Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World

[First posted in AWOL 28 August 20012, updated 12  March 2014]

LacusCurtius: Into the Roman World
By Bill Thayer


[image ALT: a map of the Old World showing the Roman Empire in purple]
[ 214 pages (not counting translations), 340 photos ]
Stray page (for now): Opus Sectile

Source Texts

[image ALT: Part of page of a parchment manuscript with a few words in Gothic script.]
Greek and Latin Texts — 51 complete works or authors from Antiquity:
A bare index to all books onsite — these and many others, though only those reasonably complete — is available here.
In progress:
A Latin Inscriptions Site on three levels:
  • for the expert: a bare listing with 200 inscriptions transcribed
  • for the student: a selection of 28 photographed inscriptions, sorted by level of difficulty, solutions presented separately
  • for the surfer: a topical and a geographical index to various webpages.

Secondary Works

Link to the homepage of the Smith's Dictionary subsite
William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, an encyclopedic work containing a lot of good basic information (and references to primary sources), was published in 1875: it is thus an educational resource in the public domain.
I've been putting a large selection of articles from it online, often as background material for other webpages. It is illustrated with its own woodcuts and some additional photographs of my own.
Chariots and carriages, the theatre, circus and amphitheatre, roads, bridges, aqueducts, obelisks, timepieces, organs, hair curlers; marriage & children, slaves, dance, salt mines, and an awful lot more; among which special sections on law, religion, warfare, daily life, and clothing.
[ 3/6/14: 1063 webpages —
395 woodcuts, 38 photos, 6 plans ]
Far more detailed, more recent, and, by and large, better than Smith's Dictionary is Daremberg & Saglio's Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines. If on this page it doesn't look like it, that's because the entire 10‑volume work is already online elsewhere in the original French: on my site the articles are in English — but I've translated just a very few of them. I'll be adding to them once in a while; they'll still remain a tiny selection.
[ 12/22/12: 24 pages, 22 woodcuts ]
Samuel Ball Platner's great work, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (as revised by Thomas Ashby in 1929), is another even more solid resource in the public domain. A scholarly encyclopedia with hundreds upon hundreds of articles on the remains of antiquity within the city of Rome, it is an excellent reference work for hills, streets, roads and monuments of all kinds, providing ancient sources and modern bibliographies. Something like 85% of it is online here; I'll eventually do all of it.
The dictionary includes 4 small maps of Rome (s.vv. Pomerium, Septimontium, Servian Wall, Servian Regions).
[ 3/3/14: 470 pages, 83 photos, 3 engravings ]
Pagan and Christian Rome: a splendid account, by Rodolfo Lanciani, the rightly famous 19c archaeologist and topographer, of how Rome made the transition from the capital of Antiquity to the great city of our own time. It's a case study on Late Antiquity, an excellent popular topography of Rome, a mine of information on the Catacombs and the tombs of apostles, emperors and popes, and a fascinating read. This Web edition is enhanced with additional photos of my own, useful links, etc.
[ 107 drawings, 16 photos, 12 maps & plans ]
J. B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire: "Generally acknowledged to be Professor Bury's masterpiece, this panoramic and painstakingly accurate reconstruction of the Western and Byzantine Roman Empire covers the period from 395 A.D., the death of Theodosius I, to 565 A.D., the death of Justinian. Quoting contemporary documents in full or in great extent, the author describes and analyzes the forces and cross-currents which controlled Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, the Persian and Teutonic regions; the rise of Byzantine power, territorial expansion, conflict of church and state, legislative and diplomatic changes; and scores of similar topics." (From the Dover edition jacket blurb)
[ 907pp of print in 35 webpages (plus indexes):
2 photos, 7 maps & plans ]
I'm also slowly putting good editions of ancient and early mediaeval topographical texts onsite. For now, just two aside from Strabo: the Regionaries (Notitia, Curiosum, and Appendices) and the Ordo Benedicti; plus a very bad edition of Ptolemy's Geography, which will remain unfinished.
A growing section on Roman Britain now includes four books: Thomas Codrington's Roman Roads in Britain, long the standard authority in its field; two by John Ward — Romano-British Buildings and Earthworks and The Roman Era in Britain, a general survey with many excellent illustrations (especially of jewelry, combs, keys, and similar objects); and a regional resource, George Witts's Archaeological Handbook of Gloucestershire.
Not quite as scholarly as most of the other items listed on this page, The Rulers of the South — Sicily • Calabria • Malta, an excellent readable overview of the history of Southern Italy from prehistory down to the sixteenth century, is still carefully based on the sources; roughly two-thirds of it falls under Antiquity broadly defined.
[ 775pp of print in 16 webpages:
123 lithogravures or photos and 3 maps ]
Alberta Mildred Franklin's doctoral thesis, The Lupercalia (1921), is a valiant effort at getting to the bottom of one of the strangest of Roman religious festivals; a serried investigation taking the reader thru Greek and Roman cults of the wolf, the goat, and the dog, the foundation legends of Rome, and several unsuspected by‑ways, it says absolutely nothing about Valentine's Day. . . .
[ 102pp of print in 13 webpages ]
Influencia de la Civilización Romana en Cataluña comprobada por la orografía (1888): an interesting philological monograph on the toponymy of Catalan mountains. The author seems to have been the first to notice that many terms for various types of mountains, in Catalunya and elsewhere in Occitania, derive rather unexpectedly from the Latin names for parts of the Roman amphitheatre and circus. [In Spanish]
[ 1/17/12: 71pp of print in 15 webpages ]
Scholarly journals are a treasure-trove of interesting and very varied stuff; not all of it by any means is that difficult to grasp. The Antiquary's Shoebox is my collection of public-domain articles from them; like most shoeboxes, it accumulates scraps over time, as I discover items that catch my fancy. (A few of these are not related to ancient Rome, by the way, but to India or the ancient Middle East.)
[ 6/30/13: 130 articles ]
The Tomb of Mausolus, by W. R. Lethaby: not Roman at all, but who's quibbling? An in-depth look at one of the wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: and an attempt at reconstructing it.
[ 23 drawings, 4 plans ]

Topical Subsites

If you're specifically interested in military history, you can cut across all the material listed above (and a few other minor items) from the Roman Military History orientation page.
[ about 200 pages ]
For ancient astronomy and astrology — these disciplines, so different today, were not so sharply separated in Antiquity — Caelum Antiquum (The Ancient Sky) is an orientation page leading to a number of primary and secondary texts, but also to specific items on ancient chronology, eclipses, horoscopes, etc.
[ 5 books, plus about 15 other webpages ]
A Roman Atlas, a collection of 19c maps covering most of the Roman world, some of them indexed with ancient and modern placenames, longitude and latitude (both modern and ancient according to Ptolemy), bibliographical refs, web links, etc.
[ 29 maps ]
A catalogue of Roman Umbria: eventually, I hope to create similar catalogues of other parts of the Roman Empire.

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