THE PHYSICAL BEING Al\1]) CIRCULATION OF ANCIENT LITERATURE: AN INTRODUCTION

Grant Parker

Abstract


Among 20th-century classicists reacting against an overriding concern with Realien, so
important to the scholarship of earlier generations, one topic which has suffered relative
neglect is that of the physical being of ancient literature.! Yet it need hardly be stressed how
important this topic is as background information to the study of classical literature. How did
the Greeks and Romans record their literary works, and how did they "publish" them? What
was the ancient notion of a collection of poetry? And was there an equivalent for our notion of
a "second edition"? These are but some of the questions which may pertinently be asked.
So with a view more to utility than originality I offer a survey of the more important recent
critical writing on the subject, which I hope will serve also as a vade mecum outlining the
basic details of the ancient book, as well as the processes by which it was circulated. The first
part (sections I to III) surveys the physical being of Greek and Latin literature, concentrating
on its materials and then format, and the second half is concerned with its dissemination.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7445/37-3-4-828

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