The Classics Library

a corner of the Classics library, with shelves of books in bindings of red, green and other colors; Harkness Tower can be seen through a window on the back wallAt the top of Phelps Gate, reachable by countless stairs or the world’s slowest elevator, was the Classics Library. It was designed and equipped with the creature comforts that a scholar of St. Thomas More’s day might desire: thick carpets, a corner fireplace, comfortable chairs and tall windows overlooking the New Haven Green on one side and the Old Campus on the other. And, of course, many, many, many books.

In pale blue Oxford Edition dust jackets were the Greeks from Aeschylus to Thucydides; the green-jacketed Loeb Library editions with both Greek and English for cribbers. The great Roman writers from Cicero to Suetonius claimed another section, along with their red-jacketed Loeb counterparts. And then there were shelves upon shelves of secondary sources: dictionaries, concordances and commentaries. It was an excellent spot to fraternize with fellow archaeology majors [like Doug Connor] and to observe haggard but impressively scholastic graduate students. And, of course, there were the occasional sightings of the professors whose assignments made this space a second home for us. Whether seated at one of the sun-drenched worktables by the windows, surrounded by monographs, or slumped in a stuffed armchair by the fireplace absorbed in Xenophon’s Anabasis, this was a perfect place to cram for midterms and finals. And to nap.

Randy Helm