The 'Digital Library of Late-Antique Latin Texts' was officially established on March 1, 2010, thanks to funds granted by the 'Regione Piemonte' to support research in the area of Humanities and Social Sciences. The project, conceived by Raffaella Tabacco, was developed and substantiated by her and Maurizio Lana. It aims to produce a digital corpus of late-antique Latin literary texts (from the second to the fifth century AD), making it freely available to the scholarly community.
The project aims to continue the PHI database (Packard Humanities Institute). In the 1990s, the Packard Humanities Institute produced a database of Latin literary texts, issued in a series of a CD-ROM releases. The final version of the database offers a complete corpus of Latin literary texts from the origin to the second century AD. The resources of the Institute were later used for other research activities, and the database was not updated. This means that scholars do not have the possibility of searching a digital corpus of literary texts from the crucial period of transition from Antiquity to the Middle Ages, a period which has come under the focus of special scholarly attention in the last few decades.
Several databases include late-antique Latin texts: see for instance the BTL, which collects the texts published in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana Latina series, and the Cetedoc Library of Christian Latin Texts (Brepols), which offers the texts published in the Corpus Christianorum collection. Some late-antique Latin literary texts are sporadically available online. These databases are however either selective (texts published by a specific publishing house) or restricted to a textual typology (Christian texts published in a specific series); the databases are proprietary and highly expensive to consult, so that individual scholars can access them only through institutional subscriptions. Texts offered freely on the web give no guarantee of being correct and often fail even to mention the critical edition reproduced; they are moreover not encoded, nor do they allow advanced searches.
The digilibLT projects is meant to fill in the gap left by existing databases and digital resources. It is planning to offer a complete database of late-antique Latin authors and works, as well as an exhaustive canon. Access to the canon and the database is free. The canon lists the critical editions on which the digital text is based; if the case, it also lists deviations from the critical text. Texts are codified according to the TEI coding standard. Search windows are designed to allow users to search either the entire collection of texts or a selection of them (by author, period, or type of text) or single authors and works. Texts can be downloaded freely (TXT, PDF, TEI, EPUB), which will allow individual scholars to work on their areas of interest with maximum flexibility.
The digilibLT website has yet another goal: to become a workspace offering a large pool of resources, acting as a reference website for scholars working on late antiquity. The website also hosts a section where users are offered the opportunity to leave feedback, helping us to improve the website and collaborating to the success of the enterprise. The website includes short entries and bibliographies on late-antique authors and works, as well as the full text of modern scholarly works in the public domain which are still of interest for the study of late antiquity. It also provides the full text of scholarly works whenever we are granted permission by the legal owners of the publication rights. This section started with the publication of works on late antiquity authored by Italo Lana, unforgotten teacher of many of us. Our work takes inspiration from his teaching and we dedicate to him the results that this research project may achieve.
In the first phase of the project, we decided to focus on pagan works in prose. The online resources for these texts are particularly scanty, and many of these texts are completely unavailable in any digital form on the web. Poetry and Christian works are better served, thanks to some recent projects, such as the Musisque Deoque database, which collects Latin poetry from the origins to the Renaissance. [R. Tabacco; trad. L. Battezzato]