Quadrato lapide: Ancient Architectural Terms in Dalmatian Renaissance Latin

When Renaissance humanists look at ancient architecture, they describe it using technical terms found in ancient authors. Such procedure is especially clear when humanists write in Latin. What are the terms they use, and which terms appear frequently? I will explore this in a digital corpus of Renaissance Latin writings in Dalmatia around 1500, following the use of terms such as quadrato lapide and affabre in works by Juraj Šižgorić from Šibenik (d. 1509), Koriolan Cipiko from Trogir (d. 1493), Marko Marulić from Split (d. 1524), Vinko Pribojević from Hvar (d. after 1532), Ilija Crijević from Dubrovnik (d. 1520), but also by a converted Jew Didacus Pyrrhus (d. 1599) and by Italian teachers active on the eastern Adriatic coast Gilberto Grineo (d. 1501), Tideo Acciarini (d. c. 1500), Palladio Fosco (d. 1520), Daniele Clario (d. 1523), Nardino Celinese (d. after 1528). Further corpus explorations will enable me to show where these authors might have learned their Latin architectural terms—these can be found both in ancient works and in contemporary writers such as Tortelli, Perotti, Alberti—thus providing an outline of the cultural horizon of Cinquecento Dalmatia.

This is a summary of the talk that Neven Jovanović will present on Thursday, March 21, 2024 at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Updates to CroALa: new texts, new search interface

man holding leather jacket by hydraulic press on desk
Photo by Anna Tarazevich

At the end of 2023, Croatiae auctores Latini, a digital collection of Latin texts connected with Croatia, received a (long overdue) update, 15 years after it was launched, ten years after the last update. A number of new texts were added (by Matthias Flacius Illyricus, Paulus Paladinus, Ilija Crijević, Ioannes Rosanus) and many small corrections included. At the moment the collection comprises 509 TEI XML documents with 5,674,274 words in texts (metadata and encodings are not counted). The TEI XML sources are available on Zenodo, DOI 10.5281/zenodo.10456561.

But, even more important, a new experimental search infrastructure can be accessed at the address croala.ffzg.unizg.hr/cdb/index.

The new search interface was designed on top of an instance of the BaseX XML database, using XQuery scripts and a minimal CSS framework Chota.

There were three goals: to keep the search as simple as possible and adapted to the needs of most of CroALa users; to harness the expressive power of TEI XML; to provide texts for reading as well.

The interface is experimental and done by a nonprofessional programmer. After exploring several currently available other choices for publishing XML, however, we either were not able to get the (sometimes beautiful) software working on our server, or were not satisfied with the results — which had to be adjusted and tweaked almost as the current solution.

By the way, updated information, including the ISBN, was also added to the metadata on the CroALa landing page, making it easier and nicer to save in Zotero bibliographical software (we used the Google/Highwire key-value system).

Subscribing to Zotero feeds

Research groups use Zotero to share bibliographies (also to organize them using folders and tags). Groups can, however, decide to make bibliographies public as well, so Zotero users who are not group members can still access a bibliography, browse it, and export items of interest into their own collections.

I tried to do so for the Bodleian Library Western Medieval Manuscripts Bibliography Zotero group, because they had three titles dealing with a specific manuscript (written in Greek by Johannes Gotius from Dubrovnik, but that is another story). I found the items through the relevant Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries link; at the bottom of the page with the manuscript description there is a “Zotero bibliography” section, saying “3 item(s) related to this MS. have been found in our bibliographical database.” Note that the last link will lead you only (or precisely) to the three items on MS. Laud. Gr. 9, thanks to Zotero tags.

Having found this, I wanted to do two things: 1. import the three items into my own collection on Zotero; 2. subscribe to the Bodleian Library Western Medieval Manuscripts Bibliography Zotero group “feed”, so that my Zotero instance can synchronize with the group bibliography and check for new (and all other) items.

Both things are easy — once you know how to do them.

1. importing the items was done via Zotero in browser — I selected each item and pulled it (using the mouse) to a folder in my collection in the left side pane of the Zotero user interface (see the first screenshot).

Screenshot of Zotero bibliography UI with items to be imported into a folder on the left

2. the function for subscribing to feed was somewhat hidden. The easiest way to access it turns out to be clicking on three dots (ellipsis) in the toolbar; this action opens the “Subscribe to feed” option (see the second screenshot).

Screenshot of Zotero bibliography UI  with the function for subscribing to feed

There is a “New feed” option behind the “New collection” button in the standalone client (which has to be running if I want to best use Zotero from the browser), but the “New feed” option then requires a URL… how and where to find it?… or an OPML… what is it, anyway? When you click on the “Subscribe to feed” option, however, a page with a RSS feed will open; I did not know what to do with it, so I copied the URL of the page (https://api.zotero.org/groups/434020/items/top?direction=asc&format=atom&qmode=titleCreatorYear&sort=title&tag=MS.%20Laud%20Gr.%209) into the “New feed” dialog of the standalone client… and after a small wait (the client was getting information from the Zotero API)… I was able to click OK!

The exclamation mark at the end of the previous sentence reveals that it took me a while to understand the process. That is why I am writing this down, by the way.

In conclusion, Zotero feeds are useful and can be added if you are willing to fight and experiment a little.

There is also some official Zotero documentation for achieving this: Feeds in Zotero, Feeds [Zotero documentation]. But the function works not only for journals and such official publications — it is available also for user groups.

A letter to Aldo Manuzio from Dubrovnik, 1500 (?)

Daniele Clario from Parma, a teacher at the school in Dubrovnik from 1482 to 1505, sent a brief letter to the Venetian publisher and printer Aldo Manuzio. Clario requested some books for his colleague “Helius poeta hinc nobilis”; at the time this could have been no one else but the poet laureate Ilija Crijević, Aelius Lampridius Cervinus (1463-1520; at the time, Crijević was teaching at the same school as Clario).
The letter was published in 1888 by Pierre de Nolhac. A digital edition of it, with a commentary identifying persons and books involved, and with a Croatian translation, is available at our Eklogai / Neolatina page (Greek and Latin dictionaries made available there by the wonderful Alpheios Tools service).
Our interest in Clario was refreshed when we found online The Latin Letters of Aldus Manutius, 1483-1500, digitally edited and translated in 2019 by the Neo-Latin Lab team at the Johns Hopkins University. Gratias agimus plurimas!

Latin drama in Croatia, two papers

Part of this summer has been spent in presenting results of analysis (or exploratory data analysis) of our CroALaDrama corpus (Github repo croaladrama), an open collection of records of performances of Latin drama in Croatia (link leads to the analysis site).

Alvarus Luna: title page of a play published in Ingolstadt, 1735; a play with a very similar title was performed in Zagreb in 1693.

In June, Nina Čengić and Neven Jovanović presented a paper at the Japan on the Jesuit stage conference in Vienna.

In August, Neven Jovanović presented at the 17th IANLS Conference in Albacete.

Texts and slides of both papers can be found in the CroALaDrama wiki.

The Neo-Latin drama is research focus of a small, but vibrant community, bringing together scholars from the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, USA, Austria, and Japan, and we have been very glad for the support and interest shown for our papers.

New accession to CroALa in 2018: Damjan Beneša, Poemata

Thanks to the masterly efforts of Vlado Rezar, and supported by the research project TeMrežaH (Textual Networks of Early Modern Croatia, PI Lahorka Plejić Poje), the lesser poems of Damjan Beneša (excluding the epic De morte Christi, which Rezar had edited in 2006) appeared in print last year, published by the Književni krug Split, as the first title of its series Kritička izdanja (Critical editions).
We have used the Christmas holidays to reformat Rezar’s XML edition, prepared with the Classical Text Editor, and to produce a CTS-compatible TEI XML edition of Beneša’s poemata. The edition is now included in CroALa sources (published as a Github and Zenodo repository), and in its BaseX edition, in the textgroup urn:cts:croala:benes01.

Damiani Benessae Poemata, ed. Vlado Rezar, Književni krug Split – Marulianum, 2017

New Accession to CroALa in 2018: Jeronim Bartučević

Over the last two months, after a longer hiatus, some new texts have been added to the Croatiae auctores Latini collection. These accessions also tested the algorithms for updating the CTS-compatible version of the sources.
In January we have finally included into CroALa two recently discovered elegies by Jeronim Bartučević, nicknamed Atticus, an esteemed humanist and teacher from the 16th c. Hvar, famous as the addressee of Petar Hektorović’s poem Ribanje i ribarsko prigovaranje (1556).
Darko Novaković, the editor of the editio princeps (2015), has pointed out that these short poems — a comment on an erotic dream of Bartučević’s friend Mikša Pelegrinović, and an anti-Ottoman appeal to the emperor Charles V — are the first works by Bartučević we are able to read and judge.
Bartučević’s texts are available in the versioned repositories of CroALa (there is a CTS version and a simpler one), and in the BaseX database version of the collection; soon we will update the version under Philologic as well.

Fishpond in Tvrdalj, the Hvar palazzo of Bartučević's friend Petar Hektorović

Testing for Unicode entities from certain blocks

Texts in CroALa sometimes come from OCR (e. g. done by Google Books). Such texts may include unwanted homographs, or homoglyphs — Cyrillic a instead of Latin a, with further problems in searching, parsing, lemmatizing etc. To clean this up, an XSL stylesheet testing for Unicode blocks comes handy. See the Github Gist of the XSL.


The XSL led to Commit 21 in our Github repository.

Scraping XML from CAMENA

CAMENA – Latin Texts of Early Modern Europe was a great project at the University of Mannheim. The project ended in 2011, making available many thousands of pages of Neo-Latin texts, not only by German authors. Some of the texts are available in a machine-readable XML form, though (as the project carefully warns) the texts were not fully corrected, and are therefore to be considered as “raw material”. All material produced by CAMENA is available under a CC-BY-SA Open License.

CAMENA Thesaurus logo

An opportunity to experiment with a large collection of Neo-Latin XML is for us immensely attractive; we can use everything we had learned and developed for the Croatica et Tyrolensia project on other material.

The first step is, however, to collect machine-readable files of CAMENA. As its interface was designed more like a library than a database — perfect for reading, but less suited for other analytical approaches — finding all XML files (or, as will be seen, at least all that we could get) was a time-consuming operation.

We solved it by writing two Python scripts to scrape CAMENA’s index pages for links to their XML. The scripts can be seen as Github gists: Script 1 (which downloads XML files) and Script 2 (which only writes XML links to a file; the links are downloaded by a Linux Bash command such as wget -nd -i ../listthes2.txt).

The other approach — just collecting the links — enabled us to remove duplicates (CAMENA texts sometimes come from the same book, so the links point to thesame document).

There were some links which had to be corrected by hand, however, and some links which we were not able to retrieve at all. We also did not try to download page images (this time).

The textual part of CAMENA which is retrievable in XML consists of four collections (CERA, Historica et politica, Poemata, Thesaurus; the ITALI collection seems to lack any machine-readable XML), with ca. 1751 XML files.

We plan to publish here the full list of CAMENA XML links, and the files themselves.

Analysing XML with BaseX

TEI XML, often used for encoding texts in the humanities, actually carries in its elements certain semantic load. This means that just knowing which elements are used for encoding a file could provide some basic information about the file and its salient points.

We decided to experiment with two XQuery functions. One, currently called croala-analist, lists all documents in a database, e. g. for the database latty: latty. At the same time, as an orientational help, the function lists number of distinct elements used for encoding; e. g. there are eight different elements in the text part of the document putsch-c-brevis.xml.

The other function provides information on distinct elements: in XML/XPath parlance, who are their parents and their children, and how many occurrences of a certain element there are in the document. Here is the information for a latty document mentioned above: putsch-c-brevis.xml.

Joe Futrelle, "Guernica" (from Flickr)
Joe Futrelle, “Guernica” (from Flickr)

An additional challenge for our coding skills was making these functions as general as possible, i. e. applicable to all databases on our server. The two functions can be found inside the croala.xqm module in our Bitbucket repository (croalatransform / plutonbasex / repo /); functions are croala:analist and croala:anatomia.

Index of saints in Croatian Latin school drama

Saints often appear as characters in Croatian Latin school drama (which is mostly Jesuit). Here is how we index them in our digital bibliography. (A more technical note here.)

St Marianus, hermit and confessor of Berry, has until now received no identifier on the internet (though Fr Labbé wrote a page on him, available as a digital facsimile on BSB). Therefore his record has a digital ID / URL base exclusively in CroALa: croala.s.marianus.

On the other hand, St Margaret of Cortona is in Wikipedia, so we can use her Wikidata URL: www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q254632.

St Margaret of Cortona

Papers connected with Croatia in the IANLS 2015 Vienna conference


From the rich programme of the IANLS 2015 conference we have culled abstracts of twelve papers connected with Croatia, or neighbouring regions. Members of the Croatica et Tyrolensia project are strongly represented.

Dominik Bartsch, Lonely walk at Schönbrunn, Vienna  View from Neptune's fountain to Schönbrunn Castle, Vienna.
Dominik Bartsch,
Lonely walk at Schönbrunn, Vienna
View from Neptune’s fountain to Schönbrunn Castle, Vienna.

Continue reading “Papers connected with Croatia in the IANLS 2015 Vienna conference”

Index personarum in CroALaBib

The bibliography branch of the Croatica et Tyrolensia project collects data on people and works connected with Croatian Latin. Following recommendations from the Cookbook of the SNAP:DRGN project, we have started putting our digital data online in a slightly more usable form (currently it exists in an XML database). The SNAP:DRGN Cookbook says:

The first task is to put your prosopography online, with stable URIs for as many entities as you can identify (person, name, source etc.). You need to be able to point (…) and reliably/persistently find (…) your record. This may be no more than an HTML page intended for human consumption.

For CroALaBib persons, this is now possible through the Index personarum on croala.ffzg.unizg.hr. Now the URL croala.ffzg.unizg.hr/basex/persona/jamometicd1e720 leads to data we have collected on Andrija Jamometić. The links and pages were created with a BaseX XML database instance, using the Bootstrap HTML framework.

Among the 1468 persons listed, there are some Italians and some other authors (e. g. Aristotle). They are included either because they were the audience of Croatian authors, or Croatian writers translated their works. Additions to the CroALaBib prosopography are expected soon — we will publish a list of persons involved with the Latin school drama.

A handwritten prosopography, Berkeley.

Technical note: installing PhiloLogic 4 on localhost

PhiloLogic, developed by the ARTFL Project and the Digital Library Development Center at the University of Chicago, is an excellent system for serving and querying XML texts. CroALa and LatTy are currently deployed using PhiloLogic 3, but version 4 is almost ready to be published; try it out on Github (github.com/ARTFL-Project/PhiloLogic4).

Some notes on how we tried — and, thanks to PhiloLogic 4 developers, also succeeded — to get PhiloLogic 4 working and serving Croatian Latin texts on a local machine (localhost in computer networking parlance) are published on the Croatica et Tyrolensia wiki: solr.ffzg.hr/dokuwiki/doku.php/z:philologic4.

Philologia Latina

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