EThOS – still impressed

An email from the British Library EThOS service popped into my inbox a couple of days ago.  It told me that a PDF of a PhD thesis was now available online for free download.  I’d “placed an order” (free) for this some time back, and here it was.

The thesis was The indica of ctesias of cnidus : text (incl. MSS monacensis gr. 287 and oxoniensis, holkham gr. 110), translation and commentary by Stavros Solomou, London 2007.  This link should find it.   The quality is excellent –  far better than the scans at the Bibliotheque Nationale Francais.

It would help if the site gave permalinks to theses.  Likewise, when an order is available, a link to the thesis details would help.

But I’m still dead impressed.  Whoever could have accessed something like this, before EThOS came along?  I have some slack time today; I would never have hunted this out, but now… here it is.  I get to read it, the author gets read, everyone benefits.

Well done the British Library.

The thesis itself is of considerable interest.  The Indica of Ctesias was used widely in ancient times, until John Tzetzes; and then suddenly is no longer mentioned.  This leads us to suppose that the last copy or copies perished in the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by the renegade army originally hired for the Fourth Crusade. 

An epitome exists in Photius.  But the author has obtained two additional unpublished mss, and edited these also.

10 thoughts on “EThOS – still impressed

  1. I just picked up my first EThOS thesis the other day. Very glad to see this project go ahead, I’ve already located several theses relevant to my research.

  2. I’ve been searching for stuff on Syriac and manuscripts of ancient texts. Of course each order adds more to the database — this approach, by what people want, really is a very clever way of deciding what to do first.

    The people who ran this project are very clever people.

  3. I’m glad you got the thesis at last – unfortunately the extremely high demand for the service means that it is taking much much longer to turn around requests than the original target (which was about 10 days!)

    Unfortunately it isn’t possible to provide a link directly to the item as anyone downloading the thesis has to agree to the terms and conditions (generally for copyright reasons I believe) – so you have to register, login and ‘order’ the thesis. However, if you know the ID of the thesis on the EThOS system (in this case uk.bl.ethos.445015) you can use a link like:

    http://ethos.bl.uk/ProcessSearch.do?query=uk.bl.ethos.445015

    to link to a search results page which should have the thesis as the only result – from here you can go through the registration/login process and order/download the thesis.

    I should say that my formal involvement in the project has now finished (and I’ve moved jobs), but I’m very glad to see that people are benefitting from the service, and hope this continues.

  4. Thanks for the tip! Sorry to hear that you have moved on, but you achieved something unheard of in the UK; a freely available useful academic resource that benefits everyone and is free of the endemic petty meannesses that make us look so cheap compared to the USA. (Just imagine for instance if they charged for GPS, as we certainly would!). Well done!

    The delay isn’t important; but now it’s there and available forever!

  5. Before I register to download I would like to make a question to anyone that has read it? What do these 2 manuscripts include? Some new epitome or new lines? If new lines, how many?

  6. To be honest Ctesias’ Indica (unlike the Persica) are not that much of an interest to me. What mostly interests me is the process of discovery: is it some forgotten manuscript containing a new text or is it a new 2 paragraph epitome in a manuscript overlooked because it contains too many miscelanea, see for example http://www.duke.edu/web/classics/grbs/FTexts/45/Cook.pdf Unfortunately most new discoveries tend to be of the latter type. I was in London a couple of weeks ago and attended the public lecture of the OxyDay 09 event at the British Academy which dealt with new literary texts from Oxyrhychus: like most of the “new” texts of papyrology (I’ve read that part of all the P.Oxy volumes online at the internet archive) it was scattered fragments, pieced together with great pain to give a text that fits an A4 page, at best.

    If it was not for the registration I would immediately download it to see what is the case, nowadays though with the privacy issues you can never be too careful to whom you give your personal information online

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