Give Me Some F**king Books!!!

Petrarch, Epistles 3.18

“There are those who accumulate books not from eagerness to use them, but from the desire to have them, and they possess them not as a bulwark to their minds, but as an ornament for their bedrooms. And so, passing over the others, Julius Caesar and Augustus both concerned themselves with a Roman library. For such an important task, one of them put Marcus Varro in charge of the library, and this is with all respect to Demetrius of Phalerum, who had the greatest name among the Egyptians for his librarianship; but Varro is in no way inferior to Demetrius – in fact, he is far superior. Pompeius Macer, himself an eminently learned man, was put in charge of the library by the other. Asinius Pollio, the most illustrious orator, burned with enthusiasm for a library of Greek and Latin literature, and is said to have opened the first one for the public in Rome.

But those are private things. Cato’s appetite for books was insatiable, a fact of which Cicero is a witness, and even Cicero was possessed of an ardor for purchasing books, which is attested by many of his letters to Atticus, on whom he imposed the task of purchasing them, driving him on with the greatest insistence and all the power of entreaty, as I now do to you. Indeed, if a rich reader is permitted to beg for patronage in the way of books, what do you think is permitted to the poor reader?”

Image result for scholar woodcut

Sunt enim qui libros, ut cetera, non utendi studio cumulent, sed habendi libidine, neque tam ut ingenii presidium, quam ut thalami ornamentum. Atque, ut reliquos sileam, fuit romane bibliothece cura divis imperatoribus Iulio Cesari et Cesari Augusto; tanteque rei prefectus ab altero — pace Demetrii Phalerii dixerim, qui in hac re clarum apud Egiptios nomen habet — nichil inferior, ne dicam longe superior, Marcus Varro; ab altero Pompeius Macer, vir et ipse doctissimus. Summo quoque grece latineque bibliothece studio flagravit Asinius Pollio orator clarissimus, qui primus hanc Rome publicasse traditur.

Illa enim privata sunt: Catonis insatiabilis librorum fames, cuius Cicero testis est, ipsiusque Ciceronis ardor ad inquirendos libros, quem multe testantur epystole ad Athicum, cui eam curam non segnius imponit, agens summa instantia multaque precum vi, quam ego nunc tibi. Quodsi opulentissimo ingenio permittitur librorum patrocinia mendicare, quid putas licere inopi?

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