Welcome to the Website of the Project Digital Plato: Tradition and Reception

The reception of Plato’s work in ancient times is characterized by a tremendous diversity and has not nearly been researched enough.

The goal of the Digital Plato project, which is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, is to remedy these deficiencies caused by the abundant material as well as by methodical and methodological problems. As far as content is concerned, the project aims to reveal the aftermath and reception of Plato’s work in ancient Greek literature including the late ancient authors.

For this purpose, we compile testimonies, citations and paraphrases in the form of a digital thesaurus. The outcome of the project will be the first and complete presentation of philosophy in the aftermath of Plato and his reception in Greek literature up to the late antiquity on the one hand. On the other hand, resulting from the specific interdisciplinarity of our approach, we shall develop a new approach access to cultural basic terms like “citation” and “paraphrase”.

On the basis of existing approaches from paraphrasing technology and the manifold digital secondary data on Plato’s work and ancient Greek literature, we will need to develop a method of paraphrase retrieval, which, in the course of research, builds on citations, synonyms, adjacent terms and equivalent or combinable elements in the Corpus Platonicum. In addition, it should allow searching for indirect citations and non-literal paraphrases, possibly by a ‘classification’ of sentences or connected sentences from the post-Platonic Greek literature with respect to Plato’s terminology.

We will make the thesaurus on paraphrases created in this way available online publicly via a web portal with adequate setting and search options which allow exploratory analysis of the aftermath and reception of Plato’s work in ancient Greek literature.

The knowledge we gain will
  1. be applicable to other questions from the fields of philosophy and history of literature. It will provide the basis for searching big text corpora for erudite or ironic allusions in other periods of history, too.
  2. contribute to the differentiation of the concept of paraphrase in Computer Science and in Corpus Linguistics/ Computational Linguistics. This will emerge from dealing with diverse functions of paraphrases in the rhetorical tradition of metaphrase, paraphrase and allusion.

Digital Plato is a collaborative project with project partners from classical philology (Prof. Dr. Sier, Leipzig University), Ancient History (Prof. Dr. Schubert, Leipzig University), Corpus Linguistics (Prof. Dr. Scharloth, Technical University of Dresden) and the Computer Science (Prof. Dr. Molitor / Dr. Ritter, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg).

The project is part of the funding segment "Off the Beaten Track". The duration of the project is 3 years (2016–2019).