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Nomen est omen

Taking up this Latin proverb, which says that a name of a thing or a person reveals its nature, have you ever wondered, why Arethusa is called “Arethusa” and not “annotation-framework”, what it actually is? Or, why this guy is sitting in the midst of our logo having his hands bound to his back while being attacked by an eagle?

To answer these questions we need to take a step back and have a closer look at the character of classicists. When they start a project - be it a journal, a computer platform, or whatever -, they think of a name for it. Since they believe their project is going to be known world wide, this name should be concise, easy to recognize and mind-catching. All of these adjectives can be applied to names from ancient mythology: Classicists do not only remember the names of Kirke, Minos or Kadmos easily, but they connect it with some other information, which is related to the relevant project. To bring you some examples: there’s a journal dealing mainly with classic history called Klio. This is because Klio is the muse of history and historiography. The namesake of another journal containing classical philology papers is the Greek god Hermes, who is said to be the messenger of the Olympian gods.

Obviously, smart and clever researcher spend some time to name their projects. Of course, Klio or Hermes are more exciting than ‘Journal of Hellenic Studies’ (though it is quite clear to the reader what to expect…) Let’s head back to the guy being maltreated in our logo. People who are acquainted with ancient mythology already know, what that scene shows: it’s Prometheus, who as punishment for revealing the secrets of the gods to mankind is bound in the Caucasians mountains, where every day an eagle flies by and eats the traitor’s liver (which will grow back over night). So, where’s the connection to LLT, you might ask. Prometheus knows the secret of the Gods and reveals them to mankind. Being humble, we thought that’s what our project should do. Reveal the arcanes of Latin to the world… When we decided to call our project Latin Language Toolkit (which is quite an obvious title), we didn’t want to dump the Prometheus idea. So we kept the name for our Latin stem database. That’s the simple story of our logo…

Let’s turn to Arethusa. That’s a bit trickier, but nonetheless... smart and clever. Because this is a story of names, we won’t conceal our first idea of naming Arethusa. Being clear we thought of something like “Handler of Annotation Services”. However, the acronym for that name would be HANS. For obvious reasons (well it’s not a name from ancient mythology…) we skipped that.

In mythology Arethusa was a nymph, who dwelled in Arcadia, where once Alpheios fell in love with her, but she didn’t return his feelings and fled from him to Ortygia, an Island near Sicily, and became a well. Alpheios now turning himself into a river followed her and unites with her in the water. (The Greek writer Pausanias talks about that)

The missing link here is the Alpheios project (somebody named that too!), which was the predecessor of Arethusa concerning treebanking. So the name of this annotation framework indicates a connection to a former treebanking project, or - to put it in a nutshell - nomen est omen.

As you can see, names do reveal the nature of things and even the nature of their name giver. We definitely unmasked our smart-and-clever-classicist-characters here (once again).