Navigation Aids

Collections Development Policies


Main Content

Classical Studies

Bibliographer: David Sullivan

Telephone: 215.898.5999


I. Program Information

The Department of Classical Studies is profoundly interdisciplinary, describing its program as one concerned "with all aspects of ancient Greek and Roman culture and its influence through the Middle Ages and Renaissance up to the present day. As such, it focuses not just on the classical languages and literatures but also on material culture (e.g. archaeology), on economic, political, social, and intellectual history, on philosophy, religion, and myth, and on the classical tradition." Teaching and research interests extend to fields such as ancient medicine, Greek and Roman magic, and the impact of Greek and Roman culture on the history of cinema.

There are twelve standing faculty members in the Department. Three degree-granting graduate groups focus on classical studies, with 10 to 20 students in each: (1) the Graduate Group in Classical Studies (the languages, literatures, and history of the classical world) (2) the Graduate Group in Ancient History ("the whole of the ancient history of the Near East and the Mediterranean Basin") and 3) the Graduate Group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, whose work is supported primarily by the collections of the Fisher Fine Arts Library and the University Museum.

II. Collection Description

The Library's collections in ancient Greek and Roman literature, language and history are strong, and include all major collections of texts, the important commentaries, the great epigraphic sets, the standard prosopographies, and other genres distinctive to this very text-based and library-oriented discipline. Special Collections houses an important collection of Aristotle (and pseudo-Aristotle) editions and commentaries, as well as the Henry C. Lea Library of Byzantine and Medieval History. A large number of early nineteenth century editions of Greek and Roman authors from the 20,000 volume collection of Professor E.L. von Leutsch (Göttingen), acquired in 1890, are in the general collections.

In addition to the collections in the Van Pelt stacks, the Museum Library (archaeology, ceramics and numismatics) and the Fisher Fine Arts Library (painting, sculpture, architecture), there is a significant number of core texts (Teubner, Loeb, Budé, Oxford Classical Texts) and reference works in the Class of 1974 Classics Resource Room on the third floor of Van Pelt.

Because the texts that form the traditional foundation of classical studies are so clearly delimited, classical scholars were among the first to make extensive corpora available in machine-readable form. The Libraries provide access to all major textual databases published for classicists and medievalists that are available on a networked basis. Stand-alone CD-ROMs are acquired very selectively, due to the limitations on their use.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    From Prehistory through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the modern Classical Tradition.

  2. Formats

    Books, journals, machine-readable texts. The Library organizes and maintains collections of subject-based Internet links useful to students and scholars. A gateway to sites in the field of Classics can be found in the Classical Studies page.

  3. Geographical

    There is a focus on the ancient Mediterranean, but the field expands over time to include Europe and eventually the Americas.

  4. Language

    Primary source materials in Greek and Latin; secondary materials in a number of languages, especially English, German, French, and Italian.

  5. Publication Dates

    Emphasis on current materials. Some retrospective purchasing, especially the replacement of missing and damaged books.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

Classical Studies has a strongly international character, and for this reason materials have to be acquired from widely diverse sources. Approval plans, standing orders, and faculty requests account for many new additions to the collection. The Library makes every effort to acquire appropriate books and journals wherever they are published.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subject Collected Levels of Collecting
Greek and Latin Paleography 3/3W
History of the Greek Language, Grammar, Lexicography 4/4W
Greek Language-Hellenic 3/3W
Greek Language-Hellenistic Greek 3/3W
Greek Language-Medieval & Modern 2/2F
Greek Literature
Homer & Archaic Epic 4/4W
Classical 4/4W
Drama (Tragedy, Comedy) 4/4W
History 4/4W
Hellenistic Literature 3/3W
Greek Papyri & Papyrology 3/4W
Epigraphy (Greek and Roman) 4/4W
Byzantine Literature 2/2F
Greek Literature-Modern 2/1F
History of the Latin Language, Grammar, Lexicography 4/4W
Ancient Dialects & Languages of Italy 3/3W
Latin Language-Medieval & Neo-Latin 3/3W
Latin Literature
Early Latin 4/4W
Republican Literature 4/4W
Augustan Literature 4/4W
Early Christian Literature (Greek, Latin) 3/3W
Medieval and Neo-Latin Literature 4/4W
Bronze Age, Homeric, Archaic 4/4W
Classical Period 4/4W
Hellenistic Period 4/4W
Roman Period 4/4W
Byzantine Empire 3/3W
Archaic 4/4W
Classical 4/4W
Republican Rome 4/4W
Imperial Rome 4/4W
Gender Studies 4/4W
Myth and Religion 4/4W
Medicine, Science, Technology 4/4W
Roman Law 3/3W
The Library seeks to maintain a research level, i.e., 4/4, collection in such subjects as Greek civilization, Roman civilizaton, Comparative literature (classical and modern), and the Greek and Roman influences on other cultures.

VI. Subjects Excluded

The Library has the collected works of the major nineteenth and twentieth century Greek authors in the original, but is not developing that segment of the collection at present. However, English translations of important literary works are acquired as they become available.

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

Strong Classics collections in the Middle Atlantic area to which Penn faculty members and students have access are Bryn Mawr (classical archaeology), Columbia, and Princeton.