An electronic Edition of George Etheridge's Encomium on Henry VIII addressed to Elizabeth I — British Library Royal MS 16 C X (Category: Research)

Name of Submitter(s): Dr Charalambos Dendrinos, Dr Annaclara Cataldi Palau, Michail Konstantinou-Rizos, Dr Scot McKendrick, Dr Konstantinos Palaiologos, Dr Vasos Pasiourtides, Philip Taylor, Robert Turner, Dr Christopher Wright

Name of Team: Etheridge Project
Organisation: Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL)

The Project involves the electronic edition of the autograph Greek Encomium on King Henry VIII addressed to Queen Elizabeth I composed by Dr George Etheridge, former Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, on the occasion of the Queen’s visit to Oxford in 1566. The edition of this hitherto unpublished short rhetorical text, composed in verse and preserved solely in the British Library Royal MS 16 C X, sheds further light on the life and personality of the author as well as the general reception and development of Greek studies in Tudor England, highlighting Henry’s cultural politics through the establishment of Regius Professorships at Oxford and Cambridge.
The electronic edition applies new approaches and techniques in digital humanities, developed for this purpose, including the production of an original interface which dynamically links corresponding words in the manuscript digital image with the transcribed and edited Greek text, English translation, online dictionaries, editorial comments, historical and philological annotation, and palaeographical, codicological and textual information. This supplementary material, which helps the reader/user to place the manuscript, the text and our edition in the wider context, includes articles on the Greek manuscript digitised collections of the British Library, offering the possibility of accessing digital images of some of the manuscripts that they contain. We have also provided notes on the Author and on the Text, and a description of the Manuscript with links to specific folios and to other related manuscripts and sites. We offer guidelines on how to use the edition, with sections discussing our editorial principles, and provide implementation details for those who would like to know more about the technical aspects of the methods used.
The product of collaboration between the British Library and a team of scholars, postgraduate students and technical advisers at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London, this on-going interactive and exploratory editorial project combines traditional scholarship with innovative technology, offering a useful research and educational tool not only to students and scholars but also to the general public.
The electronic edition is accessible online and free of charge at: It is also publicised in the British Library Medieval Manuscript blog:
The project was dedicated to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Her Majesty expressed her appreciation for this gift presented to her following her Royal Visit to Royal Holloway, University of London in March 2014.

URL for Entry:



Job Title: Dr Annaclara Cataldi Palau - Visiting Professor in Greek Palaeography, Hellenic Institute, History Department, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL), Dr Charalambos Dendrinos - Project Director, Senior Lecturer in Byzantine Literature and Greek Palaeography, Director, Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL, Michail Konstantinou-Rizos - PhD student, Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL, Dr Scot McKendrick - Head of Western Heritage Collections, British Library, Dr Konstantinos Palaiologos, Research Associate, Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, University of California, Irvine (formerly Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL), Dr Vasos Pasiourtides - Research Associate (formerly PhD student), Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL, Philip Taylor - Honorary Research Associate, IT Advisor, Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL, Robert Turner - Senior Developer, IT Services, RHUL, Dr Christopher Wright - Research Fellow, Hellenic Institute, History Department, RHUL

Background of Submitter:

The research team consists of the following postgraduate students, scholars and technical advisors at the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London, an established centre for editing and studying Greek texts: Dr Annaclara Cataldi Palau described the Royal MS 16 C X; Michail Konstantinou-Rizos transcribed, edited and translated George Etheridge’s Latin dedication to Queen Elizabeth I; Dr Vasos Pasiourtides transcribed and edited the Greek text; Dr Christopher Wright translated and annotated the Greek text and the translation, and composed the sections on The Author and The Text; Dr Konstantinos Palaiologos converted the text to HTML, mapped and linked words and semantic units in the transcribed, edited and translated text; Philip Taylor designed and developed the electronic side of the edition and advised on all technical and non-technical aspects of the project; Robert Turner helped in designing the website. Dr Scot McKendrick, then Head of History and Classics and presently Head of Western Heritage Collections at the British Library, co-operated and contributed with the section on The British Library’s Collection of Greek Manuscripts, and Professor Caroline Macé (University of Louvain) co-operated and supported the team in the preliminary phase of the project.
As mentioned above, the electronic edition has been presented to international conferences, is advertised on web sites for Greek Palaeography and the Editing of Greek texts, and has generated two articles to be published in academic volumes.

Problem / Challenge Space:

The project is part of the collaboration between the Hellenic Institute of Royal Holloway, University of London and the British Library in promoting the BL Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project. The aim was to produce an electronic edition of an unpublished Greek autograph text combining traditional scholarship with digital technology, in order to offer a useful scholarly and educational tool not only to students and scholars but also to the general public, free of charge. At the same time the edition was prepared to be presented to H. M. Queen Elizabeth II as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, highlighting the history of Hellenic Studies in Britain.
We view this work as an on-going exploratory, interactive editorial project. Our hope is that in the future it will keep growing, developing and maturing, with the help of experts and non-experts alike, who will be willing to share their thoughts and work with us in order to help improve it further. It is just as important for us that members of the public are involved in this project, with the ability to offer their comments, ideas and suggestions on how to make this and similar editions more accessible, more readable, more useful and more enjoyable, without compromising quality in terms of scholarship. For this reason, we have provided a semi-automated feedback feature.

Approach / Methodology:

Although aware of existing work in the field, notably The Codex Sinaiticus Project of the British Library, we decided to begin from scratch in order to give ourselves the necessary freedom to explore the possibilities and limitations, without the constraints that would have been imposed by an attempt to replicate and perhaps even improve existing work. In order to maximise the compatibility of the edition with all modern operating systems, regardless of the particular software in use, we chose to implement it using a limited range of well-established open coding standards: Unicode, HTML 4.01, Cascading Stylesheets, JavaScript and the W3C Document Object Model.
We opted for a simple layout in two panes, making a maximum of space available for the main content. The digital image appears on the left and on the right either its transcription, the edited Greek text or the English translation, as selected by the user. To enhance the user’s choice in the way the text is displayed, the edition text can be presented either with line divisions synchronised to the manuscript, as in the transcription, or in continuous text, with or without line dividers. In the edition and in the transcription line numbers can be turned on or off.
Aiming to aid palaeographical understanding by helping the user match words in the manuscript text with their interpreted counterparts in a natural and intuitive fashion, we arranged for any word passed over with the mouse pointer in either the image or the facing text to be highlighted in red, together with the corresponding word in the other version displayed. Words revert to their normal colour when the mouse moves elsewhere. This performance was achieved by mapping each folio image, delineating the area occupied by each word with one or more rectangular boxes. These were grouped into sets corresponding to a word, identified by line and word number, matching the same identifiers applied to the facing text. A modified image in which the handwritten text is recoloured in red was also prepared and invisibly overlaid on the standard image. When triggered by the presence of the mouse pointer over either a mapped word-region in the image or a word in the facing text, a cropped portion of the recoloured image is disclosed, replacing that portion of the basic image, its area being defined by the box or boxes outlining the relevant word. In the case of the translation, where no exact word-for-word correspondence is feasible, we applied this effect to phrases rather than individual words.
Again with visual clarity and smoothness of use in mind, we used two different methods for the display of apparatus. Apparatus criticus entries are triggered from the edition of the Greek text by the mouse pointer hovering over a relevant word and are displayed as text balloons, while all words relevant to the note are underlined. Words with apparatus criticus entries appended to them are identified by colour. The much less numerous entries of the apparatus fontium are presented as footnotes to the edition and translation, triggered by clicking on a footnote mark and appearing at the foot of the page; the relevant words are again underlined. This approach is also applied to historical notes, triggered from the translation.
To assist in linguistic understanding of the text, we provided each word in the transcription and edition with individual lexical analyses. Clicking on the word displays a footnote parsing the particular form in which it appears, giving the standard lemma form of the word, and supplying links to the relevant entry in each of the following online dictionaries: Liddell and Scott-Jones, Greek Lexicon and Lewis and Short, Latin Dictionary of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae® Digital Library Project at the University of California, Irvine, the Perseus Digital Library Project at Tufts University, and The Archimedes Digital Research Library Project, a joint endeavour of the Classics Department at Harvard University, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) in Berlin, the English Department at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and the Perseus Digital Library Project at Tufts University. Linking to offsite resources in this way gives the user direct access to full definitions which could not conveniently be accommodated in the space available on the page; providing multiple options in this way both increases the user’s range of choice and provides a failsafe if an individual resource becomes unavailable.
A feedback feature enables comments to be made on specific portions of the text with a minimum of effort, generating an email form which automatically identifies the portion and version of the text displayed when the message was sent, and copying any text highlighted by the user at the time.

Extent of showcasing BL Digital Content:

The project is a model showcase of how the BL Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project can be further utilised and developed to reach both the academic community and the general public, highlighting the value of the collection in research and education.

Impact of Project:

The Project has received modest funding from the Hellenic Institute and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Research Initiative Fund at Royal Holloway, University of London, towards the completion of the first stage of the project.
The electronic edition has been presented at the following conferences:
• VIIIeme Colloque International de Paléographie Grecque, Griechische Handschriften: gestern, heute und morgen, University of Hamburg and Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel (26 September 2013):
• International Workshop Edition & Interpretation, University of Cyprus, Nicosia (8 December 2013):
• Ars Edendi Series of Lectures, University of Stockholm (3-4 April 2014):
Forthcoming articles on the editorial project include:
• Charalambos Dendrinos, Philip Taylor and Christopher Wright, ‘Presenting a 16th-century Greek Manuscript using 21st-century Technology: the Autograph Encomium on Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by George Etheridge’, in Griechische Handschriften: gestern, heute und morgen. VIIIeme Colloque International de Paléographie Grecque, Universität Hamburg, 22-28 September 2013, eds Ch. Brockmann and D. Harlfinger (De Gruyter, expected 2016/17)
• Charalambos Dendrinos and Philip Taylor, ‘Ars computistica ancilla artis editionum: Modern IT in the service of editors of (Greek) texts’, in Ars edendi Lecture Series, vol. IV (University of Stockholm, expected 2016/17)
The online electronic edition is advertised in web sites for Greek Palaeography and Editing of Greek texts, including
• Pyle: a Gateway to Greek Manuscripts:
• Vienna Editorial Initiative (VEDI):
• The British Library Medieval manuscripts blog:

Issues / Challenges faced during project(s):

The whole project consisted of challenges, since, as far as we were aware, no-one had previously attempted to interlink manuscript images on a word-by-word basis with their textual counterparts; we were, therefore, very much working in the dark, but simply assumed that nothing was impossible if we were willing to invest sufficient effort. Probably the most basic question to be addressed was how to change the colour of a single word in the manuscript image. No solution involving direct image manipulation seemed viable, since that would have involved two very time-consuming processes : (1) analysis of the image on a bit-by-bit basis, so as to ascribe every single pixel in the image to either exactly one word or to the background; and (2) the manipulation of the image in real-time so as to replace all of the pixels corresponding to a single word with their colour-manipulated counterparts. Given the speed of modern computer, the latter would probably not have posed an insuperable problem, but the former, with no known tools capable of tackling the task automatically, seemed truly insuperable. We therefore looked at ways of using just two images – the base image, and a colour-mapped version thereof, but found that non-rectangular clipping of the latter was very poorly supported even in the most recent browsers. We therefore elected to partition each word into one or more potentially overlapping rectangular regions. This task was performed manually; the idea of performing it automatically was very attractive but would have required at the very least the ability to perform optical character recognition of handwritten polytonic Greek texts, together with algorithms to determine the size and number of the minimum number of rectangles necessary to define each word’s re-entrant hull, and our research suggested that the former at least was not yet at a state where reliance could be placed upon it. The other main problem which we encountered was the difference in behaviour between (a) older and newer browsers, and (b) browsers based on different rendering engines. Despite all the technology on which we based our work being standards-based and well-established, we found that (particularly when exploiting features in a manner that was permitted by the specification but not the manner in which they were normally exploited – e.g., the use of the CSS “content” property with normal HTML elements rather than with the “before” and “after” pseudo-elements with which it is more normally used), at least one major browser would usually fail to behave according to the specification, and much work was needed in order to program around this.
Looking to the future, the next step in our Project will be to convert the written text into the spoken word, completing a full circle from its inception, to its written composition, and to its oral delivery. We are currently attempting to produce a synchronised recording of the text, which requires the automated determination of word boundaries in spoken Greek, something which we believe has never previously been attempted. However, with advice, assistance and encouragement from fellow scholars at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Kent, we have made a successful start at this. A further step in this direction is to synchronise the audio recording of the text with a video recording, which would offer a complete picture of the author (through an actor) delivering the text using rhetorical gestures.