Book Collections in Antiquity

Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 1.4:

“His acquisition of ancient Greek books was so great as to outstrip all of those known for their collections – Polycrates of Samos, Peisistratus the Athenian tyrant, Eucleides (himself also an Athenian), Nicocrates of Cyprus, and even the kings of Pergamum, Euripides the poet, and Aristotle and Theophrastus the philosophers, as well as Neleus, who was eminently concerned with books. Our own compatriot Ptolemy, surnamed Philadelphos, bought all of the books from Neleus and brought them from Athens and Rhodes to beautiful Alexandria. Consequently, one might apply the verses of Antiphanes to him:

‘Always be zealous for the Muses and for words wherever some work of wisdom is laid out.”

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ἦν δέ, φησί, καὶ βιβλίων κτῆσις αὐτῷ ἀρχαίων Ἑλληνικῶν τοσαύτη ὡς ὑπερβάλλειν πάντας τοὺς ἐπὶ συναγωγῇ τεθαυμασμένους, Πολυκράτην τε τὸν Σάμιον καὶ Πεισίστρατον τὸν Ἀθηναίων τυραννήσαντα Εὐκλείδην τε τὸν καὶ αὐτὸν Ἀθηναῖον καὶ Νικοκράτην τὸν Κύπριον ἔτι τε τοὺς Περγάμου βασιλέας Εὐριπίδην τε τὸν ποιητὴν Ἀριστοτέλην τε τὸν φιλόσοφον <καὶ Θεόφραστον> καὶ τὸν τὰ τούτων διατηρήσαντα βιβλία Νηλέα: παρ᾽ οὗ πάντα, φησί, πριάμενος ὁ ἡμεδαπὸς βασιλεὺς Πτολεμαῖος, Φιλάδελφος δὲ ἐπίκλην, μετὰ τῶν Ἀθήνηθεν καὶ τῶν ἀπὸ Ῥόδου εἰς τὴν καλὴν Ἀλεξάνδρειαν μετήγαγε. διόπερ ἐκεῖνα τῶν Ἀντιφάνους ἐρεῖ τις εἰς αὐτόν ῾II 124 K’:’

ἀεὶ δὲ πρὸς Μούσαισι καὶ λόγοις πάρει,
ὅπου <τι> σοφίας ἔργον ἐξετάζεται. —

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