Tag Archives: classics

PHI Latin Texts–now online

Cicero palimpsest, 5th century For years, the best collection of searchable texts from Latin antiquity was the Packard Humanities Institute PHI CD-ROM #5.3, available in the Digital Humanities Center in 305 Butler.  Getting these texts available online was the Holy Grail of digital classics research.

But now the Grail is at hand, as the Latin texts from PHI 3.5 are now online.  Approximately 350 authors, representing almost all classical literary texts up to 200 CE (with a handful of later authors) are now readable and searchable online.

Bookmark this URL for easy access:
or do a TITLE search in CLIO for Classical Latin Texts.
For further information, please contact:
Karen Green
Ancient & Medieval History and Religion Librarian
Karen Green

Magna vis veritas

IMG_9536Inscribed atop the arched marble doorway inside the Butler Reference Room are the words MAGNA VIS VERITAS.

The phrase is taken from chapter 26 of a work by the Roman orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Pro Caelio Rufo  (sometimes rendered merely, Pro Caelio). This speech was delivered in 56 BCE, on behalf of a life-long friend, a young man of good family named Marcus Caelius Rufus.  Caelius was accused of a variety of moral and legal crimes, notably involvement in an attack two years earlier on a deputation of Alexandrians concerned with Ptolemy’s dethronement.

The accusation conformed to the Roman Lex de vi, which concerned itself with vis: literally “force” or “power,” but in legal terms  “violence,” particularly that dealing with armed bands that disturbed the peace.

Cicero, after detailing the virtues of Caelius and condemning the behavior and motives of those who accuse him, focuses on a rather vague accusation of poisoning included in the charges, and in turn accuses the witnesses for the prosecution of lying.  Then, in a flight of rhetoric, he adds this, cleverly playing on the word vis:

O magna vis veritas, quae contra hominum ingenia, calliditatem, sollertiam contraque fictas omnium insidias facile se per se ipsa defendat!

In the translation of R. Gardner in the Loeb Classical Library, this reads:

How great is the power of truth, which when opposed to human ingenuity, cunning and craft, and opposed to all the falsehood and treachery in the world, is easily able to defend itself unaided!

The architects of Butler Library, of course, were less interested in this historical context, and more interested in the concept “Great is the power of truth.”  For the true goal of a liberal arts education is to teach the critical thinking skills that allow one to recognize the truth, no matter what its guise.

New resources: Brill’s Jacoby and the SEG


The Libraries have added two new items to our collection of resources for Classics and Ancient History: Brill’s New Jacoby Online and the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum.

Brill’s New Jacoby Online is a new edition of the 856 fragmentary histories that comprise F. Jacoby’s monumental Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker Parts I-III, but with significant additions.  It will be published online in batches of 50 to 60 fragmentary authors every six months.  Click through and/or bookmark this URL:


Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum is a collected bibliography of books and articles on aspects of Greek epigraphy, as well as summaries of Greek inscriptions.  This online edition includes the electronic equivalent of all 54 SEG volumes (beginning with v. 1 (1923)) published so far, and will incorporate all future volumes in the series.  Click through and/or bookmark this URL:


For questions, please contact Karen Green at klg19@columbia.edu.