DICES Database

The envisioned database will become the largest open access database of metadata on direct speech in ancient and late antique epic. It will be suitable both for beginners and advanced users: its user-friendly, slim human interface will help users without specialist knowledge in ancient and late antique epic or digital humanities navigate the database. It could therefore both be used as an analytical platform and a digital reference tool to introduce students of Greek and Latin epic to digital tools and methods.

At the same time, it will allow experts of speech representation to search for, organise, analyse, and export the data that is relevant for their own research interests and pursue an infinite number of research questions based on any combination of the offered search categories in any combination of Greek and Latin epics from Homer to Late Antiquity.

The developed tools will significantly change how scholars approach research in this field in the future. The API interface will moreover allow specialists in the Digital Humanities to extract our data for their own research. The purpose-built database and digital tools themselves will therefore facilitate future qualitative and quantitative research long after the project’s completion and will help advance the study of direct speech in Greek and Latin epic by enabling scholars to pursue complex questions at an unprecedented scale.

These benefits will not be limited to the field of discourse analysis and narratology in ancient and late antique epic but will also exceed the community of classical scholars and will inspire further interdisciplinary research.

Funding

The initial work on a prototype of the database was supported by a President’s Research and Creative Activities grant from Mount Allison University, including funds from the J. E. A. Crake Foundation, by a Mare Balticum Fellowship and a research grant from the Interdisciplinary Faculty (INF) at the University of Rostock, Department WKT: Wissen-Kultur-Transformation, by the European Social Fund for Germany (ESF), and by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

Ongoing development of the database for direct speeches in ancient and late antique Graeco-Roman epic is supported by an Insight Development Grant (1 June 2021 – 31 May 2023) of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Database Development

The project is still very much in development and the features described here are far from stable, and indeed frequently broken.

 

Web-based search

The database does not yet have a human-oriented web interface, but one day it will.

Python client

A python-based client for interacting programmatically with the API is under development. The code is available at dices-client. There are a couple of Jupyter Notebooks giving examples of its use at dices-examples; the latter can be tested online via Binder.

API

The database has a machine-oriented API. This is under development and will be volatile for a while… at least through 2021. If you’re not easily frustrated, you can poke at our development prototype on Heroku: fierce-ravine-99183.herokuapp.com/api

API endpoints

/speeches

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID
  • spkr_name: name of speaker
  • spkr_gender: [female, male, non-binary, none], gender of speaker
  • spkr_number: [individual, collective], number of speaker
  • spkr_being: [mortal, divine, creature, other], type of being speaking
  • spkr_manto: speaker’s MANTO ID
  • spkr_wd: speaker’s WikiData ID
  • spkr_anon: [True, False], whether speaker is anonymous
  • addr_*: same as above, but for addressee
  • type: [S (soliloquy), M (monologue), D (dialogue), G (general interlocution)], speech type
  • cluster_id: conversation to which speech belongs
  • part: non-zero integer, position (or “move”) of speech within conversation
  • work_title: (English) name of poem
  • work_urn: work’s CTS URN for edition used
  • work_wd: work’s WikiData ID
  • author_name: (English) name of author
  • author_urn author’s CITE ID
  • author_wd author’s WikiData ID

/clusters

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID

/instances

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID
  • name: name of character instance
  • gender: [female, male, non-binary, none] gender of character instance
  • number: [individual, collective] number of character instance
  • being: [mortal, divine, creature, other] type of being for character instance
  • anon: [True, False] whether character instance is anonymous
  • char_name: name of underlying character, if different from instance name
  • char_number: number of underlying character, if different from instance name
  • char_being: being of underlying character, if different from instance name
  • char_gender: gender of underlying character, if different from instance name
  • manto: MANTO ID for underlying character
  • wd: WikiData ID for underlying character

/characters

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID
  • name: name of character
  • gender: [female, male, non-binary, none] gender of character
  • number: [individual, collective] number of character
  • being: [mortal, divine, creature, other] type of being for character
  • manto: MANTO ID
  • wd: WikiData ID

/works

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID
  • title: (English) title of poem
  • wd: WikiData ID of poem
  • urn: CTS URN of edition
  • author_name: (English) name of author
  • author_wd: WikiData ID of author
  • author_urn: CITE ID of author

/authors

Searchable parameters:

  • id: internal ID
  • name: (English) name
  • urn: CITE ID

Example

This will get you all speeches by Achilles in the Iliad, as paged JSON:

https://fierce-ravine-99183.herokuapp.com/api/speeches?spkr_name=Achilles&work_title=Iliad