Towards an Online Database of Ancient Dramatic Meters

Jennifer McLish, Timothy J. Moore


The authors of this paper, in cooperation with others, are working to create an online, open access database that presents and analyzes the metrical patterns of all Greek and Roman drama. We have begun with Euripides, creating XML versions of each play’s Greek text and translation, using for lyric sections the scansions of Frederico Lourenço’s The Lyric Metres of Euripidean Drama. The text is marked with various XML features indicating speaker changes, meters, metra/cola, periods, and basic divisions of the play. Each syllable of the play is identified and tagged as long or short via a combination of automatic and manual scansion. With the help of JavaScript and standard web design tools such as HTML and CSS, the XML versions of the plays are then used to create a website that shows scansion throughout the plays, displays metrical patterns in ways easy to comprehend, and allows one to see numerous statistical features of the tragedians’ use of meter. Alongside the XML documents, we make use of JSON files to generate a navigational grid, keep track of meters used in the play, connect the Greek text and the translation, and associate the names of characters with information such as their gender and status. It is hoped that when completed the database will be useful not only to scholars interested in Greek drama’s meter and music, but also to students and theater practitioners.

Parole chiave

Meter; Euripides; XML-TEI annotation; tragedy; database; JavaScript; JSON.

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