Defining periodicity in Cicero for quantitative analysis
In the digital era, one trend in Classical scholarship has been towards publishing and lemmatizing Latin and Greek texts on the World Wide Web, and ever since this literature has become widely available in digital form, Classical scholarship has witnessed the undertaking and consummation of projects aiming to quantitatively analyze various aspects of literary style. But one component of style that has never been thoroughly quantified, let alone defined in such a way that would render it empirically applicable, is the rhetorical period, a circular mode of writing whereby verbal elements that begin a sentence are not grammatically and semantically integrated until the end of the construction. In this paper, I attempt to define the period in a way that will allow for its empirical application to Latin sentences and proceed to exercise its utility on five popular works of Cicero. As I do this, I encounter a handful of Latin sentence structures that do not easily conform with black and white distinctions between periodic and non-periodic, and I propose modifications to the definition that will accommodate for them in the case that future analysis of this sort should be desired. In closing, I argue for the treatment of the colon over that of the sentence as one key to a more objective set of criteria for quantifying the rhetorical period.