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Classical Studies (humanities.classics) FAQ

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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Changes in this Issue: NONE

This is the list of frequently asked questions (and their answers) for the
newsgroup humanities.classics.  There are bibliographies for novice and
knowledgable students of the classics, glossaries and compendia of mythological

Where possible, pointers to existing information (such as books, magazine
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In origin, this FAQ was written mostly by readers of sci.classics.  Credits
appear at the end.  Comments and indications of doubt are enclosed in []s in
the text.  Each section begins with forty dashes ("-") on a line of their own,
then the section number.  This should make searching for a specific section

Contributions, comments and changes should be directed to the editorial board,

List of Answers

0   What Is Classics?

1   General Questions
1.1 How should I pronounce Greek and Latin?
1.2 How should I write Greek and Latin in the newsgroup?
1.3 What are the best translations of ...?
1.4 Who was ...?
1.5 What are the famous classical authors?
1.6 How do I translate ...?
1.7 On what day did the week start in Roman times?

2   Bibliographies
2.1 Introductory Bibliography
2.2 Advanced Bibliography
2.3 Specialist Bibliography
2.4 Introductory Latin
2.4.1 Classical
2.4.2 Medieval
2.4.3 Specialised
2.5 Advanced Latin
2.5.1 Mediaeval Latin palaeography
2.6 Introductory Greek
2.7 Advanced Greek
2.8 Linguistics for Classicists

3   Mythological Deities
4   Timeline
5   Glossary
6   Computer Readable Materials
7   Radio Programming
8   Bookstores for Classicists
9   On-Line Resources for Classicists
10  Secondary School Programs in Greek

0   What Is Classics?

Good question.  As used in academia, "Classics" or "Classical Studies" (with a
capital C) or the adjective "classical" refer to the discipline described
below, rather than to good books from any period.

The discipline of Classics is the study of Greek and Roman civilization, from
Homer to Constantine, but including study of the direct antecedents of Greece
and Rome in the prehistoric period of southern Europe and their descendants in
the Middle Ages.  This encompasses both the Greek and Latin languages and their
literature, including poetry, drama, history, philosophy, rhetoric, religion
and political theory, as well as art, architecture, and archaeology.  Further,
discussion of the relevant cultural milieus brings in Persia, the Middle East,
Egypt, and early Europe.

Precise chronological boundaries are difficult to establish, but the most
common feature is the relevance of the period or material to Greek and/or Latin
texts.  An increasing number of classicists are devoting their energies to
later Latin texts, including neo-Latin (relatively modern) original works, and
to prehistory or linguistics, especially in archaeology.

Discussions of the prehistory of the Greek and Latin languages are encouraged,
as well.  This requires that some discussion of related languages such as
Sanskrit and Hittite be allowed.  When taught with an emphasis on Greek and
Latin, this is often called Classical Linguistics.

Note on Dates: All dates in this FAQ are given using BCE and CE rather than
BC and AD. Michael Covington notes:

    Some people take the use of BCE and CE in place of BC and AD as an
    anti-Christian gambit. I don't take it that way; Jesus wasn't born in
    exactly 1 A.D., and saying BCE and CE makes it clear we are using the
    conventional year-numbering rather than counting years from the actual
    birth of Christ.

1   Questions And Answers

Commonly asked questions appear here:

1.1 How should I pronounce...

1.1.1 Ancient Greek?

Technical Answer:

Ancient Greek had dialects and regional inflections, so asking how it was
pronounced is like asking how English is pronounced today.  The original
inhabitants of Greece were not Greek-speakers, but spoke a lost non-Indo-
European language (traces remain in some place-names).

People who spoke what we call the Greek language migrated into the Balkan
peninsula during the Aegean bronze age, ~2200BCE.

From about 1200BCE to 850 BCE, there were several migrations of Dorians,
themselves Greek speakers, into the Peloponese, following the demise of the
Mycenaean realm.

There were at least five main dialects of Greek spoken during this time: Ionic,
Aeolic, Arcadian, Doric, and North-West Greek.

Prior to the demise of Mycenae, there seems to have been a North/South split in
Greek dialects, with Arcado-Cypriot and Attic-Ionic descending from South
Greek, and Doric and Aeolic from North Greek.  This accords better with the
early inscriptions than the East/West division usually noted in older textbooks
on the basis of post-Mycenaean data only.

Since the 19th Century, much of the pronunciation of the Attic dialect has been
well described, based on rigorous principles applied to close readings of the
descriptions of ancient grammarians.  The pronunciation of the consonants has
been accepted for more than a century; the vowels have been well-known for more
than 50 years; and with the advances of modern linguistics in such areas as
accentology we now have a very good idea of how the accent system worked.

Practical Answer:

It depends on who you ask. Most Europeans and Americans use what's called the
"Erasmian" pronunciation, which is nothing like modern Greek. Native speakers
of Modern Greek use the Modern Greek pronunciation. Others use less common

We will describe two pronunciations, the Erasmian (traditional in most European
and American schools) and the linguistic.  We will assume an educated southern
American accent in our examples, as well as using the ASCII version of the
International Phonetic Alphabet (as devised by Evan Kirshenbaum, and available

Letter		  Erasmian	     Linguistic
		IPA Example	    IPA Example
a'lpha		a   father	    a   father
be~ta		b   baker	    b   baker
ga'mma		g   girl	    g   girl
de'lta		d   dog		    d   dog
e` psi'lon	E   get		    e   gait (without the i-offglide)
ze~ta		z   zoo		    zd  buzzed
e~ta		e:  gate	    E:  head (longer than in "get")
the~ta		T   thin	    th  tin (that is, aspirated as in English)
io'ta		i   beet	    i   beet
ka'ppa		k   scat	    k   scat (that is, unaspirated)
la'mbda		l   list	    l   list
mu~		m   mom		    m   mom
nu~		n   not		    n   not
o` mi'kron	O,o caught,	    o   coat (without the u-offglide)
ksi~		ks  picks	    ks  picks
pi~		p   spat	    p   spat (that is, unaspirated)
rho'		r   rock	    r   rock
si'gma		s   sat		    s   sat
tau~		t   stack	    t   stack (that is, unaspirated)
u` psi'lon	y   cute,	    u   boot
		    French du,
		    German Pruefung
phi~		f   folly	    ph  perfect (that is, aspirated as in
psi~		ps  oops	    ps  oops
khi~		x   Scots loch,     kh  cat (that is, aspirated as in English)
		    German Bach
o~ me'ga	o:  boat	    O:  law, cawed (long vowel)

The digraphs:

omikron+upsilon	u:  boot	    o:  boat (without the u-offglide
epsilon+iota	ej  bait	    e:  bait (without the i-offglide)
alpha+iota	aj  bite	    aj  bite
long alpha+iota a: <= alpha>	    a:j bide
alpha+upsilon	au  cow		    au  cow
omikron+iota	oj  boy		    oj  boy
eta+iota	e:  <= eta>	    E:j stayin' (participle, spoken rapidly)
omega+iota	o:  <= omega>	    O:j sawin' (participle, spoken rapidly)

Other vowel digraphs are pronounced as simple combinations of the vowels.

gamma+kappa/gamma/ksi/khi is Nk/Ng/Nks/Nkh: sinker, finger, sinks, sinking
(Also possibly in gamma+mu: Nm).

Accents:  In the Erasmian system, all three accents (oxeia/acute, bareia/grave,
and perispomenon/circumflex) are treated as simple stress accents.  However, as
we know from the ancient grammarians, these represented different *pitches*,
similar to though not identical with the accent system in certain Japanese

If you wish to use a pitch accent in your Greek reading, the following system
works well:

1. The acute is a rise of a musical fifth from the base level of the voice,
according to the grammarians.  This is approximately the change in pitch in the
English inquiring sentence "Yes???"

2. The grave is either a complete lack of an expected accent, or a lowered rise
(a musical third).  A string of these may be pronounced levelly on the higher
note of the rise.

3. The circumflex is usually referred to as a falling pitch contour; the real
secret is that it consists of a rise of a third followed by a fall to ground in
the course of a single long vowel or a diphthong.  The explanation for this is
that long vowels, like diphthongs, can be viewed as a sequence of two short
vowels, with the accent being applied to the first.

1.1.2 Latin

A Summary of Classical Latin Pronunciation (from Vox Latina)

a short  As first a in Italian amare (as vowel of English cup:  not as cap)
a long   As second a in Italian amare ( as a in English father)
ae       As in English high
au       As in English how
b        (1) As English b
         (2) Before t or s: as English p
c        As English or (better) French `hard' c, or English k
ch       As c in emphatic pronunciation of English cat
d        As English or French d
e short  As in English pet
e long   As in French gai or German Beet
ei       As in English day
eu       pronounced as a quick slide from e to y (see below).
f        As English f
g        (1)     As English `hard' g
         (2)     gn: as ngn in English hangnail
h        As English h
i short  As in English dip
i long   As in English deep
i cons   (1) As English y
         (2) Between vowels: = [yy]
k        As English k
l        (1) Before vowels: as l in English lay
         (2) Before consonants and at end of word: as l in English field or hill
m        (1) At the beginning or in middle of word: as English m
         (2) At the end of word (after a vowel): as in French nasalized vowel
n        (1) As n in English net
         (2) Before c, g, qu: as n in anger
         (3) Before fricatives (f, s) somewhat assimilated
o short  As in English (R.P.) pot (not American pot)
o long   As in French beau or German Boot
oe       As in English boy
p        As English or (better) French p
ph       As p in emphatic pronunciation of English pig
qu       As qu in English quick
r        As in Scottish `rolled' r
s        As in English sing or ss in lesson (N.B. never as in English roses)
t        As English or (better) French t
th       As t in emphatic pronunciation of English terrible
u short  As in English put
u long   As in English fool
u cons   As English w
ui       No English equivalent but think of slurring ooi
x        As English x in box
y        As in French u or German u (umlaut)
z        (1) As English z
         (2) Between vowels: = [zz]
         (3) Perhaps in rendering some Greek words: = [zd]

1.2 How should I write Greek and Latin on the newsgroup?

For long vowels, mark length with a colon ":" following the vowel.  This
applies to both languages.

In Greek, the accents should be represented by ' (acute) ` (grave) ~ (circum-
flex) following the vowel in question.  Since the circumflex can only fall on a
*long* vowel or a diphthong, the colon marking vowel length can be considered
optional with the circumflex.

The Greek alphabet should be transcribed as

	a b g d e z E: th i k l m n o ks p r s t u ph ps kh O:

with the additional long vowels a: i: u: e: o: (though the latter two may be
written, as is traditional, ei and ou).

Latin may be written using i and u for both the vowel and the consonant sounds,
or the doublets i/j and u/v respectively.  Many people prefer to use i for
both, but u/v rather than just u (or v).

1.3 What are the best translations of ...?

Good question :-)

Translations into English of most of the popular classical authors may be found
along with great authors of other periods in the Penguin Classics series.  Some
of these, it has been noted, are of greater literary merit than others; that
may simply be the way of translations, from whatever source.

The Oxford World Classics series also has a large number of good translations
of classical works, not entirely overlapping the Penguin Classics in coverage.

Many who have studied Greek and Latin since the early 1900s have been grateful
for the existence of the Loeb series (red covers for Latin, green for Greek) of
facing-page translations of a number of important, and even better, of entirely
unimportant, authors.  These are published jointly by Harvard and Oxford.

1.4 Who was ... ?

See section 2 for references to bibliographical dictionaries or encyclopaediae.

1.5 What are the famous classical authors?

While a complete list of even important authors cannot be given here, the ones
below commonly appear on reading lists of graduate departments of Classics.
The format is:

Author's Name
dates:  (approximate)
language of composition:  (language in which the works were written)
genre:  (quick & dirty encapsulation)
style:  (some elaboration of the above category, with notes on meter,
diff :  (difficulty; of course, highly subjective. Rated from 1-10,
         easiest to hardest :))
works:  (not necessarily complete; fragmentary works excluded)
fun fact:  (sometimes not very much fun and often descending to the
            level of gossip)

Note that both Greek and Latin authors are together in the same list; to
distinguish between them, check the "language of composition" field.

dates:  525-456 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  drama
style:  Classical Attic tragedy
diff :  8
works:  Persians, Seven Against Thebes, Agamemnon, Libation-Bearers,
	Eumenides, Supplices, Prometheus Bound
fun fact: Aeschylus was accidentally killed when an eagle dropped a tortoise on
	his bald head, mistaking him for a stone. Definitely an urban legend,
	but one which has existed since classical times.

Apollonius Rhodius
dates:  flourished 3rd century BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  epic
style:  Homeric vocabulary with some bold new similes and anthropological/
	aetiological touches
diff :  6
works:  Argonautica
fun fact:  feuded with his teacher, Callimachus

dates:  457-385 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  drama
style:  Old Comedy
diff :  9
works:  Acharnians, Knights, Clouds, Wasps, Peace, Birds, Lysistrata,
	Thesmophorizeusae (Female Celebrants of the Thesmophoria festival),
	Frogs, Ecclesiazeusae (Female Legislators), Wealth
fun fact:  Among his favorite targets for satire included the philosopher
	Socrates (in Clouds), the Tragic playwright Euripides (in Frogs), and
	the politician Cleon (in Knights).

dates:  384-322 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  treatises on philosophy, ethics, natural science, political science,
	literary criticism
style:  Attic prose
diff :  7
works:  Metaphysics, De Anima, Nichomachean Ethics, History of Animals,
	Physics, Politics, Rhetoric, Poetics [fragmentary]
fun fact:  wrote accounts of the constitutions of 158 Greek states.

Gaius Julius Caesar
dates: c.100-15 March 44 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre:	Commentaries (diaries of his military and political career)
style:	concise and objective at first sight; really, a praise for his
	own and his army's work. Refers to himself in the third person.
diff : 2
works: De bello gallico (The Gallic Wars), De bello civili (The Civil War)

dates:  305-240 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  verse (epigram, narrative elegy, satiric iambic, hexameter hymn,
	epyllion [little epic])
style:  learned, allusive
diff :  7
works:  Epigrams from Greek Anthology, Aetia (Causes), Iambics, Hymns, Hecale
fun fact:  Hecale, an epyllion, gets its name from the elderly woman who
	lets Theseus crash at her house while on his way to slay the bull of

dates: 87-54 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: verse, elegies
diff : 6
works: Carmina

Marcus Tullius Cicero
dates: 106-43 BCE
language of composition: Latin
genre:	prose, political and legal oratory, philosophical dialogues and essays
style:	learned, sometimes coy in his letters
diff:	3
works:	Orations: Catilinariae, Pro Caelio, In Caium Verrem (Against Caius
	Verres), Pro Archia, Pro Domo Sua, Pro Milone. Rhetorical
essays: De Oratore, Orator, Brutus. Philosophical essays: De re publica,
	De legibus, Tusculanae disputationes, Cato Maior De senectute, Laelius
	de amicitia, De officiis. Letters: Ad Quintum Fratrem, Ad Atticum, Ad
	familiares, Ad Marcum Brutum
fun fact: The beginning of the First Catalinarian ("Quousque tandem abutere")
	has been used for centuries by printers to show the characteristics of
	fonts, while a laserprinter of the late 1970s used a modified form of a
	page of the Loeb edition of his De Finibus for the same purpose (the
	well-known "lorem ipsum dolor" text).

dates:  384-322
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  political and legal oratory
style:  varied, avoids hiatus and successions of short syllables
diff :  4
works:  For Phormio, Olynthiacs, Philippics, On the Crown
fun fact:  sued his guardians for mismanagement of his inheritance at age 21.

dates:  485-406 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  drama
style:  Classical Attic tragedy
diff :  7 dialogue 10 choruses
works:  Medea, Hippolytus, Ion, Bacchae, Iphigenia in Tauris, Helen,
	Alcestis, The Suppliant Women, Electra, Hecabe, Heracles, The Women of
fun fact:  We have more of Euripides than of any other Attic tragedian because
	we have not only ten plays representing "the best of Euripides" but
	also nine plays which seem to be from the epsilon through kappa volume
	of the complete works of Euripides.

dates:  484-420 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  prose history
style:  uses Ionian dialect lots of ethnography and anecdotes
diff :  5
works:  Histories
fun fact:  first surviving prose history in Greek

dates:  flourished 700 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  creation-myth in verse, didactic poetry
style:  epic vocabulary
diff :  6
works:  Theogony, Works and Days
fun fact:  Works and Days is ostensibly addressed to his MEGA NHPIE (very
	foolish) brother Perses and consists of advice on practical skills
	(farming, sailing, etc).

dates:  eighth-sixth centuries BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  epic
style:  brief, striking similes, about half each work is dialogue
diff :  5
works:  Iliad, Odyssey
fun fact:  "Homer" is usually considered scholarly shorthand for an oral-
	formulaic tradition perhaps dating back to the fifteenth century BCE
	that was written down during the above dates.

dates:  65-8 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
diff :
works: Odes, Carmen Saeculare, Satires, Ars Poetica

dates: 59 BCE - 17 CE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: history
style:	language is poetic and expressive, characters easily become heroes,
	influenced by hellenistic historians
diff : 9
works: Ab Urbe Condita Libri
fun fact: Legend has it that a man came all the way from Cadiz just to look at

dates: c.99-c55 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: Philosophy and biology
style: Deep psychological investigation, rich and carefully controlled language
diff : 8
works: De Rerum Natura
fun fact: Poisoned himself with a love potion, wrote the poem in lucid moments
	(maybe lucid), committed suicide (slander of St. Jerome)

dates:  459-380 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  political and legal oratory
style:  smooth, moderate
diff :  6
works:  Oration 1 (Against Eratosthenes), Oration 32 (Against Diogiton)
fun fact:  Originally from Syracuse, Lysias and his brothers Polemarchus and
	Euthydemus owned a shield-making workshop in the Piraeus.

dates:  342-289 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  drama
style:  New Comedy
diff :  7
works:  The Grouch, She Who Was Shorn, The Samian, Dis Exapaton (The Double
fun fact:  Menander was for the most part lost until this century, when
	numerous papyrus fragments of Menander came to light.

dates:  43 BCE - c.17 CE
language of composition:  Latin
genre:	poetry
diff :	5
works: Metamorphoses, Tristia, Ars Amatoria

dates:  170 - 245 CE
language:  Greek
genre: biography
style: artificial
difficulty:  8
works: Lives of the Sophists, Life of Apollonius of Tyana
fun fact:
for further information:

dates:  518-438 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  victory ode
style:  uses a huge variety of meters and myths
diff :  9
works:  Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian Odes, all to celebrate
	victories in Greek athletic contests
fun fact:  In Olympian 1, he criticizes earlier poets for spreading lies about
	how the gods ate Pelops' shoulder.

dates:  429-347 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  philosophy
style:  idiosyncratic Attic prose
diff :  3
works:  Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Symposium, Republic (many others)
fun fact:  Early dialogues often show Socrates and an interlocutor wrestling
	with a question which neither answers, but Socrates' achievement is
	getting the interlocutor to admit that he does not know the answer.

Plautus, Titus Maccius
dates: 250-184 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre:	comedy
style:	popular and brilliant, basically founded on mistakes, sometimes vulgar.
	Some "archaic" features.
diff :	8 (He uses colloquial Latin)
works:	Amphitruo, Asinaria (The comedy of the donkeys), Aulularia (The comedy
	of the pot), Captivi (The prisoners), Curculio (The weevil), Casina,
	Cistellaria (Comedy of the box), Epidicus, Bacchides, Mostellaria
	(Comedy of the Ghost), Menaechmi, Miles gloriosus (The blusterer
	soldier), Mercator (the merchant), Pseudolus, Poenulus (The man from
	Carthage), Persa (The persian), Rudens (The rope), Stichus, Trinummus
	(The three coins), Truculentus, Vidularia (The comedy of the case)

Pliny (the Younger)
dates: 61/62-c.112 CE
language of composition:  Latin
genre:	letters
style:	prose
diff :	4
works:	Letters
fun fact:  One of his letters ("Rides, et licet rideas") is one of the stand-by
	texts in showing fonts in letterpress printing.  Adopted and adapted by
	the writers of Framemaker(TM).

dates:  50-120 CE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  prose (especially biography)
style:  many metaphors
diff :  2
works:  Lives, Moralia (rhetorical treatises, moral essays, philosophical
	dialogues and treatises, antiquarian works)
fun fact:  For the last thirty years of his life, he was a priest at Delphi.

dates: 1st century BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: poetry (elegies)
diff :
works: Elegies (four books)

Seneca (the elder)
language of composition:  Latin
genre: drama, letters
diff :
works: Letter, Medea

Seneca (the younger)
dates: 55 BCE - 65 CE
language of composition:  Latin

dates:  496-406 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  drama
style:  Classical Attic tragedy
diff :  7
works:  Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra,
	Women of Trachis, Philoctetes
fun fact:  According to Aristotle, he introduced to Tragedy the third actor,
	scene-painting, and the fifteen-man (as opposed to the twelve-man)

fun fact II: When he was about 90 years old, his heirs decided they couldn't
	wait for their inheritance any more. So they applied to the court for
	guardianship, explaining that Sophocles was not in his proper mind any
	more and needed someone to take of his finances. At that moment he was
	writing Oedipus at Colonus and in court he just read what he had done
	so far. He didn't get any guardians.

dates: 69-140 CE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: biography (mostly)
diff :
works: The Twelve Caesars
fun fact: Had access to the Imperial Archives.

dates: 56/57 - (not before) 115 CE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: history
style: very odd!
diff: 8
works: Annals, Germania, Agricola, Histories, Dialogus

dates: c. 195-159 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: comedy
style: very deep psychological investigation in his characters, frequent
	monologues; inspired by Menander, he was never loved by his
diff :  7
works:	Andria, Hecyra (The mother-in-law), Adelphoe (The brothers), Phormio,
	Heautontimoroumenos (The self-punisher), Eunuchus (The eunuch),

dates:  300-260 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  bucolic lyric/mime
style:  polished, deceptively simple
diff :  6
works:  31 short poems
fun fact:  Poem 11 is a love song sung by the Cyclops Polyphemus to the nymph
	Galatea, who has rejected him.

dates:  460-400 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  prose history
style:  some poeticisms, elliptical, likes antithesis
diff :  10 (hardest prose author)
works:  Peloponnesian War
fun fact: His account of Pericles' funeral oration, a wonderful piece of pro-
	Athenian propaganda, is followed by a harrowing account of the plague
	that struck Athens shortly afterward. He was the first historian to
	dispense with "gods" and "oracles" as machinery of explanation.

Tibullus, Albius
dates: 54-19 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: elegy
style: limpid and free of myths. Wrote of life in the country sweetened by love
diff : 5
works:	Corpus Tibullianum: the first two books are authentic, the third is in
	doubt. He wrote elegies to Delia (First book) and Nemesis (Second book)

Publius Virgilius Maro
dates: 15th October 70 - 19 BCE
language of composition:  Latin
genre: idyll, epic
style: idyll: influenced by Theocritus, writes of shepherds' and peasants' life
	in a celebrating way; epics: he tells the mythical stories of Rome
	celebrating its origin and rulers in a clear and very musical hexameter
diff : 6
works: The Aeneid, Georgics, Eclogues/Bucolics

dates:  428-354 BCE
language of composition:  Greek
genre:  prose (history, philosophy, treatise, etc.)
style:  simple
diff :  1
works:  Hellenica, Anabasis (March Upcountry), Household Manager
fun fact: The Anabasis, about the retreat of Greek mercenaries after their
	employer Cyrus, brother to the Persian king Artaxerxes, was deposed
	in a coup, features a wonderful scene in which the Greeks at last reach
	the sea and shout "THALATTA, THALATTA!!!"  (The sea, the sea!!!).

1.6 How do I translate ...?

You can make a post, and maybe it will be answered.  You can buy a pocket
Latin<->English or Greek<->English dictionary, and do it yourself.  If you
have access to a Classics Department, asking them might prove helpful.

Curtis Emerson adds:

   Check the Greek & Latin online dictionaries via

1.7 On what day did the week start in Roman times?

Quoting from "The Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Ephemeris and
American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac" :

  "The week was not originally an integral part of any calendar; in its
   present form, it gradually became established in the Roman calendar during
   the one or two centuries preceding the Christian era.  The Mosaic Law
   enjoining abstinence from work on every seventh day had established the
   7-day period as a Jewish measure of time, and this Jewish week later passed
   into the Christian Church.  Meanwhile, shortly before the Christian era, an
   astrological practice had arisen of attaching the names of the seven
   "planets", the term at that time including the Sun and Moon, in cyclic
   succession to successive days, in the order in which the planets were
   supposed to rule the days.  The planetary designations of the days rapidly
   acquired widespread popularity, and became the predominant usage throughout
   the Roman Empire.  The coincidence in the number of days in this
   astrological cycle with the number of days in the entirely independent
   Jewish week led to the gradual establishment of the planetary week without
   official recognition, either civil or ecclestical."

The same source gives two references:

   Gandz, S. "The Origin of the Planetary Week" Proc. Amer. Acad. for Jewish
   Research, vol. 18, 213-254, 1949.

   Colson, F.H., "The week" Cambridge University Press, 1926.

Originally each *hour* of the day was governed by a different planet (the
doctrine of "chronocratories"; cf. "horoscope", "to observe the hours"), and
whichever planet fell on the first hour could be said to open the day.

The seven planets divide the 24 hours three times with a remainder of three;
hence, if you cycle through the planetary sequence:

   Saturn - Jupiter - Mars - Sun - Venus - Mercury - Moon

By taking every third planet, you will get:

   Saturn - Sun - Moon - Mars - Mercury - Jupiter - Venus.

Curtis Emerson adds:

   No one knows according to S. Gandz (1949) as cited in _Astronomy Before the
   Telescope_ Vol 1 by Nicholas T. Bobrovnikoff (1984) ISBN 0-88126-201-3
   Pachart Publishing House, Tucson AZ

   See pg 25+, 38+ and bibliography for information on the nundinae and

2   Bibliographies

2.1 Introductory Bibliography

If you know nothing about the classics, some recommended books are listed here.
They assume no knowledge, and will give you a sound grasp in the basics.

%T The Oxford Classical Dictionary
%A (ed.) H.H. Scullard
%D 1970
%Z This gives solid (if unimaginative) articles on all major authors
%Z and subjects in Greek and Latin, usually with good bibliographies
%Z as well.

%T L'Annee Philologique
%Z THE bibliography of the classics -- it's not on computer yet, but
%Z give them time.

%T The Sound of Greek
%A W. B. Stanford

%T The Pronunciation and Reading of Ancient Greek: A Practical Guide
%A Stephen G. Daitz

%T Vox Graeca 3rd ed.
%A W. Sidney Allen
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1987

%T Vox Latina 2nd ed.
%A W. Sidney Allen
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1978

%T Pelican history of Greek literature
%A Peter Levi
%I Pelican

2.2 Advanced Bibliography

If, having completed a preliminary reading in the subject, you decide you enjoy
classics, here are books to give you more knowledge.

%A Reynolds, L. D.
%A Wilson, N. G.
%T Scribes and Scholars 3rd ed.
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1991

2.3 Specialised Bibliography

If you decide you are only interested in a narrow field of classics, here are
books that will extend your knowledge in one subject.

%T The Legacy of Rome: A New Appraisal
%A ed. Richard Jenkyns
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1992

%T The Legacy of Greece: A New Appraisal
%A ed. M. I. Finley
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1984
%Z Both these are excellent, and each article has suggestions for
%Z further reading.

%T L'Annee Philologique
%A Marouzeau

2.4 Introductory Latin

For the reader with little or no knowledge of Latin.

2.4.1 Classical

%A Balme, Maurice.
%A Morwood, James
%T Oxford Latin course.  (3 vols. + teacher's handbook)
%I Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press
%D 1987-1988.

%T Cambridge Latin course.  2nd ed
%I Cambridge <Cambridgeshire> ; New York: Cambridge University Press
   for the Schools Council,
%D 1982.

%A Goldman, Norma
%T Latin via Ovid: a first course.
%I Detroit: Wayne State University Press
%D 1977.

%A Griffin, Robin M
%T A student's Latin grammar.
%I North American 3rd ed. Cambridge <England> ; New York: Cambridge University Press
%D 1992.

%A Jenney, Charles.
%T First year Latin.
%I Boston: Allyn and Bacon
%D <1975>

%A Jenney, Charles
%T Second year Latin.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon
%D <1975>

%A Johnston, Patricia A
%T Traditio: an introduction to the Latin language and its influence.
%I New York: Macmillan
%D c1988.

%A Jones, Peter V
%T Reading Latin.
%I Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press
%D 1986.

%A Knudsvig, Glenn M
%T Latin for reading: a beginner's textbook with exercises
%I Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
%D c1982.

%A Lawall, Gilbert
%A Tafe, David
%T Ecce Romani.
%I White Plains, NY: Longman, Inc.

%A Moreland, Floyd L.
%A Fleisher, Rita M.
%T Latin: an intensive course.
%I <New ed.> Berkeley: University of California Press
%D c1977.

%A Sinkovich, Kathryn A.
%T Intermediate college Latin.
%I Lanham, MD: University Press of America
%D c1984.

%A Wheelock, Frederic M. (revised by R. La Fleur)
%T Latin: An Introductory Course Based on Ancient Authors.
%I 5th Edition.  New York: Barnes & Noble
%D 1995.

%A Lewis, Charlton T.
%T Elementary Latin Dictionary
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1891/1989

2.4.2 Medieval

%A Beeson, Charles Henry
%T A primer of Mediaeval Latin; an anthology of prose and poetry.
%I Chicago, Scott, Foresman and Company
%D <c1925>

%A Collins, John F.
%T A primer of ecclesiastical Latin.
%I Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press
%D c1985.

%A Strecker, Karl
%T Introduction to medieval Latin.
%I 5. unveranderte Aufl.  Dublin: Weidmann,
%D <c1968>

2.4.3 Specialised

%A Baranov, A.
%T Basic Latin for plant taxonomists.
%I Lehre, J. Cramer,
%D 1971 <c1968>

%A Gooder, Eileen A.
%T Latin for local history: an introduction.  2d ed.
%I London ; New York: Longman,
%D 1978.

%A Howe, George
%T Latin for pharmacists.
%I Philadelphia, P. Blakiston's son & co.
%D <c1916>

%A Stearn, William T.
%T Botanical Latin: history, grammar, syntax, terminology, and vocabulary.
%A 3rd ed., rev.  Newton Abbot, Devon ;
%I North Pomfret, Vt.: David & Charles,
%D 1983.

2.5 Advanced Latin

For the reader with several years study of Latin, or a need for a good
reference grammar.

%A Hale, W. G.
%A Buck, Carl Darling
%T Latin Grammar
%I Loyola Press, ISBN 0817303502
%D 1966

%A Allen, J.H.
%A Greenough, J.B.
%T Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar for Schools and Colleges
%I Aristide d Caratzas, ISBN 0892410019
%D 1975

%A Gildersleeve, Basil L.
%A Lodge, Gonzalez
%T Latin Grammar
%I Nelson/St. Martin's Press
%D 1992

%A Gildersleeve, Basil L.
%A Lodge, Gonzalez
%T Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar
%I Bolchazy Carducci, ISBN 0865163537
%D 1997 (to be published)

%A Leumann, Manu
%T Lateinische Laut- und Formenlehre
%I C.H. Beck
%D 1953

%A Woodcock, E. C.
%T A New Latin Syntax
%I Bristol Classical Press/Bolchazy-Carducci
%D 1959/1987

%A Adams, J. N.
%T Latin Sexual Vocabulary
%I Johns Hopkins
%D 1982

%A Mountford, Bradley, Arnold
%T Bradley's Arnold: Latin Prose Composition
%I Caratzas
%D 1992

2.5.1  Mediaeval Latin epigraphy

Mediaeval Latin palaeography is a science in itself: i.e. it's more than just
a scientific tool. The standard introduction is BISCHOFF's *Paldographie des
rvmischen Altertums und des abendldndischen Mittelalters*, of which there is
an English translation:

Bernhard Bischoff, *Latin palaeography: antiquity and the middle ages*,
Cambridge [etc.]: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

%A Bischoff, Bernhard
%T *Latin palaeography: antiquity and the middle ages*
%I Cambridge University Press
%D 1990

The standard practical handbook (in many editions -- the following Italian
one is only an exemple) is

Adriano CAPPELLI, *Lexicon abbreviaturarum: Dizionario di abbreviature latine
ed italiane*, sesta edizione (anastatica), Milano: Ulrico Hoepli, 1961.

%A Cappelli, Adriano
%T *Lexicon abbreviaturarum: Dizionario di abbreviature latine ed italiane*
%I Ulrico Hoepli
%D 1961

Cappelli's lexicon is supplemented by

Auguste PELZER, *Abriviations latines midiivales. Suppliment au Dizionario
[...] de Adriano Cappelli*, deuxihme idition, Louvain (Publications
universitaires) / Paris (Biatrice-Nauwelaerts) 1966.

%A Pelzer, Auguste
%T Abriviations latines midiivales. Suppliment au Dizionario [...] de Adriano
%I Louvain (Publications universitaires) / Paris (Biatrice-Nauwelaerts)
%D 1966

2.6 Introductory Greek

For the reader with little or no knowledge of Greek.

%A Lawall, Gilbert
%A Balme, Maurice
%T Athenaze (2 vols. + 2 teacher's handbooks)
%I Oxford Univ Press, ISBN 0195056213
%D 1990

%A Hansen, Hardy
%A Quinn, Gerald M.
%T Greek: Intensive Course (2 vols.)
%I Fordham University Press
%D 1992

%A Mastronarde, Donald A.
%T Introduction to Attic Greek
%I University of California Press
%D 1993

%A Pharr, Clyde
%T Homeric Greek: A Book for Beginners
%I Univ of Oklahoma Press
%D 1986

%A Schoder, Raymond V. & Horrigan, Vincent C.
%T A Reading Course in Homeric Greek (Books I & II)
%I Loyola University Press, ISBN 0-8294-0509-7
%D 1985.

%A Autenrieth, Georg
%T Homeric Dictionary for Schools and Colleges
%I Univ of Oklahoma Press
%D 1982

%A Cunliffe, Richard J.
%T Lexicon of the Homeric Dialect
%I Univ of Oklahoma Press
%D 1977

%A Monro, David B.
%T A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect
%I William H Allen Bookseller
%D 1993

%A Goodspeed, William B.
%A Owen, Edgar J.
%T Homeric Vocabularies: Greek and English Word List for the Study of Homer
%I Univ of Oklahoma Press
%D 1979

%A Liddell, Henry George, & Scott, Robert
%T A Greek-English lexicon
%I Clarendon Press
%D 1961

2.7 Advanced Greek

For the reader with several years study of Greek.

%A Schwyzer, Eduard
%T Griechische Grammatik (4 vols.)
%I C.H. Beck
%D 1953

%A Rix, Helmut
%T Historische Grammatik des Griechischen
%I Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt
%D 1976

%A Buck, Carl Darling
%T The Greek Dialects
%I University of Chicago Press
%D 1955

%A Smyth, Herbert Weir
%T Greek Grammar
%I Harvard
%D 1920/1956 (still in print)

%A Woodhouse, S. C.
%T English-Greek Dictionary: A Vocabulary of the Attic Language
%I Routledge & Kegan Paul
%D 1910/1985

%A Devine, A. M.
%A Stephens, Laurence D.
%T Prosody of Greek Speech
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1994

2.8 Linguistics for Classicists

%A Buck, Carl Darling
%T Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin
%I University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226079317
%D 1933

%A Sihler, Andrew
%T New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin
%I Oxford University Press
%D 1995

3   Mythological Deities

Never been able to sort out Athena from Venus and remaining
perpetually confused about Mercury's role in life?  Look no further.

%A Kravitz, David
%T Who's who in Greek and Roman mythology.
%I New York: C. N. Potter: distributed by Crown Publishers,
%D <1976> c1975.

%A Mercatante, Anthony S.
%T Who's who in Egyptian mythology.
%I New York: C. N. Potter: distributed by Crown Publishers,
%D c1978.

%A Morford, Mark P. O., and Lenardon, R.
%T Classical mythology.  4th ed.
%I New York: Longman,
%D c1991.

%A Powell, B.
%T Classical myth
%I Prentice Hall
%D 1995

%A Reid, J.D.
%T The Oxford guide to classical mythology in the arts 1300-1990's
%I Oxford: Oxford University Press (2 vols)
%D 1993

4   Timeline

GREECE: Bronze Age            3000-1100 BCE
        Fall of Troy         ~1200
        Archaic Period        1100-480
        Xerxes' invasion      482
        Classical Period      480-323
        Peloponnesian War     466-404
        Alexander dies        323
        Hellenistic Period    323-146
        Roman Period          146 BCE - 565 CE
        Byzantine Period      565 - 1453 CE

ROME:   Regal Period          753-510 BCE
        Republic              509-31
        Empire                31 BCE -
        Golden Age            1st century BCE - early 1st century CE
        Silver Age            Late 1st Cent CE - 2nd cent CE
        "End" of Empire       476 CE

5   Glossary

Providing endless fodder for flamewars, here are some simple definitions of
terms you will meet in classics.

hapax legomenon (Gk., "said once") - a word or idiom attested (i.e., found in
the body of known works) only once

crasis (Gk., "mixing") - the blending of two adjacent vowels, as when a final
vowel merges with the leading vowel of the following word.  E.g., "to onoma"
(Gk., "the name") sometimes becomes "tounoma" (since o + o = ou in Attic).

asper (L., "harsh") - the rough-breathing mark in Greek, indicating (under the
Erasmian system of pronunciation) a leading "h" sound on a word beginning with
a vowel.  Cf. *lenitus.

lenitus (L., "relaxed") - the soft-breathing mark in Greek, indicating the
absence of an "h" sound before a leading vowel.  Cf. *asper.

6   Computer Readable Materials

There are several institutions that offer electronic versions of classics works
and texts.  They have varying quality and varying restrictions on their use.
Those known of are listed here.

Freely redistributable versions of various Latin texts, including all of
Vergil, Catullus, and Tibullus, and selections from Cicero, Caesar, Horace, and
others, are available from the Project Libellus archive at the University of
Washington, Seattle.  These can be had, in TeX form, by anonymous FTP from host, directory /public/libellus/texts; some commentaries and
other support files (including a TeX-to-ASCII converter for the texts) are
contained in the other subdirectories of /public/libellus.  These texts and
support files are also available, in a variety of formats (TeX, ASCII, RTF,
PostScript) through an experimental E-mail server, for those who do not have
Internet access; for more information about this service, send mail to with "help" in the message body.  Send comments,
questions, etc. to

The Georgetown Catalogue Project for Electronic Texts have a directory of
electronic text projects in the humanities.  The catalogues are available by
language and subject, and are available for anonymous FTP from

The Library at Dartmouth have a huge database containing and concerning "La
Commedia".  To use it, telnet to
and type
	connect dante

Lectures by Robert Hollander on Dante are available for anonymous FTP in named BARLOW.README, BARLOW.1, BARLOW.2 and

6.1 Oxford Text Archive

The Oxford Text Archive provides texts with restrictions on redistribution,
usually for cost of copying and shipping.  The texts are of varying quality.
The following is taken from their informational blurb:

	Further details are given in the published Short List
	(which includes an order form) which is printed at least
	once a year. Write to:

	Oxford Text Archive
	Oxford University Computing Service
	13 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6NN, UK


	or FTP to

They have recently been able to make available some public-domain texts for

7  Radio Programming

Currently there are two major shortwave services that provide Latin
programming.  They are:

Vatican Radio (daily programming, mostly of a religious nature)
Radio Finland (weekly world news reports)

Times and frequencies are likely to change, so are not included in this FAQ.
Schedule information may be obtained from the following:

World Radio and Television Handbook (WRTH)
(1993 Edition, ISBN #0-8230-5924-3)
Billboard Publications
1515 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Usenet newsgroup and the shortwave FTP archives at under /pub/dx.

8  Bookstores for Classicists

The following is a list of bookstores known to carry works in Latin and/or
Greek.  It is a work in progress.  Readers of this group are encouraged to
send additional contributions to the classics-faq mailing list; postings to
the humanities.classics newsgroup will be harvested when possible.

The following contributions are courtesy Mr. Richard Schulman.

   Labyrinth Books
   536 W. 112 (1/2 block east of Broadway)
   Manhattan, New York, NY
   (Has many different texts, commentaries, and reference works. This is
   the best source by far in the greater NY area.)

   Barnes & Noble
   Broadway & 82nd
   Manhattan, New York, NY
   (Loeb series)

   Barnes & Noble
   91 Old Country Rd.
   Carle Place, Long Island, NY
   (Loeb series)

   Harvard University Press
   (for mail orders of the Loeb)

   Cambridge University Press
   800-431-1580 or 800-872-7423
   (for that press's publications)

   Oxford University Press Customer Service
   (for mail orders of that press's publications)

Rich Alderson notes the following in addition:

   Barnes & Noble
   University Village
   Seattle, WA
   (Loeb series)

   Borders Books & Records
   Redmond Town Center
   Redmond, WA
   (Loeb series, some Oxford Classical Texts--all in the Ancient History area)

   Stanford University Bookstore
   Stanford University
   Palo Alto, CA
   (Loeb, Oxford, Cambridge; Bibles; very large section of university-style

Steve Austin adds:

   There are at least two sources for Latin and Greek texts and associated
   materials which I have found very valuable -

   Schoenhof's Foreign Books
   76A Mount Auburn Street,
   Cambridge, MA 02138
   Phone: 617-547-8855 Fax: 617-547-8551



   Bolchazy-Carducci Publisher's, Inc
   1000 Brown Street, Wauconda,
   Illinois 60084 USA
   Phone: 847-526-4344; Fax: 847-526-2867


   Both have excellent websites with searching facilities and online
   ordering. The staff at both locations are very knowledgable and helpful.

9  On-Line Resources for Classicists (Steve Austin)

   We often see posts inquiring about Latin or Greek study groups and mailing
   lists on the internet. This is not covered yet in the FAQ. I am aware of two
   lists maintained by the Univ. of Colorado.

   The Latin list presently has at least 7 active groups at different stages
   of proficiency, and provides considerable moral and linguistic support to
   those studying on their own. I can strongly recommend this list to an
   The Greek list has a lower level of activity, but there are two
   functioning groups - one studying the JACT Reading Greek series, and the
   other working on Pharr's Homeric Greek.

   a. Latin
   Postings go to:
   To subscribe: email to with
     subscribe latin <your name>
   in the body.

   b. Greek
   Postings go to:
   To subscribe:  email to with
     subscribe greek <your name>
   in the body

   I believe there are other mailing lists, but I have no personal experience
   of these.

10 Secondary School Programs in Greek (Richard A. Schulman)

    Based on information from: Daniel Roe, D. Barrington, Edwin Menes,
    Richard Schulman


    Key: (*) indicates a free public school. "Levels" is probably synonymous
    with "years", but this could not be determined for certain on the basis of
    the information sources available for this report.

        Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, Santa Monica

        Hotchkiss School, Lakeville: 4 years

        Schule Schloss Salem, Salem

        St. Ignatius College Prep, Chicago: full program
        Loyola Academy, Chicago: full program

        Howe Military School, Howe: may just have introductory level
        Park Tudor School, Indianapolis: one elective only?

        Jesuit High School, New Orleans

        Messalonskee High School, Oakland: Homeric Greek (*)

        Amherst Regional High School, Amherst: 3 levels (*)
        Boston College High School, Dorchester: distinguished program
        Boston Latin, Boston: 3 levels (*)
        Boston University Academy, Boston
        Commonwealth School, Boston: 2 levels
        Deerfield Academy: at least 3 years
        Groton (in town of same name): 5 levels
        John Dewey Academy, Great Barrington
        Milton Academy, Milton: 1 or 2 years if sufficient enrollment
        Northfield Mt. Hermon School, Northfield: 4 levels
        Phillips Academy, Andover: 4 years
        Roxbury Latin, West Roxbury: 3 levels
        St. Marks School, Southborough: 3 years
        Winsor School, Boston

        Thomas Jefferson School, St. Louis: 2 years (mandatory for all 9th and
            10th grade students)

    New Hampshire
        Phillips Academy, Exeter: 4 years

    New York
        Bronx High School of Science, Bronx: 1 course (*)
        Dalton School, Manhattan: 2 years plus tutorial by arrangement
        Fordham Prep, Bronx: 2 levels
        Hackley School, Tarreytown: 2 levels
        Lycee Francais de New York, Manhattan
        Regis High School, Manhattan
        Rye Country Day School, Rye: 3 years
        St. Ann's, Brooklyn
        Townshend Harris High School, Queens: 3 years (*)

        St. Ignatius High School, Cleveland
        Shaker Heights High School, Shaker Heights (*)

        The Episcopal Academy, Merion: 3 years

    Rhode Island
        Portsmouth Abbey School, Portsmouth

        The McKallie School, Chattanooga

        Ad Fontes Academy, Burke (beginning 1999-2000 school year)
        Norfolk Academy, Norfolk: Homeric Greek is offered as an elective
        Saint Margaret's School, Tappahannock: possibly only an introductory


Many people who liked the idea of sci.classics, but who are now gone from the
newsgroup, contributed to the original FAQ:

Nathan Torkington, Tracy Monaghan, Owen Ewald, Patrick Rourke, Ken Bibb, Brian
W. Ogilvie, Stig Atle Haugdahl, Jim Ruebel, Neil Bernstein, Keith Morgan, Risto
Kotalampi, Konrad Schroder, <pef -at>, Irene Gassko, Jamieson
Norrish, James F. Tims, Daan Sandee, Mark Eckenwiler, Richard Lee Winterstein,
Andrew Gollan, John P. Adams, Michael Covington

Several people have contributed since humanities.classics was created:

Joe Bernstein, Richard A. Schulman, Steve Austin, Daniel Roe, D. Barrington,
Edwin Menes

E-mail addresses have been removed to protect the innocent.

User Contributions:

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