The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each left-hand leaf, and a fairly literal translation on the facing page. Jeffrey Henderson, Director of Graduate Studies and William Goodwin Aurelio Professor of Greek Language and Literature at Boston University, is the General Editor.
The Loeb Classical Library was conceived and initially funded by the Jewish-German-American banker and philanthropist James Loeb (1867–1933). The first volumes were edited by T. E. Page, W. H. D. Rouse, and Edward Capps, and published by William Heinemann and company in 1912, already in their distinctive green (for Greek text) and red (for Latin) hardcover bindings. Since then scores of new titles have been added, and the earliest translations have been revised several times. In recent years, this has included the removal of earlier editions' bowdlerization, which habitually extended to reversal of gender to disguise homosexual references. Profit from the editions continues to fund graduate student fellowships at Harvard University.
The Loebs are not intended for serious research, having only a minimal critical apparatus; nor are they intended for the general reader— the translator's ability to write beautifully and fluently can be hampered occasionally by the need to keep his or her translation as literal as possible. They are, however, so ubiquitous as to be instantly recognizable.
Harvard University assumed complete responsibility for the series in 1989 and in recent years four or five new or re-edited volumes are published annually.
In 2001, Harvard University Press began issuing a third series of books with a similar format. The I Tatti Renaissance Library presents key Renaissance works in Latin with a facing English translation; it is bound similarly to the Loeb Classics, but with blue covers. (The books' dimensions, however, are slightly larger.) The Clay Sanskrit Library is modeled on the Loeb Classical Library.
The listings of Loeb volumes at online bookstores and library catalogues vary considerably and are often best navigated via ISBN numbers.