Read himself, enable reading for others

Classics is locked or even entirely hidden for most people. Reason for this is obvious: education. Students at high school are not taught classical languages and literatures anymore; neither they are at university, except in case they choose ancient greek or latin as their future profession. People cannot truly appreciate something they do not understand, so most do not care for classics. Their education has hidden classics from them.

Since you are visiting this site, you most probably are not one of them. You somehow discovered classics and learned to love it. Practicing this love is quite complicated. Classics should be read and it should be read in original languages, not in translations, which deliver only shadow of genuine art and thought. If you are not a professional classicist, you either have never been taught classical languages formally, or have been for very short time — one term or two. Maybe you have read some manuals and grammars by himself. Having went through such learning you most probably have not became fluent and reading is difficult for you. Say, you would like to read your favorite classics work (some book of Homer, Plato, Herodotus or whatever). First, in addition to the book you wish to read you should gather a small library of other books — dictionaries, grammars, commentaries and translations. Then, word after word, phrase after phrase, sentence after sentence you should dig into your small library for explanations, rules, definitions and comments. Quite often you cannot not find what you search for and you are forced to proceed forth without understanding of some bits of text. Quite often you cannot be sure that the explanation you found was an adequate one, or the rule you applied was really applicable. Your reading is hardly reading in a true sense of this word; it much more resembles deciphering. You can decipher some sentences or pages, but you hardly can keep deciphering entire books. The upshot of this is that despite your genuine interest in classics you haven't read much of it: perhaps even your most beloved authors you have read only in translations. Classics is locked for you.

Now, being your knowledge of classical languages as scarce as it is, imagine that you have an edition, containing your favorite classics text together with every explanation you need for adequate understanding, those explanations following each line or sentence of text. That is, no more searching for rules in grammars — below the line of text you can find needed rules applied to particular clauses. No more searching for definitions in dictionaries — below the line of text you can find needed definitions applied to particular words. No more reading multiple commentaries — below the line of text you find excerpts from some of best known commentaries. No more thinking about morphological forms — all words morphologically parsed. No more identifying syntactical constructions — all problematic constructions singled out and explained. No more worries about complicated word order — sentences with complicated word order are reformulated to match English word order. If you had such edition, it would radically change your reading experience: you would simply do reading instead of deciphering!

The book just imagined would be a huge book. Ancient text of thousand or so lines would inflate into hundreds or even some thousands of pages. There is no need to be worried about the size: you would not need to read every line and using proper visual means (e.g. highlighting) would help to find exactly those lines which should be read. To read that great amount of text still would be much easier than doing all deciphering by himself.

Nobody publishes such editions and perhaps nobody have even contemplated their possibility. And no wonder: you can hardly imagine such editions if you think in terms of paper books. Paper books would have too much pages, cost too much and only few customers would be willing to pay for them. But we should not necessarily think in terms of paper books; books can be published electronically, and for electronic edition even thousands of pages is not a problem at all.

We, lovers of classics, need such books. And if nobody publishes them, we can compile and publish by themselves. At the same time when we do our reading we can do compiling of such editions. Once someone will take a classics book and will do his deciphering, all others will be able to read. The piece of classics will be unlocked for all. This is what Classics Unlocked website is all about.

To compile even a couple of such editions there will be a need for collaboration of many lovers of classics. Collaboration is possible only if there is some order and predictability in contributions. That is, someone, who does compilation, should be guided by some formalized set of rules, directing him on such matters as what materials to incorporate, what aspects to explain, how to explain, and how all analysis should be presented. That is, for such editions to exist there should be some format of analysis of classics text; let us call it "Classics Unlocked format". There is no specification of this format yet and it seems that specification should emerge from the project to compile an edition of the kind described above. The project, doing which the ideas for specification could emerge, is already started. It is the project of compiling the First Book of Homer's Iliad in Classics Unlocked format. When the first project and the draft of Classics Unlocked format will be completed, every lover of classics will be invited to participate in compiling Classics Unlocked editions of their favorite works. Imagine yourself participating in a group where everyone does its small piece of analysis and by doing this enables everyone to read; imagine yourself reading editions provided by others. It would be great, wouldn't it?

In the meanwhile everyone is invited to express his opinions on the first project.