Focus on…the digital Loeb Classical Library

Unless you’re a Classicist, you may not have noticed that the University now has a subscription to the digital Loeb Classical Library. Still not sure why you should be interested? You’d be surprised how many disciplines this vast online collection could turn out to be useful for… by Helen Ireland



What is it?

Essentially, it’s the online version of the printed Loeb Classical Library, comprising over 520 volumes of Latin and Greek texts, and a great source of primary material for anyone studying the ancient world.   Classics students over the years have been aware of the value of the green (Greek) and red (Latin) bound volumes of the works of ancient authors, with a parallel English translation on the facing page.  Not surprisingly our print collection has been heavily used and key volumes have been in heavy demand, especially around the time of seminars and essay deadlines.  Trial access to the online version proved incredibly popular and we received a large amount of positive feedback, which showed that it was definitely worth purchasing.

Not just for Classics

While it might at first seem a rather ‘niche’ resource, the Loeb Classical Library includes all types of ancient Greek and Latin literature, including epic and lyric poetry, tragedy and comedy, history, travel, philosophy, oratory, and the works of medical writers, mathematicians and Church Fathers.   It’s updated twice a year, when newly-published volumes are added, and the translations have been updated and modernised since the series began.  Not just a crucial resource for Classics students, the collection is also useful for students of English Literature and Philosophy. Other works might be of interest to students across a variety of departments and research centres, such as Renaissance Studies, Mathematics (Euclid), Politics (Plato and Aristotle), the History of Medicine (Hippocrates and Galen, or Thucydides’ description of a plague in Athens), and Engineering.

When it comes to finding what you need, there are lots of options. Search by keywords across the whole collection, in English, Latin and Greek (using the pop-up Greek keyboard on the right hand side of the search box) or browse by author, language, period, form, genre and subject. You can also use the same categories to narrow your search results.

Added extras

The digital Loeb Classical Library gives online access to all the contents of the print volumes, like having your own complete library of e-books, but with added value.   For example, the ‘My Loebs’ feature allows you to create your own account by clicking on ‘Sign in’ and registering.  You can then annotate portions of text, save searches, bookmarks and annotations, and share the results with others, either through social media or by email with other registered users.  This gives you a ‘digital seminar space’ where groups of students and lecturers can share references, discuss ideas, or comment online on passages before or after a more traditional face-to-face seminar.

Each work has its own Loeb Classical Library number, in the top right hand corner, e.g. LCL 170 for The Iliad of Homer, Volume 1, Books 1-12.  Click on this number to go to the Table of Contents and to see the full bibliographic reference and publication details.

To make the most of this surprisingly useful resource, search for Loeb Library in Library Search, sign in with your Warwick login – and start exploring!

Image: Greek Philosophers / Matt Neale / CC BY 2.0

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