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Bill Thayer

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Using This Website Effectively

So you've just discovered this site: congratulations! Now you realize all of a sudden that there's tons of stuff here; in fact, if you go about it right you'll probably find more on ancient Rome here than on any other site in the world.

You're wondering how to find what you're looking for.

Save yourself lots of time and improve your chances by taking two or three minutes to read this carefully. You will save the most time and get the best results if you read it thru the end of the page.

Clicking on the search engine I provide is often not the best thing to do;
you'll see why below.

1. This site is mostly about:
   • American history
   • ancient Rome
   • travel in Italy, with a focus on art and architecture up to the 16c

If you're looking for something else, this probably isn't the place. For example, I'm not interested in ancient Greece: for ancient Greek history, you should probably start with Livius.Org. Neither is my site a Latin dictionary: for that you should see Lewis & Short's Dictionary at Perseus; and for the modern-day Roman Catholic Church, see Catholic.net.

2. For Italy, this site is a very variable resource: pretty good for the city of Rome and central Italy, very patchy for the rest of the country. This site is, however, a very major resource for ancient Rome: if you can't find it here (onsite or linked to the offsite page), it may just well not be online. The odds, however, are you're just running around clicking wildly: Look carefully.

In Feb 2022, for example, there were over 12,000 pages in English, 850 pages in Italian, 350 in Latin, 250 in Greek, several hundred pages in Catalan, Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish — and 3000 images. The site included 31 complete books (something like 4 million words), 6 partial books, and 10 more under construction.

SO: first, you need to get an idea what's here — before deciding somehow that I don't have what you need!

3. You may have wound up here because some page links to "RomanSites". That was only about 0.3% of my site (yes, less than one-third of one percent) and it was just an outdated listing of other people's sites: some of which were very large or very good, many of which were neither, and most of which have now disappeared. I deleted RomanSites in its entirety.

Look on LacusCurtius for: aqueducts, authors and texts, baths, buildings, clothing, Etruscans, inscriptions, Roman law, maps, Roman religion, roads (for now mostly in Britain, plus the Via Appia and the Via Flaminia), tools and machinery, topography; the city of Rome, Umbria.

The following Greek and Latin authors and works are onsite, often complete: Appian Cassius Dio Cato Celsus Censorinus Claudian the Excerpta Valesiana Frontinus Herodotus Isidore Macrobius: the Saturnalia Pliny the Elder Polybius • Procopius (The Anecdota, The Buildings) • Quintilian Quintus Curtius • the Res Gestae Vitruvius Velleius Paterculus • the Regionaries; for the rest of Latin Literature, your best bet is Forum Romanum's index. For Greek literature, you should start with Peter Gainsford's LATO.

The following Roman history materials are onsite, in English:

Primary sources: the Roman History of Cassius Dio, the Histories of Polybius, and a fair amount of Plutarch including all the Lives;

Secondary texts: J. B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire, John Buchan's biography of Augustus.

Search the Web for: Pompeii and other places outside central Italy, coins, emperors and famous people, gods and goddesses.

[image ALT: A sample of a navigation bar found on almost all my pages.]

The "offsite" icons are listed best first, left to right; although sometimes a single one may overflow from the end of the line to the line above, to avoid opening a second row: despite appearing first top to bottom, it'd be the least good, not the best.

5. In that same navigation bar at the bottom of almost every page, you can use Google to search the site. You can even do boolean searches, searches for exact phrases (in quotes), etc. But:

  1. About half the searches I see you run on it are doomed to failure from the start, usually because the search terms have been misspelled.
  2. Search for fewer terms rather than more, simpler terms rather than fancier.
  3. If on the other hand your search yields several hundred results, you need to narrow it down.

    A search for Rome, for example, will yield over 2500 pages: what are you really looking for?

    But if you've narrowed it down to the best of your ability and still get several dozen results — well then, look at them! There is a surprising amount of information onsite, but what you are looking for might be scattered over several pages.

So if you're looking for something obscure and very hard to find, I enjoy a good puzzle too: mail away. But if you could have found it in literally 2 or 3 minutes with a search engine on the Web at large, or rummaging around on this exhaustive site that I've provided you for just that purpose, why write?

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Page updated: 7 Feb 22