Archive for the ‘Resource reviews’ Category


Resource Reviews: Ancient Philosophy

March 30, 2011

The UGA Classics department does not specialize in ancient philosophy; the philosophy department does have a 3000-level class on ancient philosophy. But philosophy comes up all the time in my work with classics students. For example, last semester I worked with an undergraduate who was looking at a relief sculpture and wanted to tie in Plato’s allegory of the cave, so we tried to get a sense of what contemporary attitudes towards and knowledge of Plato would have been (in the later Hellenistic period.)

We have relatively few works in the Reference department in the Main Library at UGA, but we do have the big ones:

  • Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy (1962-1981, 6 volumes), Main Reference B171 .G984h (with another copy on the 6th floor available for checkout.) Jenkins discusses this as no. 867, calling it “long established as the standard work in the field.” The six volumes cover the Presocratic philosophers through Aristotle, and focus on discussion of the philosophical works themselves. While Jenkins calls Guthrie “accessible to the lay reader” it is probably for more sophisticated undergraduates or graduate students, not entry-level students.
  • Armstrong,The Cambridge history of later Greek and early medieval philosophy (1967), Main Reference B171 .A79 (also with a circulating copy on the 6th floor.)  This edited volume covers the period from the 4th century BCE to the 12th century CE, giving  “a good general survey of later Greek philosophy and its influence.” (Jenkins no. 863)
  • Zeyl, et al., Encyclopedia of classical philosophy (Greenwood Press, 1997) Main Reference B163 .E53 1997. Jenkins (no. 883) calls this work “an excellent encyclopedia,” and it is where I would send most entry-level students.  It has signed articles with scholarly bibliographies, and covers philosophers and philosophic schools from the 6th century BCE to the 6th century CE.

We also have:

  • Preus, Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Philosophy (Scarecrow Press, 2007), Main Reference B111 .P74 2007.  This came out too late to be reviewed by Jenkins.  It is a dictionary, with short entries of a paragraph or two. It is definitely aimed at undergraduates, and might be most useful for those looking for definitions of common philosophical terms and concepts, though it does have thumbnail sketches of specific philosophers and movements.

Online Image Resources for Classics

March 25, 2011

When I present to classes, I often am asked to show them where they can find images of classical artworks, sites, or archaeological finds to use for presentations or even as references when writing a paper.  There are relatively few subscription databases that provide images; at UGA we subscribe to CAMIO, which has images from North American museums, including the MFA Boston and its collection of classical materials, but we don’t subscribe to ArtStor, the biggie in the field.  We do have a campus Visual Resources Center, with access limited to campus users (by arrangement on a per-class basis with the librarian).  But often students want free-web images.

Perseus has an Art and Archaeology Artifact Browser, which is somewhat limited in its coverage but provides good scholarly information for students.  A simple Google image search can find some things; limiting the search to .edu sites can be even more useful (one does this in the Advanced Search interface).  Flickr is another place to look – some faculty clearly stash their teaching images here, and there are a striking number of really good photographers who like to travel to Mediterannean sites and museums.  Especially useful is a group pool of more than 25,000 images at Flickr called Chiron, which collects Creative Commons-licensed images of the classical world.

Mosaic depicting theater masks Roman 2nd century CE

I also remind students that for educational purposes, it’s fine to scan an image from a print book or scholarly article and use it in a powerpoint presentation or attach it to a paper.  We have several flatbed scanners in the Library, and in the Miller Learning Center scholarly commons building where my office is.

Next week I am taking myself firmly in hand and starting to review reference resources in classical philosophy.  Somebody hold me!


Kindle Report: Citiation Issues

February 8, 2011

Teaching with texts on a Kindle quickly brings up the question of how to cite such works in a scholarly paper.  Citing books or other works read on an Kindle (or any other e-book reader) is not explicitly covered in the MLA Handbook (7th edition, 2009), which is the style used by the UGA English Department. (The UGA Libraries’ short guide to MLA 7 is available as a .pdf file.)  The topic has been the subject of some debate online, at the Chronicle of Higher Education forums and on numerous blogs and other sites.

Consensus seems to be that one cites the work as if it were a combination of a print book and a digital file, adding “Kindle Edition” if the work is purchased from the Amazon Kindle store, and using a location number (or a chapter number) in lieu of a page number for quotations.  For works found at Project Gutenburg, or other sites providing digitzed books in Kindle formats, one should probably cite the work in its original print incarnation, and add, i.e., “Kindle Edition from Project Gutenberg” and location numbers as needed.

For students, a consultation with the professor for the class is advised before submission of the paper, to see if the professor has any personal feelings on the subject.

Here are the suggested examples the professor and I came up with (using MLA):

In-text: “The sun illuminates only the eye of man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child.” (Emerson 54)
Works Cited list: Emerson, Ralph Waldo, Nature.  Project Gutenberg, edition for Kindle, 2009.  E-book.

In-text: “Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day;” (Thoreau 77).
Works Cited list: Thoreau, Henry David, Walden. Amazon Kindle edition, 2004.  E-book.

Just yesterday, however, came the news that Kindle books will start having page numbers; it is implied that these will correspond to the page numbers of the print edition from which the Kindle edition is derived.  This makes things easy, for books that have a print edition – but plenty of books already do not, and more will not in the future.  It’s a brave new world.  Luckily Walden is timeless.


Google Art Project: Cool, but Little Ancient Material

February 2, 2011

The buzz on twitter yesterday was Google Art Project, a new Google project (what will those people think of next!) that takes the Google Street View idea indoors – one can “walk” through the galleries of about 15 wonderful museums worldwide, getting a sense of the entire rooms, and then focus in on some specific artworks.  It’s a must-see if you teach any kind of art history classes, and well worth looking at for archaeologists, historians, and humanities folks generally.

What’s good:

  • Great list of museums, with good international coverage: Versailles, Hermitage, Uffizi.
  • Incredible detail for some of the artworks.  Try looking at a van Gogh on maximum zoom – never mind the brushstrokes, you can see the weave of the canvas!
  • Especially valuable for museums like the Frick (and many others) where the room itself, the experience of works of art in an architectural setting, with furniture and decor, is a big component of the visitor experience.

What I’d improve if it were mine:

  • For museums you don’t already know, it’s not easy to figure out where to look for art you’re interested in.  In many museums, the galleries have room numbers that tell nothing about their contents, so you have to browse through all of them to see what, if anything, you want to see is there. (There is a “room description” but it’s at least 2 clicks to get there.)
  • Not all the art is included in the super-zoom (which is understandable, but seeing the art on the walls makes you want to zoom!)
  • Heavy focus on western European (and American) museums and western European painting (medieval-modern).  I’d love to see a more worldwide focus, and a broader time horizon. More, more more!
  • I find “walking” through the rooms a little tricky – it’s like a drunk person is operating my cursor.  This may be user error (though I promise I am not drunk.)

Specifically of interest to classicists/archaeologists:


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.


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


Resource Reviews: Mythology Web Sites

November 16, 2010

Undergraduates in entry-level survey classes like Mythology like to Google.  And Googling the name of an ancient mythological figure will certainly bring them results.  Good ones?  That’s more debatable.

Wikipedia, as with all subjects, is variable.  (I have previously posted some general thoughts on Wikipedia on this blog.)  The general article on Greek Mythology has a reasonable number of footnotes, many of them to a 2002 Encylopedia Brittanica article.  It also has sections at the end for primary sources (which link out to Perseus texts) and secondary sources, many of which are good quality scholarly articles and books.   Articles on specific mythological figures, like Hera, are not as good – the level of detail and documentations is inconsistent, there are many facts relayed without footnotes, and the sources listed for further reading are only general ones about classical mythology.  (Adopting and improving Wikipedia articles on classical mythology topics might be a good project for an upper-level or honors class!)

Jenkins discusses two websites covering classical mythology:

Encyclopedia Mythica (Jenkins 903).  This site contains entries by multiple contributors (listed here), including both PhDs and middle school students, but the majority of the work is by Micha F. Lindemans, who Google reveals to be a Dutch web editor; I could not find any academic credentials of his.  The site has been in existence for a long time (2010 marks its 15th anniversary) and is widely linked, but I agree with Jenkins’ evaluation of it as “far inferior to most printed sources.”

Greek Mythology Link (Jenkins 918), by Carlos Parada, a former lecturer in Classics at Lund University, Sweden, began as a outgrowth of his 1993 book, Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology (Jenkins 917), UGA Main Library 6th Floor Folio BL785 .P37 1993.  The site was begun in 1997 and new content is still being added as of fall 2010.  Jenkins is not a fan of the book, but of the web site notes: “Extensive primary source references, images, and genealogical information are the great strengths of this site; ease of use is not.  It is relatively complete and reliable compared to other mythological resources on the web.”  I agree on all counts – it makes good use of primary sources, but navigation is not easy.

Another much-linked web site, not mentioned by Jenkins, is the Theoi Project.   Edited by Aaron J. Atsma of New Zealand, for whom I could find no academic credentials using Google, the site is currently showing “What’s New” as of December 2007.  This site is heavily linked from Wikipedia, and I would guess as a result sees a lot of traffic from undergraduates.  It shares the strengths of the Greek Mythology Link site discussed above, as it also relies heavily on primary sources (in translation, but with accurate scholarly citations) and images.  Entries include information about cults (mostly relying on Pausanias) as well as myths, attributes, and associated personages.  It is slightly opaque to navigate – the pages include many layers of links – but they are cross-referenced well and the site as a whole is searchable.

My previous Resource Review on Mythology discussed LIMC.  Future reviews will cover other print works.

Taken by Tilemahos Efthimiadis, used under a Creative Commons license.