The John Miller Burnam Classics Library Hosts “An Evening with Ovid”


Join the John Miller Burnam Classics Library 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 29 in 417 Blegen Library for “An Evening with Ovid,” an event celebrating the life and work of the Roman poet. We will raise a glass in his honor in connection with his birthday and the 2,000-year anniversary of his death.

The evening will begin with welcoming remarks by Rebecka Lindau, head of the Classics Library. Bridget Langley, visiting assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Classics, will give a brief presentation of Ovid’s life and work. Colin Shelton, adjunct professor in Classics, will follow with a reading of two of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Latin and in translation by modern English poet Ted Hughes. Jenny Doctor, head of the Albino Gorno Memorial Music Library, will introduce a musical performance by modern English composer Benjamin Britten, “Six Metamorphoses after Ovid,” featuring College-Conservatory of Music oboist Yo Shionoya.

Ovid's Metamorphoses
Ovid’s Metamorphoses

The evening will conclude with refreshments Ovid and his contemporaries would have enjoyed. The event will be presided over by Emperor Augustus himself in the form of a copy of the original marble head discovered at Troy during an excavation led by UC’s Classics Department. Additionally, the library will feature a book exhibition with works of Ovid, including rare editions of the Metamorphoses.

The event is free and open to all. RSVP to Cade Stevens at or 513-556-1314 by Friday, March 23.

Greeks and Romans — Beware of Ides of March – καὶ σὺ τέκνον!

The Curia building by the Theater of Pompey on the present day Largo Argentina in Rome, the place of Julius Caesar’s assassination.

Today is the day of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, precipitating the death of the Republic. Below are some passages from Plutarch, Suetonius, and Shakespeare speaking of the Ides of March as well as of the assassination itself, an image and description of the most famous of Roman coins, that with a bust of one of the principal assassins, Marcus Brutus, followed by a brief bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

…ὥς τις αὐτῷ μάντις ἡμέρᾳ Μαρτίου μηνός, ἣν Εἰδοὺς Ῥωμαῖοι καλοῦσι, προείποι μέγαν φυλάττεσθαι κίνδυνον· ἐλθούσης δὲ τῆς ἡμέρας προϊὼν ὁ Καῖσαρ εἰς τὴν σύγκλητον ἀσπασάμενος προσπαίξειε τῷ μάντει φάμενος· “Αἱ μὲν δὴ Μάρτιαι Εἰδοὶ πάρεισιν,” ὁ δὲ ἡσυχῆ πρὸς αὐτὸν εἴποι· “Ναὶ πάρεισιν, ἀλλ᾿οὐ παρεληλύθασι… (Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, Caesar 63.3-4).

A certain seer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: “Well, the Ides of March are come,” and the seer said to him softly: “Aye, they are come, but they are not gone.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene II:




Ha! who calls?


Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!


Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.


Beware the ides of March.


What man is that?


A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.


Set him before me; let me see his face.


Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.


What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.


Beware the ides of March.


He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.

Assidentem conspirati specie officii circumsteterunt, ilicoque Cimber Tillius, qui primas partes susceperat, quasi aliquid rogaturus propius accessit renuentique et gestu in aliud tempus differenti ab utroque umero togam adprehendit; deinde clamantem: “Ista quidem vis est!” alter e Cascis aversum vulnerat paulum infra iugulum. Caesar Cascae brachium arreptum graphio traiecit conatusque prosilire alio vulnere tardatus est; utque animad­vertit undique se strictis pugionibus peti, toga caput obvolvit, simul sinistra manu sinum ad ima crura deduxit, quo honestius caderet etiam inferiore corporis parte velata. Atque ita tribus et viginti plagis confossus est uno modo ad primum ictum gemitu sine voce edito, etsi tradiderunt quidam Marco Bruto irruenti dixisse: καὶ σὺ τέκνον; Exanimis diffugientibus cunctis aliquamdiu iacuit, donec lecticae impositum, dependente brachio, tres servoli domum rettulerunt. Nec in tot vulneribus, ut Antistius medicus existimabat, letale ullum repertum est, nisi quod secundo loco in pectore acceperat (Suetonius’ De Vita Caesarum, The Deified Julius 82.1-4).

As he took his seat, the conspirators gathered about him as if to pay their respects, and straightway Tillius Cimber, who had assumed the lead, came nearer as though to ask something; and when Caesar with a gesture put him off to another time, Cimber caught his toga by both shoulders; then as Caesar cried, “Why, this is violence!” one of the Cascas stabbed him from one side just below the throat. Caesar caught Casca’s arm and ran it through with his stylus, but as he tried to leap to his feet, he was stopped by another wound. When he saw that he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head in his robe, and at the same time drew down its fold to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. And in this wise he was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, though some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, “You too, my child?” All the conspirators made off, and he lay there lifeless for some time, until finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home, with one arm hanging down. And of so many wounds none turned out to be mortal, in the opinion of the physician Antistius, except the second one in the breast.

The Most Famous of all Roman Coins!

BRVT ∙ IMP ∙ PLAET ∙ CEST with Brutus head on the obverse and EID ∙ MAR with a pileus and two daggers on the reverse.

Late summer-autumn 42 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.59 g, 12h). Military mint traveling with Brutus and Cassius in western Asia Minor or northern Greece; L. Plaetorius Cestianus, magistrate. Bare head of Brutus right; BRVT above, IMP to right, L • PLAET • CEST around to left / Pileus between two daggers pointing downward; EID • MAR below. Crawford 508/3; Cahn 22 (same dies); CRI 216; Sydenham 1301; RSC 15; RBW –. Good VF, deeply toned, a little off center and minor porosity on obverse. Very rare. This extraordinary type is one of the few specific coin issues mentioned by any classical author, in this case, Dio Cassius. Roman History 47.25.3: “Brutus stamped upon the coins which were being minted his own likeness and a cap and two daggers, indicating by this and by the inscription that he and Cassius had liberated the fatherland.”

Brief Bibliography

  • Beware of Ides of March. But why? By Martin Stezano, Match 13, 2017. History Channel stories —
  • Caesar. TNT presents a De Angelis Group and Five Mile River Films production; a film by Uli Edel; producers, Giuseppe Pedersoli, Jonas Bauer; written by Peter Pruce and Craig Warner; directed by Uli Edel. Featuring Jeremy Sisto, Richard Harris, Christopher Walken, Christopher Noth, Valeria Golino, Heino Ferch, Tobias Moretti. New York: Good Times Entertainment, 2004 — CLASS Reserves DG 261.C337 2004
  • Caesar Must Die. San Francisco: Kanopy Streaming, 2014 —
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen. The Ides: Caesar’s Murder and the War for Rome. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2010 — CLASS Stacks DG 267.D26 2010
  • Freeman, Philip. Julius Caesar. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008 — CLASS Stacks DG 261.F784 2008
  • Julius Caesar. Festival Films (1948). New York: Distributed by Films Media Group, 2016. Films on Demand —
  • Julius Caesar. San Francisco: Kanopy Streaming, 2015 —
  • Life and Death of Julius Caesar. Arden Shakespeare. MIT  — (The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
  • Living History: Experiencing Great Events of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds: The Final Days of Julius Caesar. San Francisco: Kanopy Streaming, 2016 —–10
  • Mackay, Christopher. The Breakdown of the Roman Republic: From Oligarchy to Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009 — CLASS Stacks DG 254.M25 2009
  • Manfredi, Valerio Massimo. The Ides of March [fiction]. New York: Europa Editions, 2010 — Langsam PQ 4873.A4776 I3513 2010
  • Parenti, Michael. The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People’s History of Ancient Rome. New York: New Press, 2003 — CLASS Stacks DG 267.P37 2003
  • Plutarch. The Age of Caesar: Five Roman Lives. Translated by Pamela Mensch; edited, with preface and notes, by James Romm; introduction by Mary Beard. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017 — CLASS Stacks DG 260.A1 P53 2017
  • The Real Story behind the Assassination of Julius Caesar” by Larry Getlen, March 1, 2015. The New York Post —
  • Strauss, Barry S. The Death of Caesar: The Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2015 — CLASS Stacks DG 267.S77 2015
  • Suetonius. Lives of the Caesars. With an English translation by J.C. Rolfe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2014 —
  • Sumi, Geoffrey S. Ceremony and Power: Performing Politics in Rome between Republic and Empire. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005 — CLASS Stacks DG254.2.S86 2005
  • Tempest, Kathryn. Brutus: The Noble Conspirator. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017 —  CLASS Stacks DG 260.B83 T46 2017
  • The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Open Source Shakespeare (see esp. lines 96-110) —
  • What Are the Ides of March? March 12, 2014. History Channel stories —
  • William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. BBC Play of the Month adaptation, originally broadcast on the 13th of April 1969. Featuring Robert Stephens as Mark Antony, Maurice Denham as Julius Caesar, Frank Finlay as Brutus and Edward Woodward as Cassius. YouTube —
  • Woolf, Greg. Et tu, Brute?: The Murder of Caesar and Political Assassination. London: Profile Books, 2006 — CLASS Stacks DG 267.W66 2006

Virtual Tour of the Classics Library

“A Virtual Tour of the Library” offers a brief introduction to the physical layout, collections, and staff of the Classics Library. Because virtual tours are expected to be kept to a minimum length, there is much that had to be left out including additional physical locations and collections, but this virtual tour may at least offer some basic understanding of how the materials are organized as well as offer a somewhat lighthearted presentation accessible to classicists and non-classicists alike.

Greeks and Romans — Happy Valentine!

Some recommended texts this lovable period might include those about:

The love of a woman as expressed by the greatest of the Ancient Greek lyric poets, Sappho:

…ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ᾿ ἴδω βρόχε᾿, ὤς με φώναισ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ἔτ᾿ εἴκει, ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσᾴ <μ᾿> ἔαγε, λέπτονδ᾿ αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμηκεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ᾿ οὐδ᾿ ἒν ὄρημμ᾿, ἐπιρρόμβεισι δ᾿ ἄκουαι, κὰδ δέ μ᾿ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲπαῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι… (frag. 31.7-14).

…for when I look at you for a moment, then it is no longer possible for me to speak; my tongue has snapped, at once a subtle fire has stolen beneath my flesh, I see nothing with my eyes, my ears hum, sweat pours from me, a trembling seizes me all over, I am greener than grass…

Or the touching love of a dog in Homer’s Odyssey (hey Mike!):

…ἂν δὲ κύων κεφαλήν τε καὶ οὔατα κείμενος ἔσχεν, Ἄργος, Ὀδυσσῆος ταλασίφρονος…  ἔνθα κύων κεῖτ᾿ Ἄργος, ἐνίπλειος κυνοραιστέων. δὴ τότε γ᾿, ὡς ἐνόησεν Ὀδυσσέα ἐγγὺς ἐόντα οὐρῇ μέν ῥ᾿ ὅ γ᾿ ἔσηνε καὶ οὔατα κάββαλεν ἄμφω, ἆσσον δ᾿ οὐκέτ᾿ ἔπειτα δυνήσατο οἷο ἄνακτοςἐλθέμεν… (17. 290-291; 302-304).

…and a dog that lay there raised his head and pricked up his ears, Argus, steadfast Odysseus’ dog… There lay the dog Argus, full of dog ticks. But now, when he became aware that Odysseus was near, he wagged his tail and dropped both ears, but nearer to his master he had no longer strength to move…

Or the love of a cow for her newborn calf when he is brutally taken away to be sacrificed (or raised as veal) in Lucretius:

…nam saepe ante deum vitulus delubra decora turicremas propter mactatus concidit aras, sanguinis expirans calidum de pectore flumen; at mater viridis saltus orbata peragrans quaerit humi pedibus vestigia pressa bisulcis, omnia convisens oculis loca si queat usquam conspicere amissum fetum, completque querellis frondiferum nemus adsistens et crebra revisit ad stabulum desiderio perfixa iuvenci; nec tenerae salices atque herbae rore vigentes fluminaque illa queunt summis labentia ripis oblectare animum subitamque avertere curam, nec vitulorum aliae species per pabula laeta derivare queunt animum curaque levare: usque adeo quiddam proprium notumque requirit… (2.352-366).

…for often in front of the noble shrines of the gods a calf falls slain beside the incense-burning altars, breathing up a hot stream of blood from his chest; but the mother, bereaved, wanders through the green glens, and knows the prints marked on the ground by the cloven hooves, as she surveys all the regions if she may espy somewhere her lost offspring, and coming to a stand fills the leafy woods with her moaning, and often revisits the stall pierced with yearning for her young calf; nor can tender willow-growths, and grass growing rich in the dew, and those rivers flowing level with their banks, give delight to her mind and rebuff that care which has entered there, nor can the sight of other calves in the happy pastures divert her mind and lighten her load of care: so persistently she seeks for something of her own that she knows well…

Or the love of nature longingly expressed by Vergil in Eclogue 1:

…fortunate senex, hic inter flumina notaet fontis sacros frigus captabis opacum. hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite saepes Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro; hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras: nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes, nec gemere aëria cessabit turtur ab ulmo (Ecl. 1.51-58).

…happy old man! Here, amid familiar streams and sacred springs, you shall enjoy the cooling shade. On this side, as of old, on your neighbor’s border, the hedge whose willow blossoms are sipped by Hybla’s bees shall often with its gentle hum soothe you to slumber; on that, under the towering rock, the woodman’s song shall fill the air; while still the cooing wood pigeons, your pets, and the turtle dove shall cease not their moaning from the elm tops.

Or one of the many rather twisted love stories in Ovid’s Metamorphoses — Pyramus and Thisbe, Apollo and Daphne, Orpheus and Eurydice and countless others: 

Or that of Cupid (Eros) himself (and Psyche) in Apuleius:

Happy Reading!

“Snapshots” of the Classics Library’s Collections






The Classics Collection


The Classics collections include more than 270,000 volumes and c. 2,000 journal titles spanning all areas of classical civilization, including language and literature, archaeology, art, history, epigraphy, papyrology, numismatics, palaeography, religion, philosophy, politics, science and technology, and medicine. The collections in all areas of classical studies are outstanding, although especially exhaustive in Greek and Latin philology and Minoan-Mycenaean archaeology.  The comprehensive level of current acquisitions continues. A few highlights include some 18,000 German dissertations and Programmschriften in classics, especially philology, from the 18th to the early 20th c., a separate room of more than 2,000 books on Palaeography, the collecting of which began with the namesake of the library, Latin palaeographer John Miller Burnam, some 3,500 early imprints from the 16th-18th c. as well as various incunabula such as Statius’ Thebaid, Silvae, Achilleid from 1483, Diodorus Siculus’ Bibliotheca Historica from 1496, Tacitus’ Historiae from 1497, Justin’s epitome of Trogus’ Philippic Histories from 1497, and Josephus’ De bello judaico from 1499 as well as some exquisite facsimiles of illuminated manuscripts such as Ptolemy’s Cosmographia (Codex Urb. Lat. 277), the Joshua Roll (Codex Vat. Pal. Graec. 431), and the Vergilius Romanus (Codex Vat. Lat. 3867), and a facsimile of the oldest preserved Sophocles manuscript (Florence, Ms. Codex Laurentianus 32.9). The collections also include representations of Medieval Latin in the superb facsimiles of the Book of Kells with 24 mounted color plates (Turin), and the Lindisfarne Gospels (Cottonian Ms. Nero D.IV) from the British Museum. Continue reading “Snapshots” of the Classics Library’s Collections

Research Strategies for Classics Majors: A Tutorial

This tutorial is chiefly aimed at undergraduate majors in Classics and beginning graduate students who are about to write a research paper, a junior or senior thesis. To illustrate this step-by-step approach to research, a topic, “Aristotle on the Function of Music in Tragedy,” has been chosen. It seems a particularly useful one for this purpose since it incorporates several disciplines — ancient Greek language and literature, philosophy, music, history, education, and politics — and, therefore, offers good practice in conducting research at the UC Libraries. To illustrate these principles of research, as well as to highlight a multitude of library resources at the University of Cincinnati, especially in the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, concrete and live searches are performed in video and audio.

Two New Exhibitions in the Reading Room

There are two new exhibitions in the Classics Library’s Reading Room:

One is to highlight our Modern Greek collection. Among the gems on display are, for example: Έρμς λόγιος (1811-21), the first journal published in “Modern Greek”; Constantine Cavafy’s Ποιματα with the author’s signature; and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas’ illustrations to Nikos Kazantzakis’ Ὀδύσσεια.

Another exhibition is curated by the classics department and features Mycenaean so called psi, phi, and tau (because of their shapes resembling the Greek letters) female figurines as well as horse and other figurines dated to c. 1400-1200 BCE.