Questions about record identifiers:

  • How are the record identifiers created?

  • What is the meaning of  ‘tlg’, ‘phi’,  and ‘stoa’ in the record identifiers?

  • What is a work identifier?

This page addresses how record identifiers are created and how works have been cataloged and given identifiers from the major classical canons.

In the Perseus Catalog, the user will find record identifiers such as:


These CTS URN identifiers used in the Perseus Catalog reference identifiers for authors and works from the TLG and PHI canons as well as in some cases the Stoa Latin Text Inventory.  These identifiers were used because they have domain-specific meaning for members of the classical community and provide a semantic cue as to the author or work being referenced. They do not indicate that a specific edition from the TLG or PHI canon is being referenced.

In addition, over the course of cataloging in the last seven years, many works have been discovered without identifiers in any of these canons, including the following types:

  • Anonymous works that could not be identified reliably or did not have a work identifier (this applies in particular to a number of smaller Latin poems in anthologies).
  • Works by later classical Latin authors (due to the relatively early end date of the PHI and the sparser coverage of the Stoa inventory).
  • Works by authors about whom nothing was reliably known, often not even the correct form of their name.
  • Fragmentary works.
  • Works by authors later determined to be fictitious (pseudo-authors or names simply attributed to a work)

During the first few years of cataloging, the basic procedure was to simply create a catalog record for a work with no identifier and label it as such.  Starting in 2011, when the catalog first became available online through the eXtensible catalog implementation, the importance of unrepeated identifiers to ultimately (and ideally) support the aggregation and discovery of all uniquely cataloged works became increasingly clear.  Because of the expandable nature of the Stoa Registry of Latin literature, identifiers have been created both for Latin works that had either 1) previously been cataloged and had no PHI or existing Stoa ids or 2) for newly cataloged Latin works without any identifiers. For Greek works that were not found in the TLG canon (a much smaller number), a basic pattern of tlg-author name has been used as a placeholder in the MADS and MODS files until such time as a more formal system of identifier creation for fragmentary and fictitious authors is decided upon (that will likely make use of both CTS and CITE Collections). Note: Currently, if a work does not have a unique identifier, it cannot be found within the current catalog interface.

Fragmentary authors and authors of small surviving texts have been particularly challenging due to their often inconsistent treatment in the traditional canons. For example, the TLG Canon of Greek Authors and Works (3rd edition) assigns unique identifiers to all fragmentary historians and to the individual epigrammatists found in the Greek Anthology.  In the online canon, however, searching on the identifiers for epigrammatists yields no results as all the individual epigrams are now found under the identifier 7000.001 (Anthologia Graeca) and the user needs to know the number of the book and individually numbered epigram to find a specific epigram by an author.  Although the individual Greek epigrammatists are not individually searchable (although their texts are still extant),  a user can, nonetheless, individually search for fragmentary historians (although technically their work only exists as part of other surviving works) thus leading to double results. Thus, the Perseus Catalog has made use of the last printed TLG canon and utilized the identifiers for both fragmentary authors and small authors such as epigrammatists.

Another identifier issue occurs when a single group identifier is used to identify works that are often individually referenced in published editions, such as the Lives of Nepos (phi588.1, stoa0210-stoa003) and Suetonius (phi1348.1, stoa0268-stoa006). In some cases, such as the Dialogi of Seneca the Younger, the works have individual Stoa identifiers (stoa0255-stoa004, stoa0255-stoa006 to stoa0255-stoa014), but only a single PHI identifier (1017.12).  In the cases of both Nepos and Suetonius, the Perseus Catalog has followed an earlier solution developed for the Perseus Digital Library of creating unique identifiers called Abstract Bibliographic Object (ABOs) in order to uniquely reference each of the individual lives (for example, urn:cts:latinLit:phi0588.abo002 for the life Themistocles by Nepos). For the Dialogi of Seneca and in several other instances we have chosen to use the Stoa rather than the PHI identifier as the default work identifier in order to support the most granular level of work identification possible within the catalog.

Another problematic case is when a single, top level work identifier is used for a work attributed to multiple traditional (often dubious) authors, all of whom have authority records. This is the case with the authors in the Scriptores Historiae Augustae or Historia Augusta, which has the top level identifier phi2331, with various sub level identifiers for the individual work titles. This can create data aggregation challenges when attempting to support both searching for an textgroup such as the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, while also attempting to preserve the ability to search for the traditional individual author names.




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