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Main Summary
The Maurolico Project
Description of the Project
Scientific Committee and Collaborators

1. Euclides
2. Sphaerica et parva astronomica
3. Arithmetica et algebra
4. Archimedes
5. Conica
6. Musica
7. Optica
8. Cosmographia at astronomia quaedam
9. Mechanica
10. Epistulae

Instrumenta Maurolyciana
1. Catalogues
2. Bibliographica
3. Biographica
4. Iconographica
F  r  a  n  c  i  s  c  i        M  a  u  r  o  l  y  c  i        O  p  e  r  a        M  a  t  h  e  m  a  t  i  c  a

The Mauro-TeX

Jean-Pierre Sutto

Update July 6, 2002, February 4, 2003

The following pages present a quick description of the language adopted in the transcription and the critical edition of the texts. For more informations please email to:

1  An New Language for Transcribing and Editing

We have developed a new language for transcribing and editing texts; it allows collating arbitrary numbers of witnesses. The language has been called Mauro-TeX since it has been designed within the project of edition of Francesco Maurolico's scientific works. The language is intended to:

  • provide a critical text in case the entire manuscript and printed tradition can be taken into account; the text is designed to reach high standards of philological quality and of elegance;

  • record, by means of a suitable descriptive system, a wide range of philological data related to the text. Such data can be handled through electronic devices, in order to fully recover the several witnesses the critical text is based on;

  • set up a system of electronic transcription that employs simple tools and that is compatible with all platforms;

  • standardize, within a large research group, the ways of presentation and the editorial criteria;

To do all this, the language has been equipped with suitable ``philological" commands referring to LATEX.


TEX and LATEX are preprocessors of texts. We preferred to use the latter, which is an updated version of the former. LATEX works by means of a series of commands inserted in the text (which can be written e.g. in ASCII). The commands allow giving precise instructions to the preprocessor and formatting the text so as to display and subsequently print it. For instance, to write in boldface the word ``identity" in the sentence ``A proportion is an identity of ratios", the command \textbf{identity} (or {\bf identity}) will be employed, whichever text-editor is being used:

A proportion is an \textbf{identity} of ratios

After the LATEX preprocessor has compiled, the sentence

A proportion is an identity of ratios

will be displayed and, in case, printed. A wide range of commands exist, permitting the construction of an extremely articulated text. The commands are usually preceded by the inverted slash "\" ; some of them can include a parameter within braces "{}".

Several advantages come from the possibility, not shared by the standard treatments of the text (WYSIWYG), of distinguishing between drafting a text (using the ``philological" commands) and displaying it. First of all, a simple text-editor is enough for working to any edition. Second, all necessary information is contained in a single ASCII file: its very simple format is easy to handle and presents no problems of incompatibilities. The most common text-editors, colored and directed, allow a semi-automatic Al insertion of the commands.

To display and print the final document, it is necessary to install LATEX in one's own computer. LATEX for every platform (DOS/Windows, Mac/OS, Unix/Linux, etc.) is available for free.

Then we have developed a new language, characterized by "philological" commands as well as by a suitable series of utilities (TEX macros) in order to prepare, using LATEX, the electronic edition of a work.

3  The Mauro-TeX

Such a language allows treating every kind of text edition, be the text scientific or not, endowed with critical apparatus, editorial notes, figures, etc., whichever the number of witnesses may be. Of course, the transcriber and the editor do not necessarily coincide: the former record all data coming from the witnesses under scrutiny; the latter take the necessary choices for building up the critical text, without any intervention on the witnesses, simply by modifying a few commands. A few modifications are in fact enough in order to make LATEX change both the text and the critical apparatus. This way no data are lost and it is always possible to recover the whole text of any witness.

The commands are very simple from the syntactical point of view; they allow paging, inserting figures, both within and beside the text, using several symbols and Greek letters, making the several parts of a mathematical proposition and of its proof graphically evident, etc. For instance, the command \Folium{A:35r}, marking that in manuscript A leaf 35r is beginning, will allow inserting in the critical text the symbol "|", while in the margin the marking A:35r will appear. Inserting the enunciation of a mathematical proposition between the commands \begin{Protasis} and \end{Protasis} will give prominence to the text included between them, by changing both its size and its format.

Commands such as \VV{} are pivotal in our language, since they take care of the variant readings of the various witnesses. The basic syntax is very simple: each witness is associated with an upper-case letter put between braces {}. Thus, if witnesses A, B and C respectively carry the readings

Sit data ratio, sit datus cubus, ...
Sit data gratia, sit datus cubus, ...
Sit data latio, sit datus cubus, ...

the transcriber will write (Mauro-TeX is not new paragraph-sensitive and new paragraphs can be employed in order to make the file more easy to read):

Sit data \VV{
{A: ratio}
{B: gratia}
{C: latio}
}, sit datus cubus, ...

and finally obtain:

Sit data ratio1, sit datus cubus, ...

1 ratio A   gratia B   latio C

The editor can subsequently modify the text written in Mauro-Tex in several ways. Here are two examples:

  • The order of the braces is very important, since the reading contained in the first pair of braces will appear in the critical text. If the transcriber did not employ the necessary care in ordering the several readings, the editor can modify the order of the braces, thereby unambiguously determining both the critical text and the variant readings to be received in the critical apparatus;

  • the transcriber must record as many variant readings as possible and can, if deemed useful, point out misprints, spelling mistakes, variants in the use of upper-case letters, etc. The editor, by turning the command \VV{} into \VB{}, will subsequently make the variant not appear in the critical apparatus.

With the command \VV{} both the transcriber and the editor can manage all situations. The syntactical complexity of such a command is proportional to the one of the textual situation to be described. In fact, the command is able to describe omissions, lacunae, transpositions, the several hands of one or more manuscripts, etc.

Other commands allow electronically managing the references, a reference index, etc.

Click here to see an example of source file Mauro-TeX and its web-transformed.

4  PostScript, html, and pdf Formats

Our language allow, with LATEX, obtaining a PostScript file, faithful to the preassigned editorial criteria. Our final goal is also to set up an electronic edition in Internet and one in CD-rom, by using web and software tools at our disposal. A suitable software has been developed to this end. It is possible to turn Mauro-TeX files into html files and put them on the web (the present site has been created this way). The html pages obtained allow displaying, by means of windows or frames and through hypertextual links, the critical apparatus. The links permitting moving among the several web pages of the edition of a single work are located automatically. We are actually devising a tool managing the search in the site and an hypertextual managing of the references.

It is possible to transform the Mauro-Tex file so as to obtain pdf files. Such a format is easy to download, display and print, with a high-quality printing.

5  GPL Licence and Download

Mauro-TeX is a free product, under GPL (GNU General Public License), and it is placed at the scientific community's disposal. The GPL license guarantees that the product will always be free, as well as the source programs. Therefore, the Mauro-Tex can be used, copied, transformed, adapted, the only condition being that the modifications must be GPL-licensed themselves. You can read the complete text of the GPL license for further details.

As the present site shows, the first public version of Mauro-TeX is already in use, even if it remains a beta version.

  • HTML version of the manual;

  • manual of Mauro-TEX in PDF version (circa 730Ko);

  • Mauro-TeX macros for LATEX2e, Mauro-TeX manual and the software for translate LATEX from to html: mtex.

  • The python scripts for administration of the Maurolico web site: mgestion.

  • A latin dictionnary for OpenOffice and ispell spellchecker under unix: mlatin.

The packages are compressed files tgz and contain the source files of the programs.

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