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πάπυρος). Information as to the papyrus reed, celebrated in antiquity as providing material for writing, is obtained from the study of existing plants believed to belong to the same genus, and also from the statements of ancient writers.

There are two species of the papyrus plant (Cyperus Papyrus, cf. κύπειρος, “a reed”) recognized to-day. One, the Cyperus Syriacus, mentioned by Theophrastus as growing with the sweet-scented calamus on the borders of a Syrian lake, was transplanted to Sicily by the Arabs in the tenth century, and is found at the present time in various parts of that island. The other species is found in Nubia and Abyssinia. This is the descendant of the old Egyptian papyrus which was cultivated in antiquity in the delta of the Nile. Herodotus (ii. 92, 96) and Strabo (799 foll.) speak of papyrus as belonging to lower Egypt. Since, however, it has disappeared from what was anciently believed to be its home, it is probable that its presence there was originally due to transplanting and assiduous cultivation. These two species differ from each other mainly in the length of the stalk—that of the former growing much higher than that of the latter. Other minor differences are also noticeable.

The most valuable description given by ancient writers is that of Theophrastus, the successor of Aristotle in charge of the Lyceum, in his Historia Plantarum (Περὶ Φυτῶν Ἱστορία, iv. 8, 3). He describes the papyrus as growing along the Nile in water of about two cubits (three feet) in depth, with a root as thick as a man's arm and of ten cubits (fifteen feet) or more in length. This root, rising somewhat above the soil, sends forth slen

Papyrus Plant.

der shoots into the mud. The stalks (πάπυροι) are about four cubits (six feet) in height, and are of triangular shape. These bear no fruit, but produce a soft, hair-like tuft as a head. The roots are used for firewood and for making various articles of furniture. The papyrus itself (Theophrastus refers to the stalk) is put to many uses. Boats are made from it, and from the βίβλος (the substance within the stalk) sails, mats, clothing, coverings, and ropes. The βιβλία (chartae, or sheets made of βίβλος) are most familiar to people of other lands. Above all, this plant is useful as a means of subsistence, since the inhabitants chew it either raw, boiled, or roasted, drawing the juice and rejecting the fibre.

Pliny (Pliny H. N. xiii. 12, 77 foll.) repeats the statements of Theophrastus, but enlarges his mere reference to βιβλία into an extended account of the manufacture of paper from the papyrus plant. The following description is based upon the statements of Pliny ; but that author's general and unscientific treatment of his subject and the inaccuracies in the text have caused much uncertainty concerning various points.

Paper was made from the pith or cellular tissue within the stalk. It was once believed that the material was the outer rind of the plant. The word liber, which refers to bark (once used for writing material), and Pliny 's use of philyrae, in his description of the thin strips of web-like material, are misleading. Pliny elsewhere describes philyra as the inner bark of the lime-tree. Ulpian, of the third century A.D. (Dig. 32, 52), sets apart philyrae as of different material from chartae. Cassiodorus (sixth century), in his Variae, uses the following expressions, which show that the pith or inner tissue is designated: viscera nivea viventium herbarum mollities in medullis; bibula teneritudine spongeum lignum. This tissue was cut into strips (schidae, σχίζειν) or inae (Fest. p. 104: ina quae pars chartae est tenuissima; p. 81, 4: a tenuitate inarum quas Graeci in chartis ita appellant), which were made as broad and thin as possible. Those taken from the centre of the stalk were the best, while the quality became poorer the nearer the rind was approached. The strips (schidae) were arranged in parallel lines upon a board (tabula) wet with Nile water. They were then moistened with paste and overlaid with strips placed at right angles. Thus texitur is used of the process and plagula first of the unfinished page opposed to pagina the completed page, although both words afterwards were used for the page (σελίς) of the roll. These two layers of strips were pressed closely together until they formed one sheet. The remainder of the process consisted in drying in the sunlight and polishing with a shell (Mart.xiv. 209) or some instrument of ivory. While the paginae (σελίδες) might be used separately, they were regularly joined with others to form a roll (volumen, τόμος). The chief defects which were to be avoided were roughness (scabritia), dampness (humor), spots (lentigines), and streaks (taeniae), running down the middle of the pagina and rendering the paper spongy. The paste used was made of flour and boiling water, with the addition of a little vinegar. Ordinary glue, or workman's paste (glutinum fabrile), was not useful for this purpose, as it made the paper brittle. Pliny states that the separation of the pith into strips was accomplished by the use of the needle (acu). It is a question whether broad and thin strips could be obtained by the use of a needle. Birt (Antike Buchwesen, p. 231) suggests that acu may be a translation of some Greek expression, as, perhaps, ὀξεῖ τινι ὀργάνῳ. The language of Pliny , as commonly interpreted, indicates that the water of the Nile, when muddy, served as glue (turbidus liquor vim glutinis praebet). This is correct if glutinis is a genitive, but Birt shows that Pliny knew only glutinum-i, and glutinis is then a dative; and the inference is that paste was used, and water served to make it effective in uniting the strips. Pliny also states that in making the roll the best sheets were placed first, while those of poorer quality were at the end of the roll. Such an arrangement was most natural, as the most durable sheets would be on the outside; and if a portion of the roll alone was used the best would come first.

The manufacture of paper from papyrus belonged almost exclusively to Egypt and in particular to the city of Alexandria. One kind of paper, the Fanniana, was made in Rome, but the process was merely additional treatment of a paper manufactured in Egypt. Papyrus chartae differed in form, quality, and the care bestowed in preparation. The essential difference was that of form, as it will be seen that difference in form implied a difference in quality and care in manufacture. This form was determined by the breadth of the single sheet before it became part of a roll, and not by the height of the page, as was once believed. The height varied from eight to thirteen inches (Birt, Antike Buchwesen, pp. 252-253). The breadth depended upon the number of schidae which were placed side by side to form the lower layer of the plagula. The broader the page the greater the advantage both to writer and reader, as there was less interruption to the continuity of the writing. In bound books the strain comes upon the binding; in the rolls, however, the individual page must stand the strain. Hence, the poorer the quality the narrower the page, as the liability to tear was greater in the large sheets than in the small. The great object in manufacturing paper was the attainment of the greatest breadth (latitudo) and thinness (tenuitas) consistent with toughness (densitas) and strength. Whiteness (candor) and smoothness of surface (levitas) were also desirable in papyrus paper. Pliny mentions nine varieties of paper. (a) The Augusta. This was the best quality known in Pliny 's days, though previously the best quality had been called Hieratica. It was thirteen digiti (nine and one-half inches) wide. (b) The Livia. This was of the same breadth as the former, though the quality was somewhat inferior to it. (c) The Hieratica. This name was given to the third quality in the time of the Empire, probably after the death of Augustus. It was eleven digiti (eight inches) broad. (d) The Amphitheatrica. This was so called because of its being manufactured near the Amphitheatre of Alexandria. It was nine digiti (six and one-half inches) broad. (e) The Fanniana. This was the Amphitheatrica remade in Rome into a finer and broader paper. It was ten digiti (seven inches) broad. (f) The Saïtica, from Saïs, in Egypt, was eight digiti (five to six inches) broad. (g) The Taeniotica, named from a tongue (ταινία) of land near Alexandria. It was sold by weight and not by quality. (h) The Emporetica, which had a rough surface, and was used as wrappingpaper. It was six digiti (four and three-eighths inches) wide. (i) The Claudia. The emperor Claudius made a combination of the first two qualities by placing strips (schidae) of the first over those of the second, producing, thus, a new paper—better, in certain respects, than the Augusta. Claudius also increased the width until it reached a full Roman foot (eleven and one-half inches). The Claudia was preferred to all others, though the Augusta was still used for correspondence. The Claudia was of such a quality that both sides of the paper could be used (opisthographa). The usual custom was to write only on one side of the page (cf. Juv.i. 5; Mart.viii. 62; Pliny , Epist. iii. 5, 17).

For letters and documents single pages (paginae), termed schidae or schidulae (Mart.iv. 89), were used. However, even for these purposes, but particularly for books, a number of sheets were joined to form a roll (volumen). The length of these rolls varied from a few pages to a large number. The reading vicenae in Pliny (Pliny H. N. xiii. 77: numquam plures scapo quam vicenae) is corrupt. Birt suggests ducenae. Egyptian papyri have been found to vary in length from 70 to 140 feet. Birt considers 39 feet the average length of a classical book-roll. A roll containing the entire history of Thucydides, which required 578 pages, or a length of 265 feet, has been mentioned by the scholiast. In like manner a roll containing the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, and another, the Odyssey of Livius Andronicus, are said to have existed. On the other hand, one literary work might be separated into smaller rolls. The fourth book of the Rhetoric of Philodemus was arranged in two rolls, and the Homeric papyrus of Elephantiné contained only the twenty-fourth book of the Iliad. The size of the volume corresponded to the character of the contents. Letters and poetry were written on small rolls; history, on rolls of larger size (Isidor. Orig. vi. 12, 1).

The first page of the roll was termed πρωτόκολλον (protocollum); the last, ἐσχατόκολλιον (Mart. 2, 6, 3). The term macrocollum, employed by Cicero in designating the paper used by himself (Ad Att. xiii. 25, xvi. 3), was applied in his time to the Hieratica and the finer grades of papyrus. Pliny 's statement (Pliny H. N. xiii. 80, Erat et cubitalis macrocollis) means that the macrocolla might reach the breadth of a cubit (eighteen inches). To Pliny all kinds of paper superior in quality to the Saïtica were macrocolla. The writing was as a rule in columns, so that each page represented a column. The term σελίδες, originally of the rowing-benches of a galley, then of the columns of writing, finally was used as equivalent to paginae. The portion of the roll which marked the joining of the sheets was not used. However, in public documents before Caesar, the writing ran across the combined sheets, not in paginis, but transversa charta (cf. Suet. Caes. 56). Among the Ravenna diplomata of the fifth to the tenth centuries there are papyri written transversa charta (Marini, Pap. Dipl.).

The standard of measurement in a roll was the page (σελίς, pagina), as this was closely related to the size of the roll. The number of pages was regularly marked at the end of the book, but in some cases each page was numbered. In other rolls the number of pages is found on the titulus. In estimating the contents of a roll, it was customary to use lines as a standard of reckoning, not chapters or pages. This method of reckoning is the so-called stichometry. The number of lines (στίχοι and ἔπη, versus) in prose-writing and of verses in poetry was given at the close of the writing. This στίχος was the normal hexameter line of thirty-five letters on the average (Birt, p. 197), or sixteen syllables (Diels, Herm. xvii. p. 377 foll.). The normal hexameter verse required the broad papyrus, so that the lines of narrow pages were estimated only as parts of the normal line. Theopompus states the length of his orations as 20,000 ἔπη, and of his historical works as of 150,000 ἔπη; so the emperor Iustinian calculates 150,000 versus in his De Confirmatione Digestorum.

In making the rolls the last sheet was folded upon a strip of wood termed umbilicus, ὀμφαλός (cf. ad umbilicum adducere, “to finish a work,” Hor. Epod. 14, 8; Mart.iv. 89). The ends of the umbilicus were gilded (Mart. iii. 2, 9), and the edges (frons) of the cylinder were polished (Ovid, Trist. iii. 1, 13; Mart. i. 67, 10; Catull. 22, 8) and coloured (nigra frons) (Ovid, Trist. i. 1, 8). The roll was stained with cedar-oil, as a protection against moths (Vitruv. ii. 9, 13; Mart.iii. 2); in consequence, the roll had a yellow colour (Ovid, Trist. iii. 1, 13). There was fastened to the roll a strip of parchment, which contained the title of the book. This was termed titulus or index (σίττυβος =a strip of leather, or σίλλυβος=an index). The roll was usually enveloped in a parchment cover (membrana, διφθέρα), outside of which the titulus hung. In the case of the papyri of Herculaneum the envelope itself was of papyrus. If several rolls belonged to the same work, it was customary to bind these in a bundle (fasces). In reading, the roll was held with both hands.

There are in existence to-day Egyptian papyri of great age. (See illustration, p. 28.) The oldest, the Prisse papyrus, which is kept in Paris, is estimated as dating from 1800 to 2000 years B.C. The earliest Greek papyri in existence, containing the fragments of the Antiope of Euripides, date about the second century B.C. Others dating from the last century B.C. contain orations of Lycophron and Euxenippus.

The earliest Latin papyri are those of Herculaneum, which certainly date from the early part of the first century A.D. After these come the deeds of Ravenna dating fifth-tenth century and papal documents of the eighth-tenth century. In 1752 there were discovered in the Villa Suburbana at Herculaneum a large number of blackened rolls which, though at first disregarded, were finally recognized as literary works. It was not until 1754 that any success was attained in opening the rolls. In that year a monk, Piaggio, unrolled what proved to be a portion of a work of Philodemus. (See De Jorio, Officina de' Papiri, Real Museo Borbonico, Naples, 1825.)

In the forty-eight years following only seventeen rolls were opened. The authorities of Naples took little interest in the matter, and the first publication did not appear until 1793. In 1800, George IV., then Prince of Wales, sent Bishop Hayter to Italy to copy the papyri. Bishop Hayter was driven from Italy in the French war of 1806, but managed to save one hundred lead-pencil fac-similes and an engraving of the Carmen Latinum. These are preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. The British Museum possesses several opened and unopened rolls. This library on papyrus was found to contain the works of Epicurean philosophers—Epicurus, Demetrius, Polystratus, Colotes, and particularly of Philodemus; also notes on Chrysippus, the There were found twenty-four Latin rolls all in one capsa (book-box). Of these Latin rolls only one, No. 817 (Carmen Latinum de Bello Actiaco), has been opened. (See page 1157.) As the larger number of the rolls appear to have been written by Philodemus, and as no rolls save the Latin are of later date than Philodemus, it is possible that the library originally belonged to him. The Latin rolls were probably a chance addition in the time of the early Empire to a library of an earlier date. Various opinions have been expressed as to the authorship of the Carmen Latinum. Varius or Rabirius, or a little-known Albinius, has at different times been mentioned as the author. It was, at any rate, the work of some insignificant poet of the early Empire. The following works contain the poem: Kreyssig, Commentatio de Sallustii Historiae Fragmentis, vol. iii. (1835); Riese, Anthol. Lat. vol. i. (1870); Baehrens, Poetae Latini Minores, vol. i. pp. 212 foll. (Leipzig, 1819): Baehrens used the Oxford plates loaned him by the Bodleian librarian; Comparetti, Relazione sui Papiri Ercolanesi: Reale Acad. dei Lincei, 1879; Spengel, Die Hercul. Rollen Philologus, 1863, sup. vol.); Gompertz, Hercul. Studien (Leipzig, 1865-66); Herculanensium Voluminum quae Supersunt (Naples, 1793-1809, 2 vols. Collectio altera, 1862-76); Scott, Fragmenta Herculanensia (Oxford, 1885).

Bibliography.—Guilandini, Comment. in Plin. de Papyro Capita (Venice, 1572); Montfaucon, Diss. sur la Plante Appelée Papyrus in Mém. de l'Acad. d. Inscr. vi. p. 592 foll.; Baumstark, Pauly's Realencycl. v. p. 1154 foll.; Sprengel and Krause in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclop.; Parlatore, Mém. de l'Acad. des Sciences, xii. p. 469 foll. (Paris, 1854); Dureau de la Malle, “Mémoire sur le Papyrus et la Fabrication du Papier chez les Anciens,” in Mém. de l'Institut, vol. xix. i. p. 140; Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. pp. 146- 151 (1837); Blümner, Technologie und Terminologie der Gewerbe und Künste der Griechen und Römern, vol. i. p. 308 foll.; Wattenbach, Das Schriftwesen im Mittelalter, p. 80 (1875); Marquardt, Das Privatleben der Römern, p. 784 foll. (1879); Birt, Das antike Buchwesen (1882); and the article “Papyrus” in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

hide References (10 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (10):
    • Catullus, Poems, 22
    • Suetonius, Divus Julius, 56
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 13.12
    • Juvenal, Satires, 1.5
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.209
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 1.67
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 2
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 3.2
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 4.89
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 8.62
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