Pro Bono: Open Access Cicero

Jul 27, 2015

OBP is delighted to announce that a new web version of one of our Classics Textbooks is now available online. Cicero: On Pompey’s Command (De Imperio), 27–49. Latin Text, Study Aids with Vocabulary, Commentary, and Translation, ed. by Ingo Gildenhard, Louise Hodgson, et al., was published by Open Book in 2014 and was previously only available on our website.

This edition can be found through this link –

Now, the book can also be accessed online in a brand new web edition as part of the Dickinson College Commentaries series, with the full text available here: .

The very first political speech by the renowned Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero was given in 66 BC, in support of a bill that proposed to award extraordinary powers to Pompey the Great, the military leader who had just cleared the Mediterranean Sea of pirates. Cicero chose to publish a written version of his speech, which had been hugely popular on account of the public’s support for Pompey. It further enhanced Cicero’s celebrated career as both a politician and an orator. He was remembered as a champion of the Republic: Brutus’s famed stabbing of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, for example, was accompanied by an impassioned cry of “Cicero!”

(c) Manchester City Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Manchester City Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Open Book’s Classics Textbooks series began life in 2011 with the publication of Ingo Gildenhard’s Cicero: Against Verres, 2.1.53–86. Latin Text with Introduction, Study Questions, Commentary and English Translation. The series continued a year later with Virgil: Aeneid, 4.1–299. Latin Text, Study Questions, Commentary and Interpretative Essays, also by Ingo Gildenhard.

Following comparisons between our Classics Textbooks series and the Dickinson College Commentaries series (online editions and commentaries available at ), we decided to investigate the possibility of a collaboration with DCC. The result is the popular Open Access series of combined print and web versions. Open Book creates and publishes the finished print versions and DCC provides the digital interactive text-and-commentary versions on their website.

Converting the text of Cicero from a printed book into a web resource required some interesting technical work. Francesca Giovanetti, a Master student at King’s College, London, spent a month working at OBP, modifying the HTML files from the ePub version so that they could be uploaded to DCC’s content management system. An automatic method for doing this was devised and will be used to convert three more of our Classics books in the near future. The linear content of the book also needed to be adapted to the hypertextual structure of online resources, with the text divided into sections to allow for navigation on the web.

The aim of the series is to offer a full and easily accessible learning tool for students, combining traditional print publications with online resources such as pictures, maps, audio content and animations. The move towards integrated online content is an important step in the development of Open Access publishing and Open Education resources.

‘The philosophy of Open Book Publishers is part of a movement that is challenging the established publishing order not only in terms of price but in quality of scholarship.”

– Andre Stipanovic on Tacitus: Annals, 15.20–23, 33–45, by Matthew Owen and Ingo Gildenhard (Open Book Publishers, 2013)