Testimonia from Overseas Readers

Professor Manolo Álvarez Martí-Aguilar, Universidad de Málaga, Spain

ICS/HARL, October–December 2016, October–December 2017

The resources of the Library of the Institute of Classical Studies are of great help for my current research, about the cultural representations of tsunamis in the ancient world, based mainly on literary sources. The Library offers access to a wide variety of editions and translations of ancient authors, and to a large number of studies about topics of my interest such as ancient religion, magic, or natural catastrophes in antiquity. Moreover, it provides an excellent collection of periodicals and other helpful resources, such as encyclopedias and dictionaries of the ancient world. All these bibliographic resources allow me to follow my line of research with great continuity and detail.
[See the first fruits of Professor Álvarez’ work in the Library in his article, “Talismans against Tsunamis: Apollonius of Tyana and the stelae of the Herakleion in Gades (VA 5.5)”, GRBS 57 (2017), 968–993. Ed.]


Professor Karen Bassi, University of California at Santa Cruz, USA

ICS/HARL, April–June 2017

During my spring 2017 Webster Fellowship I conducted research for a book titled Imitating the Dead: Facing Death in Greek Tragedy. This project requires bibliographical resources in Classics, visual culture, and the philosophy of death. There was literally nothing in Classics that I could not find in the ICS Library; I also benefitted enormously from access to the nearby Senate and Courtauld Libraries. Coming from a small campus of the University of California, and during a time of growing anti-intellectualism in the US, I felt extremely fortunate to have uninterrupted time to devote to research and writing and to have access to the Library’s extraordinary holdings. Working there also afforded welcome opportunities to meet colleagues and students and to attend workshops and lectures. The Library staff were extremely helpful and generous with their time. In sum, this opportunity was a highlight of my career. 
[Professor Bassi’s research at the Library resulted in the following article: “Morbid Materialism: The Matter of the Corpse in Euripides’ Alcestis”, in The Materialities of Greek Tragedy: Objects and Affect in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, edited by Melissa Mueller and Mario Telo (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming). Ed.]


Brandon Braun, University of California at Los Angeles, USA

ICS/HARL, September–December 2017

I spent three months using the ICS Library to work on my dissertation. It has a good collection on the art and archaeology of Greece, as well as on different aspects of Greek history and culture. I was also glad that it has many Festschrift volumes and Classics and archaeology periodicals. All of the resources re easy to access, and it is possible to gain borrowing privileges by joining either the Hellenic Society or the Roman Society. 


Dr. Diana Burton, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand

ICS/HARL, August–October, 2017

The ICS is easily my favourite research library.  It has everything I need, no matter how obscure, on the shelves and accessible, catalogued in a way which encourages fruitful browsing.  It’s quiet, hospitable, and welcoming.  And it is the heart of a great community of friends and colleagues.

[During her visit, Dr. Burton finished co-editing the volume Athens to Aotearoa: Greece and Rome in New Zealand Literature and Society, edited by Diana Burton, Simon Perris, and Jeff Tatum (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2017). Ed.]


Professor Thomas H. Carpenter, Ohio University, USA

ICS/HARL, March–May 2016

I was the Trendall Fellow at the ICS in the Spring of 2016, when I spent two very productive months of research in the Library. Daily I worked there for several hours as I prepared two papers for publication in addition to the Trendall Lecture, which I delivered on May 10. My focus was on the Italic people of Apulia in the 5th–3rd centuries BCE. For the research, I found the Library’s collection to be rich and remarkably deep, including many journal articles (sometimes photocopies contributed by readers) that I had not been able to find elsewhere. Every day I looked forward to arriving early and claiming a desk where I could devote uninterrupted attention to my projects. There is a special atmosphere in the reading rooms which I found particularly conducive to concentration—quiet and formal, but not stuffy. In short, working in the ICS Library was a joy, and I hope to be able to spend more time there in the future.

[The two articles that Professor Carpenter finished in the Library are: “A Vase Shape as a Marker of Identity: A Case Study from 4th Century B.C. Apulia”, forthcoming in a volume in the series Beihefte zum Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum edited by Stefan Schmidt, and “Beyond the Pronomos Vase: Papposilenos on Apulia Vases”, forthcoming in Brill’s Companion to Satyr Drama, edited by A. Antonopolis and G. Harrison. Ed.]


Professor Eric Csapo, University of Sydney, Australia

ICS/HARL, March–May 2016

I had the good fortune to have access to the Library of the Institute of Classical Studies in London as TBL Webster Fellow from the beginning of March to the middle of May 2016. The ICS Library is a resource without parallel for international researchers. It is the most extensive, and most accessibly organised Classical library I know of. I was able to find easily and make immediate use of virtually every book I looked for. This made my research ten to twenty times more efficient than it could have been had I stayed in Sydney (even though the library at the University of Sydney boasts the largest Classics collection in the southern hemisphere).

[At the ICS Professor Csapo was able to complete large sections of Theatre Beyond Athens. A Social and Economic History of the Theatre to 300 BC, vol. 2, edited by Eric Csapo and Peter Wilson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). He also finished two articles: “Imagining the Shape of Choral Dance and Inventing the Cultic in Euripides’ Later Tragedies”, in Choreutika: Performing Dance in Archaic and Classical Greece, edited by L. Gianvittorio, Biblioteca dei Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica (Pisa and Rome: Fabrizio Serra Editore, 2017), 119–156, and “Choregic Dedications and What They Tell Us about Comic Performance in the Fourth Century BC”, Logeion 6 (2016 [2017]), 252–284. Ed.]


Dr. Susan Bilynskyj Dunning, University of Toronto, Canada

ICS/HARL, July–December 2017

The ICS provided me with an ideal base this past year as I have been writing my monograph on the Roman Ludi Saeculares, which has involved the study of inscriptions, coins, and literary material from the Republic to Late Antiquity. The Institute’s Library was supplied with excellent resources for all subjects in classical studies, ancient history, and archaeology, and its open shelves meant that I could easily access the texts I needed for completing my project. The librarians were very knowledgeable and always helpful, especially when the Library’s set-up was temporarily shifted during the summer renovations.

[Dr. Dunning finished the following articles during her stay: “Secular Games,” in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, digital edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, October 2017), doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.5781; “Saeculum,” in The Oxford Classical Dictionary, digital edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, November 2017), doi: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.013.8233. Ed.]


Dr. John Hilton, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

ICS/HARL, regularly

I have been a member of the UK Hellenic Society for many years and I first made use of the Joint Library when I was writing my doctoral thesis (‘A Commentary on Books 3 and 4 of the Ethiopian Story of Heliodorus’), which I completed in 1998. I have therefore been a reader off and on for about twenty years. The Library has proven to be of enormous value for my research over these decades, for the simple reason that it holds a very wide range of journals, books, theses, and offprints that I simply could not obtain in South Africa. It also possesses rare books dating from previous centuries, such as the two-volume commentary on Heliodorus by Admantios Korais in modern Greek (Paris 1804–1806) and the notes on this author by Børge Thorlacius (1823), amongst others. The Library also holds early theses on Heliodorus by Zoë Glava (1937) and Thomas Goethals (1959), out-of-the-way foreign language studies by Hans Rommel (1923) and Victor Hefti (1950), and a wide range of texts and translations unavailable elsewhere, including those by Stanislav Warschewiczki (1552) and Thomas Underdowne (1587). My time reading in the Library laid an indispensable foundation for later studies, and for this I am extremely grateful. It was interesting to note that other scholars had made use of the same resources (the late Jack Winkler, for example, signed out many of these titles, according to the loans record). It should also be noted that among the lockers in the foyer of the Joint Library I encountered others working on Heliodorus whom I would not otherwise have met. And the Internet resources are excellent. The Library is an extremely valuable resource that far exceeds what is available for the specialised study of Classics in my home country. It has a very long tradition of enabling research of a high standard to be produced by the international visitors who make use of it. 

[On the basis of his research at HARL, Dr. Hilton has co-authored Apuleius: Rhetorical Works, with Stephen Harrison and Vincent Hunink (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); co-edited Alma Parens Originalis? The Receptions of Classical Ideas in Africa, Europe, the United States, and Cuba, edited by John Hilton and Anne Gosling (New York: Peter Lang, 2007); and published ten journal articles, five book chapters, and three reviews; his most recent article will appear in Classical World 111.4 (2018) under the title “'Nomos, physis and Ethnicity in the Emperor Julian’s Interpretation of the Tower of Babel Story”. Ed.]


Dr. Katarzyna Jazdzewska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Poland

ICS/HARL, October–December 2017

Over the past few years, I have spent numerous weeks working on my research projects in the Library of the Institute of Classical Studies and have found the facilities outstanding and the staff extremely helpful. The Library provides a free access to books in its collection, which I find very convenient: on the one hand, it allows me to easily and quickly find a specific volume on a shelf; on the other, thanks to the thematic ordering of the books, I can browse through books on related topics. The Library’s collection is extensive and I am usually able to find all the source texts and secondary literature I need for my research, which focuses on various aspects of ancient Greek prose from the Classical to the imperial period. I also greatly value the papyrology room, where editions of papyri are conveniently gathered and clearly marked, and the collection of international journals on antiquity, with all past issues available on the shelves. The librarians are always very helpful: they have assisted me in finding missing volumes and helped me to obtain newly published books which were not yet catalogued. I have also found the availability of printing and scanning services very convenient. As for the reading rooms and desks, they provide everything I need: ample space, good light, power outlets, and an environment conductive to research.

[Professor Jazdzewska finished a book and an article in the Library: Dion Chryzostom, Mowy 1-10 [Discourses 1-10, translation from Greek into Polish]: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, Biblioteka Antyczna 51 (Wroclaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe sub Lupa, 2016), and “Entertainers, Persuaders, Adversaries: Interactions of Sophists and Rulers in Philostratus’ Lives of Sophists,” in Intellectual and Empire in Graeco-Roman Antiquity, edited by Philip Bosman (London: Routledge 2018). Ed.]


Profesor Richard Janko, University of Michigan, USA

ICS/HARL, regularly

As one who knows well from long experience and much travel the libraries of Europe and North America, there are few places where I would sooner work than the Joint Library of the ICS in London. It is one of the few places in the world where, having at my fingertips all the resources of the last 150 years of classical scholarship, I can use and verify large numbers of primary and secondary works with high efficiency, and accomplish in days what it would take weeks or months to do elsewhere (if one could do it at all). The books and journals in the ICS give the lie to the delusion that all our knowledge is available, easily accessible, and accurately usable via the clunky digital platforms that now waste so much of so many scholars’ time. The four books I have finished since 1995 were all reliant on the resources of the ICS. Fetching them from the shelves gives me exercise that keeps me fit rather than glued to a chair and a screen. There is the added bonus that the collection will survive the next Carrington Event, when in a few hours violent solar activity will wipe out the data on all the electronic devices in the world; the last such Event hit the earth in 1859, and I have yet to see a book that was harmed by it (there was a near miss in 2012, which according to Lloyds would have cost the US alone $3 trillion in damage). I hope everyone will join with me in helping to keep the Library funded, up-to-date, and a protection for our cultural heritage into the distant future.

[The four books that Professor Janko completed in the Library are: three volumes of Philodemus: The Aesthetic Works: On Poems Books 1, 2, and 3–4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000–2017), and Ayios Stephanos: Excavations at a Bronze Age and Medieval Settlement in Southern Laconia, with W. D. Taylour† and 26 contributing authors, Annual of the British School at Athens, Supplementary Volume 44 (London: British School at Athens, 2008). Ed.]


Dr. Pietro Maria Liuzzo, Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian Studies, Hamburg, Germany

ICS/HARL, January–March 2016

I have always found the facilities of the Joint Library extremely helpful for good research, not just when I was there as visiting scholar, but also before that, when I used the Library as a member of the Hellenic Society while working on my PhD. The space is wide and well climatized, and silence is maintained, the books are easily retrievable in the various rooms of the Library and are accessible to the users with an easy and efficient system of relocation. The organization of the resources is meaningful and clear, so that finding the resources one needs almost happens naturally with a solid classicist background. Sometimes one does not even need to use an electronic catalogue, especially for editions and primary sources: it is enough to follow the shelves, and when this does not bring the desired results, the wifi or one of the available machines with the catalogue quickly solve the problem. This clear organization is tremendously useful to enable also a process of discovery which makes the Library a real research tool. One finds things one did not know about and can start from the shelf of an author or of a subject to approach an entire research project with confidence due to the completeness of the bibliographic collection and the updated status of the Library. The new acquisition shelves are a treasure for keeping up to date with what comes along, and I would also mention for bibliophiles the shelf with books for sale, which has been a source of most interesting acquisitions for my personal library. I have benefited from the sources about Greek historians in particular, and from the exchange with people there, as well, in order to complete my commentary on FGrHist 104.

[Dr. Liuzzo’s commentary is available online at http://pietroliuzzo.github.io/Aristodemo/. Ed.]


Mr. Thiago Ribeiro, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro

ICS/HARL, August–September 2017

The purpose of my two-month stay at the ICS Library was mainly to find bibliographical material for research for my Master’s degree, which is now in its final stages. Explained in broad terms, my work is entitled “Coercing the Gods: the use of threats and intimidation against the ancient Egyptian deities in New Kingdom spells (XVI – XI centuries BCE)”. As this tittle makes clear, the research is focused on the Egyptian civilization of the 2nd half of the second millennium BCE, aiming to study the phenomenon of magic and its relation with the divine sphere and, thus, so-called Egyptian religion. Since this is so, one might think that a library focused on the Classical civilizations would have little or even nothing to contribute to my work. This was not the case. In spite of having huge collections dedicated to themes that are beyond my research, the ICS Library did have good examples of books that proved a huge help to my studies, especially (and, I must say, surprisingly) books concerned with ancient Egypt, something that I was not expecting to find there. Beyond that, the fact that I was officially hosted by the ICS made it possible for me to get access to other libraries of interest to me, something that, in the end, yielded enough material for me to conduct my ongoing research and plan for the future.


Professor Michele Renee Salzman, University of California at Riverside, USA

ICS/HARL, April–May 2017

As a visiting scholar at the Institute of Classical Studies, I was welcomed by a fascinating and engaged community of international visiting scholars.  There was a lively interchange between us, with weekly lunches that included residents as well as visiting scholars, post-docs, and graduate students. Critical to our work was the Library, whose holdings in classical studies I had heard were superb.  That information was correct.  But what I was also particularly pleased to see was the strength of the ancillary fields that were necessary for my own research on late antiquity; epigraphic, archaeological and patristic resources were all available for consultation within walking distance and, quaintly, in physical copies.  There is nothing more satisfying to me than being able to walk to the room next door and pull down from the shelf the journal or reference book that answers my question immediately. In addition, a supportive librarian at the desk answered questions on the spot, and the Institute staff helped with all sorts of useful information, from which metro stop to take to where to find the best computer support. I am looking forward to a return visit.

[During her visit, Professor Salzman worked on her current book, The ‘Falls’ of RomeThe Transformations of Rome in Late Antiquity, 270-603 CE (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming) and completed an article, “Emperors and Elites in Rome after the Vandal Sack of 455,” Antiquité tardive 25 (2017), 223–242. Ed.]


Professor Tyler Jo Smith, University of Virginia, USA

ICS/HARL, June–July 2017

The ICS Library has long been my go-to location in London to conduct research. It provides a welcoming, well-run, and comfortable atmosphere, and is an ideal base from which one may attend seminars in Senate House, consult the Theatre Archive, or view the collections of the British Museum. For my particular specialization of vase-painting and the iconography of performance, it has excellent resources and is arguably one of the best libraries in which to research these combined areas. 

[The following articles have resulted from Professor Smith’s work in the Library: “Komastai or ‘Hephaistoi’? Visions of Comic Parody in Archaic Greece”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 52 (2009), 69–92; “Myth, Cult and Performance: Sir John Soane’s Cawdor Vase”, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 57 (2014), 96–123; “Myth into Art: A Black-Figure Column Krater at the University of Virginia”, in Approaching the Ancient Artifact: Representation, Narrative, and Function, edited by Amalia Avramidou and Denise Demetriou (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), 31–41; “Instant Messaging: Dance, Text, and Visual Communication on Corinthian and Athenian Vases”, in Epigraphy of Art , edited by Dimitrios Yatromanolakis (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2016), 145–164. Ed.]


Professor Jeffrey Tatum, Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand

ICS/HARL, August–October, 2017

The Library of the Institute for Classical Studies is a precious resource. Its holdings are extensive in every area of our discipline, including material culture. Its staff are knowledgeable about the subjects they serve. And they are extraordinarily helpful—especially to newcomers. During my stay as a visiting fellow, owing to the depth of the collection and its ready accessibility, I was able in only a few months to complete several projects, each of which would frequently have been put on hold at my home institution while I turned to interlibrary loan. The Library is also a very pleasant place in which to work: the setting is congenial, and everyone there is too busy and too considerate to be noisy or distracting (one rarely says this of libraries, but the Institute’s is actually a jolly place). There can be few ways of supporting the study of classics better than contributing to the Joint Library.

[In the Library, Professor Tatum completed the editing for Athens to Aotearoa: Greece and Rome in New Zealand Literature and Society, edited by Diana Burton, Simon Perris, and Jeff Tatum (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2017); finished revisions and began the copy-editing for Quintus Cicero: A Brief Handbook on Canvassing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), and completed three articles, “Contio Domestica”, Parolo del Passato 70 (2015 [2018]), “Metellus Numidicus on Gaius Marius in his Exilic Epistolography”, Scripta Classica Israelica 37 (2018), and “Greece for the Greeks: Plutarch’s Aratus and Greek Chauvinism”, in Xenofobia y racismo en el mundo antiguo, edited by Francisco Pina Polo, Francisco Marco Simón, and José Remesal Rodríguez (Barcelona: University of Barcelona Press, forthcoming). Ed.]


Professor Yulia Ustinova, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

ICS/HARL, April–August 2016

I have spent five sabbatical terms as a visiting scholar at ICS, staying for three or four months, usually during the spring semester (in 2000, 2003, 2012, 2013, and 2016); I also often come to London for shorter periods, from two weeks to two months, in order to work at the Library. I have worked in many academic libraries in Russia, Israel, France, the USA, and Britain, and in my opinion the Joint Library provides its readers with the best conditions for research, due to the combination of several factors: (1) an outstanding collection of publications on all the aspects of life in the Classical world, and all the sub-disciplines involved in their study; (2) the user-friendly organization of this collection—most importantly, open access; (3) an excellent location in London, just a few minutes’ walk from the Warburg and Welcome Institutes, as well as the British Library; (4) most courteous and helpful staff; (5) the connection to ICS, which allows attendance at research seminars and other events organized by the Institute. These excellent conditions allow very effective and pleasant use of research time, and I have no doubt that without access to the Joint Library my work would have progressed at a slower pace, and I would not have thought of many ideas which came to me while I was browsing the shelves.  

[Professor Ustinova explicitly expresses her thanks to the ICS, especially its Library, in two books, Caves and the Ancient Greek Mind. Descending Underground in the Search for Ultimate Truth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009) and Divine Mania: Alteration of Consciousness in Ancient Greece (London: Routledge, 2018). Her research in the Library has also yielded several articles in classical journals and collected volumes, and extended the reach of its influence to the medical sphere with an article co-authored with Etzel Cardeña, “Combat Stress Disorders and Their Treatment in Ancient Greece,” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 6.6 (2014), 739–748. Ed.]