Distinction between ancient and contemporary authors

Dear all,

Working on a bibliographic style citing books written by ancient authors (as Herodote) differently than books written by contemporary authors, I would like to know if there’s a way to create a distinction between these two kinds of authors?

Is the variable Original Author suitable in this case? If so, will it not implied to repeat the name of the author in the Author field but also in the Extra with Original Author?

Thank you for your help.
  • Can you give examples of the two?
  • Thank you for your answer. Here are two examples as they should appear in the bibliography:

    Ancient author:
    Hérodote, Histoires II
    Hérodote, Histoires II, P.-E. Legrand (éd.), Paris, 1936.

    Contemporary author:
    Assmann 2001
    J. Assmann, The search for God in Ancient Egypt, Ithaca, 2001.

    The only differences between those two references in the bibliography is the way the entry is registered and the presence of the editor/translator's name for the one written by an ancient author. However, both have an editor/translator in the data (the second one is a translation from German).
  • My apologies, it looks like there's already a discussion about this issue (https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/79604/classical-sources) and that there's currently no solution.
  • With respect to the contemporary author item, wouldn’t it be reasonable to state who the translator is, to direct readers to the specific version you reference?

    But, yes, CSL doesn’t currently have a ‘classic’ type for this type of item. The extension to CSL used by Jurism, does however, but not sure if that is overkill for your purposes. https://juris-m.github.io
  • Currently, I see two options:

    - cite ancient authors manually in the notes
    - add the editions you've consulted as normal books to the bibliography. (Possibly, you will want to have a separate bibliography for ancient works, anyway.)

    - cite everything in the same style. That will give you Hérodote 1936.
    - Search/Replace when everything is done.

  • Thank you for your answers.

    Yes, we should add the translator's name.

    I wonder if we can use original-author in the extra field to create a distinction between ancient and contemporary author ?

    That implies to repeat the information about the author, but it gives us a way to create the distinction in CSL without being completely wrong.
  • I am working on IFAO style with the same problem.
    A possible solution (at least in bibliography):
    It is needed to consider that ancient sources are books that have an author and an editor or a translator.
    Then two true/false tests:
    <else-if type="book">
    <if variable="author">
    <if variable="editor translator" match="none">
    <text macro="normal-book"/>
    <text macro="edited-ancient-sources"/>
    <text macro="normal-book"/>

    The same tests might be used on the way the publication year is rendered, using, for ancient sources, the short title of the book instead of the year.
    But this solution is problematic with e.g. posthumously edited books.
    All of this would be @maier.de 's first solution
  • Yes, you could use original-author for this. I'm not sure, but I think this field isn't currently used by the standard styles and it's not really clear what the purpose of this is anyway. What you need is something like this:

    <if variable="original-author">
    <text variable ="title">
    <date variable="issued">
    <date-part name="year"/>
  • The best solution for this sort of situation will be once a `classic` item exists, to use that. For now, the other conditional I would suggest would be to test for `archive` or `archive-place` to indicate an ancient book in an archive, rather than based on `original-author`.

    @maier.de Two uses I’ve thought of for original-author are here https://github.com/citation-style-language/documentation/issues/55

    Some discussion related to it being used as a classical author is here https://forums.zotero.org/discussion/82698/old-zotero-interface-in-current-word#latest
  • As for archive and archive place, the problem is that some style also need archives. Most of these edited ancient sources are not in archives but normally available in any library
  • As per @bwiernik, the best solution would be to use a `classic` item type, which at the moment exists only in the extended CSL-M syntax.

    You can, however, use that in Zotero as well. If the style is for your personal use only (i.e., you don't intend to upload the style to the styles repository), you can just add `type: classic` to the extra field. Zotero will give you a warning when you install a style that uses such non-standard fields or item types, but it will work nevertheless. The citation processor will pick it up, and process citations accordingly. (You could even invent new item types.)

  • Ah, yeah, using Type: classic would work! Good idea.
  • Thank you for your answers.

    I am also working on the IFAO style, so I cannot use a solution only available for me.

    We cannot use the presence of a translator to distinguish ancient sources because as I previously said, there's also contemporary books with translator and this information should be given in the bibliography. There's also ancient sources in our languages (as the category "Relation de voyage" of the IFAO style).

    My idea was to create "hybrid" reference mixing contemporary and ancient books. The standard Zotero fields will be used to add the information on the book and the extra field to add information on the ancient source (original-title and original-author). It will give something like this:
    "id": "http://zotero.org/users/4597224/items/6SGFQVQZ",
    "type": "book",
    "event-place": "Paris",
    "note": "original-author: Hérodote\noriginal-title: Ἱστορίαι",
    "publisher-place": "Paris",
    "title": "Hérodote. Histoires. Livre I. Clio",
    "editor": [
    "family": "Legrand",
    "given": "Philippe-Ernest"
    "issued": {
    "date-parts": [

    But I am not sure if it is correct.
  • To me the problem here is that you will have to modify your database to adjust it to the style. original-author and original-title would not fit as they are not used for such purpose elsewhere.
    In IFAO style (see also there for a forthcoming version), the translator is never called except for such cases so it should not create problems.
    If and when a Classic item will be created, then the style will be adapted.
    As for the category carnet de voyage, there are discrepancies in the style as it is presented now (but we can discuss that elsewhere).
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