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282                        The Greek Papyri
civilization, then to form a picture of an age, however imperfect
and biased it needs must be, documents of all kinds are welcome;
ccum chartae usu maxime humanitas vitae constet et memoria'.
If we think of humanitas in the sense which Pliny gave it, we
may claim that the literary papyri have added some pages in the
history of Greek literature and so enriched our perception of it;
but there is a different sense too, in which we may assert a real
relation between humanitas and the study of the papyri. Our
view of life in the eastern Mediterranean in the millennium that
separates Alexander from Mohammed has indeed been rendered
more 'humane' by the concreteness and the vividness which
papyri have brought to almost every branch of ancient studies^,
and with them our idea of what humaniias as applied to history
can mean has developed. If a sense of the continuity of history,
of the fundamental resemblances between civilizations, among
their more obvious and very real differences, is an attribute of
a civilized society, then we can claim that this is a legacy for
which we may own a proper gratitude.