Misconceptions about the Art of Ancient Publishing: Catullus’ Book of Poetry Reconsidered

By Mark Heerink.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The poetry of the famous Roman poet Catullus (first century BC) has come down to us through a single manuscript. The question as to whether the order of the poems in this collection shows original composition of the poet has vexed scholars for over a hundred years. This paper will show that modern conceptions of publishing have anachronistically influenced the proposed solutions to this problem. After examination of the reactions of ancient readers to Catullus’ poetry, it will become clear that no ancient reader of Catullus’ poems has read the same “book”. This urges us to reconsider our frame of reference in discussing ancient publishing.

Keywords: The Ancient Book, History of Publishing, Latin Poetry, Catullus

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.95-100. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 516.258KB).

Mark Heerink

PhD student and teacher of Latin, Classics Department, Leiden University, The Netherlands, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands

PhD student and teacher of Latin, Classics Department, Leiden University, The Netherlands. Mark Heerink is working on the PhD project Echoing Hylas: a metapoetical reading of the Hylas myth, in which the concept of the ancient poetry book plays an important role. He is preparing a booklet for the general public on the book and reading in classical antiquity.


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