Lookup Tool Help: Part One, Introduction
View some illustrated sample searches ...
To use the Lookup Tool effectively, it is important to understand the difference between metadata searches and content searches. This knowledge will not only help determine an appropriate search strategy, but will help avoid the confusion which can arise from unexpected search results.
Metadata searches only draw results from titles, authors, and other information about texts and objects (i.e. from their metadata). Metadata, to be more precise, is descriptive information about something, or "structured data about data" (see the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative Frequently Asked Questions). For example, a metadata search for Charles Dickens will find books (or other objects such as images) by Dickens and about Dickens, but will not find references to Charles Dickens within the texts themselves. A metadata search is what online libraries typically provide for retrieving documents from their collections. And when used with its default settings, the Perseus Lookup Tool will perform a metadata search.
Content searches, in contrast to metadata searches, draw results from the entirety of the texts in a digital library. Thus, a content search for Charles Dickens will find every reference to Charles Dickens within every text in the digital library. Although the Lookup Tool defaults to a metadata search, a content search can be performed instead by changing a single search option.
Every page of the Perseus website has a text-entry box in the upper right-hand corner. This box provides instant access to a metadata search through the default-configured Lookup Tool. Take a moment to type a few words into the box and then click on the button named "Search" or press the return key on your keyboard. After a moment, the browser window will redisplay with a list of matching objects (if any) grouped by the collections to which they belong. Each object in the result list is hyperlinked; clicking on it will retrieve and display the object in the browser window. Note, too, that the names of the collections in the results list are hyperlinked. Should you click on a collection name, your search will run again but will be restricted to that collection and the results grouped by document type. When many matching objects belong to a single group, only the first few will be listed. To list all of the matching objects in a particular group, click on the word More which appears after the last object in the group.
The Lookup Tool provides a number of options that allow you to control what is searched and how the results are displayed. You set these options with the drop-down menus, checkboxes, and radio buttons that are clustered around the text-entry box.
When performing a Greek text content search, the Lookup Tool expects the Greek query words to be typed using the same mode that is used to display Greek text. By default, Greek texts in the Perseus Digital Library are displayed using Latin transliteration. Consequently, by default, the Lookup Tool expects words submitted in a Greek text content search to have been typed using Latin transliteration. Several other display modes are also available for Greek texts. Any one mode can be activated by selecting the appropriate option in the Perseus Display Configuration. These display options are accessible on every Perseus web page through the "Configure display" link located in the top bar. Changing the display configuration also changes the mode that the Lookup Tool expects for text entry.
The Lookup Tool includes an assistant for entering Greek words that are to be used in a Greek text content search. Clicking the "Enter Text in Greek" link beside the "Search" button opens a window with a keypad for selecting Greek letters, accents, and breathing marks (accents should be typed after the corresponding letter, breathing marks before). When a key is clicked, the corresponding letter or mark is entered in the Lookup Tool text-entry box as correctly formatted Beta code. Greek text queries formatted in Beta code may be submitted regardless of the mode being used to display Greek text and despite the Lookup Tool's expectations.
Latin text content searches are not case sensitive, but content searches in Greek are. To search for a proper name or other capitalized word in a Greek text, the first letter must be capitalized. Also, if Beta code is the active setting for Greek text display, an asterisk must be placed before the letter to be capitalized and before the breathing mark if any. Note that the Lookup Tool's Greek text assistant will incorrectly place a capitalization asterisk after a smooth or rough breathing mark. When this occurs, the asterisk will have to be moved before the mark for the search to be successful.
When performing either a Greek text or a Latin text content search, the Lookup Tool defaults to a lemmatized search (i.e. it will parse inflected Greek and Latin query words). The search results will include sentences that contain words derived from the same lexical forms as the query words. For example, entering pempousi and aggelon as Greek search terms will retrieve every sentence in Perseus that contains words derived from either pempô or aggelos. To limit results to the query words as typed, enclose the words in quotation marks. Entering "tempora mores" as Latin search terms will only retrieve sentences that contain those forms.
Please note that the Lookup Tool is a tool for searching the content of Greek and Latin texts in the Perseus Digital Library. It is not a tool for translating phrases written in either language. Please see our FAQ entry for more information about translating common Greek and Latin phrases.
Revised 5 November, 2002