Skip to main content

Classical Studies Library Guide: Home

a Library guide for Classics students

Where are your books?

  Where are your books?

 The literature books are kept down a spiral staircase on level 3 of the Main library with (shelf numbers in 800s) and the history books are kept on level 6 (with shelf numbers in the 900s).

There is also a separate shelf sequence for the Loeb Classical Library on level 3, red spines for Roman and green spines for Greek.


Your language books, in the 400s, will be on the level above the main entrance.

Your philosophy, religion and mythology books will be in the 100s and 200s, on level 5 of the Main Library.


The major shelf numbers for your subject are:


180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy

182 Pre-Socratic Greek philosophies

183 Socratic & related philosophies

184 Platonic philosophy

185 Aristotelian philosophy

186 Skeptic & Neoplatonic philosophies

187 Epicurean philosophy

188 Stoic philosophy

189 Medieval western philosophy


292 Greek & Roman religion


470 Italic languages; Latin

471 Classical Latin writing & phonology

472 Classical Latin etymology

473 Classical Latin dictionaries

475 Classical Latin grammar

477 Old, postclassical & Vulgar Latin

478 Classical Latin usage

479 Other Italic languages


480 Hellenic languages; classical Greek

481 Classical Greek writing & phonology

482 Classical Greek etymology

483 Classical Greek dictionaries

485 Classical Greek grammar

487 Preclassical & postclassical Greek

488 Classical Greek usage

489 Other Hellenic languages


870 Italic literatures; Latin literature

871 Latin poetry

872 Latin dramatic poetry & drama

873 Latin epic poetry & fiction

874 Latin lyric poetry

875 Latin speeches

876 Latin letters

877 Latin humour & satire

878 Latin miscellaneous writings

879 Literatures of other Italic languages


880 Hellenic literatures; classical Greek

881 Classical Greek poetry

882 Classical Greek dramatic poetry & drama

883 Classical Greek epic poetry & fiction

884 Classical Greek lyric poetry

885 Classical Greek speeches

886 Classical Greek letters

887 Classical Greek humour & satire

888 Classical Greek miscellaneous writings


930 History of ancient world to ca. 499

931 China to 420

932 Egypt to 640

933 Palestine to 70

934 India to 647

935 Mesopotamia & Iranian Plateau to 637

936 Europe north & west of Italy to ca. 499

937 Italy & adjacent territories to 476

938 Greece to 323

939 Other parts of ancient world to ca. 640

940 History of Europe


Short Loans

The Short Loans Centre is on Level 4 of the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library.

Many books and photocopied readings essential to your courses have been placed there by lecturers.

You will need to give the staff both the title and shelf number of the book you want.

Short Loan material is issued for 1 or 3 hours only.

You must return Short Loan material to the Short Loans Centre.


PRIMO: the Basics of Survival

PRIMO is a tool for searching across the UCT library book catalogue as well as a selection of our databases of full text journal articles, all with one query.

You can find it on the library homepage at

In this example I am looking for a particular book – Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

This quick and dirty search brings up the print and online copies that we have of Hard Times, as well as books about Hard Times. 

Clicking on the TITLE of the top record takes me to the records for the printed books and gives me the shelf number so I can find them on the shelves:

The shelf number works like a street address – just follow the numbers up or down until you get to the address you want.  Shelf numbers keep related books together, so once you have found your book, it is often useful to browse the books on either side of it as well.

In fact, you don’t even have to physically be in the library to do it… If you again click on the title of one of the results, you will be taken to the full record for the book – which has a virtual browse option – so you can see all its neighbouring books…. You never know what you will discover that way.

On the search screen you can use a drop-down arrow to search only for electronic journal articles or electronic books or reference works.

In this example, the top three results are for an electronic encyclopaedia entry, an electronic book, and an electronic journal article:

If I click on the title of the article, I will be taken to a full record for the article, and a link to the database on which it lives:

And so to download the article:

The record also shows me how to cite the book or article – which I will need to do if I am going to use it in an essay:

Or, even better, it allows me to send the record to a program like RefWorks or Endnote, which does my citing for me, automatically, at the touch of a button….

The left hand side of the screen has all sorts of options for refining or restricting your results:

The most useful are probably Peer-reviewed Journals (the most respectable journals, I which every article is vetted by other academics), Subject or Resource type:

If you are getting too many results – and PRIMO can bring up a lot of results – you can use an Advanced Search to search more precisely:

And if you are looking for a very specific book, journal or article – for example from a reading list - PRIMO has a Find By Citation form which can help you find exactly that reference:

Just put in as much information as you have on the reference:

Shaffer, P., 1998. Gender, poverty and deprivation: evidence from the Republic of Guinea. World Development, 26(12), pp.2119-2135.

And this will bring it up in both print and electronic versions:

And clicking on the full text or database link will take you to it.

PRIMO: some advanced tricks

It is possible to create very precise searches just using keywords.

The trick is to combine them with Boolean Operators, wildcards and brackets. Most of our databases, including our library catalogue, take Boolean operators.

Consider this search string:

(child* OR wom?n OR gender) AND poverty AND Africa* NOT “African American”

The * is a wildcard – it calls up anything that follows the root “child” – so it will being up child and children or childhood……

The ? is a mid-word wildcard – calls up women and woman…

The OR expands you options – women or gender must come up in the results, it doesn’t matter which….

The (brackets) keep the OR words together and relate them to the AND which follows – otherwise the search would call up anything to do with women, regardless of whether it had to do with poverty and Africa….

Any words linked with AND must be included in the search results - OR broadens a search, AND tightens it.

NOT excludes a term. Be careful of this. First search without it, to get an idea of what you are missing.

“Inverted commas” enclose a precise phrase.

To use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in PRIMO, you must enter them in CAPITAL LETTERS, otherwise PRIMO ignores them.

You can restrict the search to electronic journal articles or electronic books only, using the drop down arrow – useful if you are off-campus.

Some Useful Printed Reference books


The Oxford companion to classical literature /

   R 880.03 OXFO

The reception of myth and mythology /

   R 913.003 PAUL

Dictionary of Greek and Latin authors and texts /

   R 913.003 PAUL

A Greek-English lexicon of the Septuagint /

   R 221.4803 MURA

The encyclopedia of ancient natural scientists

   R 509.2 ENCY

Brill’s New Pauly

   R 913.003 PAUL

The Cambridge dictionary of classical civilization /

   R 938.003 CAMB

Sex in the ancient world from A to Z /

   R 392.609 YOUN

The Oxford dictionary of classical myth and religion /

   R 292.003 OXFO

The Facts On File dictionary of classical and biblical allusions /

   R 803 FACT

Dictionary of bibliographic abbreviations found in the scholarship of classical studies and related disciplines /

   R 480.031 WELL

Who’s who in the classical world /

   R 920.038 WHOS

Ancient Greece and Rome

   R 938.003 ANCI

Encyclopedia of classical philosophy /

   R 180.3 ENCY

The Oxford classical dictionary /

   R 938.003 OXFO

Who’s who in classical mythology /

   R 292.1303 GRAN

Women of classical mythology

   R 292.1303 BELL

The Penquin dictionary of classical mythology /

 R 292.1303 GRIM

The Oxford companion to classical literature.

   R 880.03 OXFO

Room’s Classical dictionary

   R 292.1303 ROOM

Greek and Latin authors, 800 B.C.-A.D. 1000 /

   R 880.03 GRAN

Who’s who in classical mythology /

   R 292.1303 GRAN

Who’s who in the ancient world

   R 920.03 RADI



Online reference materials

Good Classics sites on the WWW:

  • Perseus digital library is a vast and ever-expanding encyclopaedia of the classical world, which publishes texts (in both the original languages and in translation), images, essays, dictionaries and more besides.

  • Livius offers articles on ancient history and archaeology as well as a library of images of ancient sites.

  • LacusCurtius: into the Roman world is a website which hosts much which will be of interest to the student of Roman archaeology, history or culture, including: Latin texts; an extensive library of annotated images of Roman archaeological sites; and the texts of a range of relevant secondary source material such as dictionaries of Roman antiquities.

  • Encyclopaedia Romana features short narrative essays on topics relating to the ancient Roman world; an alphabetical index allows you to find information on the specific subject in which you are interested. The articles here are often accompanied by bibliographies for further reading.

  • Encyclopedia of the Hellenic world is an extensive (and growing) series of detailed articles on aspects of the history, geography and culture of the ancient Greek world.

    Internet for Classics, a free online tutorial to help university students develop their Internet research skills.
    Learn how to make discerning use of the Internet to help find information for your coursework and assignments.

    Created by Dr Emma Bridges, Open University