In our rationale for a digital edition of the Homeric epics, we have observed (e.g., in “Digital Criticism”) that the layout of a print edition of the Iliad or Odyssey affects the reader’s perception of the text. As Casey Dué and I say in that article: “A standard print edition will present a main text, and then record alternative readings in an apparatus (generally printed at the bottom of the page in smaller-sized font), giving the impression that there is the text — and then there is everything else. Compounding this problem and further obscuring the situation for nonspecialists, the apparatus as developed and practiced in classical textual criticism uses conventions and abbreviations that can only be deciphered by those who have received special training in these practices.” In other words, the layout of the page both assumes and projects a particular view of the text and its transmission, one that is at odds with the historical reality of the composition and transmission of the Homeric epics. Not only the conventional layout of print critical editions, but also the very limitations of print as a medium, are fundamental reasons why a digital edition is necessary to fully realize a critical edition of the Homeric epics.
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