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Classical Studies: Research Strategies

Covers print and electronic resources for Greek and Roman history, language, and literature.

Organization of Information

Bobst Library, as many research libraries in the United States, uses the Library of Congress Classification Scheme and Subject Headings. The call number sequence assigned by LC is preceded by a one to three A-Z letter combination. The initial letter is the principal subject heading. For example, the letter B is the letter designated for Philosophy, D for History, J for Political Science, M for Music, and P for Language and Literature (see Library of Congress Classification Scheme Outline at URL: for further breakdown of these categories.

Pertinent call numbers and ranges:

  • B 108-708 Philosophy, Ancient
  • D 51-95 Ancient History
  • DF 10-289 Greece-History
  • DG 11-365 Italy--History--to 476
  • DG 61-69 Rome--History
  • JC 51-93 Greece--politics and government
  • ML 162-169 Music, Greek and Roman
  • PA 3050-4505 Greek literature
  • PA 6000-6971 Roman literature
  • PN 611-649 Literature of the Ancient World
  • Z 5051-7999 Subject bibliographies

When examining the Call Number Scheme of Bobst Library, we see that:

  • the M's are located on the 2nd floor
  • the B's and D's on the 4th floor
  • the J's on the 7th floor
  • and the P's split between the 7th and 8thfloor

    These floors are the stack floors where you find circulating books and non-circulating bound journals (the unbound, recent, issues are found in the Current Periodicals area on the 3rd floor). For reference materials (encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, indices, etc.) on the above subjects you need to go to a reference center: REF1 (the reference area on the 1st floor) for Humanities titles and REF6 (the reference area on the 6th floor) for Social Science titles.


Bobst Library's catalog BobCat lists monographs, periodicals, series, and electronic databases in Bobst Library and a few other NYU libraries such as the Institute of Fine Arts (the IFA) and the Courant Institute, and consortium libraries such as the New School, Parsons, and Cooper Union.

You can do a subject or keyword search using BobCat. If you know the Library of Congress Subject Heading (the four-volume set listing these subject headings is located in the reference centers), you can do a subject search using the "s=" command in the Telnet version of BobCat or highlight "subject heading" in the Internet, BobCatPlus, version. If you do not know the Library of Congress Subject Heading it is better to use the "sw=" (keyword) command when searching the Telnet version.

The LC subject headings to use for our purpose include:

  • Aristotle (you may also when using the subject word command choose to use a truncation symbol * after the t in Aristotle, i.e. sw=Aristot*. This will then capture both the English and Greek forms of his name) (corresponding to call number range B 400-491)
  • Greece--History (corresponding to call number range DF 207-289)
  • Greece -- Politics and government -- to 146 B.C. (corresponding roughly to call number range JC 71-75)
  • Greek drama (corresponding roughly to call number range PA 3131-3238)
  • Greek literature (corresponding to call number range PA 3051-4500)
  • Music, Greek and Roman (corresponding roughly to call number range ML 167-169)
  • Philosophy, Ancient (corresponding to call number range B 163-708)
  • Political Science -- Greece -- History (corresponding roughly to call number range JC 71-75)

Strengths: Using BobCat allows you to do subject and keyword searches. It lists materials found at NYU and consortium libraries.

Limitations: It will not let you search for journal articles and displays only what is owned by NYU and consortium libraries.

Examples of citations found:

A subject search on "Aristotle. Politics" in BobCat yields such results as:

Michael Davis. The Politics of Philosophy: A Commentary on Aristotle's Politics. Lanham, MD: Roman & Littlefield, 1996. (JC 71.A7 D35 1996)


David Keyt & Fred Miller (eds.). A Companion to Aristotle's Politics. Oxford; Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991. (JC 71.A7 A75 1991)

Using the LC subject heading "Music, Greek and Roman" offers, for example, the following citation:

Thomas J. Mathiesen. Apollo's Lyre: Greek Music and Music Theory in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999 (ML 160.M428 2000). This is a recently published work with a bibliography on the subject of music theory in antiquity.


Elizabeth Belfiore. Tragic Pleasures: Aristotle on Plot and Emotion. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992 (PN 1899.G74 B45 1992).

"Greek drama (Tragedy) -- History and criticism"

John Jones. On Aristotle and Greek Tragedy. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980 (PA 3131.J6 1980).
For items held by other research libraries in the country, please consult RLIN, the Research Libraries Information Network.
Access RLIN via Eureka (Web)

Reference Materials and the "Footnote Method"

You can also begin with a broader background survey such as one found in an encyclopedia. If, for example, you look up the word "music" in the Oxford Classical Dictionary 3rd ed. (REF1 PA31.O88 19) a discussion of Greek and Roman music, including a reference to Aristotle's thesis on music in the Politics 1339a-1342b, is followed by a brief bibliography of many significant modern and ancient sources. These sources, in turn, contain bibliographies, etc. Citations leading to additional citations is often referred to as doing research by the "footnote method."

Strengths: Brings you up to date on the basic discussions. A reference source such as the OCD often gives you a brief, but important bibliography. Note: The 2nd (1970) edition of the OCD can also be consulted since it provides more of a music theoretical background. On the other hand, the more recent (1996) 3rd edition brings you up to date as far as the bibliography is concerned and the many new discoveries of scores that have been found and published since the 1970 edition.

Limitations: The bibliography and descriptions are brief and intentionally basic. Also, you still need to consult BobCat for existence and location of the books listed.


Another approach is to consult an index which incorporates journal articles and essays in addition to monographs. For Classics, the main index is L'Année Philologique (REF1 Index/Z 7016.D23). Note: There is a publication lag of three years for the print version.

On a so called StandAlone CD-ROM computer next to the desk in REF1 is a computerized version of the Année, the Database of Classical Bibliography (the DCB), covering so far the years 1974-1989.

The print volumes of L'Année Philologique contain a list of the journals indexed along with their abbreviations. This index should be consulted for the authoritative manner in which to abbreviate ancient studies journals in citations and footnotes. The citations only list abbreviations, so you need to consult the key in the beginning of each volume for the full title of the item. After the list of journals follow citations listed by ancient authors (new editions by and works about) in alphabetical order followed by a list of subjects such as Literature, Linguistics, Archaeology, History, etc. In the back of each volume are indices treating ancient names, geography, and modern authors. The numbers following each of these entries refer to the item numbers following each citation, not the page number. Note: The ancient authors are listed under the Greek and Latin forms of their names, e.g. Aristoteles (Stagirites). This is important to remember when searching the DCB.

Strengths: The indices provide references to books, journal articles, book chapters, reviews, and dissertations published throughout the world.

Limitations: The time lag means that you might miss a number of more recent items published. L'Année provides only a citation. The DCB sometimes provides an abstract, but not the full text.

Please consult the following databases for additional and for more recent citations (2000-present) than L'Année provides.

L'Année began in 1924. Before L'Année there were other bibliographies that listed materials produced in Classics: Marouzeau's Dix Années (1914-1924); Lambrino 1896-1914; Klussmann (1878-1896); Engelmann(-Preuss) (1700-1878); Schweiger (-1820); Fabricius (-through the 1700s) (see the Classics Subject Guide).

Examples of citations found:
The latest (1997) print issue of

L'Année Philologique

lists recent editions of Aristotle's



Translated with introduction, analysis and notes by Peter L. Phillips Simpson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Books 7-8 translated by Richard Kraut. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.


Databases can either have a very basic search function or be quite sophisticated. The latter will allow you to, for example, search by year, type of publication, language and to use so called boolean operators such as "AND" (combining concepts) and "OR" (searching either concept) to refine your search. Consult the help screen of each database. If boolean operators can be used, suggested combinations include:

  • Aristotle and music
  • Aristotle and (tragedy or drama)
  • Aristotle and (tragedy or drama and music)
  • Aristotle and education
  • Aristotle and paideia
  • ethos and paideia
  • Greek music or mode(s)
  • Greek harmony(ies) or harmonics
  • Aristotle and (sense perception or aesthetics)
  • Aristotle and (ethics or ethical behavior)
  • Greek philosophy and (music or music theory)
  • Aristotle and (mimesis or representation or imitation)
  • ethics and music

You may also choose to expand your search to include a comparison with Plato or with Aristotle's own discussion of tragedy in the Poetics:

  • Tragedy and (Plato or Aristotle)
  • Aristotle and Poetics

Other search words include:

  • theater and Greece (or theat* to allow for both the American and British spelling. Note that you have to consult the help screen of each database to find the truncation symbol used)
  • Greek theater
  • Greek drama
  • Greek tragedy

Please consult the following databases for additional and for more recent citations (2000-present) than L'Année provides.

  • The Philosopher's Index, 1940-present
    Provides indexing and abstracts from books and over 300 journals of philosophy and related inter-disciplinary fields.

    Examples of citations found:

    Carl Dahlhaus & Ruth Katz (eds.). Contemplating Music: Source Readings in the Aesthetics of Music. New York: Pendragon Press, 1987.


    Stephen Halliwell. "Aristotelian Mimesis Reevaluated." Journal of the History of Philosophy[1990]: 487-510.


    Lucia Vetere. "La Musica in Aristotele." Studi Filosofici [1992]: 107-124.


  • TOCS-IN.
    A searchable table of contents from the University of Toronto to more than 150 classics journals.

    Examples of citations found:

    A. Lintott. "Aristotle and Democracy." Classical Quarterly 2:1 [1992]: 114-


  • Gnomon Online
    A bibliographic database covering all aspects of the classical world.

    Examples of citations found:

    Frazier, Françoise. "Remarques autour de la classification des arts au chapitre I de la Poétique (1447 a 18-b 13)." Revue des Études Grecques 110 (1997): Fasc. 2, 420-433.


  • Bryn Mawr Classical Review.
    Full text book reviews online.

    Examples of citations found:

    Leon Golden. Aristotle and Comic Mimesis. Atlanta: GA: Scholars Press, 1992. Reviewed by Elizabeth Belfiore.


    Steven B. Katz. The Epistemic Music of Rhetoric: Toward the Temporal Dimension of Affect in Reader Response and Writing. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1996. Reviewed by Wilfred E. Major.


    Edmunds Lowell and Robert W. Wallace (eds.). Poet, Public and Performance in Ancient Greece. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1997. Reviewed by Simon Goldhill.


  • Arts & Humanities Citation Index, 1988-present.
    Covers over 1,150 of the world's leading arts and humanities journals in a broad range of disciplines.

    Examples of citations found:

    J. Paul. "Vox-Atque-Sonus - Studies on the Spread of Aristotle 'De anima' and Its Significance for Music Theory." Moyen Age 98:1[1992]: 125-128.


    M.B. Schoennazzaro. "Plato and Aristotle on the Ends of Music." Laval Theologique et Philosophique 34: 3 [1978]: 261-273.


  • RILM, Abstracts of Music Literature, 1969-present
    RILM (Repértoire International de Littérature) abstracts of music literature is an extensive collection of bibliographic records focused on music reference and research materials.

    Examples of citations found:

    Göran Sörbom. "Aristotle on Music as Representation." Musical Worlds: New Directions in the Philosophy of Music, 1998: 37-46.


    Carnes Lord. "A Peripatetic Account of Tragic Music." Hermes: Zeitschrift für klassische Philologie CV:2 [1977]: 175-179.


  • International Index to Music Periodicals (Full text), 1996-present
    IIMP Full Text draws its current content from more than 375 international music periodicals from over 20 countries.

    Examples of citations found:

    Thomas Regelski. "The Aristotelian Bases of Praxis for Music and Music Education in Praxis." Philosophy of Music Education Review 6:1 [Spring 1998]: 22-59.


  • International Index to the Performing Arts, 1864-present
    IIPA Full Text draws its current content from more than 200 scholarly and performing arts periodicals.

    Examples of citations found:

    Henry Alonzo Myers. "Aristotle's Study of Tragedy." Theatre Journal 1:2 [December 1949]: 115.


  • The Grove Dictionary of Music

    This dictionary has quite sophisticated search capabilities. You can perform Boolean Searches, e.g. "Aristotle and Tragedy"; Pattern Searches will incorporate alternative spellings, e.g. "Aristotle" which will include "Aristoteles"; Concept Searches search synonyms, e.g. "tragedy" which will include "drama."

    A search on "Aristotle and Tragedy" gives entries for "theories of sense perception and ethical behavior"; "symbolism, number, harmonic theory"; "'paideia' and ethos"; "relationship to Plato"; and "modes." Needless to say, it is not necessary to include the word "music" here since the entire dictionary deals with this subject.


  • An education database such as ERIC (URL: may provide some references to Aristotle's view of music as a necessary component of a young man's education although it would most likely not focus on the function of music in tragedy.