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Citing Greek and Roman Sources

The following guide is adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style. There are two styles; one is called Notes-Bibliography (which uses endnotes or footnotes) and the other Author-Date (which uses in-text citations). Be sure to verify with your instructor which style to use.  Use the Chicago Manual guide to cite your primary sources in Classics. Primary sources in Classics are the literary works (poems, plays, and histories, for example), and artifacts (pottery, coins and sculptures, for example) and other materials from the ancient world.

Generally, when citing ancient texts, follow this format for the notes or in-text citations: 

Author (abbreviated). Title (abbreviated), Book. Section. Line/sentences, (if applicable) translator’s last name. 

Note there are a couple of exceptions:  
If the author only has one work, such as Thucydides, you do not include the title of that work. Some authors, like Plato, use an alternate numbering system called Stephanus numbers. See the examples below. 

Abbreviations for most classical authors and texts can be found in the Oxford Classical Dictionary

  1. Under Action Links, click on Read Online

  1. Once the eBook opens Click on the All Contents tab  

  1. Click on the + to open Front Matter  

  1. Click on Abbreviations Used in the Present Work  

  1. Use CTRL-F to search for a specific author. For example, if you search for Sophocles, you will see his name is abbreviated to Soph. A list of his texts and the abbreviations follows. So, Ajax becomes Aj.   

Authors from late antiquity may be found in the Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity or the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Use the full title if you cannot find an abbreviation for the text. 


Verse: Common authors you will come across in your Classics courses include the poets Hesiod, Homer, Horace, Ovid and Vergil and the playwrights Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Catullus, Euripides, Pindar, Plautus and Sophocles. 

Aesch. Sept. 830-840, translated by Hecht & Bacon. 

This citation refers to lines 830-840 of Aeschylus’ play Seven Against Thebes translated by Anthony Hecht and Helen H. Bacon. 

Hom. Il. 18.141–143, translated by Green. 

This citation refers to lines 141-143 of Book 18 in Homer’s Iliad translated by Peter Green. 

Hom. Od. 9.102-110, translated by Fagles.  

This citation refers to lines 102 through 110 of Book 9 of Homer’s Odyssey translated by Robert Fagles. 

Hor. Sat. 2.8.5-10, translated by Bovie. 

This citation refers to lines 5 through 10 of the eighth satire in Book 2 of Horace’s Satires translated by Palmer Smith Bovie. 

Soph. Ant. 904–922, translated by Kitto. 

This citation refers to lines 904-922 in the play Antigone written by Sophocles translated by Humphrey Davey Findley Kitto. 

Prose: Not sure if you are reading prose? If what you are reading seems like common or ordinary speech and doesn’t have a rhythmic structure like a play or poem, then you are reading prose. Common ancient authors writing prose include Appian, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Livy, Suetonius and Tacitus. 

Cic. Ad Fam. 2.14.3, translated Bailey. 

This citation refers to Book Two, Letter 14, paragraph 3 of Letters to Atticus by Cicero translated by D.R. Shackleton Bailey. 

Pl. Symp. 215a3–218b7, translated by Waterfield. 

This citation refers Plato’s Symposium sentence 3 of section 215a to sentence 7 of section 218b translated by Robin Waterfield. 

Pl. Rep. 2.360e–361b, translated by Rowe. 

This citation refers to Plato’s Republic Book 2 sections 360e to section 361b translated by C.J. Rowe. 

Thuc. 2.15.2, translated by Warner. 

This citation refers to Book two, paragraph 15 line two of the History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides translated by Rex Warner.

Verg. Aen. 2.250-252, translated by Ahl & Fantham. 

This citation refers to Book 2 lines 250-252 in Virgil’s Aeneid translated by Frederick Ahl and Elaine Fantham. 


Generally, when citing ancient texts follow this format for the bibliography or references list: 

Translator’s Last Name, First Name (initial). transl. (Year) Ancient Author: Title. Place of Publication. Name of Publisher. 

Warner, R. transl. (1972) Thucydides: History of the Peloponnesian War. London: Penguin. 

Shackleton, B. transl. (2001) Cicero: Letters to Friends. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Hecht, A. & Bacon, H.H. transl. (1991) Aeschylus. Seven Against Thebes. New York: Oxford University


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