Answered By: Theresa Bell
Last Updated: Nov 15, 2017     Views: 21402

According to the American Psychological Association (2010), when citing from a classical work:

When a date of publication is inapplicable, such as for some very old works, cite the year of the translation you used, preceded by trans., or the year of the version you used, followed by version. When you know the original date of publication, include it in the citation.

(Aristotle, trans. 1931)
(James, 1890/1983).

Reference list entries are not required for major classical works, such as ancient Greek and Roman works or classical religious works; simply identify in the first citation in the text the version you used. Parts of classical works (e.g., books, chapters, verses, lines, cantos) are numbered systematically across all editions, so use these numbers instead of page numbers when referring to specific parts of your source:

1 Cor. 13:1 (Revised Standard Version)
(Qur'an 5:3-4). (pp. 178-9) 

Keep in mind what you're actually reading; that is, if you're quoting from Machiavelli, you're probably not reading the original text that was published in the vernacular Italian of 1532. Rather, you're likely reading a republished and translated version of the text. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2010) gives the following example on page 203 for an electronic version of a republished (and translated) book:

Freud, S. (1953). The method of interpreting dreams: An analysis of a specimen dream. In J. Strachey (Ed. & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 4, pp. 96-121). Retrieved from (Original work published 1900)

The in-text citation for this resource would be: (Freud, 1900/1953, p. X).

Accordingly, a citation to Machiavelli's text could be (Machiavelli, 1532/1908, p. X), and the reference should point your reader to the translation that you read (as shown above in the Freud reference), versus to the original text. 

For more information on citing classical sources, please visit "Happy Holiday Citing: Citation of Classical Works" by the APA Style Blog. 


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.