The Ancient Library tells the visitor:

You’ve reached the first stirrings of a major new classics resource. So far, we’re mostly testing the engine and working on architecture. Don’t be fooled; this is going to be a major site in the near future, including:

* Scanned secondary works, including classical dictionaries, histories, grammars and other classics books.
* A large collection of primary texts, both scanned and in HTML text. All primary sources will allow Wiki-style commentary.
* A “Wiki Classical Dictionary” users can edit, similar in some respects to Wikipedia.
* Community mechanisms, including forums for classicists and others interested in the ancient world to interact.

They already have the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1867), the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities by William Smith (1870), the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities by Oskar Seyffert (1894) (a guide to the ancient world, with 716 pages, 2,630 entries and over 450 illustrations), and the Classical Gazetteer by William Hazlitt (1851) (a dictionary of some 14,000 ancient Greek and Roman places), as well as a number of other works like the Manual of Greek Literature by Charles Anthon (1853) (a survey of Greek literature and authors all the way to the fall of Constantinople; excellent coverage of obscure authors), and they’re creating a Wiki Classical Dictionary (WCD) that “is to the Oxford Classical Dictionary what Wikipedia is to the Encyclopedia Britannica.” A promising beginning, and I look forward to its further development. (Via Sauvage Noble.)


  1. aldiboronti says

    A friend of mine picked up Smith in a second-hand book shop a few years ago; we were in the store together and he spied it a split second before me (my teeth still haven’t recovered from the prolonged gnashing that ensued.) And now here it is online!
    Language hat, I salute you!

  2. It’s only fair that I give you something after all the links I’ve swiped from you.

  3. (This is the guy who runs the site. Thanks very much for bloggig it.)
    I feel two ways about the bookstore effect. On the one hand, I want everything online. On the other, I feel terrible about all the books I own that are now online. I mean, why do I own all these Bohn’s editions now that Bill Thayer’s put them online? (The pain there is compounded by the fact he beat me to it.) Or my copy Smith, so duty (or moldy) I can barely open it for sneezing—what do I do with it now?
    As philologists have learned, when Aldus Manutius and the other Renaissance worthies printed a work for the first time, they often threw out the manuscript. What use was it now that there was a nice printed edition? I always found this sad, even shocking. Now I kinda see how they felt…

  4. Considering that scanned copies of books are quite large (there’s stuff at TextKit that’s 30MB), I wonder how this site will pay its bandwidth bills.

  5. Ancient Library guy says

    Hey Chris,
    30 MB? Smith’s Dictionary of Biography (admittedly 3-volume) comes to 682MB! But bandwidth doesn’t cost what it used to. I spent $100/mo and get 140 gigs of transfer. Drive space is more of an issue; my plan only comes with 8 gigs of space. If necessary, however, I can up that. As for how, my other site, has Adsense ads. I suspect Ancient Library will eventually get those. The GUI was designed so that they would tuck underneath the search box. I don’t think that will interfere much with the experience. Certainly I’d never go the TextKit route, asking people to pay for access.

  6. “Language hat, I salute you!”
    I agree, good jod for pointing it out. Thanks.

  7. I wonder if there’s some OCR software which can be trained to recognize the Greek characters. Or, failing that, a way for contributors to help provide Greek Unicode would be nice. — ~~~~

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