The Loeb Classical Library goes digitalOct 6, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 04 • By SUSAN KRISTOL
“Chemistry and Physics Get Million from Loeb,” blared the Harvard Crimson headline. “Funds will modernize laboratory facilities and establish chemistry chairs.” The donor: scientist Morris Loeb ’83. A million dollars is indeed generous. But on the Harvard scale, did it really warrant a Crimson headline?
The answer is yes—given that Morris Loeb graduated not in 1983 but in 1883. In today’s dollars, his gift (received in 1953, upon the death of his widow) would be worth almost $9 million. A distinguished chemist and scion of a wealthy New York banking family, he was a philanthropist of both Jewish and non-Jewish institutions. Although wildly generous, he had some odd habits, such as hiding thousand-dollar bills under the wallpaper. Sadly, he died at 49 of typhoid, contracted from an oyster he ate at a chemical society convention. Reform Jews—especially of this period, and especially those born in Cincinnati—had no restrictions against eating shellfish.
What is the connection between Morris Loeb, the eccentric but brilliant scientist, and the Loeb Classical Library, a collection of more than 520 Greek and Latin volumes published by Harvard University Press and now entering its digital age? Morris’s strong-willed decision to go into chemistry instead of joining the family investment-banking business reportedly led to increased pressure on his younger brother James (Harvard ’88) to become part of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. with their father, Solomon. James, a sensitive lover of literature and music and a gifted cellist, reluctantly gave up a potential career as an archaeologist or a classicist to join the family business. But he never lost his love of Greek and Latin. And one result of his thwarted passion for antiquity was his decision to create the Loeb Classical Library in 1911.
He provided the inspiration for the series—the idea of having a facing page of English translation for each page of Greek or Latin text—and the financial backing, putting together an international team of scholars to move the project forward. The first 20 books appeared in 1912.
The Loeb Classical Library, spanning the classical corpus from Homer in the eighth century b.c.e. to Boethius in the sixth century c.e., has long been useful for several purposes. First, for scholars who need or want to read a Greek or Roman text but may not have the time or training to wade through the original, the presence of the Greek or Latin on the left side of the page makes it possible to see at a glance the exact terminology used by the author. Second, if someone is researching a broad topic, the Loebs are handy for looking up a geographical, grammatical, or mythological reference in an obscure ancient author’s works. Third, for students doing their Greek or Latin homework, the Loebs provide a shortcut way of translating a difficult passage without looking up all the vocabulary and parsing all the grammar.
Now, the Loeb Classical Library is about to become much more useful, having taken a great step forward: The entire collection has been digitized. You can now read any Loeb text online. You can view the Greek page, the Latin page, and the English page. You can search for specific English, Latin, or Greek words in a single author, multiple authors, or across the entire corpus. Do you want to know where the word “tyrant” appears in classical literature? You can search for the English word, the Greek word tyrannos, or the Latin word tyrannus. For searching Greek texts, the site is equipped with a virtual Greek keyboard that easily drops down on the screen. The user can make notes, highlight passages, and share them with others.
The digital Loeb Classical Library will be a transformative experience for professionals doing research and provide everyone else with a wonderful buffet of reading to browse.
Here is an example. In the summer of 1976, while my husband was working for the senatorial primary campaign of Daniel Patrick Moynihan against Bella Abzug and others, I was researching the topic of bee and honey imagery in Greek and Latin poetry. Because we had moved to New York temporarily, subletting an apartment with a mouse who lived next to the toaster, I had lost access to my university library and had to borrow a relative’s library card to sneak into the NYU library. To find references to the words “bee” and “honey” in ancient texts, it was necessary to search laboriously through indexes and concordances of individual authors in actual books. If the book was not on the shelf, I would have to go to the public library on 42nd Street and submit requests for the book to be brought to me—that is, if the librarians could find it.
‘Rape culture’ at HarvardJun 30, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 40 • By HARVEY MANSFIELD
Feminism is in control of America’s colleges and universities, where its principles at least are held as dogmas unquestioned and unopposed. Yet in what should be a paradise with those principles at work, women speak of a “rape culture” that sounds like the patriarchal hell we thought we’d left behind.
7:01 AM, May 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Students from the Harvard Extension School at Harvard University are hosting a "Satanic black mass," which will take place tonight in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"A black mass ceremony is a ritual performed by satanic cults to parody the Catholic Church Mass. Historically, the ceremony features a ritual of sacrilege of the Catholic host, or the sacred bread used in the Eucharist, which becomes the body of Jesus Christ upon consecration," the Harvard Crimson explains.
3:16 PM, Apr 22, 2014 • By ALEX VUCKOVIC
The attempts of defenders of Obamacare to rouse the American people in favor of the doomed monstrosity have become more desperate and bizarre. The most recent example is taking place in Florida, where the sudden death of a young uninsured woman is being cited as an indictment of the Republican-controlled state legislature for refusing to approve the Medicaid expansion so generously being offered by the feds. If the woman in question had access to federally-mandated Medicaid, they argue, she would of course have gone in for preventative screening which would have revealed her cardiac abnormality and somehow saved her life. Once again, heartless Republicans are causing the death of innocents.
Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Our item on rampant grade inflation at Harvard (“A Gentleman’s A+,” The Scrapbook, December 16) caught the eye of reader Robert D. King, who also happens to be founding dean of liberal arts and Rapoport chair of Jewish studies emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor King writes to let us know that the struggle against grade inflation is not in fact hopeless:
Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Last week, a headline in the Harvard Crimson confirmed that Harvard is continuing its depressing slide from an elite educational institution to a really expensive way to boost the self-esteem of America’s overachieving youth: “Substantiating Fears of Grade Inflation, Dean Says Median Grade at Harvard College Is A-, Most Common Grade Is A.” The plain facts here are bad enough, but should you want further confirmation that today’s Harvard students aren’t nearly as smart as they think they are, The Scrapbook would refer you to the embarrassing editorial the student newspape
Dec 2, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 12 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Washington Post, like many publications, has been observing the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in considerable detail. No, make that lurid detail. No day has gone by in recent weeks without extended lists, recycled photographs, old reminiscences, new theories, and the sort of relentless politico-journalistic navel-gazing that has turned the reading public, in the Internet age, against the mainstream media.
7:27 AM, Aug 12, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Good news for foodies. Not that they really need any these days but ... still. As Lauren Salkeld reports on the Epicurious blog, Epilog
No, but it doesn’t understand them. Jul 8, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 41 • By PETER BERKOWITZ
Study of the humanities has never been more important to the welfare of the nation. Information whizzes by at breakneck speed. The contest between conservative and progressive visions of government’s scope and aim in a free society implicates rival understandings of human nature. The ways of life of people in far-off lands have direct impact on our prosperity and security.
10:15 PM, Mar 23, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
As the men of Harvard exit the NCAA tournament at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats, you'll surely want to wish them a fond and hearty farewell. So sing along with the final verse of "Fair Harvard," written by Reverend Samuel Gilman for the university's 200th anniversary in 1836.
9:15 AM, Mar 22, 2013 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
On March 21, 2013, history was made. Ivy League champion and 14th seed Harvard men's basketball team busted brackets everywhere as it upset 3rd seed New Mexico, winning its first NCAA playoff game ever and notching its first victory over a top-ten team. Read all about it here and here.