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Classics: Greece and Rome

Common Translations at the BPL

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

These translations, published by Harvard University Press, are aimed at a more scholarly audience. The series is easily identified by its books' small hardcover format and distinctive design, which uses green covers for works in Greek and red covers for works in Latin.
The primary appeal of Loeb editions is their bilingual, facing-page design, which presents the original Greek or Latin text on the left and a corresponding English translation on the right of each page spread. In addition, the Loeb Classical Library offers the most complete selection of extant classical works, including more obscure works that are not available in more popular translation series.

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:

  • Herodotus, Histories
  • Thucydides, Peloponnesian War
  • Xenophon, Hellenika
  • Arrian, Campaigns of Alexander
  • Caesar et al., Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War (in one volume)

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.

Reference Books

See also the booklist Reference Books for the Classical World

BPL Electronic Resources

There are several ways to explore our collection of online journals and access articles:

  • The main Electronic Resources page groups databases by subject.
  • If you're looking for a specific journal, you can check our holdings by searching for e-Journals by title. This page can be accessed from the electronic resources drop-down menu on the BPL website.
  • The e-Journals by title page also includes a menu where journals can be browsed by subject. The History & Archaeology and Languages & Literatures sections include some useful Classics-specific subheadings.

Some of the most useful databases for various aspects of Classics research are detailed below.

Credo Reference

Relevant titles in this collection include:


  • The Classical Tradition (Harvard University Press, 2013)


  • Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy (Greenwood, 1997)
  • Meet the Philosophers of Ancient Greece (Ashgate, 2005)


  • Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Oxbow, 2014)
  • Who's Who in Classical Mythology (Routledge, 2002)

Languages and Literature

  • Collins Latin Dictionary (HarperCollins, 1997)
  • The Homer Encyclopedia (Blackwell, 2011)

History and Archaeology

  • A Guide to the Ancient World (H.W. Wilson, 1986)
  • Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World (Harvard University Press, 1999)
  • Who's Who in the Roman World (Routledge, 2001)
  • Who's Who in Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 2002)
  • Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia (ABC-CLIO, 2004)
  • Encyclopedia of Archaeology (Elsevier, 2008)
  • Encyclopedia of Archaeology: History and Discoveries (ABC-CLIO, 2001)

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Relevant titles in this collection include:

History and Archaeology

  • Ancient Civilizations Reference Library (UXL, 2000)
  • Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000 (Scribner, 2004)
  • Ancient Greece and Rome: An Encyclopedia for Students (Scribner, 1998)
  • World Eras (Gale, 2001), esp. vol. 3: Roman Republic and Empire, and vol. 6: Classical Greek Civilization


  • Macmillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Macmillan Reference USA, 2006)
Disciplines and Themes
Historical Topics
Trojan War
Ancient Philosophy
Classical Literature
Presocratic Philosophy
Classical Mythology
Alexander the Great
Ancient Warfare
Hellenistic Age
Roman Republic
Roman Britain
Roman Empire
Late Antiquity

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. 

Other Media Sources

Selected Internet Resources

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.

Classics-Specific Sources

Perseus Digital Library

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.

Library of Ancient Texts Online

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

The Internet Archive: Text Archive,the Open Library, and Project Gutenberg offer access to public domain ebooks in a variety of formats, including many works by Classical authors:


Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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.

History Today Book Reviews

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.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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.

Many museums maintain searchable databases of their collections, including high-quality images of artworks and artifacts.


The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has a nice page for browsing its collections from the ancient world. The MFA has also created a massive iOS app detailing its great collection of ancient coins.

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.


Searching the Catalog

The BPL catalog can be searched using several different fields.

  • The Keyword field allows for a broad search and will return the most results. It will find your terms virtually anywhere in a title's record and will weight your results based on where and how frequently your terms occur.
  • The Title and Author fields can be used if you have a specific book or writer in mind. Note that different editions of Classical works may translate Greek and Latin titles in different ways. In many cases, the Uniform Title field in the Full Record tab of a given title will allow you to find all editions of a work even if their titles have been translated differently. 
  • The Subject field searches Library of Congress Subject Headings. Please see the next tab for more information about searching by subject.

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 PublisherSeries, 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 LocationFormat, AudienceTitles You Can Borrow and Take Home, Language, Topic, 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 Location tells you which library locations hold copies of a book.
  • The Collection tells you the general area where a copy is shelved at its location.
  • The Call Number tells you where to find a copy on the shelves of the collection.
  • The Status tells you whether a given copy should be on the shelf. 

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. 

Booklists: Physical Books

Booklists: eBooks and eAudiobooks