I am writing an essay for HUMA on the *Oresteia*, which is one book
containing three separate plays. Before I have only written on one play at
a time and thus could just do in-text citations like this: (Aeschylus,
[line number]). Since I am now citing multiple plays, I can't just do line
numbers (each play has a line 800, so if I cite line 800, it won't be clear
which work I am drawing from).
Should I just cite page numbers instead of lines, or should I do something
like this: (Aeschylus, [title of play], [line number]). Or is there another
solution? I tried looking it up online but couldn't find a clear answer.
Thanks for the help!
The MLA Handbook 8th edition tells us (pp. 121-122) that in a modern publication of a classical work of poetry or drama, our in-text citation should include the name of the work, and then include the number of the act (or scene, canto, book, part) and the number of the line separated by a period. For example...
(Iliad 9.19) refers to book 9, line 19 in Homer's Iliad.
If there are no "parts" in the text, just the line numbers with "line" or "lines" preceding the number is appropriate. For example...
(Eumenides, line 800) refers to the specific line in the text, which should be consistent across different editions.
However, there are some cases where a published version of a classical text does not give the line scheme associated with the original primary text. You should look at the text's preface or introductory notes to determine if the line scheme is standard or specific to the edition. In a case where non-standard line numbers are used, page numbers should also be included:
(Eumenides 83, line 800) refers to the page number in the version of The Eumenides cited in your bibliography, and the reader will expect to find line 800 on that page.
Note, too, that after the initial in-text citation for a work such as these, it is customary to abbreviate the title in subsequent in-text citations:
(Eum., line 823)
(Ag., line 25) for Agamemnon line 25.
(LB, line 625) for Libation Bearers line 625.