Abstract: This paper describes a digital library developed within the “Towards a Digital Dante Encyclopaedia” project, a three years Italian National Research Project that aims at building services supporting scholars in creating, evolving and consulting a digital encyclopaedia of Dante Alighieri’s works. The digital library is based on a knowledge base storing knowledge on the primary sources that Dante refers to in his works, i.e. the works of other authors Dante refers to in his texts. At present, this information is scattered on many paper books, making it difficult to systematically overview the cultural background of Dante and to obtain a well-founded perception of how this background was gradually set up in time. The same applies also to other authors, therefore the applicability of our work extends well beyond the specific author we are considering in our project. The digital library that we are building is based on an ontology for representing the knowledge on one author’s works and on the primary sources embedded in the commentaries to these works. Following this approach, a semantic network of Dante’s works and of references to primary sources of these works was created. Furthermore, a web application allowing users to explore the semantic network in various ways and to visualize statistical information about the references as charts and tables was developed.
Keywords: Ontology, Semantic Web, digital libraries, digital humanities