What A Difference A Loeb Brings

What is the draw, exactly, to owning the Loeb series? They present well in a bookcase, but unless you use them, they are no more than art. But thousands of us purchase Loeb volumes year after year, amassing our own personal libraries of texts whose authors are long dead. Why?

Utility, design, function, simplicity.

These are a given, if you have ever held and read a Loeb.

Confrontation, challenge, impenetrability, arrogance.

These are less obvious, but I suggest they are the essence of a Loeb.

Unless Ancient Greek or Latin are your first language, attempting to read the left-hand side of a Loeb presents an immediate check on one’s confidence in languages now considered “dead.”

This is especially the case for students of Koine Greek, with no previous exposure to Classical Greek or the Latin of Cicero.

Over the next few months, we’re going to highlight a number of special Loeb collections on pre-pub for your Logos Digital Library. Some of the must-haves include: an Ancient Greek Poetry Collection (8 vols.); the Letters of Cicero (12 vols.); and Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War (8 vols.). More to come on that.

But why buy the Logos editions? They don’t display on your shelf.

Here’s why. Presently, you can acquire Loeb volumes in one of three formats:

1. Hardcover

The original. Easy to transport (one at a time, at least). Pure pleasure to read. The mark of true intellect when pulled casually from one’s leather bag in the midst of a crowded café.

Expensive. Prohibitively so. At $26 a copy (new), let’s do the math: 26.00 x 542 = $14,092. Go buy a 2017 Fiat 500 instead, or maybe a used Hasselblad.

Used copies are not really cheaper, unless you are seeking less popular authors. Ebay isn’t much better. Attempt to buy the entire collection without inheritance money and you’ll gain a world-class education, and a box to live in with a rusted bicycle outside.

Invest in the hardcover editions of the author(s) you plan to read often. I keep Seneca in my kids’ room, and read an epistle to them a few times a week. They need to see, feel, and smell. Red, paper, musty. It’s good.

(I should mention here the free, public domain Loeb editions. These PDF’s leave much to be desired in terms of usability, but if you literally can’t spend any money on the other options, these may suffice for a time.)

2. Online

The online Loeb Classical Library (LCL) is a superb resource. Accessed easily through many university libraries. The search function…gold. Lists related works below each page. Currently 538 volumes online.

Readability leaves much to be desired. Poor user experience. Nothing like the real thing. Requires internet access. Lack of ownership.

Recognize the digital library for what it is; the poor student’s Loeb. A gateway drug to the hardcover editions. Great research tool for limited use. But at $150/year for an individual subscription, without granting ownership of any single hardcover or digital volume, there is a better option.

3. Logos

The best of both. Full integration with your entire Logos Digital Library. Great user experience = readability, font manipulation, mobile access. Powerful search capabilities beyond LCL online.

Still, not the holistic experience of hardcover. But iPad + Logos = Genius.

Affordable. Supremely so compared to print. You, and I, cannot afford to purchase the entire Loeb series in hardcover (yet). And although neither of us have the bookshelf space, we do have terabytes. And Logos 8.

You can help get these Loeb collections published by taking action and participating in the Community Pricing effort. Think of it as a vote that is actually counted, and for something timeless.

Also, subscribe to the Logos Academic Blog today and stay tuned to this space for upcoming posts on the Loeb series.


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Written by
Tavis Bohlinger

Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is Editor-in-Chief of the Logos Academic Blog and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.

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5 comments
  • Hi Tavis, nice blog! I would consider buying the whole LOEB library in Logos, were I not pretty disappointed by a trial of Eusebius’ Church History (https://www.logos.com/product/30595/the-ecclesiastical-history).

    Logos promises e.g. ‘The Greek text is morphologically tagged and easily searchable,’ and this was the main reason why I bought this collection. However, after using it, it is not clear to me what this actually means, as I face the following issues:

    – as I right-click on e.g. προυπάρξεως in the very introduction, it doesn’t give me any morphological info at all;
    – as a consequence (it seems), clicking on the verb doesn’t take me to its lemma in a dictionary / lexicon, since Logos doesn’t ‘know’ it has to look for προΰπαρξις, as its lemma. Similarly for more common words like τετίμητο, which isn’t tagged with the lemma τιμάω, let alone with its morphological details. Even a simple plural dative θεσπεσίοις doesn’t take me to the entry θεσπέσιος in LSJ. An inline morph search for τιμάω@VR doesn’t take me to τετίμητο.
    – as a consequence I cannot search for a certain lemma in this resource, only for a particular form of that lemma.

    I do have a number of good Greek lexicons including LSJ and BDAG, and a few others, but they just don’t seem to go along with the Loeb edition.

    So, before I buy more LOEB resources: what does Logos’ promise about morphological tagging mean?

    • Hi Michael, thanks for your kind words, and for bringing this to my attention. Here’s the situation with the Loeb texts: they are morphologically tagged but with the Perseus morphology. The morphology looks at each word and then looks for any other string of characters that matches. Consequently, you may have a word that matches a number of lemmas. When this happens the software will give you a fairly long list to choose from. Also, the tagging doesn’t start until Book 1, which is why it didn’t work in the Introduction. Morphing on all the Loeb resources, as far as I know, doesn’t start until the body of the text. I hope that answers your question!

  • I find it very frustrating that I cannot search for my Loeb books. Logos whole indexing really is insufficient. I know I own some Loebs, but the ones I have opened make me have two separate windows/frames. The English and Greek are not automatically linked so both pages scroll at the same time at the same place. This searching also fails for other works. Say I want to look in Smyth’s “A Greek Grammar for schools and colleges.”. I search for Smyth, and I get a list of 5 English translations of Greek works — NO GRAMMAR LISTED. I have to type the words “A Greek” and then Smyth pops up in my GO list. Why does not the GO button look for all Smyth books. Especially when SMYTH is most likely entered for his grammar in the GO bar 99% of the time.

    After spending $4k+ on Logos software over the years, it is amazing this insufficiency has not been fixed. I have maybe 3500+ books, but the only real way I can find them is by going to the LIBRARY icon and search for LOEB or whatever common term is used for the book for which I am searching. The Loeb English and Greek/Latin texts should be automatically linked when someone purchases a Loeb book. I do not think that is the present software properties.

Written by Tavis Bohlinger
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