The main research task of the Centre for Classical Studies at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences is to study classical traditions and the ancient civilisations’ influence on cultural life in Czech lands since the beginnings of Czech statehood until the 20th century. The backbone of the program is documentation of culturally-historical data of Czech provenance and their interpretation in wider context of classical philology, biblical studies, medieval studies, Latin lexicography, cultural history and art history. As far as the collection of data is concerned, the Centre takes part on several internationally coordinated research projects: Latinitatis medii aevi lexicon Bohemorum (The Dictionary of Medieval Latin in Czech Lands), Clavis monumentorum litterarum – Regnum Bohemiae (Repertory of Literature in Czech Lands until 1800), Corpus vasorum antiquorum (Corpus of ancient vases), Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum (Corpus of Latin inscriptions). The first two internationally coordinated tasks are central projects of the Cabinet. The Centre consists of four departments (The Department of Ancient Traditions in Czech Culture, The Department of Biblical Studies, The Department of Mediaeval Lexicography, The Department of Documentation of and Research into Cultural Heritage in Czech Lands till 1800) and a library. Nature of the projects leads to collaboration with other institutions, such as universities, academy institutes, museums, archives or libraries, and requires founding of specialised divisions as well. These comprise the Centre for Biblical Studies (in partnership with Charles University, Prague) and the Centre for Patristic, Medieval and Renaissance Texts (in partnership with Palacký University in Olomouc and Masaryk University in Brno).
Within the scope of the Institute of Philosophy, the Center’s research activities are based on the research plan “Transdisciplinary research of selected key problems of philosophy, classical studies and related disciplines of humanities, edition and publication of relevant electronic databases.” In collaboration with Masaryk University in Brno and National Library in Prague, the Centre participates in the project “Information resources for research and development” that allows access to and use of electronic data necessary for deeper understanding of Czech cultural past.
The Centre for Classical Studies at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences is the successor organisation of the Cabinet for Greek, Roman and Latin Studies of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (below, CGRLS), founded on 1st January 1953, itself successor of the Commission for the Dictionary of Medieval Latin of the former Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts. The Commission was headed by Professor Bohumil Ryba. The merit for the founding of the CGRLS goes to Professor Antonín Salač, its first head. The cabinet concentrated on the study of classical languages, ancient history, lexicography, medieval and humanistic literature in Czech lands and byzantinology. This wide spectrum was reduced after 1989 to ensure it did not double universities’ specialisation. On 1st October 1990, the organisation was renamed Institute for Classical Studies, its focus of research being restricted to Latin literature in Czech lands from the rise of Czech statehood until the end of the 18th century. Later, when the optimal structure of institutes of humanities was looked for, the Institute for Classical Studies was merged with the Institute of Philosophy, a change that took effect on 1st January 2004, and the Institute was (with the eye on its tradition) renamed the Cabinet for Classical Studies.
The sixty years of the history of the Institute, headed successively by A. Salač, J. Varcl, K. Janda, J. Bažant, M. Svatoš and J. Beneš, was also influenced by a good number of prominent scholars. Apart from the Institute’s founder A. Salač, it would be unpardonable not to mention papyrologist L. Varcl, historians of antiquity P. Oliva and J. Burian, epigraphist L. Vidman, classical archaeologist J. Bažant, specialists on Greek J. Janda, A. Frolíková and H. Kurzová, medieval Latin lexicographer D. Martínková, students of the Middle Ages A. Vidmanová and P. Spunar, specialists on humanism J. Martínek and J. Hejnic, and byzantinologists R. Dostálová, M. Zástěrová, M. Loos and V. Vavřínek.