Posts Tagged ‘encyclopedias’


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.

Print Mythology Dictionaries

December 10, 2010

I have discussed LIMC and classical mythology websites in earlier posts, so will continue the topic of mythology with a discussion of  print resources we have at UGA for classical myth.

Jenkins recommends two top print reference works in Classical Mythology.  Neither of these are currently in Reference at UGA:

  • Pierre Grimal’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Main Library 6th floor, BL715 .G713 1986; Jenkins no. 906) is described as “the best of the many general dictionaries of Greek and Roman mythology in English,” and is of special value for its “scholarly apparatus.”  UGA also has the French edition, of which the above is a translation: Dictionnaire de la mythologie grecque et romaine.  The concise edition in English (Jenkins no. 907) was recently sent to the Repository.
  • Jenkins (no. 931) favors Tripp, Crowell’s Handbook of Classical Mythology (Main Library 6th floor, BL303 .T75 1970, also, under a different title, the 1974 edition) for its “very full and accurate account of the myths,” although it is more targeted to the scholar encountering references to classical myths in western literature than to the classical scholar.

In the Reference Department are a few general works:

  • Dixon-Kennedy, Encyclopedia of Greco-Roman Mythology (Main Reference, 1st Floor, BL715 .D56 1998).  Jenkins (no. 902) describes this as ” a suitable ready-reference for students,” noting that it has entries for places and ancient authors, not just mythological personages.
  • Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion (Main Reference, First Floor, BL715 .O845 2003; Jenkins, no. 920) consists of edited entries relevant to classical mythology taken from the Oxford Classical Dictionary.  Jenkins calls it “useful” but notes that the entries do not include bibliographies of secondary literature, so for most students researching for papers the OCD would be more useful.

Recently exiled to the Repository, in my opinion by mistake, and I am trying to wrest it back to Reference, is:

  • March, Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Main Reference, 1st Floor, BL715 .M37 1998, temporarily shelved at the Repository; Jenkins no. 914).  This in my opinion is the modern Reference standard – I suspect this is the volume most often kept on “ready reference” shelves (in libraries that still have those!).  Jenkins notes that the 1998 edition (which is the one we have) has “excellent black-and-white illustrations.”  He compares it “favorably” with Grimal, above.

A subject heading search in the UGA catalog for Mythology – Dictionaries (which will include some non-classical works; for the most recent works the heading is Mythology, Classical – Dictionaries) will pull up the rest.  I’ll discuss a few more specialized mythology dictionaries, and reference resources for ancient religion as distinct from myth, in future posts.

Mighty Aphrodite -- Lely's Venus


Reference Resources: Mythology

November 5, 2010

There are a lot of reference works on classical mythology published, with new ones out every single year, it seems.  Mythology is probably the classics topic with the most widespread appeal, from 2nd graders to 300-seat college lectures to Learning in Retirement programs, so many of the available mythological dictionaries and encyclopedias are targeted very broadly, and marketed to public and school libraries as well as (or instead of) universities.  What I would like in a classical mythology encyclopedia for college students is:

  • clear summary of the various myths associated with a figure
  • accurate and full citations to the primary sources for those myths (it is shocking how often these are not included)
  • examples and discussions of depictions of those myths in classical art
  • discussion of places, temples, rituals associated with the myths

So, obviously my favorite reference resource on mythology is Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC).  I first used it as an undergraduate, and when I was in graduate school the final volumes were not yet published, so we’d all scramble to choose mythological figures whose names began with the letters A-H.  Woe bedtide you if you got Zeus – no LIMC to do your legwork for you!  Now all the volumes are available (8 sets of 1 print and 1 plates volumes, for a total of 16 books).  At UGA our copy is at Main Reference (1st floor) NX650 .M9 L40Jenkins (no. 913) describes it as “by far the best source for locating and studying myths as they appear in ancient art” but does not seem as overwhelmingly fond of it for general purposes as I am.

Unfortunately, LIMC is a challenge for many undergraduates, especially those at the entry level – the level most likely to be studying classical mythology.  They are intimidated by foreign languages which they mostly do not read, and the terse (i.e. professional-level) citation style for primary sources in LIMC can be confusing.  I do show LIMC to many classes; many honors undergraduates and upper-level majors are happy to tackle it, and my goal is to make every grad student love and cherish it as I do.  But for the average 1000-level mythology student, it’s too much.  I will tackle some of the alternatives they turn to in forthcoming posts.


Resource Reviews: Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome

April 30, 2010

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome is a new (2010) work, which we received in Main Reference at UGA in March.   Published by OUP, it is edited by Michael Gagarin of UT Austin and the contributors are well-known scholars.  Its 7 volumes, comprising 3400 pages, aim to be a comprehensive introduction, in English, to classical antiquity.

I was eager to see this set arrive at UGA.  While it has fewer entries than the Oxford Classical Dictionary (OCD), I think it will be of more use to the entry-level undergraduate, who I suspect finds the OCD somewhat terse and tending to assume one already has a solid base of knowledge in the classics.  These multiple-page essays, with bibliography, are  paced to better serve as an introduction to a topic.  The other major competition in the up-to-date general classics encyclopedia is  Brill’s Neue Pauly/Brill’s New Pauly, which unfortunately the UGA library only owns in German (read by precious few undergraduates, and even feared by many graduate students!).  At under $1000, the OEAGR is a steal compared to the New Pauly, which is ca. $400 a volume (and there are 15).

This is a perfect place for undergraduates beginning research projects who need an overview of a new topic and a starting bibliography, and a great alternative to that frenemy of the undergrad, Wikipedia.  It is available in an online version, as part of the Oxford Digital Reference Shelf (to which UGA does not subscribe).

Online reviews of this new work are just beginning to be published, and include:

  • Colin McCaffrey at Philobiblion
  • (I hope to add others as I find them – if you know of any, link in comments!)