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 The Socratic philosophers, Erastus, Coriscus, and Neleus, the son of Coriscus, a disciple of Aristotle, and Theophrastus, were natives of Scepsis. Neleus succeeded to the possession of the library of Theophrastus, which included that of Aristotle; for Aristotle gave his library, and left his school, to Theophrastus. Aristotle1 was the first person with whom we are acquainted who made a collection of books, and suggested to the kings of Ægypt the formation of a library. Theophrastus left his library to Neleus, who carried it to Scepsis, and bequeathed it to some ignorant persons who kept the books locked up, lying in disorder. When the Scepsians understood that the Attalic kings, on whom the city was dependent, were in eager search for books, with which they intended to furnish the library at Pergamus, they hid theirs in an excavation under-ground; at length, but not before they had been injured by damp and worms, the descendants of Neleus sold the books of Aristotle and Theophrastus for a large sum of money to Apellicon of Teos. Apellicon2 was rather a lover of books than a philosopher; when therefore he attempted to restore the parts which had been eaten and corroded by worms, he made alterations in the original text and introduced them into new copies; he moreover supplied the defective parts unskilfully, and published the books full of errors. It was the misfortune of the ancient Peripatetics, those after Theophrastus, that being wholly unprovided with the books of Aristotle, with the exception of a few only, and those chiefly of the exoteric3 kind, they were unable to philosophize according to the principles of the system, and merely occupied themselves in elaborate discussions on common places. Their successors however, from the time that these books were published, philosophized, and propounded the doctrine of Aristotle more successfully than their predecessors, but were under the necessity of advancing a great deal as probable only, on account of the multitude of errors contained in the copies. Even Rome contributed to this increase of errors; for immediately on the death of Apellicon, Sylla, who captured Athens, seized the library of Apellicon. When it was brought to Rome, Tyrannion,4 the grammarian, who was an admirer of Aristotle, courted the superintendent of the library and obtained the use of it. Some vendors of books, also, employed bad scribes and neglected to compare the copies with the original. This happens in the case of other books which are copied for sale both here and at Alexandreia. This may suffice on this subject.
1 This statement is not in contradiction with those (A then. b. i. c. 3) who assert that Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, and Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, were the first who formed libraries. The libraries of these two princes, who lived six centuries before our time, were probably confined to half a dozen poets, and it may be supposed that the care Pisistratus took to collect the poems of Homer did not extend to poets posterior to his time. But in the time of Aristotle there existed many poems, a great number of oratorical discourses, historical works, and various treatises of philosophy.
2 Apellicon proclaimed himself a philosopher of the school of Aristotle. From what Athenæus, b. v., says of him, he appears to have used his great wealth for the purposes of ostentation rather than of employing it for the benefit of others. He was sent by Aristion, (or Athenion, as Athenæus calls him,) tyrant of Athens, to Delos, at the head of ten thousand soldiers, to remove the treasures of the temple. He was defeated by the Romans, and having lost his whole army, escaped with difficulty.
3 This name was given to books intended to be seen and read by every one, but which did not contain the fundamental dogmas which Aristotle only communicated to those of his own school. The books which contained these doctrines were called, by way of distinction, esoteric. Such at least is the opinion of those who admit of the existence of a secret doctrine, and a public doctrine, in the philosophy of Aristotle. This passage of Strabo however seems to favour those who maintained a different opinion, namely, that this celebrated distinction of exoteric and esoteric doctrines, which is peculiar to the works of Aristotle, is not founded on any essential difference of doctrine, but rather on a difference of method, so that the word esoteric was applied to works where the opinions of the philosopher were set forth in a manner to be understood by all intelligent readers, whether of his own school or strangers; and esoteric to those works where his opinions were thoroughly discussed, and in a scientific manner, and which, not being intelligible to every one, required to be explained by the master himself.
4 Tyrannion was a native of Amisus, whose lectures he attended (b. xii. c. iii. § 16). He is often quoted among the commentators of Homer. It was he also who gave copies of the works of Aristotle to Andronicus of Rhodes, for whom he made a catalogue of them.
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