Robert Sobak

Associate Professor of Classics. Chair of Classics Department

Teaching this semester

CLAS 2757. Tacitus: On How to be a Good Man under a Bad Emperor

Can one honorably serve, and even flourish under, a leader who is widely understood to be dishonest, incompetent, and corrupt? Before the Roman author Tacitus was a historian, he was a senator who advanced himself politically during the rule of Domitian, who was arguably the very worst of the Roman emperors. As a central focus, a careful reading of the works of Tacitus, with accompanying secondary scholarship, seeks to answer the question of how and when to collaborate with a deplorable regime and what such collaboration might cost. All readings in English. First-year students welcome.

GRK 1102. Elementary Greek II

A continuation of Greek 1101; introduces students to more complex grammar and syntax, while emphasizing the development of reading proficiency. Includes readings, both adapted and in the original, of Greek authors such as Plato and Euripides. Focuses on Attic dialect.

I was born and raised in New Mexico, but I spent most of my summers with my extended family in the farmlands of North Dakota and in the cypress swamps of Southeast Texas.  I received a B.A. in Classics from Franklin and Marshall College, where I first learned to value the residential liberal-arts model of higher education. After college I spent five years running a specialized second-hand bookstore in Albuquerque before selling it in order to return to school. I attended the Post-Baccalaureate program in Classics at the University of Pennsylvania, and then received an M.A. in Greek and Latin from the University of Georgia, where I wrote a thesis on geographical description in Tacitus. I next enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Classics at Princeton University, where I focused on Classical Greek social history and material culture. Here at Bowdoin I teach all levels of Greek and Latin language, introductory survey courses in both Greek history and Roman history, and topical seminars in Greek history, Roman history, Greek political theory, and Greek archaeology.

I am finding it increasingly more difficult to define my research profile according to traditional categories. Given the opportunities that my position here at Bowdoin provides for teaching all across the field of Classics, I trust that such broad interests are a beneficial feature, both for me and for my students. In general, I am interested in trying to figure out ways to understand better the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of individuals and groups whom ancient historical sources and approaches have tended to neglect: common people, just like us. The great labor historian E. P. Thompson once called elite-driven and elite-defined history as “the enormous condescension of posterity.” I would like to see classical scholarship more fully engaged in pushing back against this condescension: developing robust methods of reading sources against the grain, and willing to argue by necessary inference rather than hewing strictly to a narrow field of prescriptive texts. I often present this analogy to my students: We cannot “see,” nor even measure, black holes directly (nothing escapes their gravitational field). But we can learn a great deal about them by studying the effects they exert upon nearby, directly measurable matter. So too should historians be willing to enrich their examination of the historically invisible and occluded by developing more sensitive tools of inferential judgment and cross-cutting reading. Failure to do so is to be forever trapped beyond the event horizon of, in most cases, highly normative primary sources.

Out of these interests and concerns have come particular research projects, like my first two books, which both explore two sides of the same historical problem: the role and place of labor and laborers in Democratic Athens. In one book (Telling Tales Out of Work) I examine how common, anonymous artisans represented themselves and their skills in visual media such as painted figural pottery and dedicatory relief sculpture of late archaic and early classical Athens. When we study these depictions from the perspective of functionality and aesthetics, unhobbled by pre-determined, icongraphically-derived rules and categories, I think we can see stories about personal agency and group identity among formally low-status Athenians, people generally absent from the extant ancient literature. In my other book on classical Athens (Crafting the Democratic Body) I argue that everyday interactions – on the streets, in the markets, and at work – among diverse sets of people, tends to result in the emergence of a potentially powerful collective intelligence. In essence, the more diverse the population, the more cognitively potent the polity, provided cultural and institutional spaces enable and encourage the free association of as many groups and individuals as possible. This has profound implications for our own conceptions of political expertise, firm-management, and decision-making, as so many modern notions of wisdom, intelligence, and skill are deeply indebted to authors writing in the shadow of Democratic Athens. Overall, both projects stress the value of the everyday and the common.

My third book project, as well as a couple of articles in progress, reflects my interest in narratological approaches to ancient literary texts in general, and to literary descriptions of landscape and geography in particular. I find literary geography interesting because it contains so many stock, generic elements, but at the same time is used to great rhetorical effect by so many ancient authors. Thus my book project on Pindar’s Kyrenean Odes (Pythian 4, 5, and 9) traces out how Pindar’s language of travel, topographical description, and overall geographic concerns in all three poems seems to suggest a programmatic interest in presenting the Libyan polis of Kyrene as “Greek” as possible. This “placing” of Kyrene is a useful lens through which to think through issues of colonization, economic networks, and inter-state relationships during a time of cultural upheaval.

I have laid down the foundations for my book projects in three separate long-form, peer-reviewed articles, one in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, and two in Hesperia. The long-form article is a genre of scholarly communication that is, unfortunately to my mind, going the way of the dodo, as an external logic with respect to research production drives faculty in the direction of a maximum amount of least publishable units. This logic is especially pernicious in the case of classical scholarship, which depends on polylingualism, diverse primary and secondary sources, and lengthy peer-review. If you are interested in particular areas of my research please read the abstracts I have linked to in the Research tab directly below, or get in touch with me directly for drafts and off-prints.


  • Ph.D., Classics and Ancient History, Princeton University; Princeton, NJ, 2009
  • M.A., Classics and Ancient History, Princeton University; Princeton, NJ, 2005
  • M.A., Greek and Latin, University of Georgia; Athens, GA, 1999
  • B.A., Classics, Franklin and Marshall College; Lancaster, PA, 1992


Book Projects

  • Crafting the Democratic Body: Labor, Education, and Power in Classical Athens. Forthcoming:The University of Michigan Press.
  • Telling Tales Out of Work: Depictions of Labor in Athenian Visual Culture
  • Performing History: Networks of Greek Identity in Pindar’s Kyrenean Odes

Articles Published or Forthcoming in Peer-Reviewed Journals

  • “Sequential Narrative, Cognitive Labor, and the Aesthetic Reproduction of Pottery.” Forthcoming:Hesperia
  • “Socrates Among the Shoemakers.” Forthcoming: Hesperia
  • “Dance, Deixis, and the Performance of Kyrenean Identity: A Thematic Commentary on Pindar’sPythian Five.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 107 (2013): 89-154.

Forthcoming Publications in Peer-Reviewed, Edited Volumes

  • “Wise Rabbits and Storytelling Advisors: Enacting Herodotean Narratives in Richard Adams’Watership Down.” in Classical Traditions in Modern Fantasy, edited by Brett M. Rogers and Benjamin E.Stevens
  • “Touch and Technē: Potters, Drinkers, and the Crafting of Aesthetics in the Greek Symposion.” in Touch and the Ancient Senses, edited by Alex Purves. Durham: Acumen Press, 2014.

Encyclopedia Entries

  • Labor, Greece and Rome.” in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Roger Bagnall et al., eds. Oxford: Blackwell, 2012

Articles For Submission to Peer-Reviewed Journals, in Progress

  • “Earth, Air, and Water: Ambiguity, Uncertainty, and Transition in the Landscapes of Tacitus’Agricola.”
  • “Soldiers, Snails, and Situated Expertise: Sallust BJ 92.4-94.6.”
  • “Situating Knowledge: Reading Plato Reading Taylor.”
  • “Democratic Desires and the Rule of the Appetite.”


“What Can Robotic, Soccer-playing Dogs Teach us About Ancient, Athenian Democracy?” 
Faculty Seminar Series
Bowdoin College

“When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It: Reading Tacitus’ Agricola. ” 
Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
University of Southern Maine

“When Potters Were Giants: The Semiotics of the Gigantomachy on Athenian Black-Figure Vases of the 6th and 5th Centuries B.C.E.”
MACTe Colloqiuum 
Wellesley College

“Repetition, Sequential Narrative, and the Work of the Viewer”
Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Wellesley College (2012)

“Loafers and Loungers in Lysias”
Graduate Greek Seminar
Department of Classical Studies

Boston College (2011)

“Labor and its Critics, Ancient and Modern”
Department of Classical Studies
Boston College (2011)

“Union Busting in Classical Athens”
Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Wellesley College (2011)

“Cheese, Chatter, and Politics in Classical Athens”
Newhouse Center for the Humanities
Wellesley College (2011)

“Plato and Xenophon on the Organization of Knowledge”
Faculty of Philosophy
University of Iceland (2011)

“Reading Plato on the Shop-Floor”
Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies
Oxford University (2011)

“Labor History as Intellectual History”
Labor & Human Emancipation: Cosmopolitan and Vernacular Histories
The Robert J. Kemp Symposium
Bowdoin College

“Shop Class as State Craft in Democratic Athens”
Classical Association of New England Annual Meeting
Mount Holyoke College (2011)

“Marius, Liguria, and the Birth of a Martial Race”
MACTe Colloquium 
Williams College

“Working at Democracy in Classical Athens”
Classical Association of the Middle-West and South Annual Meeting
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2010)

“Soldiers, Snails, and Situated Expertise in Sallust’s Bellum Jugurthinum ”
Classical Association of New England Annual Meeting
Providence, Rhode Island (2010)

“Re/Viewing and Re/Vising Labor in Classical Athens”
Second Annual Symposium for Emerging Scholars
Franklin and Marshall College (2010)

“Banausic Performance and Agency in an Elite Context”
MACTe Colloquium 
Amherst College

“Dance, Deixis, and the Performance of Cyrenaic History in Pindar’s Pythian Five”
Diachrony: Diachronic Aspects of Greek Literature and Culture
Department of Classical Studies
Duke University

“Throwing Pots and Throwing Parties in Classical Athens”
Department of Classics
University of Georgia

“Let {Space + Time} ≡ Place in Archaic Lyric”
Graduate Greek Seminar
Department of Classics
University of Georgia

“Democrats at Work, Democrats at Play”
Department of Classics

Emory University

“Drinking with ‘Joe the Plumber’ in Classical Athens”
Classical Association of New England Annual Meeting
University of Massachusetts - Boston (2009)

“Political Shoemakers and the Making of the Athenian Democracy”
Department of History
University of Michigan

“Shoes, Shoemakers, and the Networks of Craft Production in Classical Athens”
Department of Classics

University of Southern California

“Knowledge and its Discontents in the Democratic City”
Program in the Ancient World Seminar Series
Department of Religion
Princeton University

“Craft, Complexity, and Social Interactions in the Classical Athenian polis”
University Center for Human Values
Princeton University (2004)

“Time, Space, and Narrative Disjuncture in Pindar”
Program in the Ancient World Seminar Series 
Department of Classics

Princeton University (2003)

“The Imperial Cosmologist: Rhetorical Geographies in Tacitus”
The Ends of the Earth in Ancient Thought 
Department of Classical Studies

University of Michigan (2002)

“Last Man Standing: Strabo’s Geography and the End of Greek History”
Program in the Ancient World Seminar Series
Department of History
Princeton University (2001)

“Britannia Perdomita: The Heroic Landscape of Tacitus’ Agricola”
 Other Worlds 
Department of Classical Studies

University of Pennsylvania (2000)


Sydney B. Karofsky Prize for Junior Faculty, Bowdoin College (2013)

Residential Fellow, Newhouse Center for the Humanities (2011-2012)

Faculty Research Award, Bowdoin College (2010-2011)

Visiting Fellow, F&M Center for Liberal Arts & Society (2010)

Whiting National Fellowship in the Humanities (2003-2004 - declined)

Prize Fellowship, Princeton Center for Human Values (2003-2004)

Graduate Fellowship, Program in the Ancient World (1999-2003)


Elliott Munn (Classics ’12)

Elliott began work on this project during the summer of 2011, for which he was awarded a competitive Surdna Fellowship. Munn was inspired to tackle this research thanks both to his own experience rowing for Bowdoin, and to his experience as a Classics major, which equipped him to read ancient sources in their original languages. This complex project involved careful literary analyses, detailed investigations into the mechanics involved in rowing and ship design, and an integration of modern scholarship on how people cooperate and work together as a team in order to solve technical problems. In May of 2012 Elliott earned “high honors” for his departmental thesis, which was entitled “Rowing for the Common Good: The Oarsmen of Democratic Athens.” (PDF) Elliott rowed for Bowdoin for four years, served as a counselor for Seeds of Peace, and is now pursuing a Masters of Divinity at Yale University.

Michael Dooley (Classical Studies ’10)

Mike wrote a lengthy and detailed paper, entitled “Asymmetric Warfare in Roman Antiquity,” (PDF)as the capstone for his research program, which was awarded a competitive Surdna Fellowship for the Summer of 2009, and which he continued on into the Fall of 2009. Mike’s project entailed a comparative analysis of guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency methodology in ancient Numidia, modern Algeria, and modern Afghanistan. After serving as President of Bowdoin Student Government during his senior year at Bowdoin, Dooley was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 2010. In April of 2012 he wrote to let me know that he was enjoying his new life as an infantryman, and had recently served as the education officer during one billet – making sure that all of his fellow soldiers were big fans of Roman History.


Interdisciplinary Courses in Greek History

  • CLA 019 Ancient Democracy and its Critics (2012F)
  • CLA 211 History of Ancient Greece, cross-listed with the Department of History as HIS 201(2008S, 2009F, 2013F)
  • CLA 222 Artisans, Artistry, and Manual Labor in Ancient Greece (2007F)
  • CLA 305 Leisure, Class, and the Liberal Arts in Classical Athens (2010S)

Interdisciplinary Courses in Roman History

  • CLA 212 History of Ancient Rome, cross-listed with the Department of History as HIS 202(2009S, 2012F)
  • CLA 224 City and Country in the Roman World, cross-listed with the Department of History asHIS 214 (2008F)

Language and Literature Courses in Greek

  • GRK 203 Third-Semester Greek: Plato’s Apology (2007F, 2009F, 2013S, 2014S)
  • GRK 303 Advanced Greek: Herodotus’ Histories (2013S)
  • GRK 304 Advanced Greek: Aristophanes’ Clouds (2010S)

Language and Literature Courses in Latin

  • LAT 101 First-Semester Latin (2008F)
  • LAT 102 Second-Semester Latin (2008S, 2009S)
  • LAT 203 Third-Semester Latin: Livy’s Rome (2013F)
  • LAT 204 Fourth-Semester Latin: Vergil’s Aeneid (2010S)

Independent Studies and Honors Projects

  • CLA 291 Intermediate Independent Study (Yando Peralta ’11): Criminality and Deviancy in the Roman World (2009S)
  • CLA 401 Advanced Independent Study (Michael Dooley ’10): Asymmetric Warfare in the Roman World. Awarded Surdna Grant for Summer Research Support (2009F)
  • CLA 401 Advanced Independent Study (Elliott Munn ’12): Athenian Naval Tactics and Strategy.Awarded Surdna Grant for Summer Research Support (2011F)
  • CLA 404 Honor’s Project (Elliott Munn ’12): “Rowing for the Common Good: The Oarsmen of Democratic Athens.” Awarded High Honors by Department Faculty (2012S)

Future Courses

  • GRK 302 Greek Lyric Poetry (2014S)
  • CLA XXX Thinking While Drinking: An Archaeology of the Greek Symposium
  • CLA XXX Digging up Democracy: The Material World of Classical Athens


Classicists work in the original “inter-disciplinary” field, and therefore especially value engagement with scholars involved in areas that, at first glance, seem far different from us. This holds true both in our pedagogy and in our research. Fortunately, Bowdoin provides resources that allow me to bring to campus scholars in whose work I am particularly interested, and whose ideas I think would be particularly interesting for my students and colleagues. As you can see from the examples below, I have organized visits and lectures involving a wide range of individuals, who give talks to the wider Bowdoin community, and devote considerable time and energy to particular classes and students. This allows students to see scholarship in action, and models intellectual exchange in a way that does not always emerge from a purely text-based approach.

W. Robert ConnorW. Robert Connor
Past President of both the Teagle Foundation and the National Humanities Center.
Valuing the Liberal Arts in Perilous Times.
Bowdoin College, 2010

Nathan PowersNathan Powers
Assistant Professor of PhilosophyThe University at Albany, SUNY
Is Plato’s Republic a Utopia?
Bowdoin College, 2010

The Dignity of Labor Lecture SeriesThe Dignity of Labor Lecture Series
Co-curated with Joel Krieger, Professor and Chair,
Department of Political ScienceWellesley College: 

  • Revisiting Working Knowledge: On the Continued Relevance of a Mechanic’s Method
    Douglas Harper, Professor of SociologyDuquesne University
  • Union Busting and the Labor Problem in Classical Athens
    Robert Sobak, Assistant Professor of Classics, Bowdoin College
  • Challenges to the Dignity of Labor: Structures
    Chris Howell, Professor of PoliticsOberlin College
  • Challenges to the Dignity of Labor: Activism
    Susana Segat, Past President SEIULocal 888

Wellesley College
Newhouse Center for the Humanities, 2011

Joe MoshenskaJoe Moshenska
Fellow, Lecturer, and Director of Studies for the Faculty of English
Trinity CollegeUniversity of Cambridge
Greek Minds, Chinese Hands, and English Tongues:
The Art of Feeling in the English Renaissance

Bowdoin College, 2012

Jonathan Master Assistant Professor of Classics, Emory University Ethnic Identity and Imperial Stability in the Histories of Tacitus Bowdoin College, 2012Jonathan Master
Assistant Professor of ClassicsEmory University
Ethnic Identity and Imperial Stability in the Histories of Tacitus
Bowdoin College, 2012

Sanjeev Kulkarni Professor of Electrical Engineering and Philosophy, Princeton University Machine Learning and Democracy: Some Problems in Collective Decision-Making Bowdoin College (2013) Sanjeev Kulkarni
Professor of Electrical Engineering and PhilosophyPrinceton University
Machine Learning and Democracy: Some Problems in Collective Decision-Making

Bowdoin College (2013)



Links useful to Classicists

These are online resources that I use frequently, and which will be useful to Classics students of all levels. Many of them will require that you access them either from a computer on the Bowdoin network, or employ Bowdoin’s VPN connection (I have marked these with a bracketed {B}). In order to set-up a VPN connection for the use of Bowdoin resources while off-campus, go here.


Greek Fonts – If you are using Greek at all it will save you much time and many headaches to install a good Unicode, Polytonic Greek font on your computer. This will allow you to read, and produce, Greek characters and diacritical marks. Bowdoin has a site license for the GreekKeysfamily of fonts, which work especially well on both the Macintosh and PC systems. Contact Carmen Greenlee for help on installation. A useful introduction to Unicode Greek can be found here, and an exhaustive and up-to-date page detailing the various options for both Mac and PC can be found here.

Perseus – A massive, online resource, which provides texts in Greek, Latin, Arabic, German, French, Italian and others. It also has an extensive library of photographed and catalogued objects, inscriptions, and papyri. Perseus is impossible to categorize, but a great place to explore. A more streamlined, efficient portal can be found through the University of Chicago’s Department of Classics, which provides a mirror site to Perseus here.

TLG – {B} – The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae represents the first effort in the Humanities to produce a large digital corpus of literary texts. Since its inception the project has collected and digitized most texts written in Greek from Homer (8 c. B.C.) to the fall of Byzantium in AD 1453 and beyond. Its goal is to create a comprehensive digital library of Greek literature from antiquity to the present era. TLG research activities combine the traditional methodologies of philological and literary study with the most advanced features of information technology.

PHI-Latin – The Packard Humanities Institute has created a website that contains essentially all Latin literary texts written before A.D. 200, as well as some texts selected from later antiquity. These texts were previously available on The Packard Humanities Institute's CD ROM 5.3. You can find a complete listing in the Canon of Latin Authors.

The Latin Library – Basic, easy to use, and useful.


Beazley Archive Pottery Database – This is an ideal place to begin any research project involving Greek figural pottery. The search terms can be finicky, and the user-interface is not as intuitive as it might be (partly a function of its ground-breaking nature), but any time taken to explore it thoroughly will be richly rewarded! The original project, a database of Athenian figure-decorated pottery 626-300BC, began in 1979, and was adopted by the British Academy as an advanced research project in 1982. It was the second project at the University of Oxford to be available “on line” (after the Cairns Science Library). Beginning in 1992 the database, and others started in the early 1990s, began to be prepared for migration to the web. The project was originally funded by the AHRB 2003-2006, and represented the first stage of an integrated multiple database system available on the web. It now contains over 10TBs of data on Pottery, Gems and Sculpture, with more than 300,000 records and 200,000 high-resolution images on the web. Searches can be made across all types of material on the site. It receives about 200,000 hits per day and its most advanced database has more than 8,000 registered users worldwide. It is widely considered to be a model of what the “digital humanities” can do.

CVA – The Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum ('Corpus of Ancient Vases') is the oldest research project of the Union Académique Internationale. The database consists of a series of high-quality catalogues of mostly ancient Greek painted pottery in collections around the world. The first fascicule appeared in 1922 and since then around 380 have appeared, illustrating more than 100,000 vases in 24 countries. The three-year CVA Online project began in 2000, when Oxford University's Beazley Archive was invited to undertake the digitization of out-of-print fascicules. The digitized catalogues can be viewed and browsed through this site, which also provides links to the fully searchable Beazley Archive pottery database.

Oxford Art Online {B} – Oxford Art Online offers access to the most authoritative, inclusive, and easily searchable online art resources available today. Through a single, elegant gateway users can access—and simultaneously cross-search—an expanding range of Oxford’s acclaimed art reference works: Grove Art Online, the Benezit Dictionary of Artists, the Encyclopedia of AestheticsThe Oxford Companion to Western Art, and The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms, as well as many specially commissioned articles and bibliographies available exclusively online.

ArtStor {B} – An online resource containing more than one million digital images relating to the arts, architecture, humanities and sciences.

LIMC – The Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae is now online and searchable, for free! It can be difficult to use (for example you have to click on the magnifying glass icon in the top left corner in order to begin searching), but it provides comprehensive resources for the study of classical religion and mythology. For a brief introduction to this source, see Phoebe Acheson’s useful review here.


Greek Inscriptions – A database of Greek Inscriptions underwritten by the Packard Humanities Institute, and maintained by faculty at Cornell and Ohio State. This is useful for checking texts, as the inscriptions are clearly presented and easy to work with. You can search the texts using the java window at the bottom of your screen.
Use the following operators: | ^ = OR | & = AND | ~ = NEAR | ( ) = GROUPED

CSAD – The Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents was established in 1995 under the auspices of Oxford University's Faculty of Literae Humaniores to provide a focus for the study of ancient documents within Oxford. Over the last six years it has developed into a research centre of national and international importance. The Centre forms part of the Classics Centre, currently located in the Old Boys' School in George Street. The Centre provides a home for Oxford University's epigraphical archive, which includes one of the largest collections of squeezes (paper impressions) of Greek inscriptions in the world, together with the Haverfield archive of Roman inscriptions from Britain, the Vindolanda Tablets online, and a substantial photographic collection. The strengths of the epigraphical archive lie in its broad coverage of early Greek inscriptions, Attic epigraphy and the Hellenistic world. Individual sites well represented in the archive include Chios, Samos, Priene, Rhodes, and Samothrace.

OSU-CEP – The Center for Epigraphical and Palaeographical Studies at The Ohio State University is the only comprehensive research facility for the study of Greek and Latin inscriptions and manuscripts in the United States. Its purpose is to foster the study of inscriptions and manuscripts and promote research opportunities for those interested in these primary sources of information for the ancient and mediaeval world. The Center maintains an extensive collection of photographs and squeezes (accurate paper impressions of inscriptions) of Greek and Latin inscriptions and microfilms of Latin manuscripts.

Epigraphic Database Heidelberg – The Epigraphic Database Heidelberg (EDH) is the systematic entry of ancient Latin and bilingual (usually Latin and Greek) inscriptions into a complex database. A distinguishing feature of EDH is its regional focus, its capability of combining the stored metadata as freely as possible, and the reciprocal linking of the Epigraphic Text Database with both of the constituent databases of EDH, the Bibliographic Database and the Photographic Database. The goal of the project is to render the epigraphic documentation of the provinces of the Roman Empire as completely and reliably as possible for online research work. The Epigraphic Text Database is the heart of EDH and contains 65000 inscriptions at present. Almost all of the records present texts, which have already either been edited in the monumental Inscription corpora – in many cases still valid, but often do not fulfill the standards of modern textual editorial practice – or published, revised and discussed in thousands of scholarly articles. The texts and metadata of the inscriptions are thus presented on the basis of up to date scholarly research. One of the basic principles of the working method of EDH is that readings are not simply accepted from the editions and secondary literature. As much as possible these readings are verified at least on the basis of drawings or photographs – in the case of the latter these belong to the records of the Photographic Database – or ideally through autopsy. By means of the "status field" the user of the database is informed about the manner of verification of the readings.

EDCS – The Epigraphik Datenbank Clauss-Slaby is a database that records almost all Latin inscriptions. The texts are presented without abbreviations, and completed where possible. The presentation of the texts is kept as simple as possible. Beside the commonly used indications for resolution, completions and erasures, as few special characters as possible have been used. The abbreviations give the references for the publications used. The statistical data indicates which volumes (with how many texts per volume as far as the Latin inscriptions are concerned) are recorded completely in the database. As of 2011 650,859 sets of data for 445,006 inscriptions from over 1,800 publications for more than 21,300 places with 65,076 pictures have been recorded.


British Museum – The British Museum published most of its massive collection of Greek coins in 29 volumes from 1873-1929. The series, called BMC Greek, is the largest collection of ancient Greek coins ever published. This link provides an entry point to the various volumes and collections.

Historia Numorum – Barclay Head’s seminal work on Greek Numismatics, now digitized and online, for free.

ANS – The American Numismatic Society is a museum and research institute devoted to the study of coins from all periods and cultures. There is a wealth of information here, but one to keep particularly in mind is OCRE: The Online Coins of the Roman Empire.

SNG – The Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum is a British Academy Research Project, the purpose of which is to publish illustrated catalogues of Greek coins in public and private collections in the British Isles. SNG has retained the traditional, very broad, definition of 'Greek' to include the coins produced by all ancient civilisations of the Mediterranean and neighbouring regions except Rome, though it does include the Roman Provincial series often known as 'Greek Imperials'.

Papyri – This site offers links to papyrological resources, a customized search engine (called the Papyrological Navigator) capable of retrieving information from multiple related collections, and an editing application, the Papyrological Editor, which contributors can use to suggest emendations to PN texts. The Papyrological Navigator aggregates and displays information from the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri(DDbDP), the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV), and Bibliographie Papyrologique (BP), as well as links to Trismegistos.

Michigan Papyri – The University of Michigan houses the largest number of papyri in North America, and remains a center for scholarly research in the field. The faculty have also put together a useful collection of links related to papyrology here.


LGPN – The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names was established to collect and publish all ancient Greek personal names, drawing on the full range of written sources from the 8th century B.C. down to the late Roman Empire.

PIR – The Prosopographia Imperii Romani provides a veritable “Who’s Who” of the Roman Empire. You’ll need a bit of German in order to navigate the site, but the online searching can be handy.

Greco-Roman Facebook – Well, not really, but this links to an interesting paper that provides a good introduction to the use of social network analysis in prosopographical approaches to the ancient world.


LSJ – The “Big” Liddell, Greek-English Lexicon, provided courtesy of the Perseus Project. The “Middle” Liddell, which can sometimes be a bit more useful, can be found here.

Lewis & Short – The standard, large format Latin-English Lexicon, provided courtesy of the Perseus Project.

English-Greek Lexicon – S.C. Woodhouse’s classic aid for Greek Prose Composition students everywhere. Now digitized and hosted by the University of Chicago.

Smyth – Everything you ever wanted to know about Greek Grammar, but were afraid to ask.

Goodwin – The Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb. Guaranteed to relieve stress and improve your outlook on life, since 1879.

Lexiphanes – The LSJ and Autenrieth’s Homeric Lexicon, squeezed in to your phone, or tablet. Crazy. Coded and supported by my friend Harry Schmidt.

Lexidium – A combination of Lewis & Short and a parsing tool for your iPod or iPad. Coded and supported by my friend Harry Schmidt.


L’Année philologique {B} – The essential bibliographic resource for all Classical disciplines. It is useful for finding books and articles on specific subjects or on particular ancient authors, and can be searched using a range of criteria, e.g. modern author, ancient author, keyword, subject, date, etc. It is also useful for decoding the various abbreviations used for journal titles.

TOCS-IN – This is a very simple, and user-friendly searchable index of the tables of contents from a selection of Classics, Near Eastern Studies, and Religion journals. This is often a good place to start a basic bibliographic search.

Gnomon – Also a collection of bibliographic citations, but also has a robust key-word tool, and catches items that appear neither in L’Année nor in TOCS-IN. It seems clunky at first, but once you familiarize yourself with its idiosyncrasies it can prove invaluable.

Dyabola {B} – A database of references to books, conference papers and journal articles produced by the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Bowdoin does not have access to each and every feature (this will hopefully change in the near future), but it is especially useful when doing research on archaeological subjects.

Nomoi – A comprehensive bibliography of items related to Greek law. It is organized alphabetically by author, but you can search for keywords and terms using your browser’s search function.

Nestor – An international bibliography of Aegean studies, Homeric society, Indo-European linguistics, and related fields. It is published monthly from September to May (each volume covers one calendar year) by the Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati. The primary geographic nexus of Nestor is the Aegean, including all of Greece, Albania, and Cyprus, the southern area of Bulgaria, and the western and southern areas of Turkey. Nestor includes publications concerning the central and western Mediterranean, southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, western Asia, and other regions of archaeological research, if the specific bibliographic items contain Aegean artifacts, imitations, or influences, or make reference to Aegean comparanda.


his is a fairly random collection of links, facts, and fun stuff that have nothing to do with my professional existence.

I went to high school with Beavis and Butthead.  Beavis and Butthead were the creation of Mike Judge, who, like me, played in the Albuquerque Youth Symphony, and had the two not-so-lovable losers attend Highland High School, where I went at the time. I have my theories about the real individuals who served as models, but I won’t voice those here…

I went to college with the first American World Air Guitar Champion.  I was Dave’s RA, hallmate, and teammate, and after college, when I was struggling to keep my bookstore open, and he was working as a paralegal for Roger Moore, we lived on a porch together (Very. Cheap. Rent). Dave was an All-American in squash (he used to beat me with a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth – “Some nic for a nick!” was his claim, which was often born out), is an accomplished actor, and also had a movie made about his air guitar exploits. That was the only movie premier to which I was ever invited. You can watch a clip of one of his mind-boggling air guitar performances here.

I used to own a used bookstore, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was one of the very first book dealers to have an online presence, through the Interloc system, which was the early forerunner of Alibris. But before that I was an old-fashioned book-scout, and I learned the trade from George Allen, one of the giants of the American book world. There is a collection of remembrances of George, organized by Dan Traister (for whom I also worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Rare Books), here. My friend Wayne has kept W.H. Allen’s alive, but has had to move the books from Philadelphia to Reinholds, and sells mostly online, here. I also scouted forJerry Lane and Nick Potter, both of whom are still doing things the old-school way – they actually know things and don’t rely on a computer to tell them what a book is “worth.” Alas, their breed is disappearing, but Troy Casa, who scouted for my store back in the day, opened his store a couple of doors from mine, and then later helped start Alibris, is carrying on the real bookman’s tradition. The best place to go to find used books online is an aggregator site called AddAll. If you are interested in new books, consider supporting Powell’s, in Portland. They can get anything that Amazon can, and their customer service is far superior.

I played soccer, tennis, and squash in both high school and college, and can be found watching Bowdoin’s teams whenever I have the time. Former teammates in all three sports went on to play professionally: Mark KeilGerrell Elliott, and Tim Long. Mark produced a great documentary about his time on the ATP tour. Gerrell, whose nickname growing up was “Gerbil,” was a first-team All-American at Fresno State, the leading NCAA goal-scorer, and played professionally in Germany and in the MLS, with the Dallas Burn. After F&M Tim played squash professionally, and represented the U.S. in tournaments overseas. Over the years I’ve been lucky to see some amazing squash players in action, including former World #1 and F&M coach John White (wait for the 0:37 mark!), but none of them moved around the court as gracefully as Tim.

While I was at Princeton I worked for four years as an Assistant Master in Butler College, one of the undergraduate residential colleges. My wife, Karin, and I lived in the college when it was still a monument to brutalist architecture, and had the (in)famous “waffle ceilings.” All is not lost, however. If you want to see true waffle ceilings, identical to those once in Butler Colege, go into the Government Documents section of H.-L. Library! Most students didn’t appreciate what an awesome place Butler was at the time. Karin and I still miss it, though we were given the architectural blueprints for our apartment from the University, and still hope to recreate our little slice of Butler somewhere in Maine.

Here in Maine my new-found hobbies are bird watching and bicycle building, neither of which I’ve really had much time to pursue of late. The best local, public resource for birding is Derek’s store in Freeport. He has recently published a book with Princeton University Press, called How to be a Better Birder, and he gives free tours every Saturday morning. Though Bowdoin students should take advantage of Nat Wheelwright’s ornithological expertise. If you need parts for your bike, or even a whole bike, check out Center Street Cycles in Brunswick, and Bath Cycle and Ski in Woolwich. Bath Cycle and Ski is a nationally known distributor, and they can get their hands on most anything. They also have quite a collection of old-school parts, like those late ‘80s Shimano and Suntour components for your retro-ride that you can’t find anywhere else. I ride three different bikes. A neon yellow 1989 Marin Pine Mountain, equipped with the great old Shimano Deore DX system, and which is now stripped and undergoing a rebuild. I purchased the bike for a mountain-biking tour of Greece in the summer of 1990. It went with me to France, Germany, and Greece, and then later careened down as many ski runs in New Mexico as I could get access to. After over twenty years of service it needed some downtime, so it is in pieces, waiting until I have time to rebuild it. You will see me riding around campus on non-snow days on my Surly Big Dummy. I built this bike in 2007, and it is my main workhorse. I use it for schlepping whatever I can balance on it, and you will often see Karin chilling out on the back. When it snows, I ride my Surly Pugsley, which I built in 2009. I swap out the snow wheels for a pair of 29er slicks during the summer, which makes it a very versatile frame. Below are some photos of the Big Dummy and Pugsley in various situations.

Big Dummy Bike Big Dummy Bike

Pugsly Bike Pugsly Bike

Pugsly Bike Pugsly Bike

Pugsly Bike