CHWP B.3 McCarty, "Implicit Patterns in Ovid's Metamorphoses"

3. Markup

We begin with markup, the metatextual commentary imposed on a text but always distinguishable from it. Broadly speaking, this markup allows the user selectively to reduce a complex work to its major elements, to view each of them in isolation from the others.

The reader will recall that TACT markup consists of tags placed at specific locations within the text, and that these tags may be of any number and may signify as wide a range of textual phenomena as the editor wishes to identify. Essentially tags record the editor's understanding of the text, enabling certain kinds of questions to be asked. In general the more complex the text, the more extensive the markup must be for TACT to yield useful results. Wisdom in, wisdom out. For purposes of this paper, tags have two forms:

    "<name value>", in which "name" is a parameter signifying a type of entity within the text, and "value" the current value of that parameter, e.g. "<loc Rome>";
    "{value}", in which the curly braces themselves signify the parameter (here, a sentient being) and "value" the particular name of that being, e.g. "{=Apollo}".

Figure 1 lists the tags I have used for the Metamorphoses and two brief samples of marked-up text. Note that all except the "name" tag use the format of the first type shown above, the so-called COCOA format; when the text is viewed in TACT, these appear only as reference information, not as text. Only the "name" tags are considered as text for recall, but as I will explain, this text -- more properly, metatext -- is always distinguishable from the original.

I will comment on all these tags briefly in the order in which they are given in figure 1.

3.1. Books

The division of the poem into the present 15 books is an undisputed convention and so needs to be marked. (Note the "<book 3>" tag in the example in fig. 1.) TACT automatically supplies the line numbers, so these do not have to be tagged.

3.2. Alternative divisions

Other ways of dividing up the poem are possible, however.[6] Several sections, e.g. the Cadmus Cycle and the Ovidian Aeneid, do not conform to book divisions exactly, but cohere nevertheless. In my initial scheme, I have tentatively partitioned the poem into twelve unequal divisions, denoted by the "div" tag as shown.[7] Some of these divisions are more contentious than others, but here the important point is that any scheme, or any number of schemes, may be represented by tags and easily modified by moving the tags. (I will return to this point later.) In figure 1 you will see the beginning of the Cadmus Cycle, for example, marked with "<div 3>"; this tag allows us to ask questions only of the Cadmus Cycle as well as to know quickly, through the reference field of a TACT display, when a something occurs there.

3.3. Stories and story levels

For ease of reference, I have given each story in the Metamorphoses a name and recorded it with the "s" tag, which marks its beginning; its ending is denoted by a dummy value, the dash ("-").[8] There are several kinds of "s" tags -- "s1", "s2", and so forth -- to denote the various 'levels' on which stories may be said to occur.

In my initial experiments, I have broadly defined the notion of 'level' to mean any way in which one story is subsumed by another. For example, in figure 2 (a schematic representation of the Cadmus Cycle) I distinguish three levels, but make no attempt to discriminate amongst the kinds of transitions.[9] Further experiments will determine if such discrimination should be made, and indeed how many levels of storytelling it is productive to mark. Experience so far suggests that there is little benefit to identifying more than three or perhaps four levels, although in some places at least seven are distinguishable.[10]

Like the "div" tag, "s" allows us to see at a glance which story a given occurrence of something is in, and to ask a question restricted to a particular story or set of stories. In the experiments documented here, only the former option has been exercised.

3.4. Unifying presence

The "pr" tag indicates a kind of inclusion not covered by the "s" tag: namely, the 'presence' of a sentient being who by that presence can be said to unify a group of stories. Two such unifying presences are indicated in figure 2, Tiresias and Bacchus, who happen to overlap. Two kinds of "pr" are allowed, "pr1" and "pr2", to handle just such a case.

I have reached no conclusion yet about the utility of the "pr" tag, although clearly 'presence' is a kind of unifying device. Note that 'presence' need not be always or even frequently explicit in the original text; as with the Tiresian and Bacchic stories, an occasional assertion is sufficient. Theseus, for example, is present from Met. 7.404 to 9.100 (he overlaps with Hercules from 9.1 to 9.100), but for long stretches of the narrative he is quite invisible.

3.5. Location

All geographical locations are marked with the "loc" tag so that at some later stage I can chart Ovidian translatio -- the spatial movement from primeval beginnings to the conclusion in Rome. Initially I have marked all locations in the same way, whatever function they have in the text; thus the place where action happens is not distinguished from a place to which reference is made, e.g. in an epithet such as Sidonius (lit. 'he from Sidon', for Cadmus). Experiments will reveal whether such distinctions are useful to have. In any case, the "loc" tag as currently defined has little immediate use in TACT. Rather "loc" is there for extraction by other software working directly on the text files; if place-of-action can be reasonably well defined, it may become useful within TACT.

3.6. Names

All names of sentient beings in the Metamorphoses and all direct references to them other than verb endings are explicitly tagged with TACT "label" markup. Thus proper names, pronouns, possessive adjectives, epithets, and substantives with clear reference to an individual (e.g. pater) are routinely tagged. Ontologically uncertain figures, such as terra or sol, are also tagged even when they do not appear as sentient. Consequently, with the tools provided by TACT the user can determine for any being the relative density of occurrence as well as chart his or her distribution across the poem.

Name tags are designed to capture the form and content of each occurrence as economically as possible. At a minimum a name tag consists of a single element, the grammatically normalized form of a proper name. Most name tags, however, are compound expressions consisting of two or more parts with separators indicating roughly the relationship between parts. A typical name tag will, for example, specify a standardized form in English spelling, the nominative singular (or plural) of the form that occurs in the text, and any relevant attributes or objects attached to the occurrence of the name. In addition, the names of other beings implied by the given occurrence are included.

My scheme is described by example in figure 3; see also figure 2 for examples in context and figure 4 for a sample name list.

Let us consider a few examples from figure 3. The first is the simplest case: any inflected form of Achilles is represented inside the curly braces of the name tag as "=Achilles". (The equals sign accomplishes several tasks: it suggests an identification of terms; it ensures that all such tags will be grouped together by TACT in the same part of the alphabet; and it makes them consistently distinguishable from the original text.[11)] In the second example, Peliades refers simultaneously to two individuals -- Achilles and his father Peleus -- and so generates two tags. The first, "=Achilles=Peliades", may be read 'Achilles occurring as Peliades'; "=Peleus-son/Achilles/", the second, 'Peleus' son, who is Achilles'. As a result the reference to father Peleus in the patronymic is alphabetized along with other references to him, the fact that it is a patronymic is not obscured, and for convenience the name of the son is given. In all cases, the dash (as between "Peleus" and "son") indicates the subordination of a related object or attribute; the slashes always enclose the name of a being to whom reference is made. Thus when Mercury is referred to as natus Iove, 'son of Jupiter', the resulting tags are "=Mercury=natus_Iove" and "=Jupiter-natus/Mercury/".

As illustrated above, English words like "son" or "daughter" are used when the Latin provides no equivalent; otherwise, as in phrases like natus Iove, the tag uses normalized forms of the original words. Because in TACT, as well as in most other software, spaces are taken to separate rather than join words, the underscore replaces the space wherever a connected phrase is required, as in the tag "=Ajax_clipei_dominus_septemplicis", 'Ajax, lord of the sevenfold shield', and other extended epithets.

Names connecting a being with a place (such as Thermodontiaca for Pentheselea, Queen of the Amazons) generate location tags as well as name tags. As in this example from figure 3, a being likely to be sought under the name of a group is also tagged with the name of that group.

In most instances, however, beings who appear under different names are given one primary name, more or less arbitrarily. Thus Apollo, Phoebus, and Sol are all given tags that begin with "=Apollo"; Minerva and Pallas with "=Minerva"; and so forth. Consistent with the scheme already described, the remainder of the tag preserves whatever name is actually used in the text, e.g. "=Apollo=Phoebus". Moreover, when for example Phoebus is clearly the current name, tags generated by pronouns, possessive adjectives, and substantives preserve this fact, as in "=Apollo=Phoebus=ille".

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[6] Amongst the many see, for example, those proposed by Brooks Otis, Ovid as an Epic Poet, 2nd. ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970): 83-90 ff.; Walther Ludwig, Struktur und Einheit der Metamorphosen Ovids (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1965).

[7] My division of the poem results in the same number of segments as Ludwig's, although the two schemes only occasionally coincide. Mine are as follows: (1) Beginnings: Met. 1.1-1.451; (2) Loves of the gods: 1.452-2.875; (3) Cadmus Cycle: 3.1-4.603; (4) Perseus: 4.604-6.145; (5) Niobe, Philomela & Procne, Medea: 6.146-7.403; (6) Theseus: 7.404-8.884; (7) Hercules: 9.1-9.797; (8) Orpheus: 10.1-11.66; (9) Prelude to war: 11.67-11.795; (10) Trojan War: 12.1-13.622; (11) Aeneid: 13.623-14.608; (12) Roman Apocalypse: 14.609-end.

[8] In more sophisticated markup schemes (such as SGML) all tags have both initial and final forms, e.g. for every "<tag>" there is a corresponding "<\tag>" that marks the end of the segment. Tags in TACT mark locations. Assigning a dummy value to a tag thus circumvents a limitation in the design of the program.

[9] The story of Cadmus, for example, occurs in two distinct segments; at the end of the first, the narrative simply breaks off to tell the stories of his progeny and others, then finally returns to describe Cadmus' fate. In the case of Pentheus, the Bacchic acolyte Acoetes actually tells his story within the embracing story of Pentheus.

[10] Strictly speaking any reference to a story outside the one in progress, no matter how brief, signifies transition to and from another 'level', but there seems little point in marking this transition as such unless it is reasonably lengthy. I have not yet settled on a minimum length at which a mere reference or allusion may be said to become a story. Again, the distinction is arbitrary (see note 2, above).

[11] In the MakBas ".MAK" file, the equals sign has been declared the first letter of the alphabet. Thus when the user obtains a word list, the contents of all name tags occur together at the beginning of the list.