The Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, also often called the Pauly–Wissowa and abbreviated RE, is an important source for the study of antiquity but it can be quite daunting for the beginning student. The original RE, based on August Pauly’s 1939 unfinished encyclopedia, was written in German. The massive 83 volume work was begun in 1890 and not finished until 1978 and the articles were written by individual experts. From 1996-2003 an updated version appeared (with supplemental volumes appearing between 2004 and 2012) called the Neue Pauly (also in German). The English version, called Brill’s New Pauly, consists of 28 volumes published between 2002 and 2014.
What’s even better than Brill’s New Pauly being written in English is that it’s also online (provided that your institution has a subscription).
The interface is pretty straightforward. You can enter a search term and get results:
But you have to be mindful that the RE and Brill’s New Pauly categorize things a bit old fashioned (like the Oxford Classical Dictionary). If you were searching for, say, Scipio Africanus, searching for Scipio won’t get you very far. Scipio Africanus is listed under the Cornelii, but mercifully there is some direction to help you get to the right place.
Clicking on the link provides a list:
All of the Cornelii are individually listed in the entry. If you’re not able to find what you’re looking for by searching, you can also browse by clicking on the letters at the bottom of the main page.
There are a couple of things to note about these entries. First, each entry has a number (circled below) that used when referring to the entry. You can also click on the link to find the German version.
There are often ‘related’ terms below — useful if you’re searching for concepts rather than people, or if you’re interested in reception.
When you cite the entry, you should be sure to include the author (above the arrow in the screenshot). So:
New Pauly s.v. “Cornelius” (1.3) [Elwers]
would be the appropriate footnote reference. General bibliographies list just the encyclopedia, without author’s name, and usually at the beginning of the listing with other general reference material.
If you’re interested in the original, the Pauly-Wissowa is online and open access.
Online Resources: Brill’s New Pauly by https://libraryofantiquity.wordpress.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.