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Quote of the day: At last, after well-merited commendation


As was mentioned, there are many problems present when documents have to be indexed.
To mention a few:
  1. Scanning problems.
    Many documents have been scanned. This leads usually to errors, many of which have not been corrected. (E.g. Pompeitis instead of Pompeius. It sounds like a disease.) When encountering such errors in a name of a person one has to choose between correcting them before the computer analysis or accepting them. Accepting them means storing them as a synonym in the index. Correcting means storing only the corrected name in the index. Correcting them means also that a user cannot find the name with the requested spelling in the document. Accepting it means the introduction of a (useless?) synonym.
    I corrected only very obvious errors: (Vaierius ==> Valerius, Ceasor ==> Caesar), but not many. People scanning a document ought to pay more attention to scanning errors.
  2. Synonyms, different names referring to the same person.
    As mentioned, synonyms are different descriptions having the same meaning. In the database, which is restricted to the names of persons in Roman times, this can create problems. Synonyms due to scanning errors were already mentioned.
    Other sources are:
    • Homonyms, persons are indicated by different names:
      Augustus was born as Gaius Octavius, but changed his name to Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus when adopted by Julius Caesar. We call him Octavian before he became emperor. I found a list of consuls which contained names that differed for nearly each consul from the names Livy uses.
    • Spelling. The English spelling of a number of persons differs from the Latin spelling, (Livy - Livius, Vergil - Virgilius etc.). It happens often with authors and biblical persons.
    • Otherwise different spellings of a name: e.g. Gaius - Caius, Kaeso - Caeso, Julius - Iulius
    Most Romans had two or three names, but some had (many) more. They had what we call a first name (praenomen) and a surname (nomen), but many had also a family nickname (cognomen). Sometimes an agnomen, a personal nickname occurred, like Africanus. Such a nickname was not inherited.
    In Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius) Mark is the first name, and Antonius the surname, but in Julius Caesar Julius is the surname, and Caesar the (family) nickname (cognomen). His first name was Gaius.

    When somebody was adopted, which happened often to people becoming emperor later on, he usually changed his name. Most emperors changed their names when they became emperor. They added Caesar or Augustus or both to their name. The full name of emperor Tiberius, before he became emperor, was "Tiberius Claudius Nero", just like his father. Nero is in some documents called Claudius Drusus Germanicus Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, in others also Tiberius Claudius Nero. It is a matter of the moment.
    In the system both the full name and a short name is used, and very often a synonym. In the case of the emperors the short name is the name we know them by.

  3. Homonyms, one name referring to different people.
    Many names were shared by many people, as can be seen in the part on Synonyms. In the database there are more than 450 persons with the first name Marcus. This makes it impossible for the computer to find out which Marcus is intended when the name Marcus appears in a document. Often the full name or some other indication is mentioned in the document as well, but that is not sufficient either. Many consuls in the list bear the same name. Some of hem may be the same person. This could easily lead to an error. If you find one please let me know.
I decided to give each person a number. This number is more or less arbitrarily assigned so it does not give information. It is displayed sometimes, because the same number means the same person.
A database was created to store the numbers with names and synonyms, and also some further information to distinguish them.
Most likely the system comprises many errors.
If you find one please let me know.

Michiel Osinga