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Dr Thomas Köntges

Akademischer Assistent
Digital Humanities
University of Leipzig
CHS Fellow for Historical Language Processing and Data Analysis
CHS,Harvard University

When I was only thirteen, I faced one of the hardest decisions in my academic life: the choice between learning ancient Greek or being trained in Computer Science. Back then I opted for ancient Greek and followed my interest in computers outside the school curriculum, motivated by the thought that one day I could combine the two. My PhD was a traditional text-critical commentary on parts of Petronius’ Satyrica. It not only made it to the University of Otago’s list of exceptional theses (2013), but through my early commitment to open-access publishing has been downloaded over 400 times and viewed over twice that by researchers all over the world (access it here).

Since 2014 I have been working with Prof. Dr Gregory Crane as part of his Humboldt-funded Open Philology Project at the University of Leipzig. This has seen me work closely with both the Perseus Digital Library and Open Greek and Latin (OGL), developing my skills under a prominent mentor while working with arguably the world’s leading digital Classics repository (Perseus has around 10 million pageviews every month). I have worked as part of the teams steering Perseus and OGL as they expanded and launched major new versions, giving me practical and theoretical experience with corpus management and delivery. I am often brought in to speak and run workshops and to guide DH projects, including the Digital Latin Library, the Nyāyabhāsya project, and the Iowa Corpus of Latin Texts.

In 2017, I could finally resolve my teenage dilemma by applying my knowledge to one of the most influential philosophical corpora in history, the Corpus Platonicum, through a residential Fall Fellowship at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS). My project involved organising large-scale textual data (including developing my apps Brucheion and Metāllo), stylometric analysis of that data, and qualitative analysis for the micro-perspective on the Platonic corpus. This project found great success: preliminary results were shared at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, and Tufts Universities. The ground-breaking argument that the stylometric evidence does not support the Menexenus being written by Plato was well-received at the SCS Annual Conference and an article is currently under review.

In the future, I intend to continue combining computational approaches and the organisation of cultural data to study the Greek and Latin words I love. I am a computational philologist after all.