User Guide: Searching the Catalog

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The current Perseus catalog offers four search options that can be chosen from a drop down menu at the top of the main page:


Search by All Fields

This is the keyword search field where a user can enter any term and it will search the entirety of all catalog records and bring up any record that contains that keyword.   For example, a search for Cicero brings the user to the following list of 560 results:


Searching All Fields = Cicero

This search will find the term Cicero as the author of works, authority records with the name Cicero, Cicero in the title or uniform title of works, and any other records that contain the term. The list is automatically sorted by relevance but can also be sorted by author or title. The list of available facets at the side can be used to further narrow this list of results.

Compare this search with a search in All Fields = Perseus and note the number and variety of results.


Search by Author

Searching by author will bring the user to a list of any authority records that contain that author name, for example searching on Author = Cicero will give the user the following list of 2 results:


Search Author = Cicero


These results include both a link to the authority records for both Marcus Tullius Cicero and Quintus Tullius Cicero.  Clicking on the top level result will take the user to Marcus Tullius Cicero’s Authority Record where the user will find a list of variant names, other information, cataloged titles by this author and other information described further in the Results section.

Search by Title

Searching by title will provide the user with a list of records that include the search term in one of the title fields exclusively.  For example, searching for Title = Amicitia will return the following list of results:


Search Title = Amicitia

These results include both a link to the Work Record for the De Amicitia of Marcus Tullius Cicero and for the Toxaris vel Amicitia of Plutarch.  Clicking on the top level result will take the user to the top level Work Record for Cicero’s De Amicitia, which is described further in the Results section.

Search by URN

This field searches the Perseus Catalog CTS-URNs. It can search on a part of a URN, or the entire URN, if known.  So in the above example, Cicero’s De Amicitia has the full URN:


Note: This URN format is based on the PHI numbers. Cicero is PHI author number 0474 and the De Amicitia is PHI work number 052 (of Cicero).

Possible URN searches based on the above example include:

  • latinLit; latin –> returns over 4700 results
  • phi0474 –> returns 530 results
  • phi0474.phi052 –> returns 13 results

Any searches on TLG/PHI/Stoa numbers or identifiers must use all digits of the identifier. (In other words, 0474 works, but 474 does not).

Any searches on terms within the URN must be exact. So latinLit works, but Latinlit or LatinLit does not work.

So, a search for URN=phi0474.phi052 will only return records for the De Amicitia (13 results), as illustrated in the screenshot below:


Search URN = phi0474.phi052

Compare this with a search for 052:


Search URN = 052

Note that search for the digit substring 052 returns a variety of results:

  • urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0007.tlg052 (Plutarch, Tiberius et Gaius Gracchus)
  • urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0014.tlg052 (Demosthenes, Against Callippus)
  • urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0062.tlg052 (Lucian of Samosata, Abdicatus)
  • urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0284.tlg052 (Aelius Aristides, Orationes 52)
  • urn:cts:latinLit:phi0474.phi052 (Cicero, De Amicitia)

These results are all at the work level, i.e. there is no result for an author absent the work title.


Compare this with a search on 0052:


Search URN = 0052

Here there are results related to the author Menippus of Gadara (TLG author identifier TLG0052).

A search on 052 ≠0052.

The results are at both the author and the work level, since four digits are part of the author identifier. The catalog URN search is inclusive: once the search identified a matching author, it also includes all of the works associated with that author. (As can be seen in the image above: the URNs for items 2, 3 and 4 all include the digit string 0052.)

Atom Feeds

For programmatic access to search results, use the Atom Response API.



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