Sunday, April 13, 2014
Years ago, I read a wonderful anecdote describing a book collector or learned person from, probably, the Renaissance era. In the anecdote, the collector is described as having one bookcase filled with Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, among others. At the top of this bookcase was engraved the word "Amo."I'm not familiar with this story. Perhaps some reader of this blog can help.
He also had a second bookcase, containing only Aeschylus. This bookcase was labeled "Timeo."
It always seemed like I read the story in Victor Hugo's book on Shakespeare, but I recently thumbed through my copy and I think now that is wrong.
Does this story ring any bells, by any chance? I'd enjoy figuring out where I came across it!
Ian Jackson gets the prize. He identified the source as Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1864), p. 101 (Book IV, Chapter I):
A man whom we do not know how to class in his own century, so little does he belong to it, being at the same time so much behind it and so much in advance of it, the Marquis de Mirabeau, that queer customer as a philanthropist, but a very rare thinker after all, had a library, in the two corners of which he had had carved a dog and a she-goat, in remembrance of Socrates, who swore by the dog, and of Zeno, who swore by the goat. His library presented this peculiarity: on one side he had Hesiod, Sophocles, Euripides, Plato, Herodotus, Thucydides, Pindar, Theocritus, Anacreon, Theophrastus, Demosthenes, Plutarch, Cicero, Titus Livius, Seneca, Persius, Lucan, Terence, Horace, Ovid, Propertius, Tibullus, Virgil, and underneath could be read, engraved in letters of gold, "AMO;" on the other side, he had Aeschylus alone, and underneath, this word—"TIMEO."