In this article, we will present the theoretical basis and editorial foundations (observations regarding the contemporary editorial milieu) adopted by the PA project, as well as the methodological and technical processes put in place to meet the particular challenges posed by our objectives. Therefore, this article aims to outline our academic posture regarding a digital approach to antique literature, an approach which enhances both the interpretative possibilities – for both scholarly and non-scholarly readers – of the Palatine manuscript. Our main thesis is that the Anthology should not be considered a unified, uniform and coherent body of work. Rather, it assembles various texts produced over many centuries by numerous authors and thereby represents a dynamic and open collective imaginary. Before clarifying this thesis, we will first describe the problematic nature of the definition of the Anthology and then outline the complex history relating to the publication of the PA.
For a modern reader, we believe that it is important to be able to represent the various (internal and external) connections that the works of the Anthology establish with one another. In other words, in order to edit this rich and complex anthological imaginary, we must be able to represent and do justice to the plurality of meanings possible. But how do you represent to a modern reader such richness and complexity? The traditional methodologies and experiences of scholarly publishing do not seem appropriate to harness and express the complexity of the Anthology. Indeed, while it is quite possible to contextualize the text of the Palatine manuscript and to make a critical edition of it, it is very difficult to give an account of the overall cultural value of this material, and in particular of the impact it has had on collective imaginaries over the centuries. In other words, we could, of course, make a critical edition of the Codex Palatinus, but it is impossible to do this in the case of the Greek Anthology because this work abounds in references, contexts and implications. The interpretative limits of the Anthology are endless.
In our project, we consider that the Anthology should not be considered as a coherent and self-contained literary work but as a document relating to a dynamic and open collective, literary imaginary: as an open text, the PA performs via its intertextual structure and contemporary readers ought to be able to appropriate this structure through referential associations. This hypothesis is the reason for our pursuit of a new, digital means of presenting the Anthology, and it draws on three considerations:
- As the above described history of the Anthology demonstrates, the form – or “genre” – has evolved over centuries and is thus, intrinsically, a continually evolving collaborative work.
- In terms of content, it is fundamentally characterized as heterogeneous (in terms of its form and themes, in particular).
- The purpose of the Anthology is to refuse semantic closure — that is, to enable the works that it compiles to continue to find new meanings, to establish links with one another over time according to various methodologies and approaches.
These different critical editions all agree on the prevalence of the Codex Palatinus 23, choosing it systematically as their main source. At the same time, they wish to synthesize the Greek epigrammatic work, including the annex pieces. Thus, philologists try to account for the character both of the abundant and scattered collections of epigrams and their editorial work to show the complexity induced by the anthological nature of these texts.