Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Background & Overviews
Tertiary sources, such as subject encyclopedias and textbooks, are excellent starting points in your research. Use them to find:
- Helpful overviews of key facts: who? what? when?
- Bibliographies of especially key scholarly works.
- Identification of important primary sources.
- Brief descriptions of main scholarly arguments: how? why?
At Collins Library, you can access subject encyclopedias in a variety of formats: print, ebook, or via larger digital collections.
Print encyclopedias are located on the first floor of the library, across from the Learning Commons. An example:
Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World (Antiquity) by
Call Number: DE5 .N4813 Print Reference, vols. 1-15
Publication Date: 2002-2011
The fifteen volumes in this encyclopedia are devoted to Greco-Roman antiquity and cover two thousand years of history, ranging from the second millennium BC to early medieval Europe.
Online encyclopedias can be accessed via PRIMO, the library's discovery platform. An example:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome by
Call Number: Click on the title above for online access.
Publication Date: 2010
This digital version of the multi-volume reference work is a comprehensive overview of the major cultures of the classical Mediterranean world--Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman--from the Bronze Age to the fifth century CE. It also covers the legacy of the classical world and its interpretation and influence in subsequent centuries.
Large digital collections of subject encyclopedias can be accessed via several publisher-based platforms:
ABC CLIO eBooks
This eBook Collection contains encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and guides from ABC-CLIO, Greenwood Press, Libraries Unlimited, and Praeger.
Provides full text online access to Gale electronic books, including encyclopedias and other reference resources.
Literature Resource Center
Contains articles from academic journals and literary magazines as well as excerpts from scholarly monographs, literary correspondence and diaries.
Contains the complete texts of many Oxford companions, encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference titles in a fully indexed, cross-searchable database. Included in addition to articles are images, maps, timelines, bibliographies, photographs and much more.
The social sciences platform for SAGE and CQ Press books, reference materials and other content.
Using Tertiary Sources
1. Read the entry on "Alexander historians" in The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Identify the primary sources mentioned in this subject encyclopedia article.
2. Are any of these primary sources available to us today? If so, are they translated into English? What happens when you search for any extant sources in Primo? What strategies work best?
3. Given what you now know about primary sources for Alexander the Great, what kinds of questions will you use to interrogate the sources that you do have?