There are various ways to order/group books in a library.

  • By author, in alphabetical order
  • By size
  • By category etc.

Concerning 3) we might have the following names in Latin. They might be opera...

  • linguistica
  • historica
  • geographica
  • religiosa
  • philosophica
  • medica
  • litteraria
    and of course all kinds of conceivable subcategories.

But what about

  • cookbooks
  • do-it-yourself / handicraft guides
  • travel guides (itinerarium might be a good candidate, but would e.g. Lonely Planet count as one? According to this entry it is an account, not an exhaustive guide of useful travel information)
  • belles-lettres, "a label for literary works that do not fall into the major categories such as fiction, poetry, or drama" (quote from Wikipedia).
  • comic books (Asterix Gallus et al.) [Edit: I just thought of delineata, analogous to the way map publishers like Blaeu would mention the people who drew the map: "X delineavit"]
  • 1
    This is an interesting question! Would it make sense to split it up and ask about each genre separately? That way each one would get proper attention.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 30, 2021 at 16:24

2 Answers 2


Apicius provides us De re coquinaria, so a form of that probably works.

Do-It-Yourself guides would fall under the technical genre, which I don't believe the ancients ever fully labeled, but we could perhaps use the Greek didactica, from which we get the English "didactic."

Travel guides were already a thing in antiquity. Strabo's was simply called Geographica, but a little bit later we do see itineraria that could theoretically be used. The latter were more travelogues (M-W def. 1), though.

Belles-lettres isn't really a genre, but a meta-category of different genres.

Comics would be harder to think up, because there was no such ancient analogue. The one thing I can think of is that embroidered images were called picturae textiles, so perhaps something with pict-. Could be something as simple as opera picta, but since it didn't exist back then, who knows what term the Romans would have used?


For handicraft, perhaps daedalea or daedala would be fun:

  1. Daedălēus, a, um, adj., Daedalian, relating to Daedalus:
    (a). Daedălēo Icaro, Hor. Od. 2, 20, 13: "Ope Daedălēa", id. ib. 4, 2, 2.—
    (b). Daedalĕum iter (i. e. through the labyrinth), Prop. 2, 14, 8 (3, 6, 8 M.).—
  2. Daedălĭcus, a, um, adj., skilful: manus, Venant. 10, 11, 17.—

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