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[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per leggere la stessa pagina in Italiano.]

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If you're looking for my homepage,
you're in the wrong place; it's here.

If you're looking for the actual hole in the ground called the
Lacus Curtius,
see Platner's article here.

Public service message, 24 Feb 22: A Ukrainian historical researcher who has contributed to this site has advised me that The Ukrainian Red Cross Society is accepting donations from abroad in relief of civilian populations in Ukraine and persons displaced due to the Russian war against that country, and has set up a page for those wishing to donate. (And yes, I've donated a bit myself, about $350 thru Oct 2023.)

Into the Roman World

[image ALT: The Capitoline Wolf]

The Capitoline Wolf: the totem animal of Rome.

— But by Nov 1998, undergoing restoration, she was no longer black.

(And for a very large site about Wolfie, see here.)


[image ALT: a map of the Old World showing the Roman Empire in purple]

[ 214 pages (not counting translations), 340 photos ]

The core of this site, in my own mind at least, is the Roman Gazetteer, a commented photo album of Roman towns and monuments.
Rome Assisi Augusta Zilil Cesi Città di Castello Fossato di Vico Gubbio Massa Martana Mevania Milan Narni Ostia Perugia Pitigliano Rimini Rusellae Saintes Spello Spoleto Todi Trevi Triponzo 'Urvinum Hortense' Vetulonia Volubilis
Topical Indexes: amphitheatres gates hydraulic engineering (aqueducts and baths) roads theatres tombs

Stray page (for now): Opus Sectile

Source Texts

[image ALT: Part of page of a parchment manuscript with a few words in Gothic script.]

Greek and Latin Texts — 61 complete works or authors from Antiquity:

A bare index to all books onsite — these and many others, though only those reasonably complete — is available here.

In progress:

Link to the homepage of the Latin Texts section

I'm also slowly putting good editions of ancient and early mediaeval topographical texts onsite. For now, just two aside from Strabo: the Regionaries (Notitia, Curiosum, and Appendices) and the Ordo Benedicti; plus a very bad edition of Ptolemy's Geography, which will remain unfinished.

[image ALT: A fragmentary Roman inscription set in a wall.]

A Latin Inscriptions Site on three levels:

  • for the expert: a bare listing with 200 inscriptions transcribed
  • for the student: a selection of 28 photographed inscriptions, sorted by level of difficulty, solutions presented separately
  • for the surfer: a topical and a geographical index to various webpages.

Secondary Works

Link to the homepage of the Smith's Dictionary subsite

William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, an encyclopedic work containing a lot of good basic information (and references to primary sources), was published in 1875: it is thus an educational resource in the public domain.

I've been putting a large selection of articles from it online, often as background material for other webpages. It is illustrated with its own woodcuts and some additional photographs of my own.

Chariots and carriages, the theatre, circus and amphitheatre, roads, bridges, aqueducts, obelisks, timepieces, organs, hair curlers; marriage & children, slaves, dance, salt mines, and an awful lot more; among which special sections on law, religion, warfare, daily life, and clothing.

[ 2/17/21: 1192 webpages —
395 woodcuts, 38 photos, 6 plans ]

Link to Daremberg & Saglio's Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines

Far more detailed, more recent, and, by and large, better than Smith's Dictionary is Daremberg & Saglio's Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines. If on this page it doesn't look like it, that's because the entire 10‑volume work is already online elsewhere in the original French: on my site the articles are in English — but I've translated just a very few of them. I'll be adding to them once in a while; they'll still remain a tiny selection.

[ 3/16/18: 25 pages, 22 woodcuts ]

Link to Platner and Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome

Samuel Ball Platner's great work, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome (as revised by Thomas Ashby in 1929), is another even more solid resource in the public domain. A scholar­ly encyclopedia with hundreds upon hundreds of articles on the remains of antiquity within the city of Rome, it is an excellent reference work for hills, streets, roads and monuments of all kinds, providing ancient sources and modern bibliographies. Something like 85% of it is online here; I'll eventually do all of it.

The dictionary includes 4 small maps of Rome (s.vv. Pomerium, Septimontium, Servian Wall, Servian Regions).

[ 1/22/18: 473 pages, 83 photos, 3 engravings ]

[image ALT: A decorative entrelacs of laurel and a cross, taken from the cover of the printed book.]

Pagan and Christian Rome: a splendid account, by Rodolfo Lanciani, the rightly famous 19c archaeologist and topographer, of how Rome made the transition from the capital of Antiquity to the great city of our own time. It's a case study on Late Antiquity, an excellent popular topography of Rome, a mine of information on the Catacombs and the tombs of apostles, emperors and popes, and a fascinating read. This Web edition is enhanced with additional photos of my own, useful links, etc.

[ 107 drawings, 16 photos, 12 maps & plans ]

[image ALT: A roundel with a pastoral scene: a peasant plows his field with two oxen; in the background, mountains and a sunrise. The image serves as the icon on this site for Tenney Frank\'s book, \'A History of Rome\'.]

Ancient historian Tenney Frank did not neglect the general and college reader. In A History of Rome (1923) he gives us a sober account focusing on the economic and social analysis of ancient Rome, which he would eventually explore in greater depth to make the best contributions of his career. His book has the added twist of seeking out what he felt would be most relevant to his fellow Americans.

[ 598 pages of print in 35 webpages,
with 12 maps — and a good bibliography ]

[image ALT: A montage of the mosaic portraits of several Byzantine historical figures and the words 'J. B. Bury.']

J. B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire: "Generally acknowledged to be Professor Bury's masterpiece, this panoramic and painstakingly accurate reconstruction of the Western and Byzantine Roman Empire covers the period from 395 A.D., the death of Theodosius I, to 565 A.D., the death of Justinian. Quoting contemporary documents in full or in great extent, the author describes and analyzes the forces and cross-currents which controlled Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, the Persian and Teutonic regions; the rise of Byzantine power, territorial expansion, conflict of church and state, legislative and diplomatic changes; and scores of similar topics." (From the Dover edition jacket blurb)

[ 907 pages of print in 35 webpages (plus indexes):
2 photos, 7 maps & plans ]

[image ALT: A schematic map of Italy with three arrows suggesting the commonest routes by which the peninsula will be invaded over the centuries: from the northwest (France), the northeast (Austria), the southwest (by sea from Africa). The image serves as the icon for Hodgkin's 'Italy and Her Invaders' on this site.]

Thomas Hodgkin's Italy and Her Invaders is onsite in full. The eight volumes of the work (and one more from the first edition) take us thru the changes by which classical Italy, the core of the Roman Empire and the center of government and law for the Western world, became medieval Italy: essentially from Constantine to Charlemagne, a saga of many peoples — the Visigoths, the Huns, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantine restoration, the Lombards, the Franks — and many languages, many leading figures, many ancient sources. In its thoroughness, the longest work transcribed so far on my site, and considering that I rekeyed every bit of it by hand, I'm very, very grateful to Hodgkin for being such a pleasant, readable writer. At no point did I ever find him dull; something of a record in all my transcriptions.

[ 5,158 pages of print in 204 webpages ]

[image ALT: A photograph of an ancient Roman sculpture: the head of a handsome young man with wavy hair and a forthright air; he wears a short veil on the back of his head. He is the Roman emperor Augustus as a young man. The image serves as the icon on this site for John Buchan\'s biography of Augustus.]

John Buchan's Augustus, a life of the Roman emperor, was met with immediate wide critical acclaim and continues to be well regarded today, for its solid attempt to get to the heart of what Augustus and his recasting of the Roman Republic was about.

[ 337 pages of print in 16 webpages:
3 photos, 1 map, 1 genealogical chart ]

[Link to the Roman Britain homepage]

A growing section on Roman Britain includes four books: Thomas Codrington's Roman Roads in Britain, long the standard authority in its field; two by John Ward — Romano-British Buildings and Earthworks and The Roman Era in Britain, a general survey with many excellent illustrations (especially of jewelry, combs, keys, and similar objects); and a regional resource, George Witts's Archaeological Handbook of Gloucestershire.

[Onsite link]

Not quite as scholar­ly as most of the other items listed on this page, The Rulers of the South — Sicily • Calabria • Malta, an excellent readable overview of the history of Southern Italy from prehistory down to the sixteenth century, is still carefully based on the sources; roughly two-thirds of it falls under Antiquity broadly defined.

[ 775 pages of print in 16 webpages:
123 lithographs or photos and 3 maps ]

[Onsite link]

The Romans on the Riviera and the Rhone, by William Henry Hall (1898): An Englishman of leisure traces on the soil of Provence the events of her Carthaginian and Roman history.

[ 185 pages of print in 20 webpages:
15 lithographs or photos and 5 maps ]

[image ALT: A crowd of young women against a background of tall narrow arches; in front of them, two young men, naked except for a loincloth, each waving a large object like the handle of a leash. It is an 18c depiction of the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia. The image serves as the icon on this site for 'The Lupercalia' by A. M. Franklin.]

Alberta Mildred Franklin's doctoral thesis, The Lupercalia (1921), is a valiant effort at getting to the bottom of one of the strangest of Roman religious festivals; a serried investigation taking the reader thru Greek and Roman cults of the wolf, the goat, and the dog, the foundation legends of Rome, and several unsuspected by‑ways, it says absolutely nothing about Valentine's Day. . . .

[ 102 pages of print in 13 webpages ]

[image ALT: Six Corinthian columns, in two groups of three separated by a slight space. They stand on the top of a sort of circular staircase sloping across the photograph down to the right foreground. They mark the top of a Roman theatre in Lepcis Magna (Libya); on this site the image serves as the icon for the book 'Cities in the Sand'.]

Cities in the Sand (1957) is a commented photographic record of Lepcis Magna, Sabratha, and more generally Roman Tripolitania. Some of the photos are of added value since there have been changes to the ancient sites, not all for the better.

[ 56 pages of print in 6 webpages:
98 photographs and 2 maps ]

[image ALT: The head and neck of the Capitoline Wolf, seen in right profile, against a field of nine vertical stripes, the heraldic arms of Catalunya. The image serves as the icon on this site for José Balari y Jovany's 'Influencia de la Civilización Romana en Cataluña'.]

Influencia de la Civilización Romana en Cataluña comprobada por la orografía (1888): an interesting philological monograph on the toponymy of Catalan mountains. The author seems to have been the first to notice that many terms for various types of mountains, in Catalunya and elsewhere in Occitania, derive rather unexpectedly from the Latin names for parts of the Roman amphitheatre and circus. [In Spanish]

[ 1/17/12: 71 pages of print in 15 webpages ]

[image ALT: An engraving of a bird rummaging in a small rectangular box and pulling out a ribbon. It is an illustration of an ancient Graeco-Roman pyxis.]

Scholar­ly journals are a treasure-trove of interesting and very varied stuff; not all of it by any means is that difficult to grasp. The Antiquary's Shoebox is my collection of public-domain articles from them; like most shoeboxes, it accumulates scraps over time, as I discover items that catch my fancy. (A few of these are not related to ancient Rome, by the way, but to Egypt, the Near East, or India.)

[ 5/9/23: 159 articles ]

[image ALT: A beautiful small columned temple in perfect condition.]

The Tomb of Mausolus, by W. R. Lethaby: not Roman at all, but who's quibbling? An in-depth look at one of the wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: and an attempt at reconstructing it.

[ 23 drawings, 4 plans ]

Topical Subsites

[image ALT: A portion of a stone bas-relief depicting a formation of a dozen or so soldiers under their own massed raised shields. It illustrates the 'testudo', a Roman military technique, and serves as the icon for the Roman Warfare section of this site.]

If you're specifically interested in military history, you can cut across all the material listed above (and a few other minor items) from the Roman Military History orientation page.

[ about 200 pages ]

[image ALT: A round stone medallion carved with a star. It is a detail from the façade of the cathedral of Orvieto (central Italy), and serves as an icon for the Ancient Astronomy and Astrology section of this site.]

For ancient astronomy and astrology — these disciplines, so different today, were not so sharply separated in Antiquity — Caelum Antiquum (The Ancient Sky) is an orientation page leading to a number of primary and secondary texts, but also to specific items on ancient chronology, eclipses, horoscopes, etc.

[ 5 books, plus about 15 other webpages ]

[image ALT: a map of the Old World showing the Roman Empire in purple]

A Roman Atlas, a collection of 19c maps covering most of the Roman world, some of them indexed with ancient and modern placenames, longitude and latitude (both modern and ancient according to Ptolemy), bibliographical refs, web links, etc.

[ 29 maps ]

[image ALT: A beautiful small columned temple in perfect condition.]

A catalogue of Roman Umbria: eventually, I hope to create similar catalogues of other parts of the Roman Empire.

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Site updated: 12 May 23