Creating a Digital Index of Ancient Greek Texts, Part II: Compiling TLG References

On Friday, I wrote about how to convert a list of ancient Latin references generated from the Packhard Humanities Institute’s Library of Classical Latin Texts into a digital library of citations in EndNote or Zotero. Today, we turn to the parallel process of converting citation lists from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae database into EndNote or Zotero. I’ve copied over much of my instructions from the first post into this second one—so there’s some redundancy here.

One major difference: TLG expressly forbids the copying of Greek texts via their license agreement and copyright page. As the license agreement explains,

“Licensee make use of the Licensed Materials as is consistent with the Fair Use Provision of United States and International copyright laws. Licensee may not under any circumstances download or print large portions of a text or entire texts.”

So, it is important to note that the following steps have nothing to do with the Greek texts compiled in TLG but with the index of citations to particular words. Indeed, one should modify even the citation lists to keep within Fair Use Provision.

The steps to convert a library of citations are largely the same as those we outlined for the PHI Latin texts but require a good deal more text manipulation in MS Excel or Python (if you know it) because there is more metadata, and citations are not listed in entirely standard ways. Note that this will take some time, especially with larger libraries of several thousand entries. But the time it requires to manipulate, say 3,000 citation records, is not nearly as long as keying even 200-300 entries manually.

So, the steps mirror those we delineated for the PHI Latin texts.

Step 1: Select and Copy Greek Citations via the Simple Text Search of TLG

Run a simple text search on a key word in TLG. Set “Lines of Context” to ‘0’ so as to not capture any Greek texts (as noted above). Set “Results per page” to 1000 (cit). Order by date. Run the search and generate the results as follows. For my example, I have used the root ισθμ, so as to capture all Greek examples of isthmos, isthmiaka, isthmia, etc…


At the end of the results, click on the Printable Form button and copy the citations.


Paste into MS Excel (Paste to “Match Destination Formatting” to eliminate the hyperlinks and color).


If there are additional Greek keywords for your library (e.g., Kenchreai, Lechaion, Korinth-), repeat this step and dump into separate worksheets in Excel. You’ll want to keep them separate for now so that you can add English keywords before combining.

Remove the numbers generated during the TLG search. To do this, select Column A and take out the numbers listed before the author by using the REPLACE function. After you eliminate the numbers, you will be able to sort author names alphabetically.

You can select then column A and sort to get rid of the extra spaces between lines.



Step 2: Prepare Text for Comma Delimitation

Since you’ve pasted every record into a single cell, you’ll need to separate values via commas so that you can delimit into different cells.

The following record, for example, will create a division at the comma so that author is separated from work, TLG text #, date, citation.

Homerus Epic., Odyssea. {0012.002} (8 B.C.) Book 18 line 300

You’ll want to add commas after each of these to prepare the record for delimitation. Mostly this is a straightforward process. Select Column A. Use Find – Replace All to add commas before the ‘{‘, after the ‘}’, and after the ‘)’.


The example given above would be changed to

Homerus Epic., Odyssea. ,{0012.002}, (8 B.C.), Book 18 line 300

Note that some records will create problems for delimiting by comma:

  • Eumelus Epic., Corinthiaca (fragmenta). {0298.004} (8/7 B.C.) Volume-Jacoby#-F 3b,451,F fragment 4 line 5. 
  • Michael Psellus Phil., Theol., Polyhist., Epist. et Hagiogr., Opuscula psychologica, theologica, daemonologica. {2702.011} (A.D. 11) Page 80 line 26. 

Using the find-replace to add a comma after the ‘)’ of the date in the first example will also add one after the ‘)’ of fragmenta. Delimiting via the comma (Step 3) will create breaks in the citation after the 3b and the 451. The solution is to CONCATENATE these problem records (Step 4).

Step 3: Delimit Records into Separate Columns

Select Column A. Select the Data tab and then “Text to Columns” option. Where it says “Choose the File Type,” select the Delimited Button.

Select “Next” and check the box next to Comma as your Delimiter:

Hit “Next” and then “Finish”. After adjusting for column width, you should have something like this:


Step 4: Concatenate and Clean Up Text

Everything should be in 5 columns; if it is not (as in the case of Hecataeus above), there were additional commas that created breaks.

You can clean this up by deleting cells (as in the extra periods above) and using a formula with the CONCATENATE function to combine cells. Combine in a new column (K in the example below) and then copy and paste the value into column E. Fixing these glitches may take an hour or two to fix depending on the number of records (it took me two hours to edit 4,500 records).


You may also want to CONCATENATE columns B and E so that the citation shows up in the title field in EndNote and Zotero. To do this, use a formula with CONCATENATE so that you create a new column F which combines title (Column B) and citation (Column E).


Then, copy and paste value of new column F into Column B, replacing the old values of Column B. Delete columns E and F so that you have 4 columns.


Step 5: Combine Text, Edit, and Polish Text

At this point, you’ll want to clean up the text and prepare it for export into EndNote. If you have multiple worksheets consisting of different Greek keywords, add a fifth column in each of those worksheets, and insert the searchable keyword in English. Then combine all the worksheets into a single master worksheet.

After you’ve combined, you may want to clean up your data in a number of different ways:

  • Convert B.C. / A.D. values to positive and negative numbers. Use Find/Replace to change all dates into numbers. For example, 8 B.C. should be replaced with ‘-750’. Change 8/7 B.C. to –700. It does not really matter whether a text dates from 750, 725, or 700 BC (or was subsequently edited throughout the Classical period). You will just want to be able to sort in EndNote and Zotero and separate citations from, say, the 8th century BC from the second century AD. Of course, if you want to give precise chronological values to works and titles, now is the time to do it. Easier to do it in batches here than manually in Zotero.


  • You may want to replace author names (Homerus –> Homer) and titles (Ilias –> Iliad).


Again, it’s easier to make batch changes with different Excel functions here than change them later in Zotero or EndNote.

Insert a new row 1 at top of spreadsheet with the key heading words shown in the image below. EndNote will use these headers to interpret where the values go during the import. The spelling of these headers must be exact or there will be problems in importing.

Insert a new column 1 and title it “Reference Type.” Beneath this, for all the records, paste the value “Ancient Text” like the following (“Book” will also work as a recognized value).

When you are finished editing, save as a Text (Tab Delimited File).

Step 6: Clean Up in Word

I am not sure this step is necessary, but this YouTube tutorial video suggests you need to clean up the text by eliminating or replacing all quotations, apostrophes, wildcards, and the word “and”. I was able to import texts successfully without this steps—so if you have problems in Step 7, return to Step 6 and see if it makes a difference.

For Images for Steps 7-9, see Part 1 here.

Step 7: Import to EndNote

To import into EndNote, select “File” tab –> “Import” –> “File.” Select your tab-delimited text file. For Import Option, select “Tab Delimited.” Duplicates: “Import All”. Text Translation: “No Translation.”

Step 8: Export to Zotero

For this step, Zotero has provided documentation here.

To export to Zotero, click on Edit –> Output Styles –> Open Style Manager. Make sure RefMan (RIS) Export is selected. Close the Style Manager. Another acceptable export Style is BibTeX.

Select File –> Export. Select file. Save as type: Select “Text”  (give file a new name). Output Style: RefMan (RIS) Export. Uncheck the box “Export Selected Records,” and EndNote will assume you want to export all records. Click “Save.”

Step 9: Import to Zotero

Last step is open up Zotero for Firefox, or Zotero Stand-Alone.

Click on File –> Import –> select file and click “Open”.


As I noted in the previous post, I would be interested in hearing whether others have done this a different way, or how these steps might be improved to generate a more powerful database.

Creating a Library of Ancient Citations and Texts in Zotero and EndNote

In 1998, when I was completing an M.A. thesis on Classical farmsteads, I compiled hundreds of relevant Greek and Latin texts on handwritten 4 x 6” notecards. Running searches on Greek keywords for farms and rural life via the CD-ROM produced by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, a comprehensive library of all Greek literary texts produced before 1453, I meticulously copied out notes or transcribed translations of relevant evidence from Thucydides, Demosthenes, Xenophon, etc…

While very little has changed in my method of research (consulting ancient texts to make arguments), it’s amazing how much the basic process of conducting research has shifted in the last two decades. By the time I started work on my doctoral dissertation on the Late Roman Corinthia, I had switched to a laptop and was dumping translations and notes about ancient literary texts directly into Microsoft Word documents. Mining the comprehensive digital library of Greek texts via the TLG and the somewhat less comprehensive collection of Latin texts in the PHI Latin Library, I created a complete list of ancient literary citations related to the island of Kythera and the sites of the Corinthia. As Greek and Latin references to the Corinthia number over 5,000, I was able to type out or copy English translations and notes on a tiny portion of these. I have used these documents for much of the work on Corinth I’ve completed since 2006, but they are pretty messy documents running dozens, if not hundreds, of pages long. One can search these texts via Windows Explorer or Control-F, but they are not easy to browse or search in complex ways.

Last year, I became interested in how to use freeware like Zotero (or commercial software like EndNote) to organize, tag, and annotate large bodies of ancient literary sources. My ambitious plan was to look up and analyze all the Greek and Latin references to isthmuses in antiquity, and I needed a better system for organizing my findings and translations than word processing software. I was particularly interested in creating a large body of English translations that would facilitate complex word searches. I was also interested in creating a library of Corinthia-related texts that would serve the public.

I decided to go with Zotero because it was free and because I was already using it for the Corinthian Studies Library. As an experiment, I timed how long it would take to manually add the ancient citations from my earlier word documents into Zotero. I experimented for two hours (mind you, I was at the start of a sabbatical). By the second hour, I was able to do about 50 records per hour. Assuming some time for distraction, breaks for coffee, facebook, changing diapers (of my 3-month old), I figured that I might maintain a rate of 30 records per hour, which would require about 100 hours of work to create records for all the ancient citations for the key word “isthmus” relevant to the Roman period. Add another 100 hours for references to Archaic to Hellenistic and Late Antiquity. Thus, just to create the records would require hundreds of hours of work.

If my research project had depended on a few dozen citations, it would have been easier to enter these all manually into Zotero, or simply take notes in Word, consulting English translations at Perseus, LacusCurtius, and the Internet Archive, or translating passages most important to my work. But the project I had in mind was to study the history of the Isthmus of Corinth (and isthmus generally) through a large-scale compilation of texts, to look at patterns in use over time, and to return frequently to the translations. And I was interested in making some of these English translations public in the end.

I was surprised that there was so little information online about creating massive citation libraries with either Zotero or EndNote. With a little snooping, I discovered the problems with importing bibliography / texts created in Word documents into either Zotero or EndNote (see discussion here and here) and knew I’d need to clean up the records in Excel (I don’t know programming).

After a day or two of experimentation and failure, I figured out how to convert a standard list of citations generated via the TLG database or the PHI Latin database into EndNote and Zotero. Once I figured out the steps, it took me about only a day to import 5,800 records and edit and standardize the citations—but that long mainly because I ran into additional problems. Still, even a day was faster than entering them all manually. Now that I’ve done it, and learned the functions in Excel, I can bring additional records into Zotero in an hour or two (longer if the base lists are messy).

Since others may have major research projects in mind (like dissertations or theses) that require mining large quantities of ancient texts, I figured there might be some interest in creating one of these citation libraries. Others may have different methods for doing so, especially if they can program, so this is just the way that I did it.

I’ll write today about how I imported PHI records into Zotero, and in future posts, will cover TLG and English translations.

To replicate this process, you will need MS Word, Excel 2010 (or something comparable), a copy of EndNote (30-day trial versions available for download), and Zotero if you plan to use Zotero in addition to or instead of EndNote. I couldn’t figure out how to import data to Zotero without the aid of EndNote, so that was a necessary middle step. I’ll also assume you have some knowledge of PHI, and know how to write basic functions in MS Excel version 10 or an equivalent spreadsheet program. If you know how to program (I don’t), a program like Python may simplify the following steps.

*Warning and Disclaimer:  Given different operating systems, program versions, etc…., I cannot guarantee the following steps will work successfully. I’ll be curious to see if anyone can replicate the steps—please comment if you do. Remember to save your documents as you go along.

Step 1: Select and Copy Latin Citations via Concordance Feature in PHI 

The texts of PHI Latin are freely available and searchable online and can be queried and copied provided that you “use this web site only for personal study and not to make copies except for my personal use under “Fair Use” principles of Copyright law.” If you have the Latin CD-ROM and a program like Silver Mountain Software, the steps are comparable to the online version of PHI. I’ll use the online version as the example.

In PHI, the concordance search returns Author-Work-Citation-Latin text format. Run a keyword search using the Concordance.


Copy the Texts by selecting and scrolling down while holding the shift key, right click – Copy.

Paste into MS Excel (Paste to “Match Destination Formatting” to eliminate the hyperlinks and color). You should end up with something like this:


If there are additional Latin keywords you’d like to include (e.g., Cenchreae, Lechaeum, Isthm-), just repeat this step and dump into Excel.

Step 2: Concatenate Fragmented Latin Text

Excel divides the copied text into three columns, incorrectly deducing a break at the bold word “Corinth”. You’ll need to convert the texts in two ways now: separate author and work-citation from one another via commas, and combine the two columns into a single text using the Concatenate function of Excel (I’m assuming you will want to keep the Latin text).

Start with the latter: Concatenate cells B1 and C1, then copy and paste the same formula to all cells in the fourth columnPHI_4

This results in:


Copy this new column 4. Paste “Values” into a new, fifth column (you do this because Column 4 is a Formula that produces values dependent on the other two columns. Once you delete those columns, the formula will not work). Delete Columns 2-4. Result is that we’ve reconnected the Latin, which Excel originally separated:


Step 3: Separate Author from Work via Comma

Now, the other conversion is to separate the author from the work + citation. Since the PHI database has output this in a standard way, with the first “.” in column A as separating the author from the work, we just need to change this period to a comma, so that, for example, “Liv.Perioch.1b.9” becomes “Liv,Perioch.1b.9”. That comma will become the basis for delimiting the two in the next step.

Insert a new column to the right of column A. Then, use the SUBSTITUTE Function to replace the first period of A1 with a comma. Here’s the formula you would enter: =SUBSTITUTE(A1,”.”,”,”,1). Looks like this:


Then copy that function to all the other cells, and you will have commas after each author name. Copy new Column B and Paste Value into new Column C (again, for reasons noted above, so that you can delete the old columns).


Then, delete Columns A and B, and insert a new blank Column to the right of Column A. Once you delimit the “work” from the “author,” the Work will occupy this new column.


Step 4: Delimit Author from Work in Separate Columns

Select Column A. Select the Data tab and then “Text to Columns” option. Where it says “Choose the File Type,” select the Delimited Button.


Select “Next” and check the box next to Comma as your Delimiter:


Hit “Next” and then “Finish”. Result is:


Step 5: Edit Authors and Titles

This is your chance to edit the text before you import it into EndNote and Zotero. It’s much easier to edit all the records now than edit records individually in Zotero or EndNote. For example, you may want to use Replace All to change name abbreviations “Cic” to “Cicero”, or work titles like “Sat.” to “Satyricon”. Or you may want to sort by author or work, and add a Year column for the work (I’ve simply inserted “1” as the year for the sake of explaining this in the image below). Or a Keywords Column with value like PHI: Corinth.

Insert a new row 1 at top of spreadsheet with the key heading words shown in the image below. EndNote will use these headers to interpret where the values go during the import. The spelling of these headers must be exact or there will be problems in importing.


Finally, insert a new column 1 and title it “Reference Type.” Beneath this, for all the records, paste the value “Ancient Text” like the following (“Book” will also work as a recognized value):


When you are finished editing, save as a Text (Tab Delimited File).

Step 6: Clean Up in Word

I am not sure this step is necessary, but this YouTube tutorial video suggests you need to clean up the text by eliminating or replacing all quotations, apostrophes, wildcards, and the word “and”. I was able to import texts successfully without this steps—so if you have problems in Step 7, return to Step 6 and see if it makes a difference. Note that replacing the word “and” with \\ as the video recommends will affect some words: e.g., “Periandrus” would become Peri\\drus”.

Step 7: Import to EndNote

To import into EndNote, select “File” tab –> “Import” –> “File.” Select your tab-delimited text file. For Import Option, select “Tab Delimited.” Duplicates: “Import All”. Text Translation: “No Translation.”

You should end up with something like the following. You can tinker with the options at top to display abstract and title.


Step 8: Export to Zotero

For this step, Zotero has provided documentation here.

To export to Zotero, click on Edit –> Output Styles –> Open Style Manager. Make sure RefMan (RIS) Export is selected. Close the Style Manager. Another acceptable export Style is BibTeX.

Select File –> Export. Select file. Save as type: Select “Text”  (give file a new name). Output Style: RefMan (RIS) Export. Uncheck the box “Export Selected Records,” and EndNote will assume you want to export all records. Click “Save.”


EndNote exports it as a text file in a new format.

Step 9: Import to Zotero

Last step is open up Zotero for Firefox, or Zotero Stand-Alone.

Click on File –> Import –> select file and click “Open”.


Import should begin immediately.

This is how the records appear afterwards in the Zotero for Firefox version:


And in the Stand-Alone version:


Problems in Importing

Note that there are some bugs with moving RIS files between EndNote and Zotero. The new version of Zotero Stand-Alone sometimes stalls out for users so that the import never completes. See recent discussion at Zotero here, here, and here.

If this happens to you, as it did to me yesterday as I tried to replicate my steps from last fall, you can either try importing the RIS file into Zotero on another computer, or download Firefox and Zotero for Firefox and repeat the import. I did the latter and successfully imported the file right away. I can sync my Zotero Stand-Alone and Zotero for Firefox.

Good luck! Please comment here if you try this with or without success.

Corinthian Studies, Zotero, and THATCamp Harrisburg

About a year ago, we announced the launch of the Corinthian Studies Library in Zotero. The first version of the library, which can be downloaded as an RIS file at this page, can be imported into a number of bibliographic programs like EndNote or Zotero. Or, you can view the collection online at Zotero’s server. The collection contains about 1,600 items related to the historical study of the Corinthia.

This fall, I am working with Megan Piette, a history student at Messiah College, to develop version 2. The second version will be more comprehensive, contain more abstracts, and better keywords. We’re working especially on improving the New Testament section of the library by keying entries from recent commentaries and edited collections by New Testament scholars. We hope to have that out later this fall or during the winter.

There are two other Zotero collections that will also go live this year and form additional components of the Corinthian Studies Library. One is a collection of historical texts related to the study of and travel to the Corinthia from the 12th to early 20th century. It contains a number of the usual suspects of early travelers, like Spon and Wheler, Chandler, Leake, Clarke etc…

The other is a massive collection of ancient citations to the Corinthia. I noted the collection here and promised to do some posts about how I created the library. Later this week I plan to run some posts about this collection and release a small portion of the library: English translations of Greek and Latin texts related to Roman Corinth and the Corinthian Isthmus. In later fall and winter, we’ll release more of these texts.

My prompt for putting this all together is a Humanities and Technology Camp at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology this Friday and Saturday. THATCamp Harrisburg will bring together digital humanities folk from a number of neighboring colleges and universities. I will team up with Beth Transue, Associate Librarian/Collection Development Coordinator at Messiah College, on a workshop titled “Creating a Comprehensive Public Research Library in Zotero.”

If you’re in driving distance, join us at THATCamp Harrisburg.

The Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore Inscriptions Published

Just saw the good news that Ronald Stroud’s volume (Corinth XVIII.6) on the inscriptions from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on the lower slopes of Acrocorinth is now published and available for purchase. Details below from Andrew Reinhard at the ASCSA Publication Office.





Excavations conducted by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore on Acrocorinth, 1961–1975, produced more than 170 inscribed objects of stone, bronze, bone, lead weights, pottery (graffiti and dipinti), clay pinakes, magical lead tablets, and an inscribed mosaic. In this new Corinth volume, Ron Stroud presents all of these inscriptions, and he relates them to an overall interpretation of the activities, secular and religious, attested in this shrine during its long period of use from the 7th century B.C. until the end of the 4th century A.D. Where possible, Stroud also draws out their implications for and contribution to the history of ancient Corinth, the worship of the goddesses Demeter and Kore, and the practice of magic—especially in the Roman period. This is the final publication of the inscribed objects from the sanctuary, excluding loomweights and stamped amphora handles, which will be included in a later publication.


Chapter 1: Inscriptions on Stone, Metal, Bone, and in Mosaic

Chapter 2: Dipinti on Pottery

Chapter 3: Graffiti on Pottery

Chapter 4: Inscriptions on Clay Pinakes

Chapter 5: Magical Lead Tablets



Indexes (General, Ancient Sources, Greek and Latin Names, Greek and Latin Words)

Click here to read an interview with the author.

Click here for a free sample chapter.

Click here for information on how to order this book.

Dissertation Corner: A Guide to “Corinth on the Isthmus”

I recently discovered by accident that my doctoral dissertation on the Late Antique Corinthia was available for free download through OhioLink. When I completed this study in 2006 at Ohio State University, there was concern among graduate students that our university’s decision to disseminate theses and dissertations to the public would jeopardize opportunities for later publication. I wasn’t sure whether would prove true but erred on the side of caution. I delayed publication for five years, imagining that my book would be completed by then.

What I could not have counted on then was how much the main ideas of that little study would change over the next six years as I read more broadly and encountered the complexities of my subject. My interests shifted earlier, the guiding concepts of the study broadened, and I made some surprising new discoveries about how the Isthmus functioned (and did not) to facilitate trade.

The dissertation was at its heart a study of the late Roman countryside, or, as I noted in the abstract, “the continuity, discontinuity, and transformation of Corinth on the Isthmus during Late Antiquity.” My premise was simple: the textual history of Corinth in late antiquity did not correspond to the archaeological evidence for commerce, economy, settlement, and monumental architecture found in the territory. I argued that the visible developments in the landscape between the 4th and 7th centuries AD discounted the 3rd-5th century literary view that Corinth was in decline.

In one sense, the study continued or supported the recent work of scholars like Timothy Gregory, Richard Rothaus, Bill Caraher, Guy Sanders, and P. Nick Kardulias who had highlighted the continuing vitality of the late antique Corinthia from fortification walls, late antique villas, urban center, religious traditions, and churches; my contribution was a study of the evidence for Late Roman settlement documented by the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey (1998-2002). In another sense, though, I was doing something a bit different in examining why the vibrant textual tradition for Corinth fragmented in the later Roman era. Why were text and material culture so out of sync? I highlighted how the Roman image of the city was itself a mirage that burst in late antiquity as the broader world changed.

I published some of the chapters of the dissertation along the way and eventually crafted a diachronic study about the changing place of Corinth and its Isthmus within the shifting networks of the Mediterranean world. The shift, I felt, was inevitable, as I could not really discuss the late antique changes in the Roman landscape without proper attention to what that landscape had been in the 1st-2nd centries. Along the way, the dissertation developed into something entirely new, a study of the long-term notion of connectivity and geographic consequence. I now believe that my use of broad temporal categories in the dissertation like “Early Roman” and “Late Roman” actually obscure the dynamic changes in the Roman landscape that occurred on the order of years, generations, or century. The visitor to this blog should hear a bit this year about my book project on the historical contingencies that shaped Corinth and its region from the 2nd c. BC to 7th c. AD.

If you have interest in the late antique Corinthia, the entire dissertation can be freely downloaded here (20 mb). I provide links below to the individual chapters as PDF documents and notes about how these have appeared or will appear in print. This will, I  hope, save the reader from working through outdated text. A brief outline of the dissertation (more detailed outline here):


1. Corinth and the End of the World. Introduction, historiography, approach, and directions. The scholarship overview is recent enough to be of some use and will complement the overview in Amelia Brown’s 2008 late antique dissertation on the urban center (summary here, PDF dissertation here). The main idea of this chapter and the dissertation was published in this book chapter.

2. Corinth in a Landscape. The geological and topographical structure of the Isthmus and its importance for the ancient image of the city. Don’t bother reading: wait for the book which will update it, but there are some nice pictures of the landscape.

3. The Image of the City. A study of the fragmentation of the literary image of the city in late antiquity. I realize some of my conclusions in this chapter are either incorrect or have developed through more sensitive readings (e.g., this article on the diolkosof Corinth), but it still provides a useful critical review of the negative literary tradition about the late antique city. I am completely rewriting this chapter in my book.

4. A Busy Countryside. A study of the evidence for the “explosion” of Late Roman settlement in the Corinthia from the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey data. Perhaps the most important chapter in the dissertation but not worth reading today as it has appeared in polished form in this Hesperia article.

5. The Crossroads. The continuing importance in late antiquity of the ancient crossroads site known as Kromna. Besides supporting a thesis for the continuing dynamism of the territory, the chapter reinterprets the ancient identification of the site of Kromna. I’ve never had time to publish my observations on Kromna other than a short note in this article. I’m not sure I completely agree with my own conclusions re: Kromna, but I think they are moving in the right direction.

6. Inhabiting Time. An examination of excavated villas of the territory and their evident refurbishments over time that indicate a society capable of large material investments. A fun chapter to write, but I have no plans to publish it. New Testament scholars may have interest in the survey of Roman villas in the territory.

7. A Brief Conclusion about Future Directions

Appendix I. Defining (Roman) Sites in a Continuous Carpet. I’ve updated and published this in an article in the forthcoming work, The Bridge of the Untiring Sea.

In the course of this year, I hope to coerce a few other recent Corinthiaka dissertators to talk about their projects and their plans for publication. Dissertators may of course nominate themselves.

Ancient Corinth: 2011 Publications

I finally had time this week to gather together the 2011 publications for various aspects of Corinth’s history.  The first installment today includes about 3 dozen publications related to the history and archaeology of Corinth in antiquity, i.e., from the Bronze Age to Late Antiquity.  I will follow the rest of the week with sections on Medieval-Modern, Geology and Environment, and New Testament & Early Christian Studies.

As in my 2010 year in review, I created this list from Google alerts and Worldcat.  Since neither of these is comprehensive, I do not claim that this list is exhaustive.  Nonetheless, it is probably a fair representation of the materials published in the last year.  The list focuses on academic publications (books, articles, and dissertations) that relate directly to the archaeology and history of the Corinthia, or refer frequently to Corinth.  It excludes conference papers, master’s theses, historical fiction, and general works that indirectly touch on Corinth (i.e., some of the material that I do usually include in Corinthian Scholarship (monthly)).

If you published on material in 2011 that is relevant to the list, please send my way along with links if available.  The updated list will live permanently here.

Thanks to Messiah College Historymajor Amanda Mylin for help in putting this together.

Bronze Age

Tartaron, Thomas F., Daniel J. Pullen, Richard K. Dunn, Lita Tzortzopoulou-Gregory, Amy Dill, Joseph I. Boyce, “The Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP): Investigations at Mycenaean Kalamianos, 2007-2009,” in Hesperia 80.4 (2011), 559-634.

Weiberg, Erika, “The invisible dead : The case of the Argolid and Corinthia during the Early Bronze Age,” in Helen Cavanagh, William Cavanagh and James Roy (eds.),Honouring the Dead in the Peloponnese: Proceedings of the conference held at Sparta 23-25 April 2009, CSPS Online Publication 2 prepared by Sam Farnham, 2011, pp. 781-796.

Geometric to Hellenistic

Athanassaki, L., and E. Bowie (eds.), Archaic and Classical Choral Song: Performance, Politics and Dissemination(de Gruyter 2011)

Barone, G., P. Mazzoleni, E. Aquilia, V. Crupi, F. Longo, D. Majolino, V. Venuti, and G. Spagnolo, “Potentiality of non-destructive XRF analysis for the determination of Corinthian B amphorae provenance,” in X-Ray Spectrometry40.5 (2011), 333-337.

Burnett, Anne Pippin, ”Servants of Peitho: Pindar fr.122 S“, GRBS 51 (2011).

Coldstream, N., Greek Geometric Pottery. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Great Britain, Fascicule 25; The British Museum, Fascicule 11. London:  British Museum, 2010. (BMCR review here).

Dawson, A., “Seeing Dead People: A Study of the Cypselids,” Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (PDF)

Dubbini, Rachele, Dei nello spazio degli uomini : i culti dell’agora e la costruzione di Corinto arcaica, Rome 2011: L’Erma di Bretschneider.

Foley, Brendan P.,Maria C. Hansson, Dimitris P. Kourkoumelis, Theotokis A. Theodoulou, “Aspects of ancient Greek trade re-evaluated with amphora DNA evidence,” in Journal of Archaeological Science 39.2 (2012), 389-398.

Gassner, Verena, “Amphorae Production of the Ionic‐Adriatic Region,” in FACEM (version 06/06/2011).

Greene, Elizabeth S., Justin Leidwanger, and Harun A. Özdaş, “Two Early Archaic Shipwrecks at Kekova Adası and Kepçe Burnu, Turkey,” in IJNA40.1 (2011), 60-68.

Howan, V., “Three Fleets or Two,” in Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (on the Corinthian War)

Krystalli-Vosti, Kalliopi, and Erik Østby, “The Temples of Apollo at Sikyon,” in Bolletino di Archeologia On Line 2011.

Leenen, M., “The Evolution of Roman Diplomatic Interaction with the Achaean League, 200-146 B.C.E.,” in Australian Society for Classical Studies, Selected Papers from the 32nd Annual Conference, 2011 (PDF)

Mannino, M.R., and S. Orecchio, “Chemical characterization of ancient potteries from Himera and Pestavecchia necropolis (Sicily, Italy) by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES),” in Microchemical Journal97.2 (2011), 165-172.

McPhee, Ian D., and Elizabeth G. Pemberton, Corinth VII.6. Late Classical Pottery from Ancient Corinth: Drain 1971-1 in the Forum Southwest, Princeton 2011? (in production): American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Morgan, C., “Isthmia and beyond. How can quantification help the analysis of EIA sanctuary deposits?,” in Samuel Verdan, Thierry Theurillat and Anne Kenzelmann Pfyffer (eds.), Early Iron Age Pottery: A Quantitative Approach. Proceedings of the International Round Table organized by the Swiss School of Archaeology in Greece (Athens, November 28-30, 2008), BAR International Series 2254 (2011), 11-18.

Pettegrew, David K., “The Diolkos of Corinth,” AJA 115.4 (2011), pp. 549-574. Images here.

Rhodes, Robin, “The Woodwork of the Seven Century Temple on Temple Hill in Corinth,” in Alexander von Kienlin (ed.), Holztragwerke der Antike : Internazionale Konferenz 30. März – 1. April 2007 in München, Byzas Vol. 11, Istanbul 2011: German Archaeological Institute.

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Tsiafakis, Despoina, “The Ancient Settlement at Karabournaki: the Results of the Corinthian and Corinthian Type Pottery Analysis,” in Bolletino di Archeologia On Line 2011.

Roman Corinth

Flament, C., and P. Marchetti, Le monnayage argien d’époque romaine: d’Hadrien à Gallien, Athens 2011: French School of Athens.

Frangoulidis, Stavros, “From impulsiveness to self-restraint: Lucius’ stance in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses,” Trends in Classics3.1 (2011), pp. 113–125

Friesen, Steven J., Daniel N. Schowalter and James C. Walters, Corinth in context: comparative studies on religion and society, Supplements to Novum Testamentum vol. 134, Leiden 2010: E. J. Brill. Reviews at Journal of Roman Archaeology (Dennis E. Smith), Journal of Theological Studies (David Horrell), Religious Studies Review (Richard S. Ascough), and The Expository Times(Jane Heath).

Melfi, Milena, “Uestigiis reuolsorum donorum, tum donis diues erat (Livy XLV, 28): the Early Roman Presence in the Asklepieia of Greece,” in Bolletino di Archaeologia On Line 2011

Palinkas, Jennifer, and James A. Herbst, “A Roman Road Southeast of the Forum at Corinth: Technology and Urban Development,” in Hesperia80 (2011), 287-336.

Papaioannou, Maria, “East Meets West: the Pottery Evidence from Abdera,” in Bolletino di Archaeologia On Line 2011

Pettegrew, David K., “The Diolkos of Corinth,” AJA 115.4 (2011), pp. 549-574. Images here.

Quercia, A., A. Johnston, A. Bevan, J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos, “Roman Pottery from an Intensive Survey of Antikythera, Greece,” in Annual of British School at Athens106 (2011).

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Spaeth, Barbette Stanley, “Imperial Cult in Roman Corinth: a Response to Karl Galinsky’s ‘The Cult of the Roman Emperor: Uniter or Divider?,’” in J. Brodd and J.L. Reed (eds.), Rome and Religion: A Cross-disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult, Atlanta 2011, 61-82: Society of Biblical Literature.

Stover, Tim, “Unexampled Exemplarity: Medea in the Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus,” Transactions of the American Philological Association141.1 (2011).

Tilg, Stefan, “Religious Feasting in Apuleius’s Metamorphoses: Appetite for Change?,” in
Transactions of the American Philological Association 141.2 (2011), 387-400.

Ubelaker, D.H., and J.L. Rife, “Skeletal analysis and mortuary practice in an Early Roman chamber tomb at Kenchreai, Greece,” in International Journal of Osteoarchaeology21.1 (2011), 1-18.

Late Antiquity

Brown, Amelia R., “Banditry or Catastrophe?: History, Archaeology, and Barbarian Raids on Roman Greece,” in R.W. Mathisen & D. Shanzer, eds., Romans, Barbarians, and the Transformation of the Roman World: Cultural Interaction and the Creation of Identity in Late Antiquity, Farnham 2011: Ashgate, pp. 79-96.

Cherf, William J., “Procopius De aedificiis 4.2.1–22 on the Thermopylae Frontier,” in Byzantinische Zeitschrift 104.1 (2011), 71–113.

Curta, Florin, “Still Waiting for the Barbarians?  The Making of the Slavs in ‘Dark-Age’ Greece,” in F. Curta (ed.), Neglected Barbarians, Turnhout Brepols Publishers: 2010, published online November 2011.

Friesen, Steven J., Daniel N. Schowalter and James C. Walters, Corinth in context: comparative studies on religion and society, Supplements to Novum Testamentum vol. 134, Leiden 2010: E. J. Brill. Reviews at Journal of Roman Archaeology (Dennis E. Smith), Journal of Theological Studies (David Horrell), Religious Studies Review (Richard S. Ascough), and The Expository Times(Jane Heath).

Hadler, Hanna, Andreas Vött, Benjamin Koster, Margret Mathes-Schmidt, Torsten Mattern, Konstantin Ntageretzis, Klaus Reicherter, Dimitris Sakellariou, Timo Willershäuser, “Lechaion, the Ancient Harbour of Corinth (Peloponnese, Greece) destroyed by Tsunamigenic Impact,” pp. 70-73.   [Article reviewed at Corinthian Matters]

Quercia, A., A. Johnston, A. Bevan, J. Conolly and A. Tsaravopoulos, “Roman Pottery from an Intensive Survey of Antikythera, Greece,” in Annual of British School at Athens106 (2011).

Robinson, Betsey, Histories of Peirene: A Corinthian Fountain in Three Millennia, Princeton 2011: American School of Classical Studies at Athens. (Reviews at Corinithianmatters and the New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

The Vampire on the Isthmus: A Halloween Tale

It is hard to know why ancient writers found Corinth and its territory a region suitable for placing ghosts, witches, and vampires, and whether the region was any more haunted than other towns and countrysides of the ancient world.  The destruction of Corinth by the Romans in 146 BC made the city a gloomy ghost town for a century – or at least that is how some Roman writers and modern authors have imagined it: “I felt the ghosts of Corinth watching me” (Steven Saylor).  But the transient character of the Isthmus and the ‘foreign’ elements of the local population also contributed in some ways to stories of spooky beings like the Phoenician vampire bride of Corinth. 

I first discovered Philostratus’ account of the vampire bride while conducting dissertation research related to the Roman Isthmus.  In his 3rd century AD account, Philostratus tells how a Lycian philosopher named Menippus was nearly devoured by his vampire bride on his wedding day, saved at the last moment by the miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana.  The story interestingly brings together many associations of ancient Corinth—Kenchreai , the Isthmus, the center of Hellas, foreign populations (Lycian and Phoenician), associations with philosophy, suburbs of Corinth, the (illusive) pleasures of Aphrodite, and the wealth of the city—that relate illusive beings to transient places.  The following passage from Philostratus VA 4.25 was translated by F.C. Conybeare:

“Now there was in Corinth at that time a man named Demetrius, who studied philosophy and had embraced in his system all the masculine vigor of the Cynics. Of him Favorinus in several of his works subsequently made the most generous mention, and his attitude towards Apollonius was exactly that which they say Antisthenes took up towards the system of Socrates: for he followed him and was anxious to be his disciple, and was devoted to his doctrines, and converted to the side of Apollonius the more esteemed of his own pupils.

Among the latter was Menippus a Lycian of twenty-five years of age, well endowed with good judgment, and of a physique so beautifully proportioned that in mien he resembled a fine and gentlemanly athlete. Now this Menippus was supposed by most people to be loved by a foreign woman, who was good-looking and extremely dainty, and said that she was rich; although she was really, as it turned out, not one of these things, but was only so in semblance.

For as he was walking all alone along the road towards Cenchraeae, he met with an apparition, and it was a woman who clasped his hand and declared that she had been long in love with him, and that she was a Phoenician woman and lived in a suburb of Corinth, and she mentioned the name of the particular suburb, and said: “When you reach the place this evening, you will hear my voice as I sing to you, and you shall have wine such as you never before drank, and there will be no rival to disturb you; and we two beautiful beings will live together.”

The youth consented to this, for although he was in general a strenuous philosopher, he was nevertheless susceptible to the tender passion; and he visited her in the evening, and for the future constantly sought her company as his darling, for he did not yet realize that she was a mere apparition.

Then Apollonius looked over Menippus as a sculptor might do, and he sketched an outline of the youth and examined him, and having observed his foibles, he said: “You are a fine youth and are hunted by fine women, but in this case you are cherishing a serpent, and a serpent cherishes you.”

And when Menippus expressed his surprise, he added: “For this lady is of a kind you cannot marry. Why should you? Do you think that she loves you?”

“Indeed I do,” said the youth, “since she behaves to me as if she loves me.”

“And would you then marry her?” said Apollonius.

“Why, yes, for it would be delightful to marry a woman who loves you.”

Thereupon Apollonius asked when the wedding was to be. “Perhaps tomorrow,” said the other, “for it brooks no delay.” 

Apollonius therefore waited for the occasion of the wedding breakfast, and then, presenting himself before the guests who had just arrived, he said: “Where is the dainty lady at whose instance ye are come?”

“Here she is,” replied Menippus, and at the same moment he rose slightly from his seat, blushing.

“And to which of you belong the silver and gold and all the rest of the decorations of the banqueting hall?”

“To the lady,” replied the youth, “for this is all I have of my own,” pointing to the philosopher’s cloak which he wore.

And Apollonius said: “Have you heard of the gardens of Tantalus, how they exist and yet do not exist?”

“Yes,” they answered, “in the poems of Homer, for we certainly never went down to Hades.”

“As such,” replied Apollonius, “you must regard this adornment, for it is not reality but the semblance of reality. And that you may realize the truth of what I say, this fine bride is one of the vampires, that is to say of those beings whom the many regard as lamias and hobgoblins. These beings fall in love, and they are devoted to the delights of Aphrodite, but especially to the flesh of human beings, and they decoy with such delights those whom they mean to devour in their feasts.”

And the lady said: “Cease your ill-omened talk and be gone”; and she pretended to be disgusted at what she heard, and in fact she was inclined to rail at philosophers and say that they always talked nonsense. When, however, the goblets of gold and the show of silver were proved as light as air and all fluttered away out of their sight, while the wine-bearers and the cooks and all the retinue of servants vanished before the rebukes of Apollonius, the phantom pretended to weep, and prayed him not to torture her nor to compel her to confess what she really was.

But Apollonius insisted and would not let her off, and then she admitted that she was a vampire, and was fattening up Menippus with pleasures before devouring his body, for it was her habit to feed upon young and beautiful bodies, because their blood is pure and strong.

I have related at length, because it was necessary to do so, this the best-known story of Apollonius; for many people are aware of it and know that he incident occurred in the center of Hellas; but they have only heard in a general and vague manner that he once caught and overcame a lamia in Corinth, but they have never learned what she was about, nor that he did it to save Menippus, but I owe my own account to Damis and to the work which he wrote.”

An Account of Travel to the Corinthia: Major Sir Greenville Temple (1836)

While conducting research on the diolkos of Corinth last year, I discovered the enormous corpus of scanned texts in Google Books relating travel accounts to Greece and the Aegean from the late 18th to 20th centuries.  These searchable texts offer the researcher an easy way of measuring historical interest in ancient landscapes.  I was interested at what point in time that the diolkos, defined by Strabo as a toponym for the ‘narrowest part of the Corinthian Isthmus,’ was redefined as a “portage road.”  Using Google Books allowed me to discern that the change had occurred by the mid-19th century.

I recently heard from Fotini Kondyli, who is organizing an exhibition for the First Amsterdam Meeting of Byzantine and Ottoman Archaeology, Digging up Answers to the Medieval Mediterranean.  In going through British travelers’ writings, she found and sent me this account by Sir Greenville Temple of a trip to Corinth in the 1830s (see pp. 58-64).  The account, which I copy out here, is also interesting in that it relates to a drawing from Harrison’s A Pictorial Tour in the Mediterraneanthat will be shown at the exhibition.  See the Google Books version for several notes that accompany this text.

I have posted this as a permanent page on the website.


“At night we again lay-to, by the pilot’s advice, between Salamis and Lavousa island, (Aspis.)

On the 9th, after passing by the islands of Pente Nesia (Dendros,) Havreo, and Plato, we anchored in the beautiful little bay of Kehkrieh (Cenchres) at the head of the bay of Aegina (Saronicus sinus.) Our visit to Corinth we deferred till the following day, as it would have been late before we could have procured horses to convey us there; and employed the remainder of the day in wandering about the neighbourhood.—Passing by some extensive and ancient quarries, from which we had a fine view of the bay of Kalamaki, we went to Cososi (Schoenus.) The country through which we walked abounds with hares and partridges, and our sailors collected a great number of tortoises, some of considerable size. They formed very good soups. One mile in the opposite direction, and near the cape which divides the little bay of Kehkrieh from that of Galataki, we saw what Pausanias calls the baths of Helen, which are nine feet deep, slightly mineral, and though not warm, yet rather tepid.

The site of the ancient Cenchres is at present occupied by a single farm-house, near which is a well of excellent water. Cenchres was the naval station of the Corinthians on the east, as Leches was on the west. It contained temples dedicated to Venus, Isis, and Esculapius, and placed on a rock in the sea stood a statue of Neptune. Close to the sea, and in parts even covered by its waters, are the foundations of a variety of buildings, whose plans can distinctly be traced, as the walls still remain to the height of from two feet to three feet and a-half.

Next morning, having procured horses and mules, we rode to Corinth, nine miles distant. On our left rose a chain of bold rocky hills, on the side of which is the village of Xylo Kerata. Passing by some ancient quarries, we reached the village of Hexomili, or Korio Americano, built on Mr. Owen’s plan by the American missionaries, and consisting of three long rows of houses, parallel, but at a considerable distance from each other. It was almost entirely destroyed by the Greeks during the late commotions. Nearer the mountains are the ruins of a large house built for himself by the principal missionary. Beyond Hexomili are traces of an aqueduct, some tombs, and fragments of brick buildings.* Having crossed the stream of Eupheeli, we soon reached a small collection of houses scattered through a large extent of others in ruins; and this, to my surprise, I found to be Corinth!

The town is known indifferently by the names of Korinto, Korto, and Ghiurdos—and in different parts are seen the ruins of mosques, and minars, and those of an extensive serai, formerly the residence of the Turkish pashas. Adjoining the serai, or rather at the base of the rock on which it stands, is the fountain of Peirene, now called Aphroditi: it consists of a small stream gushing out of a fissure in the rock, whilst water drops from its overhanging ledge. This deliciously cool spot was formerly enclosed within the boundaries of the harem garden, and here doubtless many idle moments were spent by the powerful pasha—seated on the carpets of Persia, and surrounded by groups of lovely women, whilst he smoked his chibook, and perhaps indulged in the forbidden draught of wine. How changed is the scene !—no vestiges of the garden and its tulip-beds, the kioshks no longer exist, and a few dirty and squalid Greek women washing their rags, or carrying away jugs of water, have taken the place of the lovely inmates of the harem.

The town was entirely destroyed during the last revolutionary war, but a few houses are rising out of the ashes; the bazaar is tolerably supplied, and there is a good inn kept by a Cephaleniote. Opposite the governor’s house are the remains of a Doric temple, of which seven fluted monolithic columns remain, which at present measure fifteen feet seven inches in circumference, but before the edges of the fluting were chipped off, their circumference was sixteen feet; they were covered with a coating of stucco or cement, and perhaps painted. Antiquarians suppose the temple to have been dedicated to Minerva Chalinitis. Close to it, is an isolated mass of rock cut in a square form, and having a chamber excavated in it. This may be the tomb of Lais, but the lioness holding a ram between her fore-feet, which Pausanias states to have been sculptured on it, exists no longer.

Observing no other remains of antiquity in the town, we rode up to

…. “Yon tower-capt Acropolis,

Which seems the very clouds to kiss.”

The road was good and partly paved. The citadel is a large and straggling Venetian fortification with crenelated walls, which in parts rest upon portions of the old ones, composed of large, square, regular stones. It mounts about twentyfive pieces of cannon, many of which are Turkish brass pieces of forty-eight pounds, bearing the tooghra of Selim III. The garrison amounts to one hundred men.

On the highest point of Aero Korinto, elevated five hundred and seventy-five metres above the sea, are seen traces, round a small ruined Moslem chapel, of an ancient edifice constructed of large square stones, which may probably be part of the temple of Venus, which Strabo states occupied the summit. From this the view is really magnificent, embracing the gulfs of Ainabahkt (or Lepanto) and Aegina, divided from each other by the isthmus.* Half way across the Isthmus rise the Paleo Vouni mountains (Gerania) on the east, and Makriplai (Oneion) on the west; beyond whose western extremity, which forms Cape Malangara, (Olmice vel Acrceum prom.) is seen the Bay of Livadostro (Alcyonium mare.)  On the opposite shore are the heights of Galata; Ximeno (Cirphis,) and Lyokoora, (Parnassus,) in Phocis; —Zagora ( Helicon,) Koromilia,(Tipha) and Elatea (Cithceron,) in Boeotia;— the high land in Megaris; and Kerala, partly in that and partly in Attica ; —Salamis and other islands in the Saronic sea —the flat sea-board of Achaia, with Balaga (Lechaeum) the now filled up port of Corinth. In the rear are the two roads, which, winding through beautiful valleys and mountain passes, lead to Argos, Nauplia, &c; and the whole is bounded by the ranges of the Cellenus, Artemisium, and Taygetus.

In the different parts of the citadel are scattered a considerable number of columns, among which are some of very fine verd’ antico. There is also a very large reservoir of water, and, according to the on dit of the soldiers, no less than three hundred and sixty-five wells— one of these with a spring, which is situated in the parade-ground in front of the barracks, is said to be the source of Peirene, which again comes to light, as before-mentioned, under the ruins of the pasha’s serai.—During the Turkish rule, Aero Korinto contained a considerable village, only the ruins of which at present remain.

On an adjoining peak of the mountain is another, but smaller, fort, called Pendeh Scoofia, occupied by the Greeks for the purpose of bombarding the citadel from it. It mounts at present six guns and a bomb, and is garrisoned by twenty men. It was from this spot that Muhammed II., in 864, H., thundered against the Acropolis, which soon fell.

Returning to the yacht, we arrived in fifteen minutes west of Corinth, at the remains of an amphitheatre excavated out of the surface of the rocky soil. A small portion only of the seats remain, and as the lower seats have fallen in, the dimensions of the arena could not be accurately taken; it, however, seems to have been about two hundred and eighty-four feet in length, running nearly north-east and southwest, by one hundred and seventy-seven feet in breadth. At the north-east extremity, the entrance is cut through the rock, the roof being flat. At present it forms a large cave in which many Greek families took refuge from the Turkish forces during the late commotions.”

Corinthian Scholarship (April 2011)

The latest in Corinthian Scholarship for April 2011.  As always, this list is based on various Google alerts that may be thorough but are certainly not exhaustive.  If you have material to add, send it my way.


Archaic to Hellenistic:

Roman Corinth:

  • Corinth’s Roman coinage is featured quite frequently in this new book by Constantina Kotsari on The Roman Monetary System

Pauline Corinth, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians:

How (not) to write history

This weekend Messiah College is hosting the annual National History Day competition for the south-central Pennsylvania region.  Hundreds of junior high and high school kids will descend on our campus and engage in  historical research through papers, films, posters, and performances.  It is enjoyable to see kids recognizing the value of learning the methods of history and investing energy and effort into their projects.

On this occasion of our region’s celebration of history day, I give you some excerpts from the 2nd century AD essay How to Write History (translation F.G. and H.W. Fowler’s 1905) by the orator Lucian of Samosata in Syria.  Unfortunately, Lucian can only think of bad Corinthian historians, so our two examples will be instances of how not to write history.

First, though, Lucian’s reason for writing, which calls to mind Diogenes the philosopher who lived in a large ceramic vessel in the Kraneion suburb of Corinth:

(2-3) “You cannot find a man but is writing history; every one you meet is a Thucydides, a Herodotus, a Xenophon. The old saying must be true, and war be the father of all things, seeing what a litter of historians it has now teemed forth at a birth.

Such sights and sounds, my Philo, brought into my head that old anecdote about Diogenes. A report that Philip was marching on the town had thrown all Corinth into a bustle; one was furbishing his arms, another wheeling stones, a third patching the wall, a fourth strengthening a battlement, every one making himself useful somehow or other. Diogenes having nothing to do–of course no one thought of giving him a job–was moved by the sight to gird up his philosopher’s cloak and begin rolling his tub-dwelling energetically up and down the Kraneion; an acquaintance asked, and got, the explanation: ‘I do not want to be thought the only idler in such a busy multitude; I am rolling my tub to be like the rest.’…”

And then, on to our bad historians in Corinth:

“(17) Perhaps I should balance him with a philosophic historian; this gentleman’s name I will conceal, and merely indicate his attitude, as revealed in a recent publication at Corinth. Much had been expected of him, but not enough; starting straight off with the first sentence of the preface, he subjects his readers to a dialectic catechism, his thesis being the highly philosophic one, that no one but a philosopher should write history. Very shortly there follows a second logical process, itself followed by a third; in fact the whole preface is one mass of dialectic figures. There is flattery, indeed, ad nauseam, eulogy vulgar to the point of farce; but never without the logical trimmings; always that dialectical catechism. I confess it strikes me as a vulgarity also, hardly worthy of a philosopher with so long and white a beard, when he gives it in his preface as our ruler’s special good fortune that philosophers should consent to record his actions; he had better have left us to reach that conclusion for ourselves–if at all….

(29) Another entertaining person, who has never set foot outside Corinth, nor traveled as far as its harbor–not to mention seeing Syria or Armenia–, starts with words which impressed themselves on my memory:–‘Seeing is believing: I therefore write what I have seen, not what I have been told.’ His personal observation has been so close that he describes the Parthian ‘Dragons’ (they use this ensign as a numerical formula–a thousand men to the Dragon, I believe): they are huge live dragons, he says, breeding in Persian territory beyond Iberia; these are first fastened to great poles and hoisted up aloft, striking terror at a distance while the advance is going on; then, when the battle begins, they are released and set on the enemy; numbers of our men, it seems, were actually swallowed by them, and others strangled or crushed in their coils; of all this he was an eye-witness, taking his observations, however, from a safe perch up a tree. Thank goodness he did not come to close quarters with the brutes! we should have lost a very remarkable historian, and one who did doughty deeds in this war with his own right hand; for he had many adventures, and was wounded at Sura (in the course of a stroll from the Kraneion to Lerna, apparently). All this he used to read to a Corinthian audience, which was perfectly aware that he had never so much as seen a battle-picture. Why, he did not know one weapon or engine from another; the names of maneuvers and formations had no meaning for him; flank or front, line or column, it was all one.”

The moral of the story: if you want to write good history, avoid dialectic method and get out of Corinth.  The latter reminds me of the quip from the most recent Indiana Jones movie: ‘if you want to be a good archaeologist, you’ve got to get out of the library.’