Books of ancient Rome

Before it appeared in Ancient Rome, papyrus, local residents like the Greeks used for writing palm leaves, but more often – lime bast. Actually, one of the values of the Latin word “liber” (book) just means “lub”.

In General it should be noted that in the era of the Roman Republic and the early Roman Empire, the Latin writing system has been rapidly developing. Came into use new writing materials, mainly papyrus. Along with direct, quadrangular capital font, suitable for cutting down on stone or other solid object, Rome (as well as, by the way, and Greece), a new font is rounded, more flexible and elegant, the so-called “uncial”and italics – “cursive”.

Roman ancient book was in the form of a scroll, screw on a stick with thickened ends; on the upper end was attached to the tab with the designation of the title, which peeped out from a leather case (an analogue of modern binding). To carry these scrolls were placed in a round basket. In libraries such books in the scrolls were not put, and laid on the shelf so that the labels were in view. He wrote on one side, or a single vertical column, the length of which was equal to the length of the scroll or next of many parallel columns.

Roman bookstores, a seller of ancient books, served as the meeting place of writers, scholars and lovers of literature. When these stores were available rooms for reading and even reading rooms, where for a small fee you can view the new or compare your copy of the famous works so that was fixed grammatical kept for this purpose in the store and copy the hall. Roman books were relatively cheap, as the production of own papyrus, replacing imports from Egypt, to that possessed. In addition to ordinary cheap instances, met ancient books – the wonders of calligraphy, sumptuously illustrated instances and even miniature book (Cicero allegedly met instance of “Iliad” by Homer, who could fit in the walnut shells).

Keep the monopoly on the production of papyrus, Egypt was constantly inflated prices, and as a result, Europe started looking for a cheaper material. Them in the Roman era and was the parchment. A special role here played banded Hellenistic state and Pergamum (hence the name “the parchment”), and this time a monopoly on the manufacture writing material for anyone already proved unsustainable.

First Greece, then Rome and its province have themselves organized the production of parchment. The exact technology of its manufacture in ancient times, we know little (the earliest prescription belongs to the VIII century). On the parchment was a sheep, goat or cow hide, at least – of rabbit or hare, in exceptional cases – even the cat. The thin parchment made from the skin of unborn calf or lamb.

First, the skin soaked in lime water to soften, then stretched on the frame and Crescent knife carefully scraped off the leftover meat and wool. Cleansed white lime, polished on both sides of pumice and rubbed chalk. The skin was thin, white, and equally smooth on both sides. Compared with papyrus, parchment had many advantages: it was stronger, can easily bent and cut (although at first this is an important quality unnoticed and parchment-like papyrus was rolled up in a scrolls). Write it on both sides of the sheet. No problems with raw materials, while skin is more expensive papyrus.

For a long time papyrus and parchment was used in parallel. Since the third century, due to the decline of production of papyrus in Egypt, parchment was nominated in the first place. Finally import papyrus only ended in VIII century after the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, and the Arabs brought to Europe paper – material is much cheaper and more convenient than papyrus or parchment.

As in Egypt, in Europe wrote on papyrus and parchment pointed reed stick-Kalam (“calamus”). The best varieties of cane were brought out of Egypt, and Asia Minor. Antique Kalam was somewhat different from the Egyptian – end was not only sharp but also broken that was more than a thin trail. Since IV century along with Kalam began to enjoy the bird’s feathers (“penna avis”). In ancient times were known and metal pens: bronze, silver, gold. But the large spread they have not received, as did not have the necessary elasticity and tore the writing material.

The ink in Rome made of a divorced soot and glue: this mixture is almost faded and easily washed off. In the IV century there appeared the ink on the basis of ferrous compounds. Headers and other places in the text that it was necessary to allocate, wrote in red ink, and ink-pots (clay or metal) was respectively two departments – for black and red ink. However, the known history and texts, written entirely in red ink.

And for the most luxurious antique books in Ancient Rome used the ink gold and silver. And only one Emperor had the right to write in purple ink.

Ancient books: scroll to the code

Over time, the scrolls are increasingly were made of parchment. It was made whole “leather” library. Legal and liturgical books were copied mostly it on parchment, for he is much better papyrus was suitable for long-term storage and active use.

The historical significance of parchment is that he created the conditions for the transition to a more comfortable type of book – code, which is the predecessor of the modern book; use parchment began to develop the art of the ancient book.

For the first time about the way to make parchment sheets in a notebook mentions the Roman poet Valery martial (about 42-102 biennium). He, however, still does not name these notebooks codes, because the “codex” comes from the word “caudex, meaning the Board. In the text of Martial such notebooks named leather signs for the letters “pugillares membranei”. On them the martial and wrote his famous epigram.

Parchment books with texts of the works of the classics – Homer, Virgil, Cicero, Titus Libya and others were used in Roman schools. Considered (and quite rightly)that the book with which the student is drawn almost daily, should be strong. The needs of the school has accelerated the spread of durable and comfortable parchment code. Course, there were other reasons. To find in a scroll right place or quotation, had to unravel it. The code was easier, and also enables to use more fully the writing material – both sides of the sheet. On a scroll any adding a note on the back again forced to seek a whole scroll again.

In General, the advantages of the code were obvious, and in III century scrolls begin to disappear from the libraries of the nobility, source codes. An example was filed, as expected, the Roman emperors. In 235 year the Emperor Maximin owned beautifully decorated code with the text of the Homeric poems. Leaves luxury editions were painted crimson and the text is written in gold or silver letters. The original format of the code was moderate, and from the second half of the third century and in the IV century there appeared the gigantic tomes.

Produced the code as follows: parchment cut identical rectangular sheets, bent them in half and sewn in the workbook for four leaf (the Greek word “tetradion” just means “four”). Of these notebooks were drawn up codes. To protect them from external influences on both sides attached plates, sometimes pieces of thick leather.

In placing the text on the leaves of the code in all imitated scroll: header, for example, continued in the tradition of writing in late antique books, although it has lost its meaning. Even in the XV century in early printed books – incunabula – header was still placed on the last page in the colophon.

When rewriting texts frequently distorted to such an extent that it was difficult to restore the author’s thought. This worried prolific Roman author of Cicero. He appeared the idea to engage in publishing activities of their fabulously rich friend. The publishing and book-trade in the ancient society was usually done representatives of the lower classes, up to the freedmen. Titus of Pomponi the attic (110-32, BC) belonged to the estate of horsemen, publish and sell books could only informally, posing as selfless benefactor, though in reality, he certainly did not forget about profit.

As the historian Cornelius of Napata, Titus attic assembled an impressive team of editors, proof readers and writers. Editing of books in Greek language was attracted well-known grammar Tyrannie. Apparently, he Cornelius Depot carried out the editing of ancient books in Latin.

Their “print” activities attic began with the release of the writings of Cicero. Special merit in his magnificent edition of the works of Plato. Edited this edition Tyrannie, using the works of Plato, which are preserved in the library of Aristotle. And in Rome, the library has got, in turn, as a war trophy Consul and the dictator sulla.

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