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Climax of forty years' work on Classical myths

Professor Richard Buxton

Professor Richard Buxton

Press release issued: 28 May 2009

A scholarly project to document and analyse all known images of mythology from the Greek, Roman and Etruscan civilisations, has reached its culmination with the appearance of the last two volumes of the 20-volume series. The project, known as LIMC (Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae), was begun in the early 1970s.

The two volumes (‘Supplementum 2009’) picture many new and hitherto-unpublished representations of myths, and bring up to date the entire forty-year project – which has been described as the boldest venture in classical scholarship in the past 70 years. 

The non-profit-making LIMC Foundation is based in Basel, with branches in Athens, Heidelberg, Paris and Würzburg; the Council which administers it is drawn from more than 30 countries in five continents.  At the head of LIMC is Richard Buxton, Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Bristol who has been one of the editors of LIMC since 2003, and since 2006, its President. 

The work of the LIMC Foundation is far from over.  It has two major ongoing projects.  The first, ‘ThesCRA’ (‘Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum’), documents ancient cults and rites; five volumes are out so far (published by the J. Paul Getty Museum), with more on the way.  The second project involves digitizing the whole LIMC archive, so as to put it online - and free to the user.

“This can’t be done overnight,” explains Professor Buxton, “because before putting the images on the web we need to gain the explicit permission of the hundreds of museums and private collections which house the objects illustrated.”

In spite of this, and in spite of the increasingly challenging task of raising funds, Professor Buxton estimates that both ThesCRA and the digitization will be completed within three years.

All this proves, if proof were needed, that classical myths are alive and well, and as meaningful and vibrant now as at any time in their rich and complex history.

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