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BIBLIOTHE´CA (βιβλιοθήκη).


The large libraries of the Assyrian and Egyptian monarchs were unknown to the Greeks till the time of the Ptolemies. We do indeed hear of a library formed by Peisistratus (Aul. Gel. 6.17; Athen. 1.3), which Aulus Gellius calls “the first public library;” of another by Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos (Athen. 1.3); and of private collectors we hear of Nicocrates of Cyprus (Athen. 1.3), Euclid the Archon (Athen. 1.3), Euripides (Athen. 1.3), Euthydemus (Xen. Memor. 4.2), and, Aristotle (Strabo, 13.1; Athen. 1.3). (See ARISTOTLE in Dict. of Biog,) But it was the Macedonian rulers of Alexandria who first created a public library on a large scale. Ptolemy Philadelphus collected books from all parts of Greece and Asia, the larger number of which he deposited in the Mouseion (or Museum), a building in the Bruchium quarter of Alexandria, and the rest in the Serapeion. Zenodotus was the first librarian, after him Callimachus (who made a catalogue called the Πίνακες), then Eratosthenes, then Apollonius, then Aristophanes. The number of volumes in the two libraries seems to have been between 500,000 and 600,000 (Tzetzes, Schol. in Aristoph.; Aul. Gel. 6.17; Sen. de Tranq. An. 9; Josephus, J. AJ 12.2). Books in foreign languages were brought to Alexandria and translated for the purpose of being put in the library, and the Septuagint version is said to have been made in this way. Galen tells us that the autograph original copies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were procured for the library.

This priceless collection suffered considerably in the siege of Alexandria by Julius Caesar, in the destruction of the Bruchium quarter by Aurelian 273 A.D., and by the edict of Theodosius for the destruction of the Serapeion 389 A.D., until it was finally destroyed by the Arabs, 640 A.D. (See Gibbon, 100.51.)

(On the Alexandrian Library, see Ritschl, Die Alexandrinischen Bibliotheken; Opusc. Phil. i. ; Parthey, Das Alexandrinische Museum; Birt, Das Antike Buchwesen.

A rival library to that at Alexandria was started by the kings of Pergamus, but was transported to Egypt by Antony, who made a present of its 200,000 volumes to Cleopatra (Plut. Ant. 58. On the library of Pergamus, see Wegener, De Aula Attalica). By the 2nd or 1st cent. B.C. there seem to have been libraries in most Greek towns. (Egger, Callimaque et l'origine de la bibliographic; cf. Plb. 12.27.)


2. Roman

The first public library in Rome [p. 1.298]was that founded by Asinius Pollio (Plin. Nat. 7.30; Isid. Orig. 6.5), and was in the atrium Libertatis on Mount Aventine. Julius Caesar had projected a grand Greek and Latin library, and had commissioned Varro to take measures for the establishment of it; but the scheme was prevented by his death. (Suet. Jul. 44.) The library of Pollio was followed by that of Augustus, in the temple of Apollo on the Mount Palatine (Suet. Aug. 29; D. C. 53.1), and another, Bibliothecae Octavianae (so called from Augustus's sister Octavia), forming part of the Porticus Octavia. (D. C. 49.43; Plut. Marc. 30.) There were also libraries on the Capitol (Suet. Dom. 20), in the temple of Peace founded by Vespasian (Gel. 5.21, 16.8), in the palace of Tiberius (Gel. 13.18), besides the Ulpian library (so called after its founder, Trajan), which was the most famous (Gel. 11.17; D. C. 68.16). This library was attached by Diocletian, as an ornament, to his thermae. (Vopisc. Prob. 2.)

Private collections of books were made at Rome soon after the Second Punic War, sometimes from the spoils of Grecian or Eastern conquest. Thus Aemilius Paulus brought to Rome the library of Perseus, king of Macedonia ; Sulla, that of Apellicon of Teos; Lucullus, the extensive one of the kings of Pontus, to which he gave the public free access. (Plut. Aem. 28; Sulla, 26; Lucull. 42; lsid. Or. 6.5, 1.) The zeal of Cicero, Atticus, Varro, and others in increasing their libraries is well known. (Cic. Att. 1.7, 10, 4.5; ad Quint. Fr. 3.4; Gel. 3.10.) Serenus Sammonicus possessed a library of 62,000 books. (Cap. Gord. 18.) Towards the end of the republic it became, in fact, the fashion to have a room elegantly furnished as a library, and reserved for that purpose. (Cp. Vitr. 6.7.) However ignorant or unstudious a person might be, it was fashionable to appear learned by having a library, though he might never even read the titles of the books. Seneca (de Tranq. An. 9) condemns the rage for mere book-collecting, and rallies those who were more pleased with the outside than the inside. Lucian wrote a separate piece to expose this common folly (πρὸς ἀπαίδευτον καὶ πολλὰ βιβλία ὠνούμενον).

We read of provincial libraries at Milan and Comum (Plin. Ep. 1.8, 4.13; Orelli, Inscr. 1172), Tibur (Gel. 9.14), and Patrae (Id. 18.9).

A library generally had an eastern aspect (Vitr. 6.7). In Herculaneum a library fully furnished was discovered. Round the walls it had cases containing the books in rolls [LIBER]; a rectangular case occupied the centre of the room: these cases were numbered. It was a very small room,--so small that a person by stretching out his arms could touch both sides of it; yet it contained 1700 rolls. The cases were called either armaria [ARMARIUM] (Plin. Ep. 2.17; Vopisc. Tacit. 8), or loculamenta (Seneca, de Tranq. An. 9), or foruli (Juv. Sat. 3.219), or nidi (Mart. 1.118, 15; 17, 5). Asinius Pollio had set the fashion in his public library of adorning the room with the portraits and busts of celebrated men, as well as statues of Minerva and the Muses. This example was soon followed in the private libraries of the rich. The librarii a bibliotheca or bibliothecarii, who had charge of the libraries, were usually slaves or freedmen. (Orell. 40, 41; Frontin. and M. Aurel. Ep. 4.5; Isid. Gloss.; Juv. 3.219; Plin. Ep. 3.7, 4.28; H. N. 35.2; Cic. Fam. 7.2. 3; Suet. Tib. 70; Mart. ix. Ep. ad Turan.; Lipsius, De Bibliothecis Syntagma, in Opera, vol. iii.; Becker, Gallus, ed. Göll, 2.418-24; Séraud, Les Livres dans l'Antiquité, ch. 10; Bernhardy, Röm. Litter. p. 65.)

[A.A] [J.H.F]

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