THE CARE OF BOOKS
London: C. J. CLAY AND SONS, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS WAREHOUSE, AVE MARIA LANE, Glasgow: 50, WELLINGTON STREET.
Leipzig: F. A. BROCKHAUS. New York: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. Bombay: E. SEYMOUR HALE.
[All Rights reserved.]
THE CARE OF BOOKS
An Essay on the Development of Libraries and their Fittings, from the earliest times to the end of the Eighteenth Century
JOHN WILLIS CLARK, M.A., F.S.A.
Registrary of the University and formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE at the University Press 1901
PRINTED BY J. AND C. F. CLAY, AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.
FRANCISCO AIDANO GASQUET MONACHO BENEDICTINO D.D. MAGISTRO DISCIPULUS
When engaged in editing and completing The Architectural History of the University and Colleges of Cambridge, I devoted much time and attention to the essay called The Library. The subject was entirely new; and the more I looked into it, the more convinced did I become that it would well repay fuller investigation than was then possible. For instance, I felt certain that the Customs affecting monastic libraries would, if one could only discover them, throw considerable light on collegiate statutes relating to the same subject.
The Architectural History having been published, I had leisure to study libraries from my new point of view; and, while thus engaged, I fortunately met with the admirable paper by Dom Gasquet which he modestly calls Some Notes on Medieval Monastic Libraries. This brief essay—it occupies only 20 pages—opened my eyes to the possibilities that lay before me, and I gladly place on record here the debt I owe to the historian to whom I have dedicated this book.
When I had the honour of delivering the Rede Lecture before the University of Cambridge in June 1894, I attempted a reconstruction of the monastic library, shewing its relationship, through its fittings, to the collegiate libraries of Oxford and Cambridge; and I was also able, following the example set by Dom Gasquet in the above-mentioned essay, to indicate the value of illuminated manuscripts as illustrating the life of a medieval student or scribe. In my lectures as Sandars Reader in Bibliography, delivered before the University of Cambridge in 1900, I developed the subject still further, extending the scope of my enquiries so as to include the libraries of Greece and Rome.
In writing my present book I have availed myself freely of the three works above mentioned. At the same time I have incorporated much fresh material; and I am glad to take this opportunity of stating, that, with the single exception of the Escorial, I have personally examined and measured every building which I have had occasion to describe; and many of the illustrations are from my own sketches.
I call my book an Essay, because I wish to indicate that it is only an attempt to deal, in a summary fashion, with an extremely wide and interesting subject—a subject, too, which might easily be subdivided into separate heads each capable of more elaborate treatment. For instance, with regard to libraries in Religious Houses, I hope to see a book written, dealing not merely with the way in which the books were cared for, but with the subjects most generally studied, as indicated to us by the catalogues which have survived.
A research such as I have had to undertake has naturally involved the co-operation of numerous librarians and others both in England and on the Continent. From all these officials I have experienced unfailing courtesy and kindness, and I beg them to accept this collective expression of my gratitude. To some, however, I am under such particular obligations, that I wish to mention them by name.
In the first place I have to thank my friends Dr Jackson of Trinity College, Dr Sandys of S. John's College, Dr James of King's College, and F. J. H. Jenkinson, M.A., University Librarian, for their kind help in reading proofs and making suggestions. Dr Sandys devoted much time to the revision of the first chapter. As my work deals largely with monastic institutions it is almost needless to say that I have consulted and received efficient help from my old friend W. H. St John Hope, M.A., Assistant Secretary to the Society of Antiquaries.
My researches in Rome were made easy to me by the unfailing kindness and ready help accorded on every occasion by Father C. J. Ehrle, S.J., Prefect of the Vatican Library. My best thanks are also due to Signor Rodolfo Lanciani, to Professor Petersen of the German Archeological Institute, Rome, and to Signor Guido Biagi of the Biblioteca Laurenziana, Florence. At Milan Monsignor Ceriani of the Ambrosian Library was so kind as to have the library photographed for my use.
The courteous officials who administer the great libraries of Paris with so much ability, have assisted me in all my researches. I wish specially to thank in this place M. Leopold Delisle and M. Leon Dorez of the Bibliotheque Nationale; M. A. Franklin of the Bibliotheque Mazarine; M. H. Martin of the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal; and M. A. Perate, Sous-Conservateur du Chateau de Versailles.
I have also to thank Senor Ricardo Velasquez for his beautiful elevation of the bookcases in the Escorial Library; Father J. van den Gheyn, S.J., of the Royal Library, Brussels, for his trouble in shewing me, and allowing me to have photographed, several MSS. from the library under his charge; my friends Mr T. G. Jackson, R.A., Architect, for lending me his section of Bishop Cobham's library at Oxford; E. W. B. Nicholson, M.A., Librarian, and Falconer Madan, M.A., Sub-Librarian, in the Bodleian Library, for information respecting the building and its contents; Mr F. E. Bickley of the British Museum for much help in finding and examining MSS.; and Lionel Cust, M.A., Director of the National Portrait Gallery, for general direction and encouragement.
Messrs Macmillan have allowed me to use three illustrations which appear in the first chapter; Mr Murray has given the same permission for the woodcut of the carrells at Gloucester; and Messrs Blades for the representation of James Leaver's book-press.
Lastly I wish to thank the staff of the University Press for using their best efforts to produce the work rapidly and well, and for many acts of personal kindness to myself.
JOHN WILLIS CLARK.
SCROOPE HOUSE, CAMBRIDGE, September 23rd, 1901.
Introduction. Assyrian Record-Rooms. Libraries in Greece, Alexandria, Pergamon, Rome. Their size, use, contents, and fittings. Armaria or presses. The Vatican Library of Sixtus V. a type of an ancient Roman library 1
Christian libraries connected with churches. Use of the apse. Monastic communities. S. Pachomius. S. Benedict and his successors. Each House had a library. Annual audit of books. Loan on security. Modes of protection. Curses. Prayers for donors. Endowment of libraries. Use of the cloister. Development of Cistercian book-room. Common press. Carrells 61
Increase of monastic collections. S. Riquier, Bobbio, Durham, Canterbury. Books kept in other places than the cloister. Expedients for housing them at Durham, Citeaux, and elsewhere. Separate libraries built in fifteenth century at Durham, S. Albans, Citeaux, Clairvaux, etc. Gradual extension of library at S. Germain des Pres. Libraries attached to Cathedrals. Lincoln, Salisbury, Wells, Noyon, Rouen, etc. 101
The fittings of monastic libraries and of collegiate libraries probably identical. Analysis of some library-statutes. Monastic influence at the Universities. Number of books owned by Colleges. The collegiate library. Bishop Cobham's library at Oxford. Library at Queens' College, Cambridge. At Zutphen. The lectern-system. Chaining of books. Further examples and illustrations 131
Recapitulation. Invention of the stall-system. Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, taken as a type. System of chaining in Hereford Cathedral. Libraries of Merton College, Oxford, and Clare College, Cambridge. The stall-system copied at Westminster Abbey, Wells, and Durham Cathedrals. This system possibly monastic. Libraries at Canterbury, Dover Priory, Clairvaux 171
The lectern-system in Italy. Libraries at Cesena, at the Convent of S. Mark, Florence, and at Monte Oliveto. Vatican Library of Sixtus IV. Ducal Library at Urbino. Medicean Library, Florence. System of chaining there used. Characteristics of medieval libraries 199
Contrast between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Suppression of the Monasteries. Commissioners of Edward VI. Subsequent changes in library fittings. S. John's College, and University Library, Cambridge. Queen's College, Oxford. Libraries attached to churches and schools. Chaining in recent times. Chains taken off 245
The wall-system. This began on the Continent. Library of the Escorial. Ambrosian Library at Milan. Library of Cardinal Mazarin. Bodleian Library at Oxford. Works and influence of Wren. French conventual libraries of the seventeenth century 267
Private libraries. Abbat Simon and his book-chest. Library of Charles V. of France. Illustrations of this library from illuminated manuscripts. Book-lectern used in private houses. Book-desks revolving round a central screw. Desks attached to chairs. Wall-cupboards. A scholar's room in the fifteenth century. Study of the Duke of Urbino. Library of Margaret of Austria. Library of Montaigne. Conclusion 291
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
1. Plan of the Record-Rooms in the Palace of Assur-bani-pal, King of Nineveh 2
2. Plan of the temple and precinct of Athena, Pergamon; with that of the Library and adjacent buildings 9
3. Plan of the Porticus Octaviae, Rome. From Formae Urbis Romae Antiguae, Berlin, 1896 13
4. Plan of the Forum of Trajan; after Nibby. From Middleton's Remains of Ancient Rome 15
5. Plan of the Stoa of Hadrian, at Athens. From Miss Harrison's Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens 17
6. Elevation of a single compartment of the wall of the Library discovered in Rome, 1883. From notes and measurements made by Signor Lanciani and Prof. Middleton 23
7. Plan of the Record-House of Vespasian, with the adjoining structures. From Middleton's Remains of Ancient Rome 26
8. Part of the internal wall of the Record-House of Vespasian. Reduced from a sketch taken in the 16th century by Pirro Ligorio. From Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 26
9. A reader with a roll: from a fresco at Pompeii 28
10. Book-box or capsa 30
11. A Roman taking down a roll from its place in a Library 35
12. Desk to support a roll while it is being read 36
13. A Roman reading a roll in front of a press (armarium). From a photograph of a sarcophagus in the garden of the Villa Balestra, Rome To face 38
14. Press containing the four Gospels. From a mosaic above the tomb of the Empress Galla Placidia at Ravenna 39
15. Ezra writing the Law. Frontispiece to the Codex Amiatinus. In the background is a press with open doors. The picture was probably drawn in the middle of the sixth century A.D. Frontispiece
16. Great Hall of the Vatican Library, looking west To face 47
17. A single press in the Vatican Library, open. From a photograph To face 48
18. Rough ground-plan of the Great Hall of the Vatican Library, to illustrate the account of the decoration To face 60
19. Press in the cloister at the Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova 83
20. Ground-plan and elevation of the book-recesses in the cloister of Worcester Cathedral 84
21. Ground-plan of part of the Abbey of Fossa Nuova. To shew the book-room and book-press, and their relations to adjoining structures: partly from Enlart's Origines Francaises de l'Architecture Gothique en Italie, partly from my own measurements 85
22. Ground-plan of part of Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire 86
23. Ground-plan of part of Furness Abbey. From Mr W. H. St J. Hope's plan 88
24. Arches in south wall of Church at Beaulieu Abbey, Hampshire, once possibly used as book-presses To face 89
25. The cloister, Westminster Abbey. From Mr Micklethwaite's plan of the buildings 91
26. Part of the ancient press in Bayeux Cathedral, called Le Chartrier de Bayeux. From a photograph To face 94
27. Press in the church at Obazine, Central France. From a photograph To face 95
28. Ground-plan of one of the windows in the cloister of Durham Cathedral 96
29. Range of carrells in the south cloister at Gloucester Cathedral. From Mr Murray's Handbook to the Western Cathedrals 97
30. A single carrell, Gloucester Cathedral To face 98
31. Library at Durham, built by Prior Wessyngton about 1446 107
32. Library of the Grey Friars House, London, commonly called Christ's Hospital. From Trollope's History of Christ's Hospital To face 109
33. Bird's-eye view of part of the Monastery of Citeaux. From a drawing dated 1718 110
34. Ground-plan of part of the Monastery of Citeaux. From a plan dated 1718 111
35. Ground-plan of the Library at Citeaux 111
36. Part of the Abbey of S. Germain des Pres, Paris. From a print dated 1687; reproduced in Les Anciennes Bibliotheques de Paris, par Alf. Franklin, Vol. I. p. 126 115
37. Part of the Abbey of S. Germain des Pres, Paris. From a print in Histoire de l'Abbaye Royale de Saint Germain des Prez, par Dom Jacques Bouillart, fol. Paris, 1724, lettered "l'Abbaye ... telle qu'elle est presentement" 116
38. Plan of the Old Library, Lincoln Cathedral 119
39. Interior of the Old Library, Lincoln Cathedral To face 118
40. Plan of the Cloister, etc., Lincoln Cathedral 120
41. Exterior of the Library at Salisbury Cathedral, looking north-east To face 122
42. Plan of the Library in Wells Cathedral 122
43. Plan of the Library at Lichfield Cathedral. From History and Antiquities of Staffordshire, by Stebbing Shaw, fol. Lond. 1798, Vol. II. P. 244 123
44. Chapter-Library at Noyon, France To face 124
45. A single pillar of the cloister beneath the Chapter-Library at Noyon. 125
46. Plan of the Library at the south-east angle of the south transept of the Cathedral at Troyes 126
47. Interior of the Cour des Libraires, Rouen, shewing the gate of entrance from the street, and the Library To face 130
48. Pembroke College, Cambridge, reduced from Loggan's print, taken about 1688 149
49. Long Section of Old Congregation House and Library, Oxford, looking south. From The Church of S. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, by T. G. Jackson, Architect 150
50. Ground-plan of the Library at Queens' College, Cambridge 152
51. Elevation of book-desk in Library of Queens' College, Cambridge 152
52. Ground-plan of the Library at Zutphen 154
53. General view of the north side of the Library attached to the church of S. Walburga at Zutphen To face 155
54. Desk and reader on the south side of the Library at Zutphen. From a photograph 155
55. Elevations of (A) one of the bookcases in the Library at Zutphen; (B) one of those in the Library at Queens' College, Cambridge 156
56. End of iron bar: Zutphen 156
57. End of one of the desks on the north side of the Library: Zutphen. 157
58. Piece of chain, shewing the ring attached to the bar, the swivel, and one of the links, actual size: Guildford 158
59. Piece of the iron bar, with chain: Zutphen 159
60. Chained book, from a Dominican House at Bamberg, South Germany 159
61. Single desk in the Old Library: Lincoln Cathedral 161
62. Elevations of (A) one of the bookcases in the Library at Zutphen; (B) one of those in the Library at Queens' College, Cambridge; (C) one of those in the Library of Lincoln Cathedral 163
63. Interior of a Library. From a MS. of a French translation of the first book of the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, written in Flanders towards the end of the fifteenth century 164
64. Library of the College de Navarre, Paris, now destroyed To face 165
65. General view of the Library at Trinity Hall, Cambridge To face 169
66. Elevation of a book-desk and seat in the Library of Trinity Hall, Cambridge 168
67. Lock at end of book-desk: Trinity Hall 169
68. A French Library of 1480. From MS. 164 in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge To face 169
69. The interior of the Library of the University of Leyden. From a print by Jan Cornelis Woudanus, dated 1610 To follow 170
70. Bookcases and seat in the Library at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. From a photograph taken in 1894 To face 173
71. Elevation of one bookcase in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford 173
72. Bookcase in the Chapter Library, Hereford Cathedral. From a sketch taken in 1876 175
73. Part of a bookcase in the Chapter Library, Hereford To face 175
74. Part of a single volume, shewing the clasp, the ring for the chain, and the mode of attaching it: Hereford 175
75. A single volume, standing on the shelf, with the chain attached to the iron bar: Hereford 176
76. Iron bar and socket, closed to prevent removal of the bar: Hereford 176
77. Iron bar, with part of the iron plate or hasp which is secured by the lock and keeps the bar in place: Hereford 177
78. Piece of chain, shewing the swivel: Hereford 178
79. Hook to hold up the desk: Bodleian Library, Oxford 179
80. Exterior of the Library at Merton College, Oxford, as seen from 'Mob Quadrangle.' From a photograph by H. W. Taunt, 1899 To face 179
81. Ground-plan of the Library at Merton College, Oxford 180
82. Interior of the West Library at Merton College, Oxford. From a photograph by H. W. Taunt, 1899 To face 181
83. Bookcase in the West Library of Merton College, Oxford. From a photograph by H. W. Taunt, 1899 To face 181
84. Elevation of a bookcase and seat in the West Library at Merton College, Oxford. Measured and drawn by T. D. Atkinson, Architect 182
85. Stall-end in the Library of Clare College, Cambridge 187
86. Ring for attachment of chain, Wells 189
87. Bookcases in the Library of Durham Cathedral. From a photograph To face 189
88. Conjectural plan of the Library over the Prior's Chapel at Christ Church, Canterbury 191
89. Sketch of the probable appearance of a bookcase, and a reader's seat, in the Library at Christ Church, Canterbury 193
90, 91. Ground-plan and section of Library at Cesena 200
92. General view of the Library at Cesena. From a photograph To face 201
93. Bookcases at west end of south side of Library, Cesena 201
94. Part of a bookcase, at Cesena to shew the system of chaining 202
95. Piece of a chain, Cesena 203
96. Chained book at Ghent 204
97. Ground-plan of part of the Vatican Palace, shewing the building of Nicholas V., as arranged for library purposes by Sixtus IV., and its relation to the surrounding structures. From Letarouilly, Le Vatican, fol. Paris, 1882, as reproduced by M. Fabre 210
98. Ground-plan of the rooms in the Vatican Palace fitted up for library-purpose by Sixtus IV To follow 208
99. Interior of the Library of Sixtus IV., as shewn in a fresco in the Ospedale di Santo Spirito, Rome. From a photograph taken by Danesi To face 225
100. The library-settles (spalliere) once used in the Vatican Library of Sixtus IV., and now in the Appartamento Borgia. From a photograph To face 228
101. Bookcases in the Medicean Library, Florence 235
102. Copy, slightly reduced, of a sketch by Michelangelo for one of the bookcases in the Medicean Library, Florence 236
103. Elevation of desks at Cesena 237
104. Elevation of desks in the Medicean Library: Florence 237
105. A book in the Medicean Library, to shew attachment of chain 238
106. Piece of chain in the Medicean Library, of the actual size 238
107. Diagram to explain the ironwork at the Medicean Library 239
108. Outline of bolt forming part of ironwork 239
109. West oriel of the Library at S. John's College, Cambridge 249
110. Bookcases in the Library of S. John's College, Cambridge 250
111. Bookcases in the Library of Peterhouse, Cambridge 252
112. Bookcases in the south room of the University Library, Cambridge. To face 253
113. Bookcase in the old Library of King's College, Cambridge, made with the bequest of Nicholas Hobart, 1659 255
114. Ground-plan of Library, Grantham, Lincolnshire 257
115. Ring and link of chain: Wimborne Minster 261
116. Bookpress in the school at Bolton, Lancashire. From Bibliographical Miscellanies by William Blades To face 264
117. General view of the Library of the Escorial, looking north To face 269
118. Bookcases in the Library of the Escorial on an enlarged scale 268
119. Elevation of a bookcase, and section of a desk, in the Library of the Escorial 270
120. Ground-plan of the Ambrosian Library at Milan 271
121. Interior of the Ambrosian Library at Milan. From a photograph taken in 1899 To face 271
122. Bookcases, in the Bibliotheque Mazarine, Paris. From a photograph by Dujardin, 1898 To face 273
123. Elevation of a bookcase and section of a desk in the Bibliotheque Mazarine, Paris 274
124. A portion of the bookcases set up in the eastern wing of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, built 1610-1612. From Loggan's Oxonia Illustrata, 1675 275
125. Entrance to Wren's Library at Lincoln Cathedral, with part of the bookcase which lines the north wall To face 277
126. Part of Wren's elevation of the east side of the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, with a section of the north range of Nevile's Court, shewing the door to the Library from the first floor 278
127. Elevation of one bay on the east side of the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, drawn to scale from the existing building 279
128. Interior of the north-east corner of the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge, shewing the bookcases, table, desk and stools, as designed by Sir Christopher Wren 281
129. Ground-plan of Library and adjacent parts of S. Paul's Cathedral, London. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren 283
130. Sir Christopher Wren's Library at S. Paul's Cathedral, London, looking north-east To face 282
131. Bookcase in the north room of the University Library, Cambridge, designed by James Essex, 1731-1734 286
132. Interior of the Library of the Jesuits at Rheims, now the Lingerie de l'Hopital General To face 287
133. Ground-plan of the Library of the Jesuits at Rheims 288
134. Simon, Abbat of S. Albans (1167-1183), seated at his book-chest. From MSS. Cotton 293
135. Two men in a library. From a MS. of Les cas des malheureux nobles hommes et femmes in the British Museum 295
136. A Carmelite in his study. From a MS. of Le Miroir Historial in the British Museum To face 296
137. Three musicians in a Library. From a MS. of a French translation of Valerius Maximus, in the British Museum 297
138. A bibliomaniac at his desk. From the Ship of Fools 298
139. S. John writing his Gospel. From a MS. Hours in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge 303
140. S. Jerome writing. From an oil painting by Benedetto Bonfigli, in the Church of S. Peter at Perugia To face 304
141. Circular book-desk. From a MS. of Fais et Gestes du Roi Alexandre, in the British Museum 304
142. S. Luke writing his Gospel. From the Dunois Horae, a MS. in the possession of H. Y. Thompson, Esq. 305
143. A lady seated in her chair reading. From a MS. written in France, early in the fifteenth century 306
144. Screw-desk. From a fifteenth century MS. in the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Paris 307
145. Hexagonal desk, with central spike, probably for a candle. From a French MS. of Le Miroir Historial 307
146. A lecturer addressing an audience. From a MS. of Livre des cas des malheureux nobles hommes et femmes, written in France at end of fifteenth century To face 308
147. S. Mark writing his Gospel. From a MS. Hours written in France in the fifteenth century 309
148. The author of The Chronicles of Hainault in his study (1446) To face 309
149. S. Jerome in his study. From Les Miracles de Nostre Dame, written at the Hague in 1456 To face 310
150. A writer with his desk and table. From a MS. of Le Livre des Proprietes des Choses in the British Museum To face 309
151. S. Luke writing his Gospel. MSS. Douce, Bodl. Lib. Oxf., No. 381 311
152. S. Augustine at his desk. From a painting by Fra Filippo Lippi at Florence 312
153. S. Jerome reading. From an oil painting by Catena, in the National Gallery, London To face 313
154. A writer at work. From a French translation of Valerius Maximus, written and illuminated in Flanders in 1479, for King Edward IV. To face 313
155. A scholar's room in the fifteenth century. From a MS. in the Royal Library at Brussels To face 314
156. Dean Boys in his Library, 1622 317
THE CARE OF BOOKS.
INTRODUCTION. ASSYRIAN RECORD-ROOMS. LIBRARIES IN GREECE, ALEXANDRIA, PERGAMON, ROME. THEIR SIZE, USE, CONTEXTS, AND FITTINGS. ARMARIA OR PRESSES. THE VATICAN LIBRARY OF SIXTUS V. A TYPE OF AN ANCIENT ROMAN LIBRARY.
I propose, in the following Essay, to trace the methods adopted by man in different ages and countries to preserve, to use, and to make accessible to others, those objects, of whatever material, on which he has recorded his thoughts. In this investigation I shall include the position, the size, and the arrangement, of the rooms in which these treasures were deposited, with the progressive development of fittings, catalogues, and other appliances, whether defensive, or to facilitate use. But, though I shall have to trace out these matters in some detail, I shall try to eschew mere antiquarianism, and to impart human interest, so far as possible, to a research which might otherwise exhaust the patience of my readers. Bibliography, it must be understood, will be wholly excluded. From my special point of view books are simply things to be taken care of: even their external features concern me only so far as they modify the methods adopted for arrangement and preservation. I must dismiss the subject-matter of the volumes which filled the libraries of former days with a brevity of which I deeply regret the necessity. I shall point out the pains taken to sort the books under various comprehensive heads; but I shall not enumerate the authors which fall under this or that division.
The earliest repositories of books were connected with temples or palaces, either because priests under all civilisations have been par excellence the learned class, while despots have patronised art and literature; or because such a position was thought to offer greater security.
I will begin with Assyria, where the record-rooms, or we might almost say the library, in the palace of Assur-bani-pal, King of Nineveh, were discovered by Mr Layard in 1850 at Kouyunjik, on the Tigris, opposite Mosul. The plan (fig. 1), taken from Mr Layard's work, will shew, better than a long description, the position of these rooms, and their relation to the rest of the building—which is believed to date from about 700 B.C. The long passage (No. XLIX) is one of the entrances to the palace. Passing thence along the narrower passage (No. XLII) the explorers soon reached a doorway (E), which led them into a large hall (No. XXIX), whence a second doorway (F) brought them into a chamber (No. XXXVIII). On the north side of this room were two doorways (G. G), each "formed by two colossal bas-reliefs of Dagon, the fish-god." "The first doorway," says Mr Layard, "guarded by the fish-gods, led into two small chambers opening into each other, and once panelled with bas-reliefs, the greater part of which had been destroyed. I shall call these chambers 'the chambers of records,' for, like 'the house of the rolls' or records, which Darius ordered to be searched for the decree of Cyrus concerning the building of the Temple of Jerusalem, they appear to have contained the decrees of the Assyrian kings, as well as the archives of the empire."
Mr Layard was led to this conclusion by finding, in these rooms, enormous quantities of inscribed tablets and cylinders of baked clay. "To a height of a foot or more from the floor they were entirely filled with them; some entire, but the greater part broken into many fragments, probably by the falling in of the upper part of the building.... These documents appear to be of various kinds. Many are historical records of wars, and distant expeditions undertaken by the Assyrians; some seem to be royal decrees, and are stamped with the name of a king, the son of Esarhaddon; others again ... contain lists of the gods, and probably a register of offerings made in their temples."
So far Mr Layard. Subsequent researches have shewn that these two small rooms—they were 27 feet and 23 feet long respectively, with a uniform breadth of 20 feet—contained the literature as well as the official documents of Assyria. The tablets have been sorted under the following heads: History; Law; Science; Magic; Dogma; Legends: and it has been shewn (1) that there was a special functionary to take charge of them; (2) that they were arranged in series, with special precautions for keeping the tablets forming a particular series in their proper sequence; (3) that there was a general catalogue, and probably a class-catalogue as well.
Excavations in other parts of Assyria have added valuable information to Layard's first discovery. Dr Wallis Budge, of the British Museum, whom I have to thank for much kind assistance, tells me that "Kouyunjik is hardly a good example of a Mesopotamian library, for it is certain that the tablets were thrown about out of their proper places when the city was captured by the Medes about B.C. 609. The tablets were kept on shelves.... When I was digging at Derr some years ago we found the what I call 'Record Chamber,' and we saw the tablets lying in situ on slate shelves. There were, however, not many literary tablets there, for the chamber was meant to hold the commercial documents relating to the local temple...." Dr Budge concludes his letter with this very important sentence: "We have no definite proof of what I am going to say now, but I believe that the bilingual lists, which Assur-bani-pal had drawn up for his library at Nineveh, were intended 'for the use of students.'"
To this suggestion I would add the following. Does not the position of these two rooms, easily accessible from the entrance to the palace, shew that their contents might be consulted by persons who were denied admission to the more private apartments? And further, does not the presence of the god Dagon at the entrance indicate that the library was under the protection of the deity as well as of the sovereign?
As a pendant to these Assyrian discoveries I may mention the vague rumour echoed by Athenaeus of extensive libraries collected in the sixth century before our era by Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, and Peisistratus, tyrant of Athens, the latter collection, according to Aulus Gellius, having been accessible to all who cared to use it. It must be admitted that these stories are of doubtful authenticity; and further, that we have no details of the way in which books were cared for in Greece during the golden age of her literature. This dearth of information is the more tantalizing as it is obvious that private libraries must have existed in a city so cultivated as Athens; and we do, in fact, find a few notices which tell us that such was the case. Xenophon, for instance, speaks of the number of volumes in the possession of Euthydemus, a follower of Socrates; and Athenaeus records, in the passage to which I have already alluded, the names of several book-collectors, among whom are Euripides and Aristotle.
An allusion to the poet's bibliographical tastes has been detected in the scene of The Frogs of Aristophanes, where AEschylus and Euripides are weighing verses against each other in the presence of Dionysus. AEschylus exclaims:
[Greek: kai meket' emoige kat' epos, all' es ton stathmon autos ta paidi', he gyne, kephisophon, embas kathestho syllabon ta biblia, ego de dy' epe ton emon ero monon.]
Come, no more single lines—let him bring all, His wife, his children, his Cephisophon, His books and everything, himself to boot— I'll counterpoise them with a couple of lines.
With regard to Aristotle Strabo has preserved a tradition that he "was the first who made a collection of books, and taught the kings of Egypt how to arrange a library"—words which may be taken to mean that Aristotle was the first to work out the arrangement of books on a definite system which was afterwards adopted by the Ptolemies at Alexandria.
These notices are extremely disappointing. They merely serve to shew that collections of books did exist in Greece; but they give us no indication of either their extent or their arrangement. It was left to the Emperor Hadrian to build the first public library at Athens, to which, as it was naturally constructed on a Roman design, I shall return after I have described those from which it was in all probability imitated.
But, if what may be termed Greece in Europe declines to give us information, that other Greece which extended itself to Asia Minor and to Egypt—Greater Greece it would be called in modern times—supplies us with a type of library-organisation which has been of far-reaching influence.
After the death of Alexander the Great (B.C. 323) a Greek dynasty, that of the Ptolemies, established itself at Alexandria, and another Greek dynasty at Pergamon. Both were distinguished—like Italian despots of the Renaissance—for the splendour and the culture of their courts, and they rivalled one another in the extent and richness of their libraries; but, if we are to believe Strabo, the library at Pergamon was not begun until the reign of Eumenes II. (B.C. 197-159), or 126 years after that at Alexandria.
The libraries at Alexandria (for there were two)—though far more celebrated and more extensive than the library at Pergamon—need not, from my point of view, detain us for more than a moment, for we are told very little about their position, and nothing about their arrangement. The site of the earliest, the foundation of which is ascribed to Ptolemy the Second (B.C. 285-247), must undoubtedly be sought for within the circuit of the royal palace, which was in the fashionable quarter of the city called Brucheion. This palace was a vast enceinte, not a separate building, and, as Strabo, who visited Alexandria 24 B.C., says,
Within the precincts of the palace is the Museum. It has a colonnade, a lecture-room, and a vast establishment where the men of letters who share the use of the Museum take their meals together. This College has a common revenue; and is managed by a priest who is over the Museum, an officer formerly appointed by the kings of Egypt, but, at the present time, by the Emperor.
That the older of the two libraries must have been in some way connected with these buildings seems to me certain from two considerations. First, a ruler who took so keen an interest in books as Ptolemy, would assuredly have kept his treasures under his own eye; and, secondly, he would hardly have placed them at a distance from the spot where the learned men of Alexandria held their meetings.
At some period subsequent to the foundation of Ptolemy's first library, a second, called the daughter of the first, was established in connexion with the Temple of Serapis, a magnificent structure in the quarter Rhacotis, adorned so lavishly with colonnades, statuary, and other architectural enrichments, that the historian Ammianus Marcellinus declares that nothing in the world could equal it, except the Roman Capitol.
This brief notice of the libraries of Alexandria shews that the earlier of the two, besides being in a building dedicated to the Muses, was also connected in all probability with a palace, and the second with a temple. If we now turn to Pergamon, we shall find the library associated with the temple and [Greek: temenos] of Athena.
The founder selected for the site of his city a lofty and precipitous hill, about a thousand feet above the sea-level. The rocky plateau which forms the summit is divided into three gigantic steps or terraces. On the highest, which occupies the northern end of the hill, the royal palace is believed to have been built. On the next terrace, to the south, was the temple of Athena; and on the third, the altar of Zeus. External to those three groups of buildings, partly on the edge of the hill, partly on its sides, were the rest of the public buildings. The lower slopes were probably occupied in ancient times, as at present, by the houses of the citizens.
These magnificent structures, which won for Pergamon the distinction of being "by far the noblest city in Asia minor," were in the main due to Eumenes the Second, who, during his reign of nearly forty years (B.C. 197-159), was enabled, by the wise policy of supporting the Romans, to transform his petty state into a powerful monarchy. The construction of a library is especially referred to him by Strabo, and from the statement of Vitruvius that it was built for the delight of the world at large (in communem delectationem), we may infer that it was intended to be public. That he was an energetic book-collector, under whose direction a large staff of scribes was perpetually at work, may be gathered from the well-known story that his bibliographical rival at Alexandria, exasperated by his activity and success, conceived the ingenious device of crippling his endeavours by forbidding the exportation of papyrus. Eumenes, however, says the chronicler, was equal to the occasion, and defeated the scheme by inventing parchment. It is probable that Eumenes not only began but completed the library, for in less than a quarter of a century after his death (B.C. 133) the last of his descendants bequeathed the city and state of Pergamon to the Romans. It is improbable that they would do much to increase the library, though they evidently took care of it, for ninety years later, when Mark Antony is said to have given it to Cleopatra, the number of works in it amounted to two hundred thousand.
The site of the acropolis of Pergamon was thoroughly explored between 1878 and 1886 at the expense of the German Government; and in the course of their researches the archeologists employed discovered certain rooms which they believe to have been originally appropriated to the library. I have had the accompanying ground-plan (fig. 2) reduced from one of their plates, and have condensed my description of the locality from that given in their work. I have also derived much valuable information from a paper published by Alexander Conze in 1884.
Of the temple of Athena only the foundations remain, but its extent and position can be readily ascertained. The enclosure, paved with slabs of marble, was entered at the south-east corner. It was open to the west and to the south, where the ground falls away precipitously, but on the east and north it was bounded by a cloister in two floors. The pillars of this cloister were Doric on the ground-floor, Ionic above. The height of those in the lower range, measured from base to top of capital, was about 16 feet, of those in the upper range about 9 feet.
This enclosure had a mean length of about 240 feet, with a mean breadth of 162 feet. The north cloister was 37 feet broad, and was divided down the centre by a row of columns. The east cloister was of about half this width, and was undivided.
On the north side of the north cloister, the German explorers found four rooms, which they believe to have been assigned to library purposes. The platform of rock on which these chambers stood was nearly 20 feet above the level of the floor of the enclosure, and they could only be entered from the upper cloister. Of these rooms the easternmost is the largest, being 42 feet long, by 49 feet broad. Westward of it are three others, somewhat narrower, having a uniform width of 39 feet. The easternmost of these three rooms is also the smallest, being only 23 feet long; while the two next have a uniform length of about 33 feet.
At the south-west corner of this building, but on a lower level, and not accessible from it, other rooms were found, the use of which is uncertain.
We will now return to the eastern room. The foundations of a narrow platform or bench extended along the eastern, northern, and western sides, and in the centre of the northern side there was a mass of stone-work which had evidently formed the base for a statue (fig. 2, A). The discovery of a torso of a statue of Athena in this very room indicated what statue had occupied this commanding position, and also what had probably been the use of the room.
This theory was confirmed by the discovery in the north wall of two rows of holes in the stone-work, one above the other, which had evidently been made for the reception of brackets, or battens, or other supports for shelves, or some piece of furniture. The lower of these two rows was carried along the east wall as well as along the north wall. Further, stones were found bearing the names of Herodotus, Alcaeus, Timotheus of Miletus, and Homer, evidently the designations of portrait-busts or portrait-medallions; and also, two titles of comedies.
Lastly, the very position of these rooms in connexion with the colonnade indicates their use. It will be observed that the colonnade on the north side of the area is twice as wide as that on the east side—a peculiarity which is sufficient of itself to prove that it must have been intended for some other purpose than as a mere covered way. But, if it be remembered that libraries in the ancient world were usually connected with colonnades (as was probably the case at the Serapeum at Alexandria, and was certainly the case at Rome, as I shall proceed to shew) a reason is found for this dignified construction, and a strong confirmation is afforded for the theory that the rooms beyond it once contained the famous library.
When the Romans had taken possession of Pergamon, those who had charge of the city would become familiar with the library; and it seems to me almost certain that, when the necessity for establishing a public library at Rome had been recognised, the splendid structure at Pergamon would be turned to as a model. But, if I mistake not, Roman architecture had received an influence from Pergamon long before this event occurred. What this was I will mention presently.
No public library was established in Rome until the reign of Augustus. Julius Caesar had intended to build one on the largest possible scale, and had gone so far as to commission Varro to collect books for it; but it was reserved for C. Asinius Pollio, general, lawyer, orator, poet, the friend of Virgil and Horace, to devote to this purpose the spoils he had obtained in his Illyrian campaign, B.C. 39. In the striking words of Pliny "he was the first to make men's talents public property (ingenia hominum rem publicam fecit)" The same writer tells us that he also introduced the fashion of decorating libraries with busts of departed authors, and that Varro was the only living writer whose portrait was admitted. Pollio is further credited, by Suetonius, with having built an atrium libertatis, in which Isidore, a writer of the seventh century, probably quoting a lost work of Suetonius, places the library, with the additional information, that the collection contained Greek as well as Latin books.
The work of Pollio is recorded among the acts of generosity which Augustus suggested to others. But before long the emperor turned his own attention to libraries, and enriched his capital with two splendid structures which may be taken as types of Roman libraries,—the library of Apollo on the Palatine Hill, and that in the Campus Martius called after Octavia, sister to the emperor. I will take the latter first.
The Porticus Octaviae, or, as it was sometimes called, the Opera Octaviae, must have been one of the most magnificent structures in Rome (fig. 3). It stood in the Campus Martius, near the Theatre of Marcellus, between the Capitoline Hill and the Tiber. A double colonnade surrounded an area which measured 443 feet by 377 feet, with Jani, or four-faced archways, at the four corners, and on the side next the Tiber a double hexastyle porch, which, with a few fragments of the colonnade, still exists in a fairly good state of preservation. Within this space were two temples, one of Jupiter, the other of Juno, a curia or hall, in which the Senate frequently met, a schola or "Conversation Hall," and two libraries, the one of Greek, the other of Latin books. The area and buildings were crowded with masterpieces in bronze and marble.
This structure was originally built by Quintus Metellus, about 146 B.C.. One of the temples was due to his own liberality, the other had been erected by Domitius Lepidus, B.C. 179. Now twenty years before, Metellus had fought in a successful campaign against Perseus king of Macedonia, in which the Romans had been assisted by Eumenes II.: and in B.C. 148, as Praetor, he received Macedonia as his province. Is it not possible that on one or other of these occasions he may have visited Pergamon, and, when designing his buildings in Rome, have copied what he had seen there? Again, in B.C. 157, Crates of Mallus, a distinguished grammarian, was sent from Pergamon as ambassador to Rome, and, being laid up there by an accident, gave lectures on grammar, in the course of which he could hardly have failed to mention the new library.
The buildings of Metellus were altered, if not entirely rebuilt, by Augustus, B.C. 33, out of the proceeds of his victorious campaign against the Dalmatians; with the additional structures above enumerated. The schola is believed to have stood behind the temples, and the libraries behind the schola, with the curia between them. Thus the colonnades, which Metellus had restricted to the two temples, came at last to serve the double purpose for which they were originally intended in connexion with a library as well as with a temple.
The temple and area of Apollo on the Palatine Hill, which Augustus began B.C. 36 and dedicated B.C. 28, exhibit an arrangement precisely similar to that of the Porticus Octaviae. The size was nearly the same, and the structures included in the area were intended to serve the same purposes. The temple stood in the middle of a large open peristyle, connected with which were two libraries, one for Greek, the other for Latin books; and between them, used perhaps as a reading-room or vestibule, was a hall in which Augustus occasionally convened the Senate. It contained a colossal statue of Apollo, made of gilt bronze; and on its walls were portrait-reliefs of celebrated writers, in the form of medallions, in the same material.
Of the other public libraries of Rome—of which there are said to have been in all twenty-six—I need mention only three as possessing some peculiarity to which I shall have to draw attention. Of these the first was established by Tiberius in his palace, at no great distance from the library of Apollo; the second and third by Vespasian and Trajan in their Fora, connected in the one with the temple of Peace, and in the other with the temple dedicated in honour of Trajan himself.
Of the first two of these libraries we have no information; but in the case of the third we are more fortunate. The Forum of Trajan (fig. 4) was excavated by order of Napoleon I., and the extent of its buildings, with their relation to one another, is therefore known with approximate accuracy. The Greek and Latin libraries stood to the right and left of the small court between the Basilica Ulpia and the Templum Divi Trajani, the centre of which was marked by the existing Column. They were entered from this court, each through a portico of five inter-columniations. The rooms, measured internally, were about 60 feet long, by 45 feet broad.
At this point I must mention, parenthetically, the library built by Hadrian at Athens. Pausanias records it in the following passage:
Hadrian also built for the Athenians a temple of Hera and Panhellenian Zeus, and a sanctuary common to all the gods. But most splendid of all are one hundred columns; walls and colonnades alike are made of Phrygian marble. Here, too, is a building adorned with a gilded roof and alabaster and also with statues and paintings: books are stored in it. There is also a gymnasium named after Hadrian; it too has one hundred columns from the quarries of Libya.
A building called the Stoa of Hadrian, a ground-plan of which (fig. 5) I borrow from Miss Harrison's Mythology and Monuments of Ancient Athens, has been identified with part at least of that which Pausanias describes in the above passage. A lofty wall, built of large square blocks of Pentelic marble, faced on the west side by a row of Corinthian columns, enclosed a quadrangular court, measuring 328 feet from east to west, by 250 feet from north to south. This court, entered through a sort of propylaea on the west side (N), was surrounded by a cloister or colonnade 27 feet wide, and containing 100 columns. None of those columns are standing, but their number can be accurately calculated from the marks of the bases still to be seen on the eastern side of the quadrangle.
Within this area are the remains of a building of uncertain use, and at present only partially excavated.
On the east side a row of five chambers, of which that in the centre was the largest, opened off from the colonnade.
If the ground plan of this structure (fig. 5) be compared with that of the precinct of Athena and library at Pergamon (fig. 2), a striking similarity between them will at once be recognised; and, whatever may have been the destination of the building within the cloistered area, there can, I think, be little doubt that the library was contained in the five rooms beyond its limits to the east. They must have been entered from the cloister, much as those at Pergamon were. It is possible that Hadrian may himself have visited Pergamon, for Trajan had built an imperial residence there; but, even if he did not do this, he would accept the type from the great libraries built at Rome by Augustus. It should be mentioned that S. Jerome specially commemorates this library among Hadrian's works at Athens, and says that it was of remarkable construction (miri operis).
From this brief digression I return to the public libraries of Rome. In the first place those built by Augustus had a regular organisation. There appears to have been a general director called Procurator Bibliothecarum Augusti; and subordinate officers for each division: that is to say, one for the Greek books, one for the Latin books. These facts are derived from inscriptions found in Columbaria. Secondly, it may be concluded that they were used not merely for reading and reference, but as meeting-places for literary men.
The Palatine libraries evidently contained a large collection of old and new books; and I think it is quite certain that new books, as soon as published, were placed there, unless there was some special reason to the contrary. Otherwise there would be no point in the lines in which Ovid makes his book—sent from Pontus after his banishment—deplore its exclusion. The book is supposed to climb from the Forum to the temple of Apollo:
Signa peregrinis ubi sunt alterna columnis Belides et stricto barbarus ense pater Quaeque viri docto veteres coepere novique Pectore lecturis inspicienda patent. Quaerebam fratres exceptis scilicet illis Quos suus optaret non genuisse parens; Quaerentem frustra custos e sedibus illis Praepositus sancto iussit abire loco.
Where, set between each pair of columns from some foreign quarry, are statues of the Danaids, and their barbarous father with drawn sword; and where whatever the minds of men of old or men of to-day have imagined, is laid open for a reader's use. I sought my brethren, save those of course whom their father would fain have never begotten; and, while I was seeking for them in vain, he who was set over the room bade me leave that holy ground.
The second couplet can only mean that old books and new books were alike to be found there. The general nature of the collection, and its extent, may be further gathered from the advice which Horace gives to his friend Celsus:
Quid mihi Celsus agit? monitus multumque monendus Privatas ut quaerat opes, et tangere vitet Scripta Palatinus quaecunque recepit Apollo.
What is my friend Celsus about? he who has been reminded, and must still be reminded again and again, that he should draw upon his own resources, and be careful to avoid the multifarious writings which Palatine Apollo has taken under his charge.
A man might say now-a-days, "Trust to your own wits, and don't go so often to the library of the British Museum."
Aulus Gellius, who lived A.D. 117-180, speaks of "sitting with a party of friends in the library of the palace of Tiberius, when a book happened to be taken down with the title M. Catonis Nepotis," and they began asking one another who this M. Cato Nepos might be. This library contained also public records.
The same writer tells a story of a grammatical difficulty which was to be settled by reference to a book in templo Pacis, in the forum of Vespasian; and again, when a particular book was wanted, "we hunted for it diligently," he says, "and, when we had found it in the temple of Peace, we read it."
The library in the forum of Trajan, often called Bibliotheca Ulpia, was apparently the Public Record Office of Rome. Aulus Gellius mentions that some decrees of former praetors had fallen in his way there when he was looking for something else, and that he had been allowed to read them; and a statement of Vopiscus is still more conclusive as to the nature of its contents. It tells us, moreover, something about the arrangement. In his life of the Emperor Tacitus (Sept. A.D. 275—Apr. 276) Vopiscus says:
And lest anybody should think that I have given too hasty a credence to a Greek or Latin author, the Ulpian Library has in its sixth press (armarium) an ivory volume (librum elephantinum) in which the following decree of the Senate, signed by Tacitus with his own hand, is recorded, etc.
Again, in his life of the Emperor Aurelian, the same writer records how his friend Junius Tiberianus, prefect of the city, had urged him to undertake the task, and had assured him that: "even the linen-books (libri lintei) shall be brought out of the Ulpian library for your use."
Books could occasionally be borrowed from a public library, but whether from one of those in the city of Rome, I cannot say. The scene of the story which proves this is laid by Aulus Gellius at Tibur (Tivoli), where the library was in the temple of Hercules—another instance of the care of a library being entrusted to a temple. Aulus Gellius and some friends of his were assembled in a rich man's villa there at the hottest season of the year. They were drinking melted snow, a proceeding against which one of the party, a peripatetic philosopher, vehemently protested, urging against the practice the authority of numerous physicians and of Aristotle himself. But none the less the party went on drinking snow-water. Whereupon "he fetched a treatise by Aristotle out of the library of Tibur, which was then very conveniently accommodated in the temple of Hercules, and brought it to us, saying——." But I need not finish the quotation, as it has no bearing on my special subject.
It is probable that numerous collections of books had been got together by individuals in Rome, before it occurred to Augustus and his friends to erect public libraries. One such library, that belonging to the rich and luxurious Lucullus, has been noticed as follows by Plutarch:
His procedure in regard to books was interesting and remarkable. He collected fine copies in large numbers; and if he was splendid in their acquisition, he was more so in their use. His libraries were accessible to all, and the adjoining colonnades and reading-rooms were freely open to Greeks, who, gladly escaping from the routine of business, resorted thither for familiar converse, as to a shelter presided over by the Muses.
The Romans were not slow in following the example set by Lucullus; and a library presently became indispensable in every house, whether the owner cared for reading or not. This fashionable craze is denounced by Seneca (writing about A.D. 49) in a vehement outburst of indignation, which contains so many valuable facts about library arrangement, that I will give a free translation of it.
Outlay upon studies, best of all outlays, is reasonable so long only as it is kept within certain limits. What is the use of books and libraries innumerable, if scarce in a lifetime the master reads the titles? A student is burdened by a crowd of authors, not instructed; and it is far better to devote yourself to a few, than to lose your way among a multitude.
Forty thousand books were burnt at Alexandria. I leave others to praise this splendid monument of royal opulence, as for example Livy, who regards it as "a noble work of royal taste and royal thoughtfulness." It was not taste, it was not thoughtfulness, it was learned extravagance—nay not even learned, for they had bought their books for the sake of show, not for the sake of learning—just as with many who are ignorant even of the lowest branches of learning books are not instruments of study, but ornaments of dining-rooms. Procure then as many books as will suffice for use; but not a single one for show. You will reply: "Outlay on such objects is preferable to extravagance on plate or paintings." Excess in all directions is bad. Why should you excuse a man who wishes to possess book-presses inlaid with arbor-vitae wood or ivory: who gathers together masses of authors either unknown or discredited; who yawns among his thousands of books; and who derives his chief delight from their edges and their tickets?
You will find then in the libraries of the most arrant idlers all that orators or historians have written—book-cases built up as high as the ceiling. Nowadays a library takes rank with a bathroom as a necessary ornament of a house. I could forgive such ideas, if they were due to extravagant desire for learning. As it is, these productions of men whose genius we revere, paid for at a high price, with their portraits ranged in line above them, are got together to adorn and beautify a wall.
A library was discovered in Rome by Signor Lanciani in 1883 while excavating a house of the 4th century on the Esquiline in the modern Via dello Statuto. I will narrate the discovery in his own words.
I was struck, one afternoon, with the appearance of a rather spacious hall [it was about 23 feet long by 15 feet broad], the walls of which were plain and unornamented up to a certain height, but beautifully decorated above in stucco-work. The decoration consisted of fluted pilasters, five feet apart from centre to centre, enclosing a plain square surface, in the middle of which there were medallions, also in stucco-work, two feet in diameter. As always happens in these cases, the frame was the only well-preserved portion of the medallions. Of the images surrounded by the frames, of the medallions themselves, absolutely nothing was left in situ, except a few fragments piled up at the foot of the wall, which, however, could be identified as having been representations of human faces. My hope that, at last, after fifteen years of excavations, I had succeeded in discovering a library, was confirmed beyond any doubt by a legend, written, or rather painted, in bright red colour on one of the frames. There was but one name POLONIVS THYAN ..., but this name told more plainly the purpose of the apartment than if I had discovered there the actual bookshelves and their contents.
When I had the pleasure of meeting Signor Lanciani in Rome in April, 1898, he most kindly gave me his own sketch of the pilasters and medallion, taken at the moment of discovery. I am therefore able to reproduce exactly (fig. 6) one compartment of the wall of the library above described. The height of the blank wall below the stucco-work, against which the furniture containing the books stood, has been laid down as about 3 feet 6 inches, on the authority of Professor Middleton. The remains of the medallion are still to be seen in the Museo del Orto Botanico, Rome. The person commemorated is obviously Apollonius Tyaneus, a Pythagorean philosopher and wonderworker, said to have been born about four years before the Christian era.
A similar room was discovered at Herculaneum in 1754. A full account of the discovery was drawn up at once by Signor Paderni, keeper of the Herculaneum Museum, and addressed to Thomas Hollis, Esq., by whom it was submitted to the Royal Society. I will extract, from this and subsequent letters, the passages that bear upon my subject.
Naples, 27 April, 1754.
... The place where they are digging, at present, is under Il Bosco di Sant' Agostino.... All the buildings discover'd in this site are noble; ... in one there has been found an entire library, compos'd of volumes of the Egyptian Papyrus, of which there have been taken out about 250....
To the same.
18 October, 1754.
... As yet we have only entered into one room, the floor of which is formed of mosaic work, not unelegant. It appears to have been a library, adorned with presses, inlaid with different sorts of wood, disposed in rows; at the top of which were cornices, as in our own times.
I was buried in this spot more than twelve days, to carry off the volumes found there; many of which were so perished, that it was impossible to remove them. Those which I took away amounted to the number of three hundred and thirty-seven, all of them at present uncapable of being opened. These are all written in Greek characters. While I was busy in this work I observed a large bundle, which, from the size, I imagined must contain more than a single volume. I tried with the utmost care to get it out, but could not, from the damp and weight of it. However I perceived that it consisted of about 18 volumes, each of which was in length a palm and three Neapolitan inches, being the largest hitherto discovered. They were wrapped about with the bark of a tree and covered at each end with a piece of wood. All these were written in Latin, as appears by a few words which broke off from them. I was in hopes to have got something out of them, but they are in a worse condition than the Greek....
From Sir J. Gray, Bart.
29 October, 1754.
... They have lately met with more rolls of Papyri of different lengths and sizes, some with the Umbilicus remaining in them: the greater part are Greek in small capitals.... The Epicurean Philosophy is the subject of another fragment.
A small bust of Epicurus, with his name in Greek characters, was found in the same room, and was possibly the ornament of that part of the library where the writings in favour of his principles were kept; and it may also be supposed that some other heads of philosophers found in the same room were placed with the same taste and propriety.
Between 1758 and 1763, the place was visited by Winckelmann, who wrote long letters in Italian, describing what he saw, to Consigliere Bianconi, Physician to the King of Saxony. One of these, dated 1762, gives the following account of the library:
Ii luogo in cui per la prima volta caddero sott' occhio, fu una piccola stanza nella villa d'Ercolano di cui parlammo sopra, la cui lunghezza due uomini colle braccia distese potevano misurare. Tutto all' intorno del muro vi erano degli scaffali quali si vedono ordinariamente negli archivi ad altezza d' uomo, e nel mezzo della stanza v' era un altro scaffale simile o tavola per tenervi scritture, e tale da potervi girare intorno. Il legno di questa tavola era ridotto a carboni, e cadde, come e facile ad imaginarselo, tutta in pezzi quando si tocco. Alcuni di questi rotoli di papiri si trovarono involti insieme con carta piu grossolana, di quella qualita che gli antichi chiamavano emporetica, e questi probabilmente formavano le parti ed i libri d' un' opera intiera....
The place in which they [the rolls] were first seen was a small room in the villa at Herculaneum of which we spoke above, the length of which could be covered by two men with their arms extended. All round the wall there were book-cases such as are commonly seen in record-rooms, of a man's height, and in the middle of the room there was another similar book-case or table to hold writings, of such a size that one could go round it. The wood of this table was reduced to charcoal, and, as may easily be imagined, fell all to pieces when it was touched. Some of these papyrus rolls were found fastened together with paper of coarser texture, of that quality which the ancients called emporetica, and these probably formed the parts and books of an entire work.
The information which these observers have given us amounts to this: the room was about 12 feet long, with a floor of mosaic. Against the walls stood presses, of a man's height, inlaid with different sorts of wood, disposed in rows, with cornices at the top; and there was also a table, or press, in the centre of the room. Most of the rolls were separate, but a bundle of eighteen was found "wrapped about with the bark of a tree, and covered at each end with a piece of wood." A room so small as this could hardly have been intended for study. It must rather have been the place where the books were put away after they had been read elsewhere.
Before I quit this part of my subject, I should like to mention one other building, as its arrangements throw light on the question of fitting up libraries and record-offices. I allude to the structure built by Vespasian, A.D. 78, to contain the documents relating to his restoration of the city of Rome. It stood at the south-west corner of the Forum of Peace, and what now exists of it is known as the Church of SS. Cosma e Damiano.
The general arrangement and relation to adjoining structures will be understood from the plan (fig. 7). The room was about 125 feet long by 65 feet broad, with two entrances, one on the north-west, from the Forum Pacis, through a hexastyle portico (fig. 7. 2), the other on the north-east, through a square-headed doorway of travertine which still exists (ibid. 1) together with a considerable portion of a massive wall of Vespasian's time. After a restoration by Caracalla the building came to be called Templum Sacrae Urbis. It was first consecrated as a church by pope Felix IV. (526-530), but he did little more than connect it with the Heroon Romuli (ibid. 5), and build the apse (ibid. 4).
The whole building was mercilessly mutilated by pope Urban VIII. in 1632; but fortunately a drawing of the interior had been made by Pirro Ligorio in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the original treatment of the walls was practically intact. I give a reduced copy of a small portion of this drawing (fig. 8). As Lanciani says:
The walls were divided into three horizontal bands by finely cut cornices. The upper band was occupied by the windows; the lower was simply lined with marble slabs covered by the bookcases ... which contained the ... records ...; the middle one was incrusted with tarsia-work of the rarest kinds of marble with panels representing panoplies, the wolf with the infant founders of Rome, and other allegorical scenes.
I explained at the beginning of this chapter that my subject is the care of books, not books themselves; but, at the point which we have now reached in regard to Roman libraries, it is necessary to make a few remarks about their contents. It must be remembered, in the first place, that those who fitted them up had to deal with rolls (volumina), probably of papyrus, but possibly of parchment; and that a book, as we understand the word, the Latin equivalent for which was codex, did not come into general use until long after the Christian era. Some points about these rolls require notice.
The length and the width of the roll depended on the taste or convenience of the writer. The contents were written in columns, the lines of which ran parallel to the long dimension, and the reader, holding the roll in both hands, rolled up the part he had finished with his left hand, and unrolled the unread portion with his right. This way of dealing with the roll is well shewn in the accompanying illustration (fig. 9) reduced from a fresco at Pompeii. In most examples the two halves of the roll are turned inwards, as for instance in the well-known statue of Demosthenes in the Vatican. The end of the roll was fastened to a stick (usually referred to as umbilicus or umbilici). It is obvious that this word ought properly to denote the ends of the stick only, but it was constantly applied to the whole stick, and not to a part of it, as for instance in the following lines:
... deus nam me vetat Inceptos olim promissum carmen iambos Ad umbilicum adducere.
... for heaven forbids me to cover the scroll down to the stick with the iambic lines I had begun a song promised long ago to the world.
These sticks were sometimes painted or gilt, and furnished with projecting knobs (cornua) similarly decorated, intended to serve both as an ornament, and as a contrivance to keep the ends of the roll even, while it was being rolled up. The sides of the long dimension of the roll (frontes) were carefully cut, so as to be perfectly symmetrical, and afterwards smoothed with pumice-stone and coloured. A ticket (index or titulus, in Greek [Greek: sillubos] or [Greek: sittubos]), made of a piece of papyrus or parchment, was fastened to the edge of the roll in such a way that it hung out over one or other of the ends. As Ovid says:
Cetera turba palam titulos ostendet apertos Et sua detecta nomina fronte geret.
The others will flaunt their titles openly, and carry their names on an uncovered edge.
The roll was kept closed by strings or straps (lora), usually of some bright colour; and if it was specially precious, an envelope which the Greeks called a jacket ([Greek: diphthera]), made of parchment or some other substance, was provided. Says Martial:
Perfer Atestinae nondum vulgata Sabinae Carmina, purpurea sed modo culta toga.
Convey to Sabina at Ateste these verses. They have not yet been published, and have been but lately dressed in a purple garment.
Martial has combined in a single epigram most of the ornaments with which rolls could be decorated. This I will quote next, premising that the oil of cedar, or arbor-vitae, mentioned in the second line not only imparted an agreeable yellow colour, but was held to be an antiseptic.
Faustini fugis in sinum? sapisti. Cedro nunc licet ambules perunctus Et frontis gemino decens honore Pictis luxurieris umbilicis, Et te purpura delicata velet, Et cocco rubeat superbus index.
His book had selected the bibliomaniac Faustinus as a patron. Now, says the poet, you shall be anointed with oil of cedar; you shall revel in the decoration of both your sets of edges; your sticks shall be painted; your covering shall be purple, and your ticket scarlet.
When a number of rolls had to be carried from one place to another, they were put into a box (scrinium or capsa). This receptacle was cylindrical in shape, not unlike a modern hat-box. It was carried by a flexible handle, attached to a ring on each side; and the lid was held down by what looks very like a modern lock. The eighteen rolls, found in a bundle at Herculaneum, had doubtless been kept in a similar receptacle.
My illustration (fig. 10) is from a fresco at Herculaneum. It will be noticed that each roll is furnished with a ticket (titulus). At the feet of the statue of Demosthenes already referred to, and of that of Sophocles, are capsae, both of which show the flexible handles.
I will next collect the information available respecting the fittings used in Roman libraries. I admit that it is scattered and imperfect; but legitimate deductions may, I think, be arrived at from it, which will give us tolerably certain ideas of the appearance of one of those collections.
The words used to designate such fittings are: nidus; forulus, or more usually foruli; loculamenta; pluteus; pegmata.
Nidus needs no explanation. It can only mean a pigeon-hole. Martial uses it of a bookseller, at whose shop his own poems may be bought.
De primo dabit alterove nido Rasum pumice purpuraque cultum Denaris tibi quinque Martialem.
Out of his first or second pigeon-hole, polished with pumice stone, and smart with a purple covering, for five denarii he will give you Martial.
In a subsequent epigram the word occurs with reference to a private library, to which the poet is sending a copy of his works.
Ruris bibliotheca delicati, Vicinam videt unde lector urbem, Inter carmina sanctiora si quis Lascivae fuerit locus Thaliae, Hos nido licet inseras vel imo Septem quos tibi misimus libellos.
O library of that well-appointed villa whence a reader can see the City near at hand—if among more serious poems there be any room for the wanton Muse of Comedy, you may place these seven little books I send you even in your lowest pigeon-hole.
Forulus or foruli occurs in the following passages. Suetonius, after describing the building of the temple of the Palatine Apollo by Augustus, adds, "he placed the Sibylline books in two gilt receptacles (forulis) under the base of the statue of Palatine Apollo"; and Juvenal, enumerating the gifts that a rich man is sure to receive if burnt out of house and home, says,
Hic libros dabit, et forulos, mediamque Minervam.
The word is of uncertain derivation, but forus, of which it is clearly the diminutive, is used by Virgil for the cells of bees:
Complebuntque foros et floribus horrea texent.
The above-quoted passage of Juvenal may therefore be rendered: "Another will give books, and cells to put them in, and a statue of Minerva for the middle of the room."
The word loculamentum is explained in a passage of Columella, in which he gives directions for the making of dovecotes:
Let small stakes be placed close together, with planks laid across them to carry cells (loculamenta) for the birds to build their nests in, or sets of pigeon-holes made of earthenware.
In a second passage he uses the same word for a beehive; Vegetius, a writer on veterinary surgery, uses it for the socket of a horse's tooth; and Vitruvius, in a more general way, for a case to contain a small piece of machinery. Generally, the word may be taken to signify a long narrow box, open at one end, and, like nidus and forulus, may be translated "pigeon-hole." Seneca, again, applies the word to books in the passage I have already translated, and in a singularly instructive manner. "You will find," he says, "in the libraries of the most arrant idlers all that orators or historians have written—bookcases (loculamenta) built up as high as the ceiling."
Pegmata, for the word generally occurs in the plural, are, as the name implies, things fixed together, usually planks of wood framed into a platform, and used in theatres to carry pieces of scenery or performers up and down. As applied to books "shelves" are probably meant: an interpretation borne out by the Digest, in which it is stated that "window-frames and pegmata are included in the purchase of a house." They were therefore what we should call "fixtures."
A pluteus was a machine used by infantry for protection in the field: and hence the word is applied to any fence, or boarding to form the limit or edge of anything, as a table or a bed. Plutei were not attached so closely to the walls as pegmata, for in the Digest they are classed with nets to keep out birds, mats, awnings, and the like, and are not to be regarded as part and parcel of a house. Juvenal uses the word for a shelf in his second Satire, where he is denouncing pretenders to knowledge:
Indocti primum, quamquam plena omnia gypso Chrysippi invenias, nam perfectissimus horum est Si quis Aristotelem similem vel Pittacon emit Et iubet archetypos pluteum servare Cleanthas.
In the first place they are dunces, though you find their houses full of plaster figures of Chrysippus: for a man of this sort is not fully equipped until he buys a likeness of Aristotle or Pittacus, and bids a shelf take care of original portraits of Cleanthes.
This investigation has shewn that three of the words applied to the preservation of books, namely, nidus, forulus, and loculamentum, may be rendered by the English "pigeon-hole"; and that pegma and pluteus mean contrivances of wood which may be rendered by the English "shelving." It is quite clear that pegmata could be run up with great rapidity, from a very graphic account in Cicero's letters of the rearrangement of his library. He begins by writing to his friend Atticus as follows:
I wish you would send me any two fellows out of your library, for Tyrannio to make use of as pasters, and assistants in other matters. Remind them to bring some vellum with them to make those titles (indices) which you Greeks, I believe, call [Greek: silluboi]. You are not to do this if it is inconvenient to you....
In the next letter he says:
Your men have made my library gay with their carpentry-work and their titles (constructione et sillybis). I wish you would commend them.
When all is completed he writes:
Now that Tyrannio has arranged my books, a new spirit has been infused into my house. In this matter the help of your men Dionysius and Menophilus has been invaluable. Nothing could look neater than those shelves of yours (illa tua pegmata), since they smartened up my books with their titles.
No other words than those I have been discussing are, so far as I know, applied by the best writers to the storage of books; and, after a careful study of the passages in which they occur, I conclude that, so long as rolls only had to be accommodated, private libraries in Rome were fitted with rows of shelves standing against the walls (plutei), or fixed to them (pegmata). The space between these horizontal shelves was subdivided by vertical divisions into pigeon-holes (nidi, foruli, loculamenta), and it may be conjectured that the width of these pigeon-holes would vary in accordance with the number of rolls included in a single work. That such receptacles were the common furniture of a library is proved, I think, by such evidence as the epigram of Martial quoted above, in which he tells his friend that if he will accept his poems, he may "put them even in the lowest pigeon-hole (nido vel imo)," as we should say, "on the bottom shelf"; and by the language of Seneca when he sneers at the "pigeon-holes (loculamenta) carried up to the ceiling."
The height of the woodwork varied, of course, with individual taste. In the library on the Esquiline the height was only three feet six inches; at Herculaneum about six feet.
I can find no hint of any doors, or curtains, in front of the pigeon-holes. That the ends of the rolls (frontes) were visible, is, I think, quite clear from what Cicero says of his own library after the construction of his shelves (pegmata); and the various devices for making rolls attractive seem to me to prove that they were intended to be seen.
A representation of rolls arranged on the system which I have attempted to describe, occurs on a piece of sculpture (fig. 11) found at Neumagen near Treves in the seventeenth century, among the ruins of a fortified camp attributed to Constantine the Great. Two divisions, full of rolls, are shewn, from which a man, presumably the librarian, is selecting one. The ends of the rolls are furnished with tickets.
The system of pigeon-holes terminated, in all probability, in a cornice. The explorers of Herculaneum depose to the discovery of such an ornament there.
The wall-space above the book-cases was decorated with the likenesses of celebrated authors—either philosophers, if the owner of the library wished to bring into prominence his adhesion to one of the fashionable systems—or authors, dead and living, or personal friends. This obvious form of decoration was, in all probability, used at Pergamon; Pollio, as we have seen, introduced it into Rome: and Pliny, who calls it a novelty (novitium inventum), deposes to its general adoption. We are not told how these portraits were commonly treated—whether they were busts standing clear of the wall on the book-cases; or bracketed against the wall; or forming part of its decoration, in plaster-work or distemper. A suitable inscription accompanied them. Martial has preserved for us a charming specimen of one of these complimentary stanzas—for such they undoubtedly would be in the case of a contemporary—to be placed beneath his own portrait in a friend's library:
Hoc tibi sub nostra breve carmen imagine vivat Quam non obscuris iungis, Avite, viris: Ille ego sum nulli nugarum laude secundus, Quem non miraris, sed puto, lector, amas. Maiores maiora sonent: mihi parva locuto Sufficit in vestras saepe redire manus.
Placed, with my betters, on your study-wall Let these few lines, Avitus, me recall: To foremost rank in trifles I was raised; I think men loved me, though they never praised. Let greater poets greater themes profess: My modest lines seek but the hand's caress That tells me, reader, of thy tenderness.
The beautiful alto-relievo in the Lateran Museum, Rome, representing an actor selecting a mask, contains a contrivance for reading a roll (fig. 12) which may have been usual in libraries and elsewhere, though I have not met with another instance of it. A vertical support attached to the table on which two masks and a MS. are lying, carries a desk with a rim along its lower edge and one of its sides. The roll is partially opened, the closed portion lying towards the left side of the desk, next the rim. The roll may be supposed to contain the actor's part.
It is much to be regretted that we have no definite information as to the way in which the great public libraries built by Augustus were fitted up; but I see no reason for supposing that their fittings differed from those of private libraries.
When books (codices), of a shape similar to that with which modern librarians have to deal, had to be accommodated as well as rolls, it is manifest that rectangular spaces not more than a few inches wide would be singularly inconvenient. They were therefore discarded in favour of a press (armarium), a piece of furniture which would hold rolls (volumina) as well as books (codices), and was in fact, as I shall shew, used for both purposes. The word (armarium) occurs commonly in Cicero, and other writers of the best period, for a piece of furniture in which valuables of all kinds, and household gear, were stowed away; and Vitruvius uses it for a book-case. A critic, he says, "produced from certain presses an infinite number of rolls." In later Latin writers—that is from the middle of the first century A.D.—no other word, speaking generally, occurs.
The jurist Ulpian, who died A.D. 228, in a discussion as to what is comprised under the term liber, decides in favour of including all rolls (volumina) of whatever material, and then considers the question whether codices come under the same category or not—thereby shewing that in his day both forms of books were in use. Again, when a library (bibliotheca) has been bequeathed, it is questioned whether the bequest includes merely the press or presses (armarium vel armaria), or the books as well.
The Ulpian Library, or rather Libraries, in Trajan's Forum, built about 114 A.D., were fitted up with presses, as we learn from the passage in Vopiscus which I have already quoted; and when the ruins of the section of that library which stood next to the Quirinal Hill were excavated by the French, a very interesting trace of one of these presses was discovered. Nibby, the Roman antiquary, thus describes it:
Beyond the above-mentioned bases [of the columns in the portico] some remains of the inside of the room became visible on the right. They consisted of a piece of curtain-wall, admirably constructed of brick, part of the side-wall, with a rectangular niche of large size in the form of a press (in foggia di armadio). One ascended to this by three steps, with a landing-place in front of them, on which it was possible to stand with ease. On the sides of this niche there still exist traces of the hinges, on which the panels and the wickets, probably of bronze, rested.
It seems to me that we have here an early instance, perhaps the earliest, of those presses in the thickness of the wall which were so common afterwards in the monasteries and in private libraries also. A similar press, on a smaller scale, is described by the younger Pliny: "My bedroom," he says, "has a press let into the wall which does duty as a library, and holds books not merely to be read, but read over and over again."
It must not, however, be supposed that cupboards were always, or even usually, sunk into the wall in Roman times. They were detached pieces of furniture, not unlike the wardrobes in which ladies hang their dresses at the present day, except that they were fitted with a certain number of horizontal shelves, and were used for various purposes according to the requirements of their owners. For instance, there is a sarcophagus in the Museo Nazionale at Rome, on which is represented a shoemaker at work. In front of him is a cupboard, exactly like those I am about to describe, on the top of which several pairs of shoes are set out.
I can, however, produce three representations of such presses being used by the Romans to contain books.
The first occurs on a marble sarcophagus (fig. 13), now in the garden of the Villa Balestra, Rome, where I had the good fortune to find it in 1898; and Professor Petersen, of the German Archaeological School, was so kind as to have it photographed for me. He assigns the work to about 200 A.D.
In the central portion, 21 in. high, by 15 1/2 in. wide, is a seated figure, reading a roll. In front of him is a cupboard, the doors of which are open. It is fitted with two shelves, on the uppermost of which are eight rolls, the ends of which are turned to the spectator. On the next shelf is something which looks like a dish or shallow cup. The lower part of the press is solid. Perhaps a second cupboard is intended. Above, it is finished off with a cornice, on which rests a very puzzling object. There are a few faint lines on the marble, which Professor Petersen believes are intended to represent surgical instruments, and so to indicate the profession of the seated figure. There is a Greek inscription on the sarcophagus, but it merely warns posterity not to disturb the bones of the deceased.
The second representation (fig. 14) is from the tomb of Galla Placidia, at Ravenna. It occurs in a mosaic on the wall of the chapel in which she was buried, A.D. 449; and was presumably executed before that date. The press closely resembles the one on the Roman sarcophagus, but it is evidently intended to indicate a taller piece of furniture, and it terminates in a pediment. There are two shelves, on which lie the four Gospels, each as a separate codex, indicated by the name of the Evangelist above it. This press rests upon a stout frame, the legs of which are kept in position by a cross-piece nearly as thick as themselves.
The third representation of an armarium (fig. 15) occurs in the manuscript of the Vulgate now in the Laurentian Library at Florence, known as the Codex Amiatinus, from the Cistercian convent of Monte Amiata in Tuscany, where it was preserved for several centuries. The thorough investigation to which this manuscript has lately been subjected shews that it was written in England, at Wearmouth or Jarrow, but possibly by an Italian scribe, before A.D. 716, in which year it was taken to Rome, as a present to the Pope. The first quaternion, however, on one of the leaves of which the above representation occurs, is probably older; and it may have belonged to a certain Codex grandior mentioned by Cassiodorus, and possibly written under his direction.
The picture (fig. 15), which appears as the frontispiece to this work, shews Ezra writing the law. On the margin of the vellum, in a hand which is considered to be later than that of the MS., are the words:
CODICIBUS SACRIS HOSTILI CLADE PERVSTIS ESDRA DEO FERVENS HOC REPARAVIT OPUS.
Behind him is a press (armarium) with open doors. The lower portion, below these doors, is filled in with panels which are either inlaid or painted, so that the frame on which it is supported is not visible, as in the Ravenna example. The bottom of the press proper is used as a shelf, on which lie a volume and two objects, one of which probably represents a case for pens, while the other is certainly an inkhorn. Above this are four shelves, on each of which lie two volumes. These volumes have their titles written on their backs, but they are difficult to make out, and my artist has not cared to risk mistakes by attempting to reproduce them. The words, beginning at the left hand corner of the top-shelf, are:
OCT. LIB. REG. HIST. LIB. PSALM. LIB. SALOMON. PROPH. EVANG. IIII. EPIST. XXI. ACT. APOSTOL.
The frame-work of the press above the doors is ornamented in the same style as the panels below, and the whole is surmounted by a low pyramid, on the side of which facing the spectator is a cross, beneath which are two peacocks drinking from a water-trough.
I regret that I could not place this remarkable drawing before my readers in the rich colouring of the original. The press is of a reddish brown: the books are bound in crimson. Ezra is clad in green, with a crimson robe. The background is gold. The border is blue, between an inner and outer band of silver. The outermost band of all is vermilion.
I formerly thought that this book-press might represent those in use in England at the beginning of the eighth century; but, if the above attribution to Cassiodorus be accurate, it must be accounted another Italian example. It bears a general similarity to the Ravenna book-press, as might be expected, when it is remembered that Cassiodorus held office under Theodoric and his successors, and resided at Ravenna till he was nearly seventy years old.
The foundation of Christianity did not alter what I may call the Roman conception of a library in any essential particular. The philosophers and authors of Greece and Rome may have occasionally found themselves in company with, or even supplanted by, the doctors of the Church; but in other respects, for the first seven centuries, at least, of our era, the learned furnished their libraries according to the old fashion, though with an ever increasing luxury of material. Boethius, whose Consolation of Philosophy was written A.D. 525, makes Philosophy speak of the "walls of a library adorned with ivory and glass"; and Isidore, Bishop of Seville A.D. 600-636, records that "the best architects object to gilded ceilings in libraries, and to any other marble than cipollino for the floor, because the glitter of gold is hurtful to the eyes, while the green of cipollino is restful to them."
A few examples of such libraries may be cited; but, before doing so, I must mention the Record-Office (Archivum), erected by Pope Damasus (366-384). It was connected with the Basilica of S. Lawrence, which Damasus built in the Campus Martius, near the theatre of Pompey. On the front of the Basilica, over the main entrance, was an inscription, which ended with the three following lines:
ARCHIVIS FATEOR VOLUI NOVA CONDERE TECTA ADDERE PRAETEREA DEXTRA LAEVAQUE COLUMNAS QUAE DAMASI TENEANT PROPRIUM PER SAECULA NOMEN.
I confess that I have wished to build a new abode for Archives; and to add columns on the right and left to preserve the name of Damasus for ever.