Touring the Meritt Library: The Prosopographical Cards

This entry is adapted from materials originally posted on the Krateros Instagram page on December 4, 2020.

December 4, 2020: Our last stop on this tour of the Meritt Library is the prosopographical filing cabinet. This imposing object holds tens of thousands of hand-written cards, each devoted to a person from ancient Greece.

Three drawers of the prosopographical filing cabinet open to reveal the cards within

The cards draw heavily on the information from Kirchner’s Prosopographia Attica, published at the turn of the 20th century, but they are designed for an informed by epigraphical work. Indeed, many cards include only epigraphical references, and some include extremely incomplete names – not unusual when working with inscriptions.

A close-up shot of card sections in the M’s, including Menandros

These cards were scanned during the 1970s by John S. Traill, Professor Emeritus of the University of Toronto, and subsequently transcribed and entered into a digital database. That database was ultimately published in print as a series of volumes entitled “Persons of Ancient Athens”. We have the volumes in the library at the IAS, but often it’s quicker and easier to dig through the card file!

A glimpse of a card about one Mamerteinos, father of a Praxagoras active around the year 220 CE

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