Archive for January, 2011


Resource Reviews: Roman Religion

January 28, 2011

Following up on the Mediterranean and Greek Religion post of last week, this week we treat reference resources in Roman Religion (an area, I confess, fairly mysterious to me, even before we get to the fad for mystery cults).  Note previous posts in the “Mythology and Religion series” are:

Roman Religion:

Adkins & Adkins, Dictionary of Roman Religion (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL798 .A35 1996) This volume is in the Facts on File series, which librarians will recognize as providing entry-level reference works on subjects, with fairly short entries and a relatively limited scholarly bibliography.  Jenkins discusses this as no. 892, and notes that it “includes numerous illustrations and plans” and covers “Judaism and early Christianity as well as the pagan religions and ancient Rome.”

Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome: A history (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL802 .B43 1998) For the serious scholar, including a serious undergraduate, this serves as an excellent introduction.  Jenkins discusses this two volume set in two parts (nos. 325 and 896), composed as it is of a one-volume narrative covering major topics on Roman religion, with “extensive references to both primary sources and the secondary literature,” and a second volume comprising many of those primary sources, including both texts and material objects such as inscriptions and coins.

North, Roman Religion (Main Library Third Floor, PA25 .G7 no. 30).  This book is shelved with the PAs (and not BL for religion) because it’s part of the Greece and Rome, New Surveys in the Classics series (like the Greek Religion volume by Bremmer discussed last week), a series of bibliographic works on various subjects.  Jenkins (no. 916) notes that this volume goes beyond bibliography and serves as a “readable and reliable” “compact survey of Roman religion itself.”  The bibliography itself is “excellent and selective” and Jenkins also notes the very useful tables and charts.
There are several quite recent “Introductions” to Roman Religion available, too new to be included in Jenkins.  They include:

Warrior, Roman Religion (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL803 .W37 2006).  Celia Schultz in BMCR provides a nice overview of several newer works on roman religion, noting its popularity,  but that this work is, while comprehensive and valuable for students, “not the definitive, comprehensive introduction to Roman religion that the scholars in the field and publishers are seeking.”

Rives, Religion in the Roman Empire (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL803 .R58 2007)  This is checked out, so I haven’t looked at it – though being checked out is a sign of someone’s endorsement, right?  It’s from a series on Ancient Religions by Blackwell.  Benedetta Bessi at BMCR calls it “an agile and stimulating overview,” designed for the entry level.

Rupke, Religion of the Romans (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL803 .R8513 2007) Jan Nelis at BMCR calls it a “solid treatment” suitable for scholars and students, and emphasizes the reliance on primary sources.  We also have the Rukpe-edited volume for Blackwell, A Companion to Roman Religion (Main Library Sixth Floor, BL803 .C66 2007).  This is a collection of essays, meant to add up to a comprehensive overview.

Augustus Caesar as pontifexHere’s a link to all 306 works in the UGA Libraries’ catalog under the subject heading Rome – Religion.


Crowdsource Pleiades, Online Classical Atlas

January 24, 2011

Pleiades, the online classical atlas, is inviting the (scholarly) public to “adopt” a classical place for Valentine’s Day.  Tom Elliot at Horothesia writes:

Here are some examples of things you could do (many of them quickly) to enhance the content in Pleiades:

Here are some ways you could use links to Pleiades to enrich content elsewhere on the web

I’m trying to decide what place to adopt; since Pleiades only covers the Greek and Roman world, my favorite Bronze Age sites are not included.  (Ooh, I just thought of one for me – I’ll do Halieis!)  Surely you have a favorite, too?

I’m also writing to a couple of the faculty members I work with to suggest this as an assignment for their classes – even as an optional, extra-credit sort of assignment.  In Classics this semester there’s a 2000-level class in Classical Archaeology and a 4000-level class in Roman Cities, where the major semester assignment is to report on a specific place – this would fit right in to either, and since we lost a week at the start of the semester, syllabi are still in flux for many faculty.


Resource Reviews: Mediterranean and Greek Religion

January 20, 2011

Jenkins treats mythology and religion in the same chapter, but the works I will discuss below are rather different from the mythology dictionaries I have highlighted thus far, in several posts (LIMC, mythology web sites, basic print mythology dictionaries, and specialized mythology dictionaries).  They take a more wide-ranging view of ancient religion, encompassing cult, belief, ritual, and more.  Today I’ll cover a general work and then some basic resources on Greek religion.


Johnston, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (2004).  Main Library 6th floor, BL687 .R47 2004
This is categorized as a reference work – I’d call it an encyclopedia – but it could also be used as a textbook for a general class on religion in the ancient world (where that is defined as the Near East and Mediterranean).  It’s listed at only $40 at Amazon, so it’s affordable enough to use for a textbook, too.  The books falls in three parts: the first on big topics like “what is ancient religion,” mythology, and cosmology; the second on the religions of specific cultures (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Etruria, etc.); and the third on cross-cultural takes on topics like divination, sacrifice, and sacred time and space.  Each essay has a short bibliography.  Jenkins (no. 912) notes that the “approach to the whole Mediterranean as a region of interrelated cultures that were constantly interacting is a great strength.”


Burkert, Greek Religion (1985). Main Library 6th floor, BL782 .B8313 1985b
You’ve probably read it, if you read this blog.   It’s not really a reference work, but like a good reference work provides an excellent overview of all sorts of sub-topics and includes a bibliography; it’s frequently used as a textbook. Jenkins (no. 900) rightly calls it “the standard work in English on ancient Greek religion.”

Bremmer, Greek Religion (1994). Main Library 3rd floor, PA25 .G7 no. 24
This is a bibliographic survey of the topic, with a focus on (then-current) work. Jenkins (no. 886) praises the index especially.

Motte, Mentor: Guide bibliographique de la religion grecque Main Library 6th floor, BL782 .M46 1992 and Mentor 2, Main Library 6th floor, BL782 .M46 1998
These are annotated bibliographies; Jenkins (no. 887-888) calls them “substantial” and notes that they both “summarize and evaluate.”  The first volume covers work published through 1985; the second, 1986-1990; between them, some 3370 scholarly works are listed.  Unfortunately “access by subject is generally inadequate” although this is a more extensive work than Bremmer’s.

All of the 337 works classified by the UGA Libraries under the subject heading Greece — Religion can be perused in the catalog.

GR06 1353 Twins of Argos - Delphi


Tytus Research Fellowships in Cincinnati

January 18, 2011

I apologize for the slow start to the spring semester here; North Georgia got 8 inches of snow plus some ice on January 9-10, and not being possessed of any tools to deal with such, closed down until most of it was melted.  UGA lost 3 days, and the public schools were closed for a week!  I hope to pick up my routine starting now.

As a former PhD student at the University of Cincinnati, and as a librarian, I can assure you that the Burnam Classics Library collection and its caretakers are exceptional.  I have also stayed in one of the campus apartments used by the Tytus Fellows; they are pleasant and clean and very convenient to the library, if somewhat minimalist (it’s been a decade – maybe a lounge chair has been added!).  If you need a place to hole up and write a book this summer, Cincinnati would a great spot for it – consider applying.  Details follow.

The University of Cincinnati Classics Department is pleased to announce the Margo Tytus Summer Residency Program.  Summer Residents, in the fields of philology, history and archaeology will come to Cincinnati for a  minimum of one month and a maximum of three during the summer.  Applicants must have the Ph.D. in hand at the time of application.  Apart from residence in Cincinnati during term, the only obligation of Summer Residents is to pursue their own research.   They will receive  free university housing.  They will also receive office space and enjoy the use of the University of Cincinnati and Hebrew Union College Libraries.

The University of Cincinnati Burnam Classics Library ( is one of the world’s premier collections in the field of Classical Studies.  Comprising 250,000 volumes and other research materials, the library covers all aspects of the Classics: the languages and literatures, history, civilization, art, and archaeology.  Of special value for scholars is both the richness of the collection and its accessibility — almost any avenue of research in the classics can be pursued deeply and broadly under a single roof.  The unusually comprehensive core collection, which is maintained by three professional classicist librarians, is augmented by several special collections such as 15,000 nineteenth century German Programmschriften, extensive holdings in Palaeography,   Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.   At neighboring Hebrew Union College, the Klau  Library (, with holdings  in excess of 450,000 volumes and other research materials, is rich in Judaica  and Near Eastern Studies.

Application Deadline:  February 15.

A description of the Tytus Summer Residency Program and an application form is available online at   Questions can be directed to

Relief carving from the facade of the Blegen Building at the University of Cincinnati.


On Not Attending Conferences

January 6, 2011

This weekend many of my librarian colleagues are attending the ALA Midwinter Meetings in San Diego, while many classicist friends are heading off to San Antonio for the APA/AIA meetings.  (And various people I know are going to MLA, AHA, and whatever the acronym is for economists – it is clearly The Weekend When Academics Go To Meetings.)

I’ve never been to ALA, though I hope to attend ALA Annual this summer, when it will be in New Orleans, a city that is both within driving distance for me and is home to several friends, at one of whose houses I am likely to find a free place to stay.  I have been to AIA/APA several times – while I was in college and grad school there were several meetings in major East Coast cities near where I then lived.  (Athens, GA, in contrast, is really near Atlanta, but not very near much of anyplace else – it’s TWELVE hours by car to Washington DC, which I used to think of as far south!)  These meanderings highlight the reasons I haven’t been to a big national conference in many years: location and cost (with the personal addition of my kids, who are now old enough to leave behind for a few days.  I have known brave souls who have brought an infant or toddler to professional meetings, but I am not made of such stern stuff.)

The UGA Libraries are currently not funding travel to professional conferences, and even when there was funding, it was for only one meeting a year and never actually covered the full cost of attendance.  While as a state institution, our budgets are tighter than some, I don’t know many colleagues who can travel to conferences without spending at least some of their own funds on the trips.  Are in-person conferences, especially the big national ones, worth the expense?  Last year there was a fair amount of talk about conference attendance being down, due to the economy.  I know ALA is moving – though slowly – toward making virtual participation in committee work possible.  The Kosmos Conference was held partially virtually this spring, due to an Icelandic volcano, and was a truly interactive virtual experience – but that is a small conference, where most of the people already knew each other or knew of each other’s work.

I would love to be attending AIA/APA this year, not least as I have just gotten connected back in to my old academic networks and friendships, and people are going whom I would love to see.  And I would like the opportunity to talk up the Ancient World Open Bibliographies project.  But I wasn’t willing to pay for myself to go – I have too many other priorities (like, a new roof on my house).  I am interested to see what the ALA experience is like this summer, and hope to see some of my former library colleagues whom I miss there.

What’s your feeling?  Are academic conferences valuable enough for you to pay out of your own pocket to attend them?  Should libraries or departments fund travel to them, and if so, at what level?  How can we better articulate the benefits of conference attendance in the face of very tight budgets (and in Georgia at least, skepticism from the media and the legislature)?

As a final note, I would love to host some conference reports from AIA/APA here – I am putting out the word to my Facebook friends and I would happily host comments made by readers of about their experiences and any exciting connections  made.