DICES is an international research collaboration for the study of direct speeches in Greek and Latin epic poetry from Homer to Late Antiquity.

The heart of the project is an effort to construct a comprehensive, authoritative database of direct speech in Greek and Latin epic. Standard identifiers for characters and textual loci permit us to draw on (and contribute to) an extensive ecosystem of linked open data for Classics, further broadening the potential reach of our analysis.

Project Team

  • Simone Finkmann, University of Rostock, Germany
  • Chris Forstall, Mount Allison University, Canada
  • Berenice Verhelst, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Student Research Assistants

  • Jule Andreeßen
  • Mathijs Clement
  • Dawson Fraser
  • Merle Kallet
  • Anne Lautenschlager
  • Wyatt Stagg
  • Vic Vandendriessche
  • Jarno Vercamer
  • Ava Waugh

Technical Collaborators

  • Karsten Labahn, University of Rostock, Digital Library Division
  • Robert Stephan, University of Rostock, Digital Library Division

DICES Database

The envisioned database will become the largest open access database of metadata on direct speech in ancient and late antique epic. It will be suitable both for beginners and advanced users: its user-friendly, slim human interface will help users without specialist knowledge in ancient and late antique epic or digital humanities navigate the database. It could therefore both be used as an analytical platform and a digital reference tool to introduce students of Greek and Latin epic to digital tools and methods.

At the same time, it will allow experts of speech representation to search for, organise, analyse, and export the data that is relevant for their own research interests and pursue an infinite number of research questions based on any combination of the offered search categories in any combination of Greek and Latin epics from Homer to Late Antiquity.

The developed tools will significantly change how scholars approach research in this field in the future. The API interface will moreover allow specialists in the Digital Humanities to extract our data for their own research. The purpose-built database and digital tools themselves will therefore facilitate future qualitative and quantitative research long after the project’s completion and will help advance the study of direct speech in Greek and Latin epic by enabling scholars to pursue complex questions at an unprecedented scale.

These benefits will not be limited to the field of discourse analysis and narratology in ancient and late antique epic but will also exceed the community of classical scholars and will inspire further interdisciplinary research.


  • To generate a comprehensive and openly accessible authoritative data corpus that introduces a new standard for the study of direct speech in ancient and late antique epic
  • To develop an effective, freely and long-term accessible digital research tool and scalable analytical platform for storing, accessing, analysing, and visualizing this data corpus and the complex heterogenous relationships between its individual entries, that will provide lasting benefits to students and scholars working in the field of discourse analysis and narratology in Graeco-Roman epic but also the national and international academic community at large
  • To render future quantitative work in this field more transparent, comparable, and easier to recreate through a unified system of calculation and speech classification
  • To advance the study of discourse analysis and narratology in Graeco-Roman epic and help facilitate a great variety of synchronic and diachronic approaches to speech representation in epic poetry
  • To help unite disparate data sets through national and international cooperation and transparency
  • To achieve a greater standardisation and connectivity of projects and data on direct speech in Graeco-Roman epic as well as digital initiatives in related fields
  • To contribute to a greater understanding of the poetic contributions of Late Antiquity and to the integration of late antique texts and Digital Humanities initiatives for Classics
  • To not simply recapitulate the traditional methods of philology, but to empower scholars to ask entirely new kinds of questions about large and diverse data corpora
  • To train leading and emerging scholars in Classics and neighbouring disciplines in the use of digital technology and help them build a new expertise in the Humanities to encourage and support their approach to this strongly emerging discipline


The initial work on a prototype of the database was supported by a President’s Research and Creative Activities grant from Mount Allison University, including funds from the J. E. A. Crake Foundation, by a Mare Balticum Fellowship and a research grant from the Interdisciplinary Faculty (INF) at the University of Rostock, Department WKT: Wissen-Kultur-Transformation, by the European Social Fund for Germany (ESF), and by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

Ongoing development of the database for direct speeches in ancient and late antique Graeco-Roman epic is supported by an Insight Development Grant (1 June 2021 – 31 May 2023) of the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).