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FEW of the biographers of 
Justus Lipsius have devoted 
their attention to that part of his 
writings which, in an English 
translation by John Cotton Dana, 
is here offered to lovers of libra- 
ries. They have found matters 
of greater importance to the 
world at large in the chief things 
of his life, — his theological, his- 
torical and literary writings. Mr. 
Peter Bayle, in his famous Gen- 
eral Didlionary, which first ap- 
peared in 1697, and afterwards 
Englished, in 1710, says in this 
connexion, as an introduftion to 
his own contribution to Lipsius's 
biography : 

lo Introductory Note 
*' I might relate a great many 
curious particulars concerning 
him ; but as others * have already 
collefted them, and have not 
even omitted what relates to his 
education and his early learning, 
I am obliged to confine myself 
to such particulars as they have 
not mentioned/' These particu- 
lars related to one of Lipsius's 
greatest faults, for which he was 
chiefly censured, — his inconsis- 
tency with regard to religious 
beliefs, — and they take on anad- 
ditional interest when treated by 
Bayle, who was himself given 

* Teissier, Additions aux Eloges de M, 
de Thou, a. 381, 432; Bullart, Acade- 
mie des Sciences, ii. 190; Balliet, En- 
fans Celebres, 184. 

Introductory Note i i 
to tasting of religion at all its 
different founts. With gossipy 
pen, he briefly summarizes the 
fa6ls in Lipsius's stormy theo- 
logical career, which to a six- 
teenth-century mind, and even 
to one of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, must have seemed as im- 
portant as it was chequered. 

The theologian of a century or 
so ago undoubtedly found that 
Lipsius had contributed some- 
thing to religious thought, but 
to us, in this century of freedom 
in such matters, Justus Lipsius 
is chiefly a subje6l for antiqua- 
rian curiosity, just as he was to 
Bayle. It would be idle to spec- 
ulate on the present-day value 
of his Diva Virgo Hallensis, or 

12 Introductory Note 
his Diva Sichemiensis, written for 
the Jesuits, when late in his hfe 
he had accepted the professor- 
ship of Latin in the Colegium 
Buslidanium at Louvain and had 
become, to quote from Bayle, 
"a bigot, like a silly woman." 
The polite literature which Lip- 
sius taught at Louvain, in a man- 
ner "very glorious to him," is 
quite unread to-day; it is unne- 
cessary now when so much po- 
lite literature has been, and is 
constantly being, added to the 
world's carefully shelved stock. 
Whatever defeats of matter or 
style our writer may have had, 
like all the humanists he served 
a great purpose in retailing to 
further generations — and espe- 

Introductory Note 13 
daily to librarians — the opinions 
of the classic writers on the his- 
tory of libraries. It is not for us, 
who have received so great a fa- 
vour at his hands, to criticise his 
scholarship, as some have done, 
— as does one writer who says, 
speaking of one of his mental 
tendencies, *'The other, derived 
from his Jesuit training, showed 
itself in his merely rhetorical or 
verbal view of classical litera- 
ture, of which the one interest 
lay in its style/' Neither need 
we concern ourselves with his 
tendency to change his religious 
point of view, — now Jesuit, now 
Lutheran, now Calvinist, now 
Romanist. To Lipsius bibliophiles 
owe their thanks because he pub- 

14 Introductory Note 
lished the first history of libra- 
ries, in the modern sense of the 
word, — a history which is as 
fresh and useful to-day as it was 
when it was written. Only a man 
of great scholarship could have 
written such a story, requiring 
the searching of the original au- 
thorities in Latin, Greek and 
Hebrew, and only the scholar- 
ship of the sixteenth century — 
careful, conscientious and lei- 
surely — could have brought to- 
gether all the fafts that Lipsius 
did. All of the histories since his 
time have borrowed freely from 
our author, or, like Edwards, 
have used his references for fur- 
ther elaboration of their texts. 
If, however, but few of his bi- 

Introductory Note 15 
ographers have devoted them- 
selves to a matter which must 
have been of no small interest 
in Lipsius's life (judging from 
his enthusiastic manner of treat- 
ing it), one, at least, has done 
full justice to it, — a Frenchman, 
Etienne Gabriel Peignot, who, 
born in Arc-en-Barrios in 1767, 
devoted his whole life to the 
cause of bibliography. The ac- 
count of this scholar written by 
Simonnet, in his Essai siir la vie 
et les oiivrages de Gabriel Pei- 
gnot, 1863, deserves to be on the 
shelves of every librarian, cer- 
tainly of every bibliographer. 

Early in his career Peignot 
planned a great bibliographical 
work, of which his Manuel Bi- 

16 Introductory Note 
bliographique , published in 1804, 
was a first part, and his Di^iofi- 
naire Raisoniie de Bibliologie a 
second. The Manual is chiefly 
devoted to Lipsius, having for 
its opening chapter a life of our 
author, followed by a transla- 
tion of the Sy?itagma. Peignot 
tells us that the plagiarism of 
Lipsius by authors who have not 
thought it worth their while to 
mention their indebtedness to 
him was one of the reasons why 
he was led to give the Syntagma 
the chief place in his own book, 
— he wished to secure to this 
learned man his just due. 

In his "Notice preliminaire sur 
Juste Lipse et ses ouvrages'* 
Peignot gives a selected list of 

Introducto lY Note 1 7 
Lipsius's works da :ed from 1599, 
wherein it is seen that the book 
in which we are interested, J. 
Lipsi de Bibliothecis Syntagma, 
Antverpiae, came, like all of the 
others, '*ex officina Plantiniana, 
apudj. Moretum/'*This,tothe 
librarian, is a fa 61 worthy of spe- 
cial note, because it gives the 
evidence of the friendship that 
existed between the printer, John 
Moretus, son-in-law of the great 
Plantin, founder of the house, 
" first printerto the king, and the 
king of printers, *' and Lipsius, 
covering a long period of years. 

*E<f. 1. De Bibliothecis Syntagma^ 
Antwerp, 1602; Ed, 2. Helmstadt, 
1620; Ed. 3. Antwerp, 1629. In his 
Opera Omnia, 1610-30, 1637, 1675. 

i8 Introductory Note 
In the house of Christopher 
Plantin at Antw erp, now known 
as the Plantin-Moretus Museum, 
in the room called, since the six- 
teenth century , the'' Roomof Jus- 
tus Lipsius, "the bust of the friend 
of the house looks down from its 
place of honour over the en- 
trance door. And so, just as Lip- 
sius's name is closely linked with 
one of the great epochs of print- 
ing, it has also a part in the his- 
tory of the development of the 
library idea. Whatever the fa6ls 
concerning his theology, polite 
literature or other writings, what- 
ever the final vote on the value 
of his style, the little traft, here 
reprinted, in the hands of friends 
of libraries will justify the faith 

Introductory Note 19 
that Lipsius had in his claim to 
fame, when, in hanging a votive 
silver pen before an altar of the 
Virgin, he wrote: 

*'0 Blessed Virgin, this pen, the 
interpreter of my mind, which 
soared up as high as the sky; 
which searched the most hidden 
recesses of land and sea ; which 
always apphed itself to learning, 
prudence and wisdom; which 
dared to write a treatise on con- 
stancy ; which explained civil and 
military matters, and such as re- 
late to the taking of cities ; which 
described, O Rome, thy great- 
ness ; which variously illustrated 
and cleared up the writings of 
the ancients, — that pen is now, O 
Blessed Virgin, consecrated to 

20 Introductory Note 
thee by Lipsius, for by thy as- 
sistance have they all been com- 
pleted. Let thy kind influence 
constantly attend me for the 
future; and in return for that 
vanishing fame which my pen 
gained, vouchsafe to grant, O 
Divine Lady,a continual joy and 
life to your devoted servant, 
Lipsius/' ^^ ^, K, 

New Tork^ February, i goy 



This translation has been made 
from the second edition,** the last 
from the author's hand/' Ant- 
werp, Plan tin Press, John More- 
tus, 1602. 

The French version by Gabriel 
Peignot, in his Manuel Biblio- 
gTj/>/ifq'W^,Paris, 1 8oo,wasfound 
very helpful in translating Lip- 
sius's rather crabbed Latin; I 
was greatly aided also by a first 
draught of an English translation 
kindly made for me by Miss L 
McD. Howell, of the Newark, 
New Jersey, Free Public Li- 
brary. Mr. W. W. Bishop, re- 
ference librarian in the library of 
Princeton University, gave most 

24 Translator's Note 
valuable assistance, both on dif- 
ficult points in the Latin and on 
many historical allusions. I am, 
of course, responsible for all er- 
I'ors. J. c. D. 

Newark^ January, 1907 



YOU have before you my brief 
outline of the history of li- 
braries, that is, of books. Where 
shall we who are constantly mak- 
ing use of books look for a worthier 
subje^ for our pen? Tet I never 
should have dreamed of writing 
this outline had I not been inspired 
thereto by the zeal in such mat- 
ters of the noble Prince to whom 
I have just dedicated it. 

That such as he should labour to 
encourage a7id inspire men to good 
deeds and high endeavour — this I 
think a thing most helpful to us 
all. And how few do give them- 
selves generously to this task! All 
thoughts seem now to turn to low 

28 To THE Reader 
and sordid things. Scorni?ig the 
ancient and holy truths, how ea- 
gerly to-day do men search out 
doctrines whose only charm is that 
they seem nezv! 

To these one might well repeat 
the ancient line: '' Though broad 
and well known is the highway, 
you choose a ?iarrow and obscure 

For ourselves, we holdfast to 
the old and the established; and we 
study, we point out the zvay, and 
we set forth examples — often, 
so I hope and trust, to some use- 
ful purpose. 

■ And may you, O Gentle Reader, 
look with favour upon our work. 



Bibliotheca and Libraria — v:hat do 
these words signify ? The Kings of old 
had Libraries, especially those of Egypt. 

THE word bibliotheca is used 
to signify any one of three 
things: a place in which books 
are kept, a bookcase, or books 
themselves. The Greek word, 
bibliotheca, came into use among 
the Romans. They also used the 
word libraria ; but it is more exa6l 
to understand by that word a shop 
where books are kept for sale. 
Colleftions ofhooks, bibliothecae, 
date from the earliest days, and, 
if I am not mistaken, were es- 
tablished as soon as letters were 
invented . The art of writing must 
have arisen almost as soon as 

32 A Brief History 
man began to learn and to think ; 
and this art would not have been 
profitable if books had not been 
preserved and arranged for pre- 
sent and future use. 

At first these colleftions were 
private undertakings, each per- 
son gathering for himself and 
his family ; in the course of time 
kings and dynasties took up the 
custom and collected books, not 
only for use, but also to gratify 
their ambition and to add to their 
renown. Indeed, it was scarcely 
within the power of a private per- 
son to colleft many books, since 
the process of copying them was 
aslowandexpensiveone; though 
our lately discovered most use- 
ful art of printing has now sim- 
plified it. 

Of Libraries 33 

Osymandyas of Egypt was of 
all kings the first, as far as his- 
tory shows, to have a library of 
any note. Along with other fa- 
mous deeds he established, says 
Diodorus, a library of sacred lit- 
erature, and placed over the en- 
trance the inscription: "Here is 
Medicinefor theMind/'Though 
he was one of the earliest of the 
Egyptian kings, I do not doubt 
that his example was thereafter 
faithfully followed, even if the 
library he is said to have found- 
ed never in fa6l existed; for in 
Egypt there have always been 
libraries, especially in temples, 
under the care of priests. Many 
fa6ls may be cited as evidence 
for the truth of this statement, 
among others this one about 

34 History of Libraries 
Homer: a certain Naucrates ac- 
cused Homer of plagiarism, and 
said that when the latter went to 
Egypt he found there the books 
of a woman, Phantasia, who had 
written the Iliad and the Odyssey 
and placed them in the temple 
of Vulcan at Memphis; and that 
there Homer saw them, appro- 
priated them, and published them 
as his own. As far as Homer is 
concerned I think this story false; 
but it establishes the faft in ques- 
tion, that it was the custom in 
Egypt to have libraries. 


I'he Alexandrian Library^ of which 
Philadelphi/s was the founder and the 
chief henefa^or. T^he variety and num- 
ber of books in it. Burned^ and restored, 

THOUGH other libraries of 
Egypt are little known, we 
learn that that of Ptolemy Phi- 
ladelphus was famous and high- 
ly renowned. He was the son 
of Ptolemy Lagus, second of the 
name and of the line of the Greek 
kings of Egypt. Being a patron 
of the arts and sciences he was, 
of course, a lover of books, and 
founded the great library of Al- 
exandria, aided by the instruc- 
tion and example, perhaps even 
by the very books themselves, of 
Aristotle. For Aristotle, as I shall 

36 A Brief History 
note later, had a library which 
was remarkable for the num- 
ber and excellence of its books. 
Speaking of this hbrary, Strabo 
says that Aristotle was the first 
private colle61:or of books of 
whom we have any knowledge, 
and that he taught the kings of 
Egypt the principles of classifi- 
cation. This passage from Strabo, 
however, must be read with care 
and be properly interpreted ; for 
Aristotle was by no means the 
first to form a library, and as he 
lived before the time of Philadel- 
phus, he could not have taught 
him, save as I have said, by ex- 
ample. Perhaps what Athenaeus 
says is true, that Aristotle left 
his books to Thcophrastus, he to 
Neleus, and that from the latter 

Of Libraries 37 

Ptolemy bought them , and trans- 
ferred them, with others which 
he purchased in Athens and 
Rhodes, to fair Alexandria. Other 
writers, however, do not assent 
to this statement, as I shall show 
presently. This much is admit- 
ted, however, that he founded a 
library and colle6led for itbooks 
of every kind from all parts of 
the world, even seeking out the 
sacred books of the Hebrews. 
As soon as the fame of the wis- 
dom of the Hebrews reached his 
ears, he sent and demanded the 
books which contained it, and 
employed men skilled in such 
matters to translate them into 
Greek for the common use of 
all. This translation was called 
the Septuagint from the number 

38 A Brief History 
of persons who were engaged 
in making it. It was made, ac- 
cording to Epiphanius, in the 
seventeenth year of the reign of 
Philadelphus,in the one hundred 
and twenty-seventh Olympiad. 
Demetrius Phalereus had charge 
of this library. He was an exile 
from his native Athens, and was 
renowned both for his writings 
and his works. The King held 
him in high esteem and entrusted 
to his care the library, and other 
matters of even greater impor- 

Philadelphuslikewise collected 
books from the Chaldeans, the 
Egyptians, and even from the 
Romans, and had them translat- 
ed into Greek. I quote Georgius 
Cedrenus, who says, " Philadel- 

Of Libraries 39 

phus had the sacred books of 
the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and 
Romans, as well as some in 
other languages, to the number 
of a hundred thousand volumes, 
translated into Greek, and placed 
them in his library at Alexan- 
dria. ' ' I note especially two things 
in this quotation: first, the dili- 
gence shown in translating into 
the common tongue books in 
foreign languages, — a very use- 
ful custom in my opinion and 
one which should be adopted 
to-day by you, O Princes ; and 
second, the statement as to the 
number of books. This number 
is very large, it is true, but not 
large enough if it is meant to in- 
clude all the books in the library. 
I think it was not so meant ; but 

40 A Brief History 
that Cedrenus had in mind only 
the translations, and that the 
works in the original Greek far 
surpassed the number of trans- 
lations. Other writers who have 
mentioned this library say it was 
much larger than Cedrenus says 
it was. Our friend Seneca reports 
that four hundred thousand vol- 
umes, a most precious monument 
of royal munificence, perished 
in the flames. Most precious, 
indeed ; beyond all gold or rar- 
est gems ! How much more pre- 
cious if their number had been 
greater still ! And greater in faft 
it was. This number of Seneca's 
falls short of the truth, and must 
be extended to seven hundred 
thousand. Let Josephus tell us. 
He says that Demetrius, the li- 

Of Libraries 41 

brarian I have mentioned, was 
once asked by Philadelphus how 
many books he had in the libra- 
ry, and replied that he had two 
hundred thousand volumes, and 
hoped soon to have five hundred 

So you see how the library 
grew under his hands ; then con- 
sider how much larger it must 
have grown to be in later years, 
under other kings, successors of 
Philadelphus. A. Gellius frankly 
says that the number rose to 
seven hundred thousand. To 
quotehimexaftly , " A prodigious 
number of books was colle6led, 
either by purchase or by copy- 
ing, by the Ptolemaic kings of 
Egypt, nearly seven hundred 
thousand volumes.'' Ammianus, 

42 A Brief History 
from whom I shall quote shortly, 
says the same, and Isidore also, 
if his words be properly emend- 
ed. **In Alexandria, in the days 
of Philadelphus, there were," he 
says," seventy thousand books." 
I think that he should have said 
seven hundred thousand. 

A precious treasure! But, alas, 
though it was the offspring of 
man's immortal spirit it was not 
itself immortal! For all this vast 
store of books, whatever their 
number may have been, perished 
in the flames. Caesar, in the civil 
war with Pompey, fought with 
the Alexandrians in the city itself. 
He set fire to the ships for his 
own proteftion; from the ships 
the flames spread to houses near 
the harbour, then to the library 

Of Libraries 43 

itself, and consumed it utterly. 

Shame be to Caesar for having 
brought about , even though with- 
out intent, this irreparable loss! 
Yet he himself does not mention 
it in the third book of his History 
of the Civil War; and, later, Hir- 
tius did not speak of it. But 
others did; Plutarch, for exam- 
ple, and Dion; and Livy also, as 
ma}^ easily be shown by a refer- 
ence to Seneca, who says, after 
the words above quoted, "An- 
other has praised the library, 
even Livy, w^ho says that it had 
been a splendid monumentto the 
culture and the enlightened zeal 
of kings/' These are the very 
words used by Livy in speaking 
of the fire, and of the praise due 
the library itself and the kings 

44 A Brief History 
who had collefted it. 

Ammianus also speaks of this 
lamentable conflagration, and 
says: *' Among all the temples 
in Alexandria the Serapeum was 
preeminent ; in it was formerly 
a library of inestimable value 
containing, according to the con- 
current testimony of the ancient 
monuments, sevenhundred thou- 
sand volumes, collected with pa- 
tient zeal by the Ptolemaic kings. 
All of these books were con- 
sumed by fire when the state, 
under the diftatorship of Caesar, 
was disrupted by the Alexan- 
drian war." He wishes to make it 
appear that this happened while 
the city was being plundered. 
A. Gellius says the same: ''All 
these books were burned in the 

Of Libraries 45 

earlier Alexandrian war'' ( here 
he is in error ; it was in the later 
war, under Antony ) /' when the 
state was disrupted ; and the burn- 
ing was not intentional or pre- 
meditated, and possibly was done 
by the auxihary soldiers/' He 
excuses Caesar, and with some 
reason; for did ever any one 
love books and the humanities 
more than he? He also excuses 
the Roman soldiers, and lays the 
blame on the foreign auxiliaries. 

If one consults Plutarch and 
Dion one may see that they do 
not think the burning took place 
during the sack of the city. 

Such, then, was the end of this 
noble library; destroyed in the 
one hundred and eighty-third 
Olympiad , after enduring scarce- 

46 A Brief History 
ly two hundred and twenty-four 
years. Yet it lived again, — not 
the same colleftion, of course, for 
that were impossible ; but a simi- 
lar one, — and in the same build- 
ing, the Serapeum. Cleopatra, 
she who became famous through 
her amours with Antony, re- 
established the library. She re- 
ceived from him, as the begin- 
ning or foundation of the new 
colle6lion, the Attalic or Perga- 
mene library. She accepted the 
entire colle6lion as a gift and had 
it brought to Alexandria ; then 
she again decorated the build- 
ings and increased the collec- 
tion, with the result that even in 
the time of the Christian fathers 
it was widely known and much 
used. Tertullian says, ''To this 

Of Libraries 47 

day are to be found in the li- 
brary of Ptolemy in the Sera- 
peum books in Hebrew charac- 
ters/' Note that, according to 
this remark of Tertullian's, the 
library was again installed in the 
Serapeum, that is, in its porticoes 
or galleries; and note, further, 
that Strabo and others tell us that 
the Serapeum was near the har- 
bour and the ships. Note, once 
more, that it was called the Pto- 
lemaic library, though it was in 
fa6l not the original library, but 
a similar one; for the original 
Hebrew texts and the original 
translation called the Septuagint 
had perished in the flames. And 
yet once more note that the re- 
putation and ancient authority 
of this library were so great that 

48 History of Libraries 
Tertullian uses it as an argument 
in his exhortation and admoni- 
tion to the heathen. 

For my part, I believe that the 
library existed as long as did the 
Serapeum itself, which was a tem- 
ple of massive construftion and 
of great si ze , and that, as reported 
by certain ecclesiastical writers, 
the Christians, during the reign 
of Theodosius the Great, demol- 
ished it utterly, as a monument 
of superstition. 


Libraries in Greece^ especially those of 
Pisistratus and Aristotle. That at By- 

CONCERNING the libra- 
ries of Egypt I have giv- 
en fev^ and unimportant fa6ls, 
though the colleftions them- 
selves w^ere perhaps many and 
of great importance. But history 
here is dimmed by the mists of 
time. The same must be said also 
of the history of the libraries of 
Greece. Athenaeus incidentally 
refers to the more important of 
them when he praises his friend 
Laurentius for his skill in classi- 
fying books, and says that in this 
art he surpassed Polycrates of 
Samos, Pisistratus the Tyrant, 

50 A Brief History 
Euclid the Athenian, Nicocrates 
the Cyprian, Euripides the poet, 
and Aristotle the philosopher. I 
have little of detail to say about 
any of these men. Of Pisistratus 
it should be noted that A. Gelhus 
gave to him the honour of being 
the pioneer in this art of form- 
ing a library ; though Poly crates 
had one at about the same time. 
A. Gellius says, to quote his very 
words, ''Pisistratus the Tyrant 
is said to have been the first to 
make for public use in Athens a 
collection of books on the liberal 
arts.'' Here, then, was indeed a 
great man, — he was called the 
"Tyrant," but the word did not 
convey at that time the odium 
it does to-day, — and to him we 
owe the text of Homer collefted 

Of Libraries 51 

and arranged as we now have it. 
At that period critical studies, as 
we now call them, that is, the col- 
lation and emendation of texts, 
were much followed by princes, 
and even by kings. This library, 
founded by Pisistratus,was add- 
ed to from time to time by the 
Athenians, until Xerxes carried 
it awa}^ when he captured Ath- 
ens. Many years afterwards 
Seleucus Nicanor, King of Sy- 
ria, very generously caused the 
books of this library to be re- 
turned to Athens. They re- 
mained there until the time of 
Sulla, w^ho captured and plun- 
dered the city. But even after 
that, I am sure we must believe 
the library was again estab- 
lished ; for how could a city be, 

52 A Brief History 
as Athens was, the mother of the 
arts without the aid of books ? In- 
deed there must have been many 
libraries there in later years. Ha- 
drian, for example, so Pausa- 
nias wrote, erefted in Athens a 
temple to the Panhellenic Jove, 
and placed in it a library. 

Of Euclid, Athenaeus says that 
he was an archon and one of the 
morelearned of the magistrates ; 
nothing more. 

Of Aristotle, Strabo speaks in 
terms of highest praise, and I 
have already quoted his words. 
I also cited the statement from 
Athenaeus that Aristotle's libra- 
ry came finally into the posses- 
sion of the Ptolemies. Strabo and 
some others, however, seem to 
question this statement. "The 

Of Libraries 53 

books of Aristotle/' says Strabo, 
" which were lefttoNeleus, were 
finally handed on to certain de- 
scendants of his who were men 
of no learning. By them the 
books were kept under lock and 
key, and were not used. Then 
they were buried under ground 
and much injured by worms and 
mould; but finally were pur- 
chased at a great price by Apel- 
licon of Teos. He had the books, 
now sadly worm-eaten and tat- 
tered, transcribed, though not 
faithfully or with good judge- 
ment, and published. On his 
death Sulla, then master of Ath- 
ens, seized the books and sent 
them to Rome, where Tyrannion 
the grammarian made use of 
them and, so it is reported, rear- 

54 A Brief History 
ranged tliem and to some extent 
corrupted their text/' Plutarch 
tells the same or a very similar 
story in his life of Sulla. If it is 
true, how could the books of 
Aristotle have come from Neleus 
to Philadelphus, as Athenaeus 
says they did in the passage 
quoted above? Perhaps we can 
reconcile the two statements, and 
this is my conclusion, by suppos- 
ing that Neleus retained Aris- 
totle's own writings, his original 
manuscripts, as a precious heri- 
tage for his own family, and sold 
the rest of the books, written by 
others, to Philadelphus. 

I do not recall any other mat- 
ters worth relating about the li- 
braries of Greece. I do not need 
to say that the Romans, after 

Of Libraries 55 

they conquered the country, un- 
doubtedly took to Italy many 
colle6lions of books. 

Perhaps I should simply men- 
tion the Byzantine library of the 
time of the Emperors. Zonaras 
and Cedrenus say that under the 
Emperor Basiliscus, the library 
in Byzantium, into which had 
been gathered a hundred and 
twenty thousand volumes, was 
destroyed by fire. Among the 
books was the gut of a great 
dragon, one hundred and twen- 
ty feet long, on which was writ- 
ten in letters of gold the whole 
of the Iliad and the Odyssey. But 
this hbrary, being in Thrace and 
not in Greece, ought not to be 
considered as among the Grecian 


^he Attalic Library^ of iDhkh Eume- 
ties "was the founder. Certain errors of 
statement about it made by Pliny and 
Fitruvius. Its size and the length of 
time it existed. 

THE Attalic or Pergamene 
library, in Asia, was al- 
most as illustrious as the Alex- 
andrian. When the Attalic kings, 
minor powers at first, became 
great and rich through an al- 
liance with the Romans, they 
adorned their capital city in many 
ways and erefted in it a library. 
Strabo regarded Eumenes, the 
son of King Attalus, as the foun- 
der of this colle6lion. *' Eume- 
nes,'' he says, " built the city and 
beautifully adorned it as it now 


irotM- •^' 

58 A Brief History 
is, with temples and a library." 
Pliny says,** According to Varro 
there was a rivalry over their re- 
spective libraries between Pto- 
lemy and Eumenes, and the for- 
mer forbade the exportation of 
paper from his kingdom, and the 
latterof parchment from his/' Je- 
rome, in his letter to Chroma- 
tins, and Aelian, made similar 
statements, though they say it 
was Attains who was jealous of 
Ptolemy, and not Eumenes. Con- 
cerning neither of them, how- 
ever, can the story be true; for, 
as a comparison of dates will 
show, they both lived almost a 
then, could there have been be- 
tween them the jealousy which 
Pliny speaks of .'^ Unless, indeed, 

Of Libraries 59 

" Ptolemy" is used simply in re- 
ference to the kings of Egypt in 
general, and refers here not to 
Philadelphus but to Ptolemy the 
Fifth, generally called Ptolemy 
Epiphanes, who was a contem- 
porary of Eumenes. He perhaps, 
though he was not at all distin- 
guished for his zeal in regard to 
libraries, forbade the exportation 
of paper, in fear lest another new 
library should rival his own more 
ancient one. 

The erroneous or careless state- 
ment just noted is still more 
crudely put by Vitruvius. He 
says, to quote him direftly , *' Af- 
ter the Attalic kings, led by their 
great interest and delight in lit- 
erature, established for general 
enjoyment a superb library at 

6o A Brief History 
Pergamum, Ptolemy, stirred to a 
boundless zeal by their example, 
and rivalling them in aft ivity, en- 
deavoured to establish at Alex- 
andria a library equal to theirs/' 
How absurd the statement! As 
if the Attalic kings antedated the 
Alexandrian in this art! As if, in 
this field of books, the latter 
caught from the former their zeal , 
or looked to them for example ! 
Why, the exa6l opposite was 
true ; for the Ptolemies praftised 
the art of establishing libraries 
long before the Attalic kings had 
ever thought of it. It is possible, 
of course, that here again the 
writer alludes, without naming 
him, to one of the later Ptole- 
mies. But even then it remains 
true that the Pergamene library 

Of Libraries 6i 

never rivalled the Alexandrian 
in either resources or age. Plu- 
tarch writes to this effe6l where, 
mentioning both libraries, he 
says that Antony the Triumvir, 
fascinated by the charms of Cleo- 
patra, gave to her the library at 
Pergamum, in which were two 
hundred thousand volumes. I use 
the word *' volumes" and not" ti- 
tles,'' for I think the word which 
Plutarch uses refers to several 
works boundtogetherinone vol- 
ume , and that these several work s 
are not counted in giving the size 
of the library. 

This Pergamene library ceased 
to exist, then, soon after the de- 
stru6lionof the first Alexandrian 
one ; but lived again in the lat- 
ter when it was reestablished. 

62 History of Libraries 
Was it set up again in its own 
city? Certainly Strabo's words, 
quoted above, if carefully consi- 
dered, seem to imply that it was. 
For he says,** was erefted where 
it now is/' What does he mean 
by *'now"? Plainly the time 
when he, Strabo, was writing, 
which was in the reign of Tibe- 
rius. So it appears that the vic- 
torious Augustus, who annulled 
much that Antony did, either 
brought the library back to its 
old home in Pergamum,or,what 
is more probable, caused it to be 
copied again and reestablished 
it. But on this point I do not ven- 
ture to speak with certainty. 


Roman libraries ; pri-cate ones; and the 
first public library, that of Asinius 

HAVING spoken of such li- 
braries of foreign peoples 
as seem worthy of mention, let 
us pass to those of Rome, which 
are nearer to us in both place 
and time. 

Slow enough at first was the 
growth of love of books and in- 
terest in the humanities among 
the Romans; for the Romans 
were children of Mars, not of 
the Muses. But at last, by God's 
grace, here also culture took root 
andrefinementgained in esteem, 
though slowly at first, as it 
always does. Isidore notes that 

64 A Brief History 
Aemilius Paulus was the first to 
bring to Rome any large num- 
ber of books, and this he did after 
he had conquered Perseus, King 
of the Macedonians ; then Lucul- 
lus did the same after the pillage 
of Pontus. Thus he names two 
who brought books to Rome. But 
they did not make them acces- 
sible to the public. Concerning 
Aemilius I have read nothing 
further; of Lucullus, Plutarch 
speaks at great length. He says : 
" His delight in books and his 
free expenditure for them should 
be highly praised. For he ac- 
quired many of them, and very 
beautifully written ones; and 
showed the same liberality in 
respeft to their use that he 
showed in respeft to their pur- 

Of Libraries 65 

chase. His library was open to 
every one ; and in the adjoining 
colonnades and exedras learned 
Greeks were especially made 
welcome. Here they came, as toa 
temple of the Muses, and passed 
the time pleasantly together free 
from all cares. And often Lucul- 
lus himself came to these colon- 
nades and walks, and joined the 
learned in their conversations, 
and took part in their philosophi- 
cal discussions." 

From which you may see. 
Most Illustrious Prince, howfree 
and open this library was; and 
that though he retained the title 
to it himself, he gave the unre- 
stri61:ed use of it to the learned, 
just as you so generously do 
with your own. 

66 A Brief History 

To Aemilius and Lucullus one 
may add the name of Cornelius 
Sulla, afterwards diftator, as a 
founder of libraries. He brought 
from Greece and Athens to Rome 
a very large number of books 
and arranged them to form a 
library. About this Lucian has 
written, as well as Plutarch. 

But after all these things were 
done, a true public library for 
Rome had not yet been estab- 
lished. The thought of such an 
institution was first conceived 
by the great and glorious Julius 
Caesar, and would by him have 
been carried to its conclusion had 
not the fates forbidden. Sueto- 
nius says, '' He planned to open 
to the public libraries formed 
of as many books in the Greek 

Of Libraries 67 

and Latin languages as he could 
bring together, and to give to 
Marcus Varro the duty of organ- 
izing and managing them/' This 
was truly the plan of a generous 
spirit, and of a wise one also ; for 
who in all the world was better 
fitted than Varro, most learned 
in Greek and Roman letters, to 
carry out such a scheme? But 
Caesar was not destined to real- 
ize his thought. Augustus, his 
adopted son, added a library to 
the other adornments and glories 
he gave to the city. At his sug- 
gestion and inspired by him, Asi- 
nius Pollio, orator, senator, and 
noble, erefted a temple of liber- 
ty, so Suetonius says, and placed 
in it a library which he made free 
to all. Isidore says, "Pollio was 

68 A Brief History 
the first to establish a public li- 
brary in Rome, one composed of 
books in Greek and in Latin, and 
decorated with busts of famous 
authors. He placed it in the pub- 
lic hall, which he magnificently 
adorned with the spoils of war/' 
"Spoils of war ''refers to those ta- 
ken from the Dalmatians, whom 
he had just conquered. Pliny re- 
marks that Asinius Pollio was the 
first to establish a library which 
made free to all the wisdom of 

It seems plain from these writ- 
ers that this library was in the 
Hall of Liberty, on the Aventine 
Hill. I think it was rather rear- 
ranged or reconstrufted for the 
library than built especially for 
it. It had been in existence a long 

Of Libraries 69 

time before Pollio's day. Plu- 
tarch and other writers say that 
it dated from the time of Tibe- 
chi.PolliOjit would seem, refitted 
it and dedicated it to this glo- 
rious use. Ovid's words should 
be noted here, for he says, — his 
book, Tristia^ is supposed to 
be speaking, — "Liberty did not 
permit me to enter her hall ; that 
hall in which were first opened to 
the public the books of the wise." 
I do not think the words he uses 
in these lines have reference, 
as some think, to a gathering 
of poets. The book — for, as I 
have said, it is a book which 
Ovid's verse makes us suppose 
is speaking — frankly complains 
that it was not received into the 

70 History of Libraries 
library of Asinius, that library 
which was the first to open to 
public use the writings of learn- 
ed men. 


The Libraries of Augustus^ the OEia- 
vian and the Palatine. Their Librari- 
ans and Custodians. 

IT was, then, under Augus- 
tus that this the first pub- 
lic library was established. Soon 
there were two others, also dueto 
him. The first, the 06lavian, he 
founded in honour of his sister, 
and gave it her name. Of this 
Dion Cassius says, in his chro- 
nicle of the year 721 ," Augustus 
built a colonnade and in it es- 
tablished a library, which he 
named after his sister Oftavia.'* 
Plutarch seems to ascribe this 
work to Oftavia herself, when 
he says, "In honour of Marcel- 
lus, his mother 06lavia built a 11- 

72 A Brief History 
brary and dedicated it to his me- 
mory; Augustus built a theatre 
and gave to it the name of Mar- 
cellus/' I think Plutarch is here 
in error, for the note of Dion's 
places the ere6lion of the Colon- 
nade of 06lavia ten whole years 
before the death of Marcellus. 
He adds that these memorials 
were erefted from spoils of the 
Dalmatians, and his words draw 
attention to the remarkable fa6l 
that the first and second libra- 
ries of Rome were both due, in 
a certain sense, to barbarians. 

Suetonius, in speaking of Me- 
lissus the grammarian, says that 
after he was freed he soon be- 
came intimate with Augustus, 
and at the latter's request under- 
took, and very efficiently, the task 

Of Libraries 73 

of arranging the library in the 
Colonnade of 06lavia. It is my 
opinion that it was in the upper 
part of the colonnade, as safer 
and more appropriate, since the 
lower part was used as a pro- 
menade. Ovid again makes his 
little book of verse say, "I seek 
another temple, near the thea- 
tre; and this also was forbid- 
den to my feet." The book com- 
plains that it is spurned by the 
library, and incidentally tells 
where the library was, — near 
the theatre of Marcellus. He 
calls the building, which was in 
fa6l a portico, a temple, because 
in it, as Pliny says, was an altar 
to Juno, and certain beautiful 
Still another library was found- 

74 A Brief History 
ed by this same Augustus, the 
Palatine, so called because it was 
in the royal palace itself. Sue- 
tonius says, **He built the tem- 
ple of Apollo in that part of his 
house on the Palatine Hill which 
had been struck by lightning, 
and was thereby, as the priests 
interpreted the faft, marked out 
as a spot dear to God. To the 
temple he added porticoes, in 
which he placed a library of book s 
in Latin and in Greek . " This hap- 
pened in the seven hundred and 
twenty-sixth year of the city, as 
one may learn from the opening 
lines of Dion's History, hook liii. 
It seems, then, that Ovid fol- 
lowed the order of the dates of 
their establishment in his refer- 
ence to the libraries of Rome, 

Of Libraries 75 

when he named, in the following 
quotation, first the Asinian, next 
the 06lavian, and last the Pala- 

From thence we to Apollo's temple went, 
To which by steps there is a faire ascent: 
Where stand the signs in faire outlandish stone, 
of Belus and of Palammed the sonne. 
There ancient bookes, and those that are more 

Doe all lye open to the Reader's view. 
I sought my brethren there, excepting them. 
Whose haplesse birth my father doth condeme. 
And as I sought, the chiefe man of the place. 
Bid me be gone out of that holy space. '^ 

Here Ovid shows, among other 
things, that there was a librarian 
or custodian of the Palatine li- 
brary. Suetonius tells us he was 
C. Julius Higinus. In his Ce- 
lebrated Grammarians he says, 
" This man presided over the Pa- 

^IV. Saltans taWs translation^ 1637. 

76 A Brief History 
latine library ; though meanwhile 
he followed his profession and 
taught many /'Later there w^as a 
special custodian for the books 
in Greek , and another for those 
in Latin. On an ancient marble 
tablet are inscribed these words : 






On another: 





There are other similar inscrip- 

To this Palatine library Pliny 
refers when he says, '' We may 

Of Libraries 77 

see in the library in the temple 
of Augustus a Tuscan statue re- 
presenting Apollo, fifty feet in 
height/' This quotation, how- 
ever, may point to the library 
of Vespasian Augustus, which 
was in the temple of Peace. But 
Pliny refers very plainly to the 
Palatine library when he says, 
*' The old Greek letters were al- 
most the same as the Latin let- 
ters of the present time, as is 
shown by an ancient Delphic 
tablet of bronze, dedicated to 
Minerva, which is now in the 
Palatine — that gift of emperors 
— in the library/' I am led to be- 
lieve, from the words of John of 
Salisbury, that this library was in 
existence in Rome for a very 
long time, since he writes,*' The 

78 History of Libraries 
learned and most holy Gregory 
not only banished astrology from 
the court; but also, as is reported 
by them of old time, gave to 
the flames those writings of ap- 
proved merit, and whatever else 
the Palatine library in Apollo's 
temple possessed. Preeminent a- 
mong these were some which 
seemed designed to reveal to 
men the will of the celestial be- 
ings and the oracles of the higher 

This quotation is w^orthy of 


like Libraries of ^iherius^ of 'Trajan^ 
of Vespasian; also the CapitoUne; other 
unknown Libraries. 

WE have seen that two li- 
braries were established 
in Rome by the Emperor Au- 
gustus, a most zealous patron of 
the arts and sciences. What may 
be said of other Roman libraries? 
Certainly there were others ; and 
there even seems to have been 
a spirit of rivalry among the 
rulers of that time in regard to 
them, each contending for the 
palm as founder of libraries. For 
example, Tiberius, soon afterthe 
death of Augustus, established 
one within the limits of the royal 
palace itself, on that part which 

8o A Brief History 
fronts on the Via Sacra. Students 
of the subje6l think that here 
were Tiberius's own special a- 
partments ; and A . Gellius locates 
the library in thcmwhenhesays, 
" While Apollinaris and I were 
sitting in the library in the house 
of Tiberius/' Vopiscus makes the 
same statement in efFe6l, for he 
tells us that he used the books in 
the Ulpian library and also those 
in the apartments of Tiberius. 

It seems that in due course Ves- 
pasian also collefted a library and 
placed it in the temple of Peace, 
as we gather from A. Gellius's 
remark/' We souglit very dili- 
gently for the Commentary of 
L. Aelius, the teacher of Varro, 
and found it, and read it, in the 
library in the temple of Peace." 

Of Libraries 8i 

Galen also mentions it in his 
Treatise on the Compounding of 

Another library was gathered 
by Trajan, of which A. Gellius 
also speaks/' We happened/'he 
says, *' to be sitting in the library 
in the temple of Trajan/' This 
is the one which is commonly 
called the Ulpian, from the fa- 
mily name of the Emperor Tra- 
jan. Vopiscus says, 'T learned 
these things from the elders; 
and I read them also, in the 
books of the Ulpian library;'' 
also, *Tf you are still in doubt, 
consult the books in Greek, then 
look up also the linen books, the 
ancient chronicles, which the 
Ulpian library can show to you 
whenever you wish/' 

82 A Brief History 

I am of the opinion that this 
Ulpian hbrary was at first in the 
forum of Trajan, where theother 
monuments ere6led by that em- 
peror were placed ; and w as af- 
terwards moved to the Viminal 
Hill to adorn the Baths of Dio- 
cletian. If so moved, why not 
by Diocletian himself? Vopiscus 
would lead us to think it was, 
for he says, *'I make use espe- 
cially of the books of the Ulpian 
library, which in my time was in 
the Baths of Diocletian." When 
he expressly says that in his 
time it was in a certain place, he 
plainly implies that it had pre- 
viously been in another place. 

Let us pass now to the Capi- 
toline library, concerning which 
Eusebius says, in speaking of the 

Of Libraries 83 

reign of the Emperor Commo- 
dus, "The lightning struck the 
Capitol and started a great fire, 
which consumed the library and 
the houses near it/' Orosius re- 
lates the incident more at length : 
*' Upon the city falls the punish- 
ment for the crimes of the em- 
peror. The Capitol was struck by 
lightning, and a terrible confla- 
gration burst forth, which de- 
voured both the library, which 
had been gathered by men of old 
with so much zeal and care, and 
all the adjoining dwellings/* 

Who was the founder of this 
library? We cannot be sure, but 
we may surmise that it was Do- 
mitian. At one time he narrowly 
escaped death in the Capitol, and 
there, after he became emperor. 

84* A Brief History 
he erefted a temple; and if the 
temple, why not the library with- 
in it? No record, it is true, re- 
mains to prove that he did. Sue- 
tonius speaks of the matter in a 
very vague way where he says, 
" He, Domitian , was at great pains 
to reestablish the library which 
had been burned, and at large 
expense sought for books in all 
parts of the world, and sent sa- 
vants to Alexandria to copy and 
edit books there for his library/' 
We note from this that even then 
the Alexandrian was looked up- 
on as the source and very fos- 
ter-mother of all other libraries, 
and that these others sought from 
her carefully edited and beauti- 
fully written books to replace 
their corrupted versions. More- 

Of Libraries 85 

over, these other and later h- 
braries were preserved through 
the enlightened interest of the 
princes of their day, for if this 
had not been so, how could there 
have been so many libraries at 
the time of P. Vi6lor, that is, in 
the reign of Constantine ? Vi61or 
says that he noted, among oth- 
er remarkable things in Rom.e, 
twenty-nine public libraries; two 
of w^hich were especially note- 
worthy, the Palatine and the 

Alas, of how many of these 
have we no record w^hatsoever! 
Out of all the twenty-nine we 
discovered, for all our diligence, 
traces of seven only, and of these 
have rescued from oblivion hard- 
ly more than their names. 


Of the Tiburtine Library; also of cer- 
tain of the more important Private Li- 
braries. I'hese latter were sometimes 
found in the Baths ^ sometimes in the 
Country Houses. 

CONCERNING the greater 
part of the Roman public 
libraries I have learned nothing, 
as I have said ; not even of those 
within the city. 

There was one at Tibur, near 
Rome, about which A. Gellius 
says,'* We recall having found 
it written in that same book of 
Claudius in the library at Tibur/' 
And again, '' He brought it from 
the library of Tibur, which was 
at that time very conveniently 
located in the temple of Her- 

88 A Brief History 
CLiles/' Here and elsewhere we 
note that the libraries were often 
placed in or near temples. And 
why should not the sacred pro- 
duftions of human genius be de- 
posited in consecrated buildings? 
It is possible that the Emperor 
Hadrian established this library 
at Tibur, for it is well known 
that he took much pleasure in 
that spot, and spared no expense 
in adorning it with many and 
very beautiful buildings. 

It seems evident to me that 
in all the cities and colonies of 
the empire libraries were found 
and the arts and humanities were 

Certain of the wealthy citizens, 
it appears, had their own private 
libraries, some of them very no- 

Of Libraries 89 

ble ones, partly for use and part- 
ly for the sake of the reputation 
for learning which they gave. 

For example, there is Tyran- 
nion the grammarian , in the reign 
of Sulla, who had three thousand 
volumes. Epaphroditus of Chae- 
ronea,also a grammarian by pro- 
fession, is another example. Sui- 
das says of him that he lived at 
Rome from the time of Nero to 
that of Nerva,and was so assid- 
uous a purchaser of books that 
he collefted thirty thousand of 
them, and they of the best and 
rarest. I applaud this last ex- 
ample, not so much, of course, 
for the great number of books 
he colle6led as for the good taste 
he showed in choosing them. I 
should like to believe that this 

go A Brief History 
Epaphroditus was the one who 
had among his slaves Epiftetus, 
the very head of the true phi- 
losophy. Certainly they were 
contemporaries. But the rank and 
occupation of the two men were 
very different, the book-collec- 
tor being a grammarian, accord- 
ing to Suidas, while the owner of 
Epiftetus was one of the body- 
guards of Nero. Whoever he 
w^as, Samonicus Serenus sur- 
passed him in his zeal for book- 
colle6ling, for he had a library 
in which there were sixty-two 
thousand volumes. When he died 
he left his books to Gordian the 
Less, afterwards emperor. The 
gift is reported by Capitolinus 
with these words of praise,*' This 
has immortahzed Gordian; for 

Of Libraries 91 

men of letters will never cease 
to speak of the gift of so vast and 
splendid a library/' 

Consider, O Most Illustrious 
Prince, how this love of books 
brings favour and high renown, 
— such favour and renown as 
should be granted without limit 
to great men like yourself. 

Those I have named, and a few 
besides, are known to have had 
notable libraries. There were, of 
course, many others of whom we 
know nothing. Senecashowsthat 
the habit of book-colle6ling was 
very common in his time, and 
condemns it. You ask, why did 
he condemn it? '* Because,'' he 
says, ''they acquired books not 
that they might enjoy them, but 
simply for show. To most of 

92 A Brief History 
these newly rich, ignorant even 
of the elements of belles-lettres, 
books are not aids to study, 
but simply ornaments of dining- 
rooms/' A little further on he 
adds : "Why, in the homes of the 
idlest of the rich you will find all 
that orators or historians have 
written, with bookcases built 
clear to the ceiling! Formerly a 
library gave a home an air of 
culture; one is now put in, like 
a bathroom, simply as a neces- 
sary part of the equipment of a 
house/' A sad state of affairs, I 
admit. And yet it is to be wished 
that our own rich men had the 
same taste in luxuries ; for a col- I 
le6lion of books can alw^ays be of 
use and value to some one, even 
if not to the owner. 

Of Libraries 93 

We note that libraries were 
placed in the baths, as we did 
above in the case of the Ulpian 
library, which was in the Baths 
of Diocletian. If you ask why, I 
would say because the Romans, 
while caring for the body in the 
bath, found their minds at ease, 
and discovered that then was 
a favourable time, especially for 
those who were deeply en- 
grossed in affairs, to read or to 
be read to. For a like reason they 
had books in their villas and 
country seats. There also they 
found a leisure and a freedom 
from care which were favourable 
to reading. 

A decision of the jurisconsult 
Paulus calls attention to this cus- 
tom of having libraries : *' In a 

94 History of Libraries 
legacy of real estate any books 
and any library which are in the 
house pass to the legatee." Pliny 
says, speaking of his own villa, 
"A bookcase is built into the 
wall, thus forming, as it were, 
a little library." Martial praises 
the library at the country-place 
of a certain other Julius Martial, 
as follows: 

Thou lovely country library, 
Whence thy lord views the city nigh. 
If, 'mongst his serious studys, place 
My wanton muse may find, and grace, 
To these sev'n books afford a roome, 
Though on the lowest shelf, which come 
Correfted by their author's penn."* 

* translation from a sixteenth century 
MS. Bohn. 


'The Decoration of Libraries with Ivory 
and with Glass, Bookcases and Shelves^ 
'Tables and Seats. 

I HAVE now gone rapidly 
over the early history of li- 
braries and have mentioned those 
of which time has not destroyed 
all records. As to what I have 
written, I must confess that it is 
but a trivial mention of a great 
subje6l, — as the old saying goes, 
" a drop of water out of a full 
bucket/' Yet I have said enough, 
perhaps, to aft as an incentive 
or to serve as an example. 

I shall add a few words on the 
decoration of libraries and the 
arrangement of their books. 

From Isidore I learn that the 

96 A Brief History 
more experienced architects did 
not think that the ceilings of h- 
braries should be gilded, or that 
the floors should be made of any 
but Carystian marble; this be- 
cause the glitter of gold is rather 
tiring to the eyes,while the green 
of Carystian marble rests them. 

This is good advice from whom- 
ever it may have come. True it 
is, as my own experience proves, 
that a brilliant light is disturbing 
to the attention and makes wTit- 
ing difficult ; and green is a col- 
our which seems to rest and re- 
fresh the eyes. 

Boethius adds something fur- 
ther to this subj eft of decoration, 
when he says, in his book on 
Consolation, ''The walls were 
decorated with ivory and glass." 

Of Libraries 97 

Does he mean the walls of the 
room itself? It would seem so, for 
the bookcases or shelves were 
not placed against the walls, in 
which case the ornamentation of 
the latter would not have been 
seen, but were set out in the 
room, just as they are in most 
public libraries to-day. Glass cut 
in squares, circles, ovals, and 
rhomboids was used like mar- 
ble tiles, to ornament the walls, 
though oftener the arches and 
the ceilings. Pliny says in hisiV^- 
tural History ,hookxxxvi , ''Tiles 
made of earth they transformed 
into glass and put on the arches ; 
and this is a recent invention/' 
It was, then, still a novelty in the 
time of Nero and Seneca. Yet 
Seneca speaks of it as a common 

98 A Brief History 
thing, in letter Lxxxvi,on baths, 
where he says,'* Unless the arch 
is covered with glass/' On this 
point consult my w^ork on the 
baths of the Romans. 

That it was also used on the 
walls, Vopiscus, as well as Boe- 
thius, shows when he says in 
speaking of Firmus," The house 
appears to have been covered 
over wdth squares of glass, with 
bitumen and other material be- 
tween the squares/' I think the 
bitumen was here used to fasten 
the squares of glass to the wall, 
and not to join them to each 
other. The joints between the 
pieces of glass were more ap- 
propriately covered with ivory, 
as Boethius seems to say they 
were. Ivory was placed also 

Of Libraries 99 

on the bookcases themselves; 
whence the phrase, ''ivory li- 
brary," in the Pandefts. Seneca 
mentions bookcases made of ce- 
dar and ivory. 

Common sense and the general 
fitness of the thing of course 
make it plain that there were 
bookcases in libraries; I would 
add the fa6l that the cases were 
numbered. Vopiscus so indicates 
when he says, ''The Ulpian li- 
brary has the elephant book in 
the sixth case." Whether by 
"elephant" he means made of 
ivory or of the skin of an ele- 
phant, I cannot say. The old 
scholiast in commenting on this 
phrase, from Juvenal, "Hie li- 
bros dabit et forulos" (This one 
will furnish you with books and 

loo A Brief History 
cases), gives as an equivalent 
phrase, *' Armaria, bibliotheca" 
(A library and the books in it). 
I think the word foriili ( pigeon- 
holes), as here used, properly 
means either compartments in 
the shelves, '* nests'' for the 
books, following Martiars use of 
the w^ord; or, in Seneca's use of 
it, separate little cases for them. 
Sidonius speaks of these cases 
and of other things found in 
libraries. " Here," he says, '* is an 
astonishing number of books and 
you would think yourself in a 
library and could see the shelves 
[pliitei) of the grammarians; or 
the seats [cunei) of Athenaeus; 
or the lofty bookcases ( armaria) 
of the booksellers." Plutei are 
the slopingtables on which books 

Of Libraries loi" 

were placed for reading ; cimei, 
the rows of seats, as explained 
in Athenaeus; and armaria, hook- 
cases, generally wide and tall, 
as I have shown. These last 
Cicero seems to call pegmata in 
a letter to Atticus. 


Statues of Learned Men sometimes 
placed in Libraries; a -praiseworthy 
Custom which originated with Asinius, 

A MOST appropriate method 
of decorating a library, 
one which ought to be imitated 
by us to-day but unhappily is 
not, is that of placing in it and 
near their writings the statues 
or busts of great authors. How 
delightful it must have been to 
the readers to see them, and 
how stimulating to the mind! 
We all wish to become familiar 
with the features and the gen- 
eral appearance of great men, 
with those material bodies in 
which dwelt their celestial spirits , 
and, lifting our eyes from their 

104 A Brief History 
books, here they are before us! 
You could read the writings of 
Homer, Hippocrates, Aristotle, 
Pindar, Virgil, Cicero ,and others, 
and at the same time feast your 
eyes upon the counterfeit pre- 
sentment of each one. Again I 
say, a most beautiful custom, 
and why, Most Illustrious Friend, 
do we to-day not imitate it, un- 
der your leadership? 

This idea seems to have ori- 
ginated with the Romans — not 
every good thing, after all, has 
come from the Greeks ! Pliny is 
of this opinion. ''Nothing,'' he 
says, speaking in his most happy 
vein, " is more delightful than to 
have knowledge of the face and 
bearing of the authors one reads. 
Asinius Pollio, at Rome, appa- 

Of Libraries 105 

rently originated this idea of 
placing statues in libraries ; that 
same Asinius who was the first, 
by founding a free library, to 
make the wisdom of mankind 
free to all. Whether the kings 
at Alexandria and Pergamum, 
who showed great zeal in the 
founding of libraries, had done 
the same before, I find it impos- 
sible to learn/' So it seems, as I 
have said, that Asinius was the 
originator of the idea ; and Pliny 
says that he placed in a library, 
the first public one opened in the 
city (not, in the world, as some 
absurdly render the phrase), 
the statue of a living man, Mar- 
cus Varro, the first person to 
have that honour. Afterwards 
the same distin6lion was shown 

io6 A Brief History 
to others , either through courtesy 
or because it was j ustly due them ; 
for example, to the poet Mar- 
tial, who boasted that Stertinius 
wished to place a statue of him in 
his library. But for the most part 
this honour has been reserved for 
the dead, and for those who have, 
by common consent, proved their 

Pliny says, "A certain custom, 
now just established, ought not 
to be passed by in silence. I re- 
fer to the faft that they place in 
libraries, not only the statues in 
gold, silver, or bronze of those 
whose immortal souls may be said 
to be speaking there through 
their books, but also the statues 
of those whose books are not 
there; and even imaginary sta- 

Of Libraries 107 
tues of those of whom no por- 
traits have been preserved/' He 
calls the custom a new one, 
meaning that it originated with 
Pollio. He says also that these 
statues of the dead were for the 
most part made of metal. I would 
add that they were also made of 
plaster,in which they were easily 
duplicated for private libraries. 
Juvenal says /'Though you may 
find everywhere busts of Chry- 
sippus in plaster/' 

Indeed I think the portraits 
were sometimes paintings, and 
that perhaps they placed por- 
traits at the beginnings of books. 
Seneca says, ''Those exquisite 
works of highest genius, illus- 
trated with the portraits of their 
authors." Suetonius says of Ti- 

io8 A Brief History 
berius,"He placed their writings 
and their portraits in the public 
libraries among the old and ac- 
cepted authors/* And Pliny in 
his letters remarks, " Herennius 
Severus, a most learned man, 
is very desirous to place in his 
own library the statues of Cor- 
nelius Nepos andTitus Atticus/' 
So, according to these two writ- 
ers, both statues and portraits 
were used. Pliny also says, in 
speaking of Silius Italicus, "He 
owned many villas in these same 
places, and in them he had many 
portraits ; moreover, he not only 
owned them, he almost wor- 
shipped them, especially the por- 
trait of Virgil/' Vopiscus says of 
Numerian that a certain oration 
of his was held to be so eloquent 

Of Libraries 109 
that it was decided that a statue 
be made of him as an orator, not 
as emperor, and placed in the 
Ulpian library with this inscrip- 
tion: *'To Numerian, Emperor, 
the greatest Orator of his time/' 
Sidonius, justly boasting of a 
statue ere61:ed to himself in the 
same place, says, "Nerva Trajan 
has seen fit to place an enduring 
statue of me, in honour of my 
writings, among other authors in 
both libraries/' By "both libra- 
ries'' he means that his statue 
was set up in the Greek as well 
as in the Latin library. 

Small portraits or statues were, 
it seems, often placed on brack- 
ets projefting from the cases 
or shelves on which stood the 
works of the wTiters they repre- 

no History OF Libraries 
sented. I quote a line from Ju- 
venal, ''And bids the bust of 
Cleanthes guard the shelf on 
which his works repose." 

The same custom is referred 
to in the distich which was in- 
scribed on a bust of Virgil : *' No 
harm can come to a poet who 
is honoured by having both his 
verse and his bust upon the libra- 
ry shelf;" meaning that he has 
attained to lasting fame who lives 
both in his books and in his sculp- 
tured likeness. Note also the seals 
or medallions above the shelves 
referred to by Cicero in a letter 
to Atticus. In Cicero's day they 
ornamented libraries with stat- 
ues of the gods as well as of au- 


J -word about the Alexandrian Mu- 
seuvi. Learned ??ien dwelt in it sup- 
ported from the Public Funds. Kings 
and Emperors made this Museum their 
special Care. 

I HAVE nothing further that 
seems worth saying on this 
subje6l of libraries, except a few 
words about their use. If they 
stand empty, or with only an oc- 
casional visitor; if students do not 
frequent them and make use of 
their books, why were they ever 
established, and what are they 
save that "idle luxury in the 
garb of scholarship" to which 
Seneca alludes? The Alexan- 
drian kings saw to it that there 
were students to make use of 

112 A Brief History 
their library, for they built near 
it a Museum, so called because 
it was, so to speak, a temple of 
the Muses, in which it was pos- 
sible to follow the Muses, to cul- 
tivate the humanities, free from 
all cares, even from the labour of 
providing food and lodging , since 
the students in it were supported 
from the public funds. How ad- 
mirable an institution! Strabo 
gives us the best description of 
"Part of the royal palace is a 
Museum, in which one may stroll 
or sit at ease, with a great hall, 
in which men of letters, who are 
members of the Museum, hold 
meetings and take their meals 
together. Moreover, this college, 
as we may call the Museum or- 

Of Libraries 113 
ganization with its students, has 
a foundation or common fund for 
its support; and a priest, who is 
president of the Museum, for- 
merly appointed by the kings of 
Egypt, but at the present time 
by the emperor/' 

He says this was part of the 
royal palace. Doubtless the kings 
wished it to be near their own 
apartments that they might have 
at hand the learned men who 
were its inmates, and converse 
with them when they pleased; 
thus acquiring knowledge and 
training their minds. It had porti- 
coes and exedras,the former be- 
ing more for the exercise of the 
body, the latter for the training 
of the mind, as in them the stu- 
dents gathered, conferred, and 

114 A Brief History 
held discussions. There was also 
a hall, where they ate together. 
Philostratus says the same thing 
in speaking of Dionysius, who 
was, he writes, "received into 
the Museum;" and then adds, 
**The Museum is the Egyptian 
banquet-hall of learning, which 
brings together all the men of 
letters from all parts of the 

Note particularly the words, 
**all the men of letters from all 
parts of the world," for even if 
not to be taken literally they 
show that the number was very 
large and the expense very great. 
Timon the satirist calls our at- 
tention to the same points when 
he says, in Iiis satirical and carp- 
ing way, " Many people are sup- 

Of Libraries 115 
ported at public expense in Egypt 
the populous, that they may idly 
browse among books and quar- 
rel over them in the cave of the 
Muses/' Athenaeus, comment- 
ing on this passage, say s/*Timon 
spoke of the Museum as a cave 
orcage, thus making sport of the 
philosophers maintained there, 
as if they were so many rare 

Athenaeus, we see, calls them 
philosophers; but Strabo uses 
the more general phrase, ''men 
of letters and savants;'' and no 
doubt scholars of every sort were 
admitted. Strabo puts special 
stress on theword" men," show- 
ing that boys and youths and 
those beginning their studies 
were not taught in the Museum, 

1 16 A Brief History 
as they would be in a similar 
place to-day ; but that admittance 
was rather a reward for erudi- 
tion already attained, an honour 
rightly earned. At Athens, fol- 
lowing a similar custom, those 
who deserved the honour were 
supported in the Prytaneum at 
public expense. 

What think you of that, O 
Prince of to-day.^ Does not the 
wish rise within you to establish 
again this noble custom.^ 

Continuing Strabo's account of 
the Museum: he says a priest 
was appointed to manage its af- 
fairs, who was selefted by the 
kings or emperors. The position 
must have been of great dignity, 
and one which it was thought the 
emperor himself should fill. One 

Of Libraries 117 
may ask if the emperor did not 
appoint all the officials? Philo- 
stratus seems to imply that he 
did, when he says, speaking 
of Dionysius the sophist, "The 
Emperor Hadrian appointed him 
satrap or governor of many peo- 
ple, and named those who should 
receive public honours, and those 
also who should be maintained at 
public expense in the Museum." 
Again, speaking of Polemon, he 
says," Hadrian made him amem- 
ber of the Museum, where he 
lived at public expense/' Let me 
add that, though I have not so in- 
dicated in my translation, Philo- 
stratus uses in the phrase I have 
quoted a word meaning " circle,'* 
from which it would seem that 
members were admitted in a cer- 

1 18 A Brief History 
tain order and in proper turn, 
some even being chosen before 
any vacancy had occurred. These 
no doubt waited in confidence 
and entered in due course, in the 
orderof their appointment. A Hke 
custom prevails to-day among 
princes in conferring favours. 

Athenaeus throws light on this 
matter of appointments to the 
Museum by the emperor when 
he says that a certain poet. Pan- 
crates, very cleverly praised Ha- 
drian's favourite, Antinous, and 
that the emperor, delighted with 
the subtle flattery, ordered the 
poet to be supported free of ex- 
pense at the Museum. 

So much for the reports of 
Strabo and others on the Mu- 
seum and its management. 

Of Libraries 119 
Let me add that the inmates of 
the Museum by no means lived 
therein an idle and useless life 
( how could they, being men who 
were dedicated, as it were, to 
public service ? ) , but were dili- 
gent in writing, in arguing, and 
reciting their own works. Spar- 
tianus testifies to this in his re- 
mark about Hadrian, to the ef- 
fe6l that he propounded ques- 
tions to the savants in the Mu- 
seum at Alexandria, and in turn 
answered those they presented 
to him. 

Let me note that Suetonius says 
thatthe Emperor Claudius added 
a second Museum to the origi- 
nal one and ordered that certain 
books be read there every day, 

120 A Brief History 
I close, 
O Most Illustrious Ruler, 
with the wish that you, a de- 
scendant of great men and born 
to do great things, may long 
continue in that work, worthy of 
the highest praise, which you 
have already begun, — the work 
of encouraging the produftion 
of books and the cultivation of 
the liberal arts among men, and 
so make your name for all time 

Of Libraries 121 
To you, John Moretus, be- 
cause of the friendship which has 
bound together for now these 
many years you and our Plantin 
— alas, now no more! — and all 
his family and myself, — to you, 
I say, I entrust the printing and 
the publishing of this my Out- 
line OF THE History of Li- 
braries; to you and to no one 
else. And this my wish and will 
I thus declare in accordance with 
the law laid down by the great 
Emperor and the Kings. 




Edited by John Cotton Dana, Librarian of the 
Free Public Library ^ Neivark, Neiv Jersey; and 
Henry W. Kent, Librarian of the Grolicr Club^ 
New York City. 


Concerning the Duties and Qualifications of a Libra- 
rian (Des Devoirs et de Qualities du Bibliothecaire). 

2.DURY, JOHN (DURIE) (1596-1680). 
The Reformed Libraric-Kceper. London, 1650. 

j.KIRKWOOD, REV. JAMES (1650? -1708). 
An Overture for founding and maintaining of Biblio- 
thecks in every Paroch throughout this Kingdom. [Edin- 
burgh], 1699. 

4.BODLEY, SIR THOMAS (1545-1613). 
Life, written by himself, 1609 5 with his First Draught 
of the Statutes of the Public Library at Oxford. (From 
Reliquiae Bodleianae, 1703.) 

5.LIPSIUS, JUSTUS (1547-1606). 
Do Bibliothecis Syntagma. Antwerp, 1602. Translated 
into English for this series. 

6.NAUDE, GABRIEL (1600-1653). 
News from France ; or, A Description of the Library of 
Cardinal Mazarini (London, 1652), and, The Surrender of 
the Library of Cardinal Mazarin. 

250 copies on small paper, 6 -vols., $12.00 per set. 
25 copies on large paper, 6 vols., $25.00 per set. 



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