Definitions of Terms Used by the Perseus Catalog and in this documentation

This symbol indicates a Perseus Catalog label.

Atom (Atom feeds): Atom syndication format is a web standard based on XML and used for syndicating web feeds. It is an alternative to RSS. Both catalog and authority records can be downloaded as Atom feeds.

Author:  The creator of the intellectual content of a Work. Example: Plato is the author of a work titled, in English, “The Republic.”

Author Group:  A label used in addition to or instead of Author Name. The Author Group label is most useful for preserving instances where scholarly convention has traditionally grouped together multiple works to form a meaningful point of reference. Although this traditional grouping may be arbitrary, it remains important to preserve it. These groupings of works often have multiple and/or unknown authors.Some examples in the Perseus Catalog of unique Author Groups are the Homeric Hymns, the New Testament, and the Scriptores Historiae Augustae. In many cases Author Group = Author Name. See also Textgroups.

Author Name:  See Author above.

Authority record: A record created to represent an author, subject, or work (among other items), and to establish a preferred/authorized heading for use in bibliographic records and catalogs. Authority records also typically include variant names, sources used to identify the preferred heading, and unique identifiers. See the Wikipedia  entry “Authority Control” for further information.

Blacklight is “an open source Ruby on Rails gem that provides a discovery interface for any Solr index” and has been used as the basis for the Perseus catalog implementation.

Canonical URI: See Record Canonical URI.

CITE Architecture, originally developed to support the Homer Multitext Project, “defines a framework for scholarly reference to the unique cultural phenomena that humanists study.” According to Smith and Weaver 2009: “The principal network services support discovery and retrieval of Texts, Collections of discrete objects, Extended citation of specific object types, and Indexes relating pairs of objects: or, reordered to make a pronounceable acronym, Collections, Indexes, Texts and Extensions, the CITE architecture.”

CTS: The Canonical Text Services Protocol is a specification that “defines a network service for identifying texts and for retrieving fragments of texts by canonical reference expressed as CTS-URNs.”

CTS-URNs: A collection of CTS compliant URNs. As a part of the CTS and CITE Architecture, they “provide the permanent canonical references” on which CTS relies “on in order to identify or retrieve passages of text.”  Example: The text group Homer has the URN urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0012; the work Iliad has the URN urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0012.tlg001; and lastly, the edition of the Iliad, published in 1931 and edited by Thomas W. Allen, has the URN urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0012.tlg001.perseus-grcX1.

Edition (or Translation): In the Perseus Catalog, this indicates a particular published version of a work. Example: The edition of Plato used in this presentation is  the 1902 Burnet OCT.

Edition or Translation Year Published: Note that in the Perseus Catalog this designates the year the physical volume was published. It can include the year of an individual reprint or later edition. It is not a creation date of a work found within that volume.

Editor: The individual responsible for editing, not creating, the intellectual content of a Work. This is an important role in distinguishing between different classical editions. Example: John Burnet is the editor of the volume of the collected works of the author Plato on the shelf in the office.

Fragmentary Authors/and or Works are authors whose works only survive as “fragments” through the quotation and or transmission of later surviving authors (Berti et al 2009). The Perseus catalog contains many works by fragmentary authors, both Latin and Greek, because these authors form a major part of Greek and Latin literature, and there are dozens of fragmentary editions that have long been utilized in classical canons such as the PHI and TLG (including series such as the Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (Mueller-Didot-1860s) and the Grammaticae Romanae Fragmenta (Funiaoli-Teubner-1922).

FRBR stands for Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records, a entity-relationship model/set of guidelines proposed by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) that attempts to create a conceptual framework to assist in the creation of catalog/bibliographic records independent of any one set of cataloging rules.

Google Books: Google’s online searchable database of public domain digitized books drawn from dozens of libraries worldwide.

HathiTrust. The HathiTrust Digital Library is a group of  “academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.” Many of these books were digitized by Google and others have been digitized by partner institutions.

ID/Identifier: The Perseus catalog makes use of a number of different types of identifiers including work identifiers, CTS-URNs for textgroups/authors, works and versions, and LCNAF and or VIAF numbers. Work identifiers include unique TLG numbers, PHI numbers and Stoa identifiers that have been assigned to individually identified Latin and Greek works (both extant and fragmentary) as a way of uniquely referencing and tracking them. These identifiers have been utilized in the creation of MODS records to aggregate works. CTS-URNs then utilize these work identifiers in their creation of unique identifiers for individual text groups, authors, works, and versions of a work. LCNAF numbers when available and VIAF identifiers in some cases when a LCNAF has been unavailable have been assigned to individual authors by library agencies as a way of uniquely referencing them and can be found in individual Author level records in the catalog.

Language: Either the language of the cataloged primary text (Greek or Latin primarily), or translation (English, French, German), or supplementary materials in an edition (preface, commentary, notes).

LCNAF stands for Library of Congress Name Authority File, long a source of authority records for the library community has recently made all of its authority records available online as linked data.

Linked Data has been defined by Wikipedia as “a method of publishing structured data so that it can be interlinked and become more useful” and is often explained by referring to Tim Berners-Lee’s four principles of Linked Data.

MADS stands for Metadata Authority Description Standard, an XML metadata schema for an authority element set developed by the Library of Congress.

Metadata: As used in cataloging, data that describes and gives information about other data.

MODS stands for Metadata Object Description Standard, an XML metadata schema for a bibliographic element set developed by the Library of Congress.

Open Content Alliance: A collaborative effort of a number of organizations to digitize and make public domain books and other materials available through the Internet Archive website.

OpenLibrary: A project affiliated with the Internet Archive. It is an open editable library catalog that seeks to build a web page for every book ever published.

Perseus Digital Library: An online digital library. The core of Perseus is classical texts in Greek, Latin and other languages but Perseus hosts a variety of humanities materials and collections.

PHI (Packard Humanities Institute): The PHI compiled a Canon of Classical Latin Authors and published several CD-Rom collections of mainly classical Latin texts (up to 200 CE). The entire collection of texts is now freely available online at PHI Latin Texts. This collection is colloquially known among classicists by the shorthand “the PHI.”

PHI identifiers or numbers: An author/work numbering system devised by the Packard Humanities Institute during the creation of the PHI Latin Texts collection. These have been adopted in the Perseus catalog. See also, ID/Identifier.

Record Canonical URI:   A Canonical URI is one that has been normalized using a standard format/syntax both for consistency and for stability. The Perseus Catalog uses Record Canonical URIs as a means of supporting permanent and transparent linking to each authority record, work record, and individual edition or translation record for a given work.  In order to create a permanent link to a given record, the user must copy the canonical URI listed at the top of the page rather than the URL given in the browser.  For more on the creation of Record Canonical URIs, please see the section on the creation of Catalog Data URIs.

Ruby on Rails, often simply Rails, is an open source web application framework which runs on the Ruby programming language.

Series: A set of volumes published by the same publisher,  important classical publication series found in the catalog include: The Loeb Classical Library, the Bibliotheca Teubneriana, and the Oxford Classical Texts (OCTs).

Solr is a “open source enterprise search platform” created by the Apache Lucene Project and supports a variety of advanced search features including full text and faceted search.

Stoa identifiers: The Stoa Consortium for Electronic Publication has created a Latin Text Inventory that includes unique identifiers for both classical authors and later Latin authors as well as lists of their most important work. The Perseus Catalog both makes use of this inventory and has added works and authors to it. See also, ID/Identifier.

Textgroups: A term used in the CTS architecture. Textgroups are “are traditional, convenient groupings of texts such as ‘authors’ for literary works, or corpus collections for epigraphic or papyrological texts” and include unique identifiers but also support multiple titles (to support multi-lingual collections).

TLG: The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae provides access to an online database of  “literary texts written in Greek from Homer to the fall of Byzantium in AD 1453.” The project has also developed a comprehensive canon of Greek authors and works that has been issued in print through several editions; a partial version of the canon is freely available online.

TLG Numbers:  An author/work numbering system devised by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae during the creation of the TLG collection. These have been adopted in the Perseus catalog. See also ID/Identifier.

Title: The name given to a Work, in many cases within the catalog users will find generic titles such as “Fragmenta” or “Epigramma/Epigrammata” used.

Translation: See Edition above.

Translator: The individual responsible for the translation of a work from its original language to another language.

URN: Uniform Resource Name. Part of the core of WWW technologies. Unlike a URL (uniform resource locator), a string that provides an address for a WWW resource, a URN is a string that simply names a resource and provides a persistent identifier. A URI (uniform resource identifier), can be either a URL or a URN, or both.

VIAF: Virtual International Authority File, is a project created and hosted by the Online Computer Library Center, that includes the participation of  over twenty major national library agencies, and provides integrated access to the world’s major name authority files where “all authority data for a given entity is linked together into a ‘super’ authority record.” provides access to a union catalog of bibliographic records from hundred of libraries worldwide, including links to digitized versions, and is a service provided by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC).

Work: As defined by the official FRBR guidelines, a Work is “a distinct intellectual or artistic creation.” Example: Plato’s Allegory of the Cave occurs in his work, The Republic. See also Title.

XML: EXtensible Markup Language is one markup language, a set of rules for annotating textual data (et al) that attaches meaning to elements of the document. XML is a highly versatile format that is employed by both the MODS and MADS standards.



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