All classical texts have a numbering system to allow for precise referencing regardless of the translation one is using. (A popular exemple of this is the Bible). This system refers to the edition of the original text in the original language (e.g. greek, latin, sanskrit, syriac and so forth) (in the case of the Bible, or at least the NT, the numbering refers to the edition of the greek text).
The universal referencing system for Aristotle’s texts is the numbering present in the 1834 edition of the greek text by a German fellow named Immanuel Bekker. This system follows a continuous numbering from 1 up to round 1500, which are the pages in this edition, while each page, in turn, is divided in two columns (“a” and “b”).
What this means for me, is that whenever I am writing an academic paper and want to reference some line of text, I have to indicate the exact page, column and line where it can be found. So I will probably end up with something like 1094a13 - 15 (page 1094, column a lines 13 thru 15).
How this comes into play in DEVONthink…
Over the past few months, I have been laboriously and meticulously gathering all of Aristotle’s texts in plain text files and splitting them up into smaller thematic units, usually following a different division one can find, that is, of the texts into works, books and chapters (books here is the ancient book, which was a papyri roll and which is about the size of our modern day chapter).
Aristotle’s Historia Animalium: I.1 means book I, chapter 1.
Once I had this in place, my goal was to be able to have all my references to Aristotle’s text, following the Bekker system explained above, to automatically lead me, via Wiki-Links, towards the correct line of text (or at least, close enough to the correct line). In practice, this meant trying to turn the whole numbering system into aliases to the appropriate markdown files. Now, the Bekker system is perfect for fitting into an aliases scheme, seeing that there will never be a conflict. Had I been working mainly with Plato, that would have be different since each work has a numbering that starts back from 1a, instead of all of them being continuously numbered one after the other.
With the threat of conflict out of the way, it was just a matter of getting the Bekker numbering into the alias field for each md file (easier said than done!).
Now whenever I am writing, and using DT to do it (or at least indexing what I wrote with DT afterwards), I can be sure to waste no time checking to see if I referenced the correct passage in my paper and, likewise, to be never more than a click away from the appropriate context.
My goal with this post was to inspire different uses for the Wiki-Links and Aliases features. In an upcoming thread I will share the macros I used to perform the job of turning the numbering into aliases.