Classical works are available in a variety of translations at the BPL. This section of the guide compares some of these translation series to help you choose one that's right for your needs.
Penguin Classics and Oxford World's Classics
These are two of the most commonly encountered translation series. Both series offer paperback editions that provide accessible translations for general readers, as well as introductions and explanatory notes.
The chief differences between these two series will be the translations used and the note formats. Penguin uses numbered endnotes, while Oxford uses asterisks to refer to endnotes that are identified by partial line quotations.
Circulating copies of these editions are widely available at the BPL. At right are two editions of Caesar's De bello Gallico from Penguin and Oxford.
Loeb Classical Library
However, the translations tend to be older, and the footnotes tend to be esoteric and aimed at scholars of classical languages. General readers may wish to use these translations only if no other editions are available. These editions are less frequently encountered at the BPL, and many are only available from the Delivery Desk.
Landmark Ancient Histories
This series offers perhaps the most comprehensive and attractive editions of selected ancient works of history. The books themselves are rather large, but the texts are exhaustively supplemented with introductory materials, maps, illustrations of relevant artifacts, explanatory footnotes, and extensive appendices that greatly enrich the reading experience.
The series arose quite recently, so its translations are modern and accessible, but only a limited selection of works are available. Current titles include:
Other Translation Series
In addition to these series, other classical works, particularly works of philosophy and literary works such as plays and poems, are available in a wide range of scholarly and popular translations.
For readers interested in the Greek tragedians, the premier editions are probably those from the Unviersity of Chicago's Complete Greek Tragedies series, edited by David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. A volume of Euripides from this series is pictured at right.
Publication of new translations tends to elicit comparative reviews, many of which are available online, making these a good resource for learning about the strengths and limits of various translations and selecting one that meets your needs. The Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English, detailed in the Languages and Literatures section of the Reference Books box below, also provides comparisons of translations of Classical works up to the year 2000.
There are several ways to explore our collection of online journals and access articles:
Some of the most useful databases for various aspects of Classics research are detailed below.
Relevant titles in this collection include:
Languages and Literature
History and Archaeology
Relevant titles in this collection include:
History and Archaeology
Overdrive and Hoopla
OverDrive and Hoopla provide access to most of the BPL's ebooks and downloadable and streaming audiobooks. Hoopla in particular has a decently extensive ebook selection of Classical works in translation in a variety of fields, including philosophy, history, and literature. Hoopla also includes a wide selection of streaming films, including several documentary films about the Classical world.
Below are links to these collections. For more information about these services and instructions for their access and use, please see the E-books, AudioBooks, Digital Magazines, and Streaming Media guide.
Other Media Sources
Many public domain translations of Classical works (as well as works in their original languages) can be found online. Note that as these translations are no longer under the copyright protection of their translators, the language will tend to be older and sometimes archaic. This section of the guide lists both Classics-specific online translation sources as well as general sources of public domain ebooks that include Classical works.
Operated by the Classics Department at Tufts University, the Perseus Digital Library includes a massive collection of works by Greek and Roman authors. Some are available only in the original languages, but many works by more well-known authors are also available in English translation. The works are enriched with many useful features for reading online, including searchable text, linked tables of contents and explanatory notes, and (in many cases) linked maps illustrating place names featured in the work.
Though it does not contain any texts itself, this site provides a well-organized and annotated list of links to works by Classical authors available online, acting as a useful finding aid for works available from sources other than the Perseus Digital Library.
General Online Sources
A wonderful source for Classics reviews, this site "publishes timely open-access, peer-reviewed reviews of current scholarly work in the field of classical studies (including archaeology)." It often includes useful scholarly assessments of works for general audiences.
This journal publishes their excellent book reviews online. Though it covers all aspects and periods of history, reviews of books on the Classical world appear frequently.
This excellent and searchable online resource includes detailed scholarly reviews of new publications in philosophy. Works on Classical philosophy are frequently reviewed, and can be easily found using the search feature.
The British Museum maintains a highly detailed database of its collections with many routes by which to locate items. It also allows visitors to search only for items with accompanying images.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has an extensive database of its collections similar to that of the British Museum, including thousands of Greek and Roman artworks and artifacts.
The BPL catalog can be searched using several different fields.
In addition, the Advanced Search can be used to search multiple fields simultaneously, exclude terms from a field, and search additional fields not available in basic search, such as Publisher, Series, and Identifier (e.g. ISBN/UPC).
Searching the catalog using the Subject field will search the Library of Congress Subject Headings used to classify and describe the content of our materials.
Using a person's name in the Subject field will tend to find items about a person rather than by them. For literary figures, the phrase Criticism and Interpretation can also be added to find works about a given author's writings.
Subject headings are also particularly useful when searching for works on Greek and Roman history, because the periodization in the subject headings for these civilizations is very thorough, allowing for precise searches about specific time periods, such as:
Rome -- History -- Period of Military Anarchy, 235-284
Greece -- History -- Macedonian Hegemony, 323-281 B.C.
All the subject headings applied to a given title will be listed on the right in a title's record, and can be clicked on to retrieve a list of all other items bearing that heading.
The headings are nested, so any subheadings separated by -- can be removed to perform a broader search and retrieve more results.
You can limit your search results by , , Audience, , etc. by using the clickable headings and dropdown menus on the left side of the search results page.
In addition, the Advanced Search can be used to set up limiting factors prior to conducting your search.
To locate copies of a title in a list of search results, click the in some locations or Availability details link under the call number. This will open a window listing the library's copies of a given edition of a work, and will provide you with the four critical pieces of information you need to locate a copy:
The Map of the Central Library is useful for locating collections at the Central Library. Please note that items in the Nonfiction collection with call numbers beginning with H through HJ are located in the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center on the Lower Level of the Johnson building. Items whose collection is listed as Nonfiction - New Shelf are located in the New & Novel area on the first floor of the Johnson building.
Books with the location BPL-Delivery Desk are held in closed shelves at the Central Library. Most of these books are for in-library use only, but many can be checked out and taken home, especially if they have been published recently. Delivery Desk books whose Collection information does not include the phrase In-Library Use Only can be requested and checked out for the standard loan period just like other circulating books.
If you're at the Central library, these books can be obtained by filling out a request form at the Delivery Desk, located in the Northwest Corridor on the second floor of the McKim Building. Be sure to bring the title, author, call number, and your library card. If the book can be taken home, staff will check the book out to you upon retrieval.
In the unlikely event that the main catalog is not working, you may also search the library's holdings using the alternate catalog.
The alternate catalog also allows you to browse subject headings, which cannot be done using the main catalog.