Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teubner, Foremost Among Classical Publishers

Before 1851 many publishers had already produced volumes of the Greek and Latin classics, but Teubner, in Leipzig, was the first to dedicate a series entirely to them. The series, called the Bibliotheca Teubneriana or the Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana, started in 1851 and it's still going. People call the series Teubner, although the publisher Teubner is not confined to this series of Classical texts. In fact, the publisher Teubner no longer publishes the Classical series Teubner: in 1999 Teubner sold the Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana to the publisher KG Saur, and in 2006 the publisher De Gruyter acquired Saur. But through all that, and also through a period between the end of WWII and German re-unification when some of the volumes of the Bibliotheca Teubneriana continued to be published in Leipzig while others were published in Stuttgart, the series has remained very much a unified, consistent and continuous thing.

From within a very few years after its beginning until today, the Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana has offfered a greater range of Classical titles than any other publisher. It's probably also maintained the highest reputation for Classical scholarship and quality among publishers. It's true that in the cases of many individual titles, the Osford Classical Texts will offer was is considered by most to be the standard text. And within the past few decades, Loeb and Bude have begun to compete for that prestige, and in some cases one of them have offered the preferred text. Still, I think, Teubner must be considered the pre-eminent publisher in their field.

A few decades after the Bibliotheca Teubneriana started publishing in 1851, someone had the idea of giving the covers of all of the volumes the Greek texts one color, and the Latin texts another. In Teubner's case, from the late 19th century until today, it's been orange for Greek and blue for Latin.

This idea has caught on with other publishers, so that now we have Loeb volumes with green covers for Greek and red covers for Latin, and orange for Latin and green for Greek for the Medieval texts in Brepols' series Corpus Christianorum.

The Oxford Classical Texts started in the 1890's and the oldest volumes in that series, both Greek and Latin, have orange covers which make them look very much like Teubner's Greek titles.

Today, the Oxford Classical Texts, also known as the OCT, all have black covers, but the Greek titles have blue dust jackets and the Latin titles have green ones.

My main concern about Teubner is the same as with publishers of Classics in general: the volumes get thinner while the prices go up. Well, and also, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, along with getting thinner the Teubner volumes keep getting taller and wider, and therefore more and more impossible to fit into any pocket. That too is inconvenient.

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