Bibliography Ancient Sources

Citing Sources for Classics Courses: A Basic Guide

The most important thing in citing sources, whether primary or secondary, is to be consistent. There is no one correct way, but you should choose one way and stick with that throughout a given paper. The suggestions below, unless noted, are not the only correct way to cite literature, but they reflect current scholarly norms.

The point of a citation is to allow your reader to find the passages you are referring to if they want to check out for themselves what the passages say.

This guide assumes you know basically nothing about citation. This is to avoid misunderstandings rather than to insult your intelligence. It is recommended that you read this entire page, even if you only need one specific piece of information right now.

Primary sources (i.e. ancient texts)

Give the name of the author (ask your teacher if you are not sure what the English form of the writer's name is), the title of the work (either underlined or italicized; standard abbreviations are fine, but do not invent your own abbreviation), and the complete citation. The citation, which identifies where in the text your quotation comes from, will vary in form depending on i) the specific text and author you are quoting from, and ii) the length of your quotation. It may contain a book number, a section number, a chapter number, and/or line number(s).

If you are quoting directly from your source, for quotations of one line or less use quotation marks and include the quotation in your regular paragraph formatting. For quotations longer than one line, indent and single space the quotation but do not use quotation marks around it. If you are quoting poetry, always indicate where line breaks occurred in the original. Unless your teacher tells you to, you do not need to include the edition, the publisher, or information about the specific book from which you are quoting the ancient author.

Standard abbreviations for names of both authors and ancient texts can be found starting on page xxix of the Oxford Classical Dictionary in the reference collection at McCabe (call number DE5 .O9 1996).

Examples:

i) As Ovid says, "In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas" (Met. I.1).

Here, a short quotation is given in quotation marks and is not set apart from the text of the analysis [what you put inside these "" is the quotation, or what the text says]; the title is italicized and abbreviated with a standard abbreviation, and then the book number is given in Roman numerals followed by the line number in Arabic numerals. 1.1 -- both Arabic numbers -- would also be fine. A period is the standard way to separate book and line numbers. [this information about where to find the quotation in the text you are talking about is the citation]

ii) As Ovid says,

My intention is to tell of bodies changed
To different forms; the gods, who made the changes,
Will help me -- or so I hope...
Met. I.1-3

Here, the quotation is long, and so it is single-spaced and indented within a double-spaced paragraph. Line breaks are preserved. The citation is essentially the same in format as in the previous example, except that several verses are quoted, and so we have 1-3 instead of just 1 for the line number.

If you were quoting a short passage that included a line break, it might look like this:

iii) As Ovid says, "bodies changed / To different forms..." (Met. I.1-2).

iv) In his Symposium, Plato depicts a very interesting speech by the historical figure Alcibiades (215a3-218b7).

This citation is not quoting any of Plato directly, it just tells the reader where in the Symposium this speech can be found. When you refer to something without quoting it directly, you should usually still give a citation telling your reader where to find the passage you are referring to.

Secondary Sources

The most important aspect of using secondary sources (i.e. works that discuss or interpret ancient material) is to take careful detailed notes on them while you are reading them. This will avoid the problem of knowing that you read something somewhere, but not remembering where. Secondary sources include assigned books, articles, Web sites, images, videos... If you are in doubt, always cite your source.

As with primary sources, you can either quote directly from a secondary source (if its exact wording is important to your argument) or simply refer to or paraphrase it (if you are interested in the gist but not the exact wording of your source). Also like primary sources, a short quotation can be given in quotation marks within a paragraph, while a longer quotation should be single-spaced and indented. A sample is given below.

We may reasonably agree with Jones when he tells us that "all generalizations stink," and admire the pithy and vivid phrasing he uses to convey this simple but important idea. (1) Nevertheless, Smith is going too far in asserting that stereotypes have lost all validity in the modern world. (2)

The numbers in parentheses (superscript is standard format for footnote numbers; most word processing programs have a function to automatically insert footnotes and number them sequentially) are keyed to footnotes with the same number at the bottom of the page. Footnotes should follow periods and commas, not precede them.Your footnotes at the bottom of the page containing the above excerpt might look like this.

1) Jones 1990: 34. [author's last name publication year colon page number on which your quotation or paraphrase appears]
2) Smith 1994: 498-9.

Concerning the Latin abbreviations you sometimes see in footnotes, we discourage them. If you are trying to understand what you see in a source you are reading, Ibid. means "the same" and is used if one footnote is citing the same book or article as the one immediately before it. E.g. Ibid. 34 would mean that pg. 34 of the source in the preceding footnote is being cited. Op. cit. means "work cited [already]" and is used to refer back to a book or article that has been cited before, but not in the footnote right before the one in question. E.g. Jones op. cit. (note 1) 36 means pg. 36 of the work by Jones already cited in note 1. These abbreviations are NOT used in bibliographies.

Then, your bibliography entries for these two sources might look like this:

Jones, M. 1990. The Fine Art of Generalizations. New York. [a book published in 1990 by a publishing house in NY]
Smith, D. 1994. "Stereotypes and Their Discontents." Semiotica 8: 490-500. [an article published in 1994 in volume 8 of the journal called Semiotica that goes from page 490 to page 500 of the journal; an article title is given in quotation marks and the title of the journal in which it was published gets the same formatting as any other book title; do not include the publisher or place of publication for a journal]

**Note that books and articles look the same in footnotes, but slightly different in a bibliography.**

If you are using a Web page as a source, one possible format for citing it in either a footnote or a bibliography is to give the complete URL and the date on which you accessed the cite, like this:

A commonly held belief about classical mythology is that "the religions of ancient Greece and Rome are extinct." (1)

1) http://www.bulfinch.org/fables/welcome.html, accessed September 10, 2003.

***Be aware that cutting and pasting from a Web site without attribution is plagiarism and will be treated as such.***

We hope this is helpful. Let us know if you have suggestions.

MLA

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MLA

Entire Web Site

The Web site of the Library of Congress connects users to content areas created by the Library’s many experts. In some cases, content can be posted without a clear indication of author, title, publisher or copyright date. Look for available clues and give as much information as possible, including the URL and date accessed.

MLA Citation Format
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.6.1)

Structure

  1. Name of the author, compiler, director, editor, narrator, performer, or translator of the work
  2. Title of the work (italicized if the work is independent; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  3. Title of the overall Web site (italicized), if distinct from item 2
  4. Version or edition used
  5. Publisher or sponsor of the site; if not available use N.p.
  6. Date of publication
  7. Medium of publication (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Section of Website.” Title of the Web site. Version/Edition. Name of publisher or sponsor. Date of publication. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Lib. of Cong. U.S. Govt. Web. 10 February 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/>.

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Articles and Essays

Special presentations, articles, and essays include examples that illustrate collection themes. Many collections include specific items, such as timelines, family trees or scholarly essays, which are not primary source documents. Such content has been created to enhance understanding of the collection.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.6.2b)

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name
  2. Title (italicized if independent; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  3. Title of the overall Web site (italicized)
  4. Version or edition
  5. Publisher; if not available, use N.p.
  6. Date of publication (day, month, year); if nothing is available, use n.d.
  7. Medium (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Title. Title of the Web site. Version or edition. Publisher or N.p. Day Month Year of publication or n.d. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Brief History of the National Parks. Lib. of Cong. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/collection/national-parks-maps/special-presentation/>.

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Cartoons and Illustrations

Cartoons and illustrations included in newspapers, magazines or other periodicals often represent the historical perspectives and opinions of the time of publication. This illustration, Join or Die from the May 9, 1754, Pennsylvania Gazette, was published by Benjamin Franklin and expresses his views about the need for the colonies to join forces to confront their mutual concerns with England.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.7.9 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Artist last name, artist first name
  2. Title of work (in quotation marks)
  3. Format (cartoon or illustration)
  4. Publication information
    • a. Newspapers: Name of Print Publication [Location if not in the name of the publication] date: page numbers
    • b. Journals: Volume number (date of publication): page numbers.
    • c. Books: City: Name of Publisher, date of publication: page numbers if being referenced
  5. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last Name, First Name. “Title.” Illustration. Newspaper title [Location] Day Month Year of publication: page number. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Franklin, Benjamin. "Join or Die." Illustration. The Pennsylvania Gazette 9 May 1754. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002695523/>.

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Films

Films and other moving images offer visual tools for studying not only the technology of a time, but the prevailing social attitudes, as well.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.3 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Film Title (italicized)
  2. Director Name or relevant creator name, e.g., Dir. John Doe
  3. Distributor, year of release
  4. Title of database or Web site (italicized)
  5. Medium of publication (Web)
  6. Date of access
  7. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Film Title. Dir. First name Last Name. Distributor, year of release. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Bargain Day, 14th Street, New York. Photog. Frederick S. Armitage. American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1905. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/00694373>.

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Government Publications

Many government publications originate through executive departments, federal agencies, and the United States Congress. Many of the documents are chronicled records of government proceedings, which become part of the Congressional Record. These documents are often posted without a clear indication of author, title, publisher or copyright date. Look for available clues and give as much information as possible, including date accessed.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.5.20 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Name of government
  2. Name of agency
  3. Title of the publication (italicized)
  4. If the title is a serial publication, follow title with date, e.g., 27 Jan. 2016: page numbers.
  5. Place of publication: publisher, year published.
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium of publication (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Government. Agency name. Title of Publication. Day Month Year of publication: page numbers. Place of publication: Publisher, Year published. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

United States House of Representatives. “Proceedings. 2nd Congress, 2nd sess.” Annals of Congress. 747-48. Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1849. Lib. of Cong. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. <http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ ampage?collId=llac&fileName=llac003.db&recNum=370>.

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Manuscripts

The Library of Congress online collections include letters, diaries, recollections, and other written material. One example is this letter from Helen Keller to Mr. John Hitz. Helen describes her trip to Chicago to visit the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.12 and 5.6.2d).

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name
  2. Title (italicized, or quotation marks for a minor work)
  3. Date of composition
  4. Form of the material – MS for manuscript, TS for typescript
  5. Name of library, institution, or collection which houses the work, followed by the location
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium (if from the Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Title.” Date. Form of the material. Institution, city. Title of the Web site. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Keller, Helen. “Letter to John Hitz 29 Aug. 1893.” 1893. TS. Lib. of Cong., Washington, D.C. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/magbellbib004020>.

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Maps and Charts

Maps are far more than just maps of cities and towns. They document historical places, events, and populations, as well as growth and changes over time. This map is from the Library of Congress online collections.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.8 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Title (italicized; in roman type and quotation marks if the work is part of a larger work)
  2. Format (map or chart)
  3. If part of a larger work, include that title (italicized) after the format
  4. Location: publisher, date
  5. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Title. Map. Location: publisher, date. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Map of the West Coast of Africa from Sierra Leone to Cape Palmas, including the Colony of Liberia. Map. Philadelphia: Finley, 1830. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/96680499>.

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Newspapers

Historic newspapers provide a glimpse of historic time periods. The articles, as well as the advertising, are an appealing way to get a look at the regions of the country or the world and the issues of the day.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.4.5 and 5.6.2c)

Structure

  1. Author last name, author first name (if applicable)
  2. Title of article (in quotation marks)
  3. Name of newspaper (italicized), city of publication if needed (square brackets, not italicized) and date published (with no punctuation in between)
  4. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  5. Medium (Web)
  6. Date of access
  7. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper [city] Day Month Year published. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

“Free Education While You Wait For Orders Home.” The Stars and Stripes 6 Dec. 1918. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/sn88075768/1918-12-06/ed-1>.

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Oral History Interviews

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., section 5.7.7 and 5.6.2b)

Structure:

  1. Interviewee last name, first name
  2. Title of the interview (if any) In quotations if it is part of a publication, in italics if published independently. Use Interview without quotes or italics if there is no title
  3. Name of interviewer if known
  4. Date of interview
  5. Title of the database or Website (italicized)
  6. Medium (Web)
  7. Date of access
  8. URL (in angle brackets) - optional

Last name, First name. “Title of Interview.” By Name of Interviewer.Day Month Year of Interview. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. ,opt. URL.

Example:

Patton, Gwendolen M. “Gwendolyn M. Patton oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Montgomery, Alabama, 2011-06-01.” Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/afc2010039_crhp0020/>.

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Photographs

Photographs and drawings appear in many of the Library of Congress digitized historical collections. This photograph from the Library's online collections shows casualties of war on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.6 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Artist last name, artist first name
  2. Title (italicized)
  3. Date of composition
  4. Format (photograph)
  5. Institution that houses the work, city where the piece is located
  6. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  7. Medium (Web)
  8. Date of access
  9. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Title. Date of composition. Photograph. Institution, City. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

O'Sullivan, Timothy H. Incidents of the War. A Harvest of Death. c1865. Photograph. Lib. of Cong., Washington D.C. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003001110/PP/>.

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Sound Recordings

This recording of Mrs. Ben Scott and Myrtle B. Wilkinson performing Haste to the Wedding is an example of Anglo-American dance music on the fiddle and tenor banjo recorded on October 31, 1939.

MLA Citation Format:
(MLA Handbook, 7th ed., sections 5.7.2 and 5.6.2d)

Structure

  1. Creator last name, creator first name
  2. Title (italicized)
  3. Any additional performers are listed here – first name followed by last name
  4. When citing a performance, list the date of the performance here, with the abbreviation “rec.” preceding the date
  5. Manufacturer and year published/issued
  6. Indicate the original audio format (CD, audiocassette, etc.)
  7. Title of the database or Web site (italicized)
  8. Medium (Web)
  9. Date of access
  10. URL (in angle brackets) – optional

Last name, First name. Song title. Perf. First name Last name. Rec. Day Month Year. Manufacturer, Year. Original format. Title of the Web site. Web. Day Month Year of access. <opt. URL>.

Example:

Scott, Mrs. Ben, and Myrtle B. Wilkinson. Haste to the Wedding. Rec. 31 October 1939 by Sydney Robertson Cowell. 78 rpm. Lib. of Cong. Web. 27 Jan. 2016. <http://www.loc.gov/item/afccc.a4227b4>.

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