"I forgot to write to you about Caesar; for I see what sort of a letter you have been expecting. But he wrote to Balbus and told him that the whole packet of letters, in which were mine and Balbus's, was so soaked with water when he received it that he did not even know there was any letter from me. He had, however, made out a few words in Balbus's letter, to which he replied in the following words : "I see that you have written something about Cicero, which I could not understand, but as far as I could conjecture, it was the sort of thing that I thought more to be desired than hoped for." So later on I sent Caesar an exact duplicate of my letter." (Ep. ad Quint. Frat. 2.12)
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
My father, who has been reading through the moral letters of Seneca the Younger, alerted me to an interesting passage in Seneca's Letter 95 (ca. 65 AD). In this epistle Seneca is trying to explain a particular aspect of philosophy that Lucilius, the recipient of the work, had asked Seneca to expound upon. He begins the epistle with tongue-in-cheek that Lucilius may be requesting something that he does not really want. To illustrate this Seneca gives an example he thought that Lucilius could relate with (and probably many educated Romans at the time).
"There are many things that we would have men think that we wish, but that we really do not wish. A lecturer sometimes brings upon the platform a huge work of research, written in the tiniest hand and very closely folded; after reading off a large portion, he says: "I shall stop if you wish;" and a shout arises: "Read on, read on!" from the lips of those who are anxious for the speaker to hold his peace then and there." (Ep. 95.2)
The portion of the illustration that I zeroed in upon had to do with the description of the "research" that was being read by the lecturer. I give it in English and in the Latin below.
"A lecturer sometimes brings upon the platform a huge work of research, written in the tiniest hand and very closely folded"
"Recitator historiam ingentem attulit minutissime scriptam, artissime plicatam."
When I first read this reference I immediately wondered if Seneca could be describing a codex. The English translation states that the book was "closely folded," which gives the impression of folded pages. At first glance, this wording gives the impression of a compact, tightly folded codex that was written in a small script. This English translation is not unlike the phrase Martial uses to describe a codex.
"You who wish my poems should be everywhere with you, and look to have them as companions on a long journey, buy these which the parchment confines in small pages. Assign your book-boxes to the great; this copy of me one hand can grasp."
"Et comites longae quaeris habere viae, Hos eme, quos artat brevibus membrane tabellis: Scrinia da magnis, me manus una capit." (Epigr. 1.2)
A Latin Dictionary. Founded on Andrews' edition of Freund's Latin dictionary. revised, enlarged, and in great part rewritten by. Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and. Charles Short, LL.D. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1879.