News (20/10/09)

  • This site will begin to be updated again.
  • Added numerous texts from the Theoi Greek Mythology,, and Documenta Catholica Omnia sites, several of which filled gaps in the "desideranda". (19/08/08)
  • Many many thanks to Aaron Atsma, N. Boulic, J. Leichter, Bill Thayer, and especially Erietta Bissa for recommendations. My apologies for not replying to you or dealing with your suggestions in a timely fashion.

Notice: texts in Latin and other languages

Links for texts in Latin or other languages are not available here. Please make use of the excellent set of links available on David Camden's Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum.

Introduction to LATO

The Library of Ancient Texts Online aims to be the internet's most thorough catalogue of online copies of ancient Greek texts, both in Greek and in translation. This is a site for all with an interest in the Classics. Very many texts from Ancient Greece are available on the world-wide web, at a variety of sites, in a variety of formats, and in a variety of languages. Some of the richest sites are massive endeavours such as The Perseus Project at Tufts University, or Project Gutenberg. Some visitors will already be familiar with these sites and others. (For links to some other sites, see the Abbreviations page.) However, even these sites lack many texts: some sites contain some comparatively obscure texts, others contain others. LATO helps to repair this situation by gathering a comprehensive set of links to those texts that are available free of charge. No texts are actually hosted on this site.

Links in LATO are organised by author, or, where authorship is uncertain, by the titles of texts. The aim is to make online copies of ancient Greek texts easily accessible to both scholars and to those with a general interest in ancient literature, to ancient historians and archaeologists, teachers and students.

How to find a text

Links are in alphabetical order by author. In some cases (for a variety of possible reasons) cross-references are given to another location: e.g. for Eugamon, Telegony, a cross-reference is given to Epic Cycle, Telegony; for Xenophon, De Vectigalibus, a cross-reference is given to Xenophon, Poroi.

On the index pages, links for editions in Greek are given in the left-hand column, translations (at this stage almost entirely English) in the right-hand column. Each link is given with an indication of the site that hosts the text, and, where I have been able to ascertain them, the editor and date of the hardcopy edition from which the e-text was taken.

Greek names and Greek text

Transliteration of Greek is not always consistent on this site. Where possible, transliterations or Latinised spellings are indicated by hovering the mouse cursor over text that is marked like this: e.g. Tyrtaios, Parthenios' ἐρωτικὰ παθήματα, etc. Where I have thought it useful to do so, Latinised forms of names are cross-referenced (e.g. Alcaeus to Alkaios).

Which texts are listed?

LATO prioritises texts earlier than 500 CE. As time passes I hope to include at least some writers of the Byzantine period (there are a few odd links already for writers like Malalas, Photios, and Proklos Diadochos). In the meantime the most useful resources are sites devoted to Church fathers, in particular the following:

  • in Greek: "Documenta Catholica Omnia", which (amongst other things) has much of the Migne Patrologia Graeca and the Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae;
  • in Greek: Bibliotheca Augustana contains a number of late texts;
  • in English: "New Advent", which has many of the Patrologia authors in translation.

Past a certain point, it becomes senseless to provide another twelve links to identical copies of Jowett's translation of the Symposium. Priority is given to:

  • texts that are available free of charge; this excludes the TLG
  • sites that do not require visitors to log in; this excludes the Oxford Texts Archive
  • sites with sensible principles of navigation; this excludes sites where readers are provided with one "page" of text and a button at the bottom reading "Next" (with no way of jumping to, say, book 5, paragraph 61 other than by pressing "Next" hundreds of times)
  • editions which do not openly replicate an edition found on another site; e.g. a site that explicitly declares that a text has been "reprinted" from the Internet Classics Archive will be omitted

Disadvantages of online editions

All electronic versions of ancient texts (such as the TLG, and all the texts listed on this site) suffer from some important disadvantages in comparison with the texts you will find in up-to-date hardcopy editions. It may be wise to be aware of these issues.

  • Old texts. Almost all texts and translations are digitised versions of editions that are out of copyright. This means that you will very rarely find up-to-date emendations, and very often you will find archaic, stilted translations. (Depending on your taste, this may not be a disadvantage.) Moreover, in the case of fragmentary texts like Sappho's poems, or the Catalogue of Women, you will not find fragments that have been uncovered since the publication of the hardcopy edition, usually in the early 1900s or even earlier.
  • No explanatory notes. That is, except on Perseus (and even there only sometimes). Teachers should be aware that getting students to read translated texts without any explanatory notes can lead to misunderstandings or simply incomprehension, especially if the translation is a hundred years old.
  • No apparatus criticus. Only professional classicists will care about this, but the apparatus is absolutely essential to anyone who wants to do research. In a Greek edition, this is the bit at the bottom of a page that informs you of where the editor has seen fit to change the text, whether to choose the correct reading out of several different options, to correct errors, or even to supplement the text where a passage is missing. All manuscripts of ancient texts contain errors, and different editors provide different emendations. Sometimes these can make a big difference to the meaning of a text. (This aspect of textual criticism is comparatively specialised these days, but is fascinating: anyone who has enjoyed Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose should take a look at Scribes and Scholars by L.D. Reynolds and N.G. Wilson.)

Note that critical editions available from Gallica or Google Books do not suffer from this last weakness, as they are very close replicas of printed critical editions that include an apparatus. They are still very out of date, however, and often assume knowledge of at least Latin, if not ancient Greek.

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Last modified 20th October, 2009.