Thursday, November 5, 2015

Diogenes: A tool for searching and browsing the databases of ancient texts, primarily in Latin and Greek

Diogenes is a tool for searching and browsing the databases of ancient texts, primarily in Latin and Greek, that are published by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae and the Packard Humanities Institute. (NB. These databases are not distributed with Diogenes and must be obtained separately.) 

The goal of this software package is to provide a free, transparent and flexible interface to the classical databases on CD-Rom in the PHI format, which include the TLG, the PHI corpus of Latin texts up to AD 200, the Duke Documentary Papyri collection, and the PHI-sponsored corpora of ancient inscriptions.
  • Diogenes is completely free.
    It is available at no cost, and the source code is available for inspection and modification under the terms of the GNU General Public license. It is a tool written by a scholar for scholars.
  • Diogenes is easy to install.
    Earlier versions of Diogenes required some technical skill to install, but no longer. Native packages provide one-click install for Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • Diogenes has many features.
    Diogenes has many features, such as linking all Greek and Latin words to the Perseus morphological analysis tools and dictionaries, and the ability to jump straight to the context of any search result or dictionary citation. For a longer list, see the list of features.
  • Diogenes is easy to use.
    A web browser provides a familiar and easy-to-use interface to the databases: search for a word or phrase, browse to a particular location in an ancient text, view texts in your browser, and cut and paste them to other applications.
  • Diogenes is fast.
    Provided that you are not using an antique computer and you are not running a search that turns up millions of hits, Diogenes should run quite briskly.
  • Diogenes is powerful.
    While the basic interface is quite simple, more complex searches are easily done: use spaces to delimit word-boundaries; limit your search to particular texts (for the TLG, you can limit by genre, date, etc.); search for the presence of two or more words in the same clause, sentence, paragraph or range of lines.
    For advanced users, you can search for regular expressions (patterns of text), and there is a command-line tool as well as the web interface.
  • Diogenes can run over a network.
    If you have the license to use the databases in this way, Diogenes can be set up to provide access to users across a network, to any computer with a web browser. In a departmental context, this could significantly ease administration.
  • Diogenes can run just about anywhere.
    It is written in the highly portable programming language Perl, so in addition to the easy installers mentioned above, experts should have no trouble installing it on more exotic platforms, such as Solaris and FreeBSD.
  • Diogenes can output Greek in many encodings.
    By default, the web interface displays Greek as Unicode, but if you need compatibility with other encodings, such as WinGreek, GreekKeys, or LaTeX, you can output Greek in many of these different formats. See the list on this page.


  1. Is anybody running Diogenes under El Capitan or has the captain killed Diogenes?

  2. Never mind! I did a fresh download and everything is fine!

  3. Glad to hear it worked, Helma. I have not upgraded yet to El Capitan -- must do that soon.