Reliable digitized Latin texts on the Internet & how to perform a corpus search


Sīmia Illustris
How to perform a search in the corpus of Roman literature in order to prove or disprove the usage of some phenomenon + where to find good digitized Roman Latin texts on the Internet.

There are various ways to do it, both better and worse.

Not the best (but working) ways:

1) The slightly worse way is to search some Latin term by instructing Google to search only at (it is done by typing there the-phrase-you-search) - like this.

2) also another slightly more comfortable but still lower quality (from reasons I will mention) search is to use The Perseus Project, there the search tool is quite straightforward.

The problem with these two sites (and almost any other site with fully digitized Latin texts) is that these digitizations are done by amateurs who transcribed it (in the better cases) or by people who let a program to automatically transcribe it (in the worse case) or they let the program transcribe it and then checked it manually (slightly less worse case), therefore there will be inherently transcription mistakes and other mistakes that are done by negligence. Negligence is what caused Latin texts to be transcribed not-so-faithfully over the millennia when they had to be transcribed by hand. In the age of digital technologies where in a computer you can copy a text 1:1 (perfectly), you want to avoid this and break the chain of bad Latin transcriptions.​

The good way:

3) The only reliable collection of fully digitized Latin texts on the Internet are so called PHI Latin Texts, which are texts (coming from some critical editions and, as usually with digitized texts, we don't know which ones) professionally transcribed by The Packard Humanities Institute. These people got paid for it, there is some level of quality one wouldn't expect from amateurs, it should be expertly proof read. While you can access the PHI texts through certain several gigabytes large files that are *somewhere* on the Internet (the PHI CD-ROM) and use them via the program "Diogenes project" which also lets you browse offline the L&S Latin and LSJ Greek dictionaries, the easiest way for you to access them is through this web:

Here you can both read the texts or use a very intricate search tool which lets you make even very complicated requests of what to search (there is a manual on the page how to use the tool), make such search requests you can't really do either via Google, Perseus or even by using the PHI texts via the aforementioned Diogenes Project - it's really the only web you need so far!

Roman Latin texts online:

If, from some reasons, you insist on reading the text in the fully electronic form and you care to get a reliable transcription, you can access them on the PHI web.

Otherwise, if you were interested where else to get decent versions of Latin texts online, the best other way is to get a PDF scan (=pictures of the book pages, not fully digitized text) of the real critical editions and you can download these scans on:


But, of course, that is only useful for reading - you can't perform any good search in it. But, unlike even the PHI texts, there are to be found real full critical editions which show you even the apparatus criticus (= they tell you which reading variant of some problematic part they chose and for what reasons, since a critical version of a Latin text is a sort of reconstruction of the hypothetical original ultimate Roman version of the text (from the 5th century or so), a reconstruction done from hundreds of manuscripts (and older critical versions) all around the Europe there still are).

The best way, of course, is to get a physical book - a critical version of your desired text.


Staff member
Additionally, here and here one can find links to the collections called Scriptores Latini in Usum Delphini and Bibliotheca Classica Latina, which have commentaries in Latin. Although the quality of the text is not the same as one would find in a modern critical edition, they make things easier for people who prefer to read only in Latin, especially if combined with Godmy's Digital Forcellini online dictionary.

Of the two, the In Usum Delphini collection is aimed at students rather than scholars, with many notes giving historical background, links to other works and clarification on the meaning of some words, as well as translations into easier Latin of some difficult passages. For all poetry works and some authors, such as Apuleius and Tacitus, a full "translation" of the original appears below the original text (see here for an example).