Saturday, November 11, 2006


An Attic Idiom Again

Professor David Whitehead wrote about An Attic Idiom:
Wycherley's version of that passage from Pollux omitted (perhaps because its precise wording is textually uncertain) perhaps the most interesting item in Eupolis's list: 'ta biblia'. LSJ recognises ta biblia only as meaning (in a passage of Dio Chrysostom) a library, but here it seems bound to mean a cluster of bookstalls (and/or stationers -- but that may be a distinction without a difference: so F.D.Harvey, 'Literacy in the Athenian Democracy', Revue des Etudes Grecques 79 (1966) 585-635, at 634 n.8).
I've combined the translations of Pollux by Wycherley and by John Maxwell Edmonds, The Fragments of Attic Comedy, vol. I (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1957), p. 419, as follows:
Among the public features of a city are the book-repositories, or as Eupolis says 'where books are for sale' or simply 'the books'; for the Attic writers called the place where they were sold just 'books' as they called other places after the after the things sold there; for instance they might say, 'I went off to the wine, the olive oil, the pots'; or again in the words of Eupolis, 'I went around to the garlic and the onions and the incense, and straight around to the perfume.'
Here is a transcription of the Pollux passage (9.47) from the old Bekker edition, which I found via Google Book Search:
ἓν δὲ τῶν κοινῶν καὶ βιβλιοθῆκαι, ἢ ὡς Εὔπολις φησιν "οὗ τὰ βιβλ᾽ ὤνια," καὶ αὐτὸ ἐφ᾽ αὑτοῦ· οὕτω γὰρ τὸν τόπον οὗ τὰ βιβλία οἱ Ἀττικοὶ ὠνόμαζον, ὥσπερ καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τόπους ἀπὸ τῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς πιπρασκομένων, ὡς εἰ φαῖεν "ἀπῆλθον ἐς τοὖψον καὶ ἐς τὸν οἶνον καὶ ἐς τοὔλαιον καὶ ἐς τὰς χύτρας," καὶ κατὰ τὸν Εὔπολιν

περιῆλθον εἰς τὰ σκόροδα καὶ τὰ κρόμμυα
καὶ τὸν λιβανωτόν, κεὐθὺ τῶν ἀρωμάτων.
The Dio Chrysostom passage is 37.8 (to the Corinthians, tr. H. Lamar Crosby):
You did have a likeness made of me, and you took this and set it up in your Library.

ἀλλά γε τὴν εἰκὼ τοῦ σώματος ἐποιήσασθε καὶ ταύτην φέροντες ἀνεθήκατε εἰς τὰ βιβλία.
I adduced Catullus 55.3-5 (tr. F.W. Cornish) as a parallel to "books" meaning "place where books are sold":
I have looked for you in the lesser Campus, in the Circus, in all the booksellers' shops [literally, in all the books], in the hallowed temple of great Jove.

te Campo quaesivimus minore,
te in Circo, te in omnibus libellis,
te in templo summi Iovis sacrato.
Professor Whitehead replied:
By an odd coincidence, I see, there's textual uncertainty in Catullus 55.4 too: Lewis & Short say '(dub.; al. labellis)'.
D.F.S. Thomson in his critical apparatus doesn't mention labellis (baths). He prints:
libellis] ligellis B. Guarinus, tabernis Ald., tabellis Scaliger.
Commentators on Catullus also cite Martial 5.20.8-10 (tr. Walter C.A. Ker):
But the promenade, the lounges, the bookshops, the plain, the colonnades, the garden's shade, the Virgin water, the warm baths -- these should be our haunts always, these our tasks.

sed gestatio, fabulae, libelli,
campus, porticus, umbra, Virgo, thermae,
haec essent loca semper, hi labores.

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