Behind the red and the green: a socio-cultural history of the Loeb Classical Library (1911-)


Mirte Liebregts (PhD Candidate)

Time frame

September 2017 - December 2022

Project description

Loeb Classical Library set

The PhD project 'Behind the red and the green' explores the persistent tension between classical scholarship and the democratisation of classical literature in the twentieth century, by studying the history and development of the international book series that tried to bridge this gap: the Loeb Classical Library (LCL). Although classical scholars tend to take the worldwide presence and the constancy of this bilingual series for granted, I intend to uncover the LCL's contingent history by investigating the social circumstances and cultural practices that have shaped the series, and to show its cultural importance for making ancient literature available to the mass market on an unprecedented scale.

The study involves the examination of unpublished archival material, the paratexts and contents of individual LCL volumes, and the series’ reception in journals and magazines in the period in which the series' patron, James Loeb, was still alive (1909-1933). I argue that the series is not just Loeb's ‘Classical Library’, but that many intellectuals and specialists have been involved with the publication from the start. By exploring the relations between the series’ multiple stakeholders and the ways in which the publishers of this series positioned themselves in the market, I will lay bare the complex relations of power, competition, and cooperation in which cultural institutions such as the LCL are situated. In this way, my research aims to attain a better understanding of the affairs underlying scholarly publications and of the on-going process of making classical literature more accessible.


history of classical scholarship, reception studies, book history, Loeb Classical Library, classical publications, Greek and Latin literature




Mirte Liebregts,