Lent, Emily Franzini and Maria Moritz — with the help of Maryam Foradi, professional translator, and their leaders Professor Gregory Crane, Dr. Thomas Köntges. Join us!



Update! Total number of secondary level students studying Latin and Ancient Greek in the world

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here is an updated version of the blogpost that I published last March [link: here] in which I gave a brief account of my experience in trying to quantify the total number of students studying the Latin and Ancient Greek languages across the world. I am extremely grateful to all the Classicists and non-Classicists out there who pointed me in the right direction, and thanks to whom I have now identified the numbers for four more areas in the world: the Flanders (in Belgium), Switzerland, France and New Zealand. Here are some considerations.

Switzerland filled me with joy, coming in second with 16.8% of its students studying Latin, after Italy (40%). The Flanders too strives to breed young Latinists, with 9% of its students studying the language, 0.3% more than Germany. There are 501,100 students of Latin in France, which I thought incredibly impressive considering Latin is by no means compulsory in schools. I had no idea what to expect for New Zealand, but this is what I found: there are 1,501 students of Latin and none of Greek.

Switzerland and the Flanders tie in second place with 1.2% of students studying Greek in each country – Italy remains first with 13.6%. France is in fifth place after Croatia with 34,000 students of Greek.

I’m still desperately trying to find accurate results for Spain, Greece and Egypt, so any further help would be greatly appreciated. When researching South Africa, I discovered that local Classics professors estimate no more than 100 Latin and 50 Greek students, but, for this, I have yet to find exact documentation. However, it was fascinating to find out that there are Latin and Greek students also in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Congo and Malawi.

As always, if you know the stats of your own country or know where I could find them, please send me an email at efranzini(at)informatik(dot)uni-leipzig(dot)de or leave a comment.

[For the stats complete with sources, download the PDF file below.]