The Lost Works Of History

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The Lost Works Of History

Post by EchoesOfTheHorizon » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:55 pm

A lot of works from History we hold dear, such as Plutarch's lost works, just were not popular apparently in the ancient world, but we derive a lot of our understanding of the ancient mindset from him.

We know it wasn't too popular, given the books were lost to decay, and a realization nobody else had surviving copies, once the importance of such works was known. No single library, including Alexandria, could be lost, and in that loss, take for all time a popular work. Popular works have multiple copies, scholars seek them out, copy them, maintain them. They get quoted a lot.

Yet many authors, we hold dear, just decay. Part of the problem as far as I can tell is that the concept of a branch library was a rarity in the ancient world, and while scriptoriums did reproduce works, and Latin and Greek libraries did get set up in multiple cities, once set up, was poorly funded, and visiting scholars didn't keep notes in non-perishable script. Papyrus probably.... but these libraries were built to poor code, and needed candles and oil lamps to read in low light, and so were prone to burning. That's for the public libraries. The private ones, were.... well private. The person founding the library might not be a book reader themselves, just wanting it as a status symbol, to run local government or office out of, attract people. Even if a reader themselves, they would die.... and their descendants might not all that much care, and the books would be neglected. Many would get wet, grow mold. Roofs would collapse, some stolen, some taken for burning in the fireplace in the winter. Really hard to say.

A popular work, like the Bible, or Iliad, Oddyssey would survive. You can't destroy it in a pogrom. A not so popular work, most likely would die off, save for the fluke of a rare library or study preserving it, untouched by the ravishes of time, until someone notes it worth of antiquity.

A lot of works get quoted, we have fragments of them all over, but the copies are gone, and the works they cite are gone. The concepts are popular, romans and Greeks wanted to remember, actively wrote on it, but how widely popular, in actuality? They did off after all.

I often times wonder about the middle period of such books, the inheritors of them..... before they had their downfall, ones we have most but not all of. Just how they spent their lives, going day to day, with that lost text setting next to texts we would inherit. To them, it was something else, a full anthology, a full encyclopedia, every work of this or that author. Then one day..... the household changed. The ideology changed, as they knew less, the inheritor. Same villa, just know less. Doubt it bothered them much. Did the larger world change? At what point did we develop a different world view of the past then? Of these eras, and the space in between? Of the mindset of the people who lived through it?

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