Ancient Libraries and Renaissance Humanism

The De bibliothecis of Justus Lipsius


Winner of the 2018 Josef IJsewijn Prize for Best Book on a Neo-Latin Topic

Although many humanists, from Petrarch to Fulvio Orsini, had written briefly about library history, the De bibliothecis of Justus Lipsius was the first self-contained monograph on the topic. The De bibliothecis proved to be a seminal achievement, both in redefining the scope of library history and in articulating a vision of a public, secular, research institution for the humanities. It was repeatedly reprinted and translated, plagiarized and epitomized. Through the end of the nineteenth century, scholars turned to it as the ultimate foundation for any discussion of library history. In Ancient Libraries and Renaissance Humanism, Hendrickson presents a critical edition of Lipsius’s work with introductory studies, a Latin text, English translation, and a substantial historical commentary.

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Thomas Hendrickson, Ph.D. (2013), UC Berkeley, is a Rome-Prize winner and teaches at Stanford Online High School. He has published on ancient libraries, ancient biography, and the reception of both in the Renaissance world.
“This is a supremely useful book.” - Earle Havens, Johns Hopkins University, in: Renaissance Quarterly, 72:1 (Spring 2019), pp. 253-255
“The translation is lively, faithful to Lipsius’s much discussed, and difficult to characterize, style.” - Kathleen M. Comerford, Georgia Southern University, in: Journal of Jesuit Studies, 5:4 (November 2018), pp. 699-701
“The most important and innovative part of this volume is the generous commentary, which not only provides the reader with abundant material on the ancient libraries discussed by Lipsius, but also on ancient and modern authors who have contributed to the subject.” - in: Neo-Latin News 2017, pp 139-141
“This edition, with a detailed introduction, translation on facing pages, and commentary, is very welcome. The notes are full and well informed. The standard of production is high and the book is well illustrated” - Nigel Wilson, Lincoln College, Oxford, in: Library & Information History, 33:3 (2017), pp. 220-221
“Hendrickson’s translation of De Bibliothecis is judicious and eloquent; his analysis of its sources, Lipsius’s writing style, and the context of its production are excellent. This books offers a perfect model for the reissuing of Renaissance texts and making them available to a wider audience.” - Arthur der Weduwen, University of St Andrews, in: Sixteenth Century Journal, 49:4 (Winter 2018), pp. 1168-1170
“Thomas Hendrickson’s critical and annotated edition of Lipsius’s De bibliothecis syntagma is a work of great erudition and shows the editor’s affinity with both classical and more recent Latin on the one hand, and his familiarity with the history of the book on the other.” - Jeanine De Landtsheer, Leuven University, in: Quaerendo, 49:1 (March 2019), pp. 79-82
“a handsome volume, which provides us with the text in Latin and an English translation of the Renaissance work on libraries of the scholar Justus Lipsius that should be of considerable interest to scholars working in earlier book cultures [...]. Overall, Hendrickson has provided a great service to scholars interested in (ancient) libraries. This is a work that may, and probably will, prompt further study of the ancient materials about book collections and also of the Renaissance context in which book collections were subsequently found. Hendrickson’s volume thus rightly deserves a place in the scholar’s library!” - Yun Lee Too, Cambridge University, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.10.25
List of Images
1 The De bibliothecis of Justus Lipsius 1.1 The significance of the De bibliothecis
1.2 The Need for a New Edition of Lipsius’s De bibliothecis
2 Lipsius Proteus: The Career of a Scholar in an Age of Strife
3 Library Historiography before Lipsius
3.1 Manuals and Legends: Library Historiography in the Ancient World
3.2 Isidore of Seville: Literary Materiality and Literary Tradition in the Monastic World
3.3 Library Historiography and the Humanists
3.3.1 Francesco Petrarch
3.3.2 Michael Neander
3.3.3 Fulvio Orsini and Melchior Guilandinus
3.3.4 Library Historiography and Religious Authority
3.4 Library Historiography and Vatican Frescoes: Rocca and Lipsius
4 The De bibliothecis: Title, Structure, and Purpose
4.1 A Note on the Title of the De bibliothecis
4.2 Structure and Purpose of the De bibliothecis
Table 4.2: Chapter Outline of the De bibliothecis
5 Lipsius and his Sources
5.1 Ancient Sources
Table 5.1: Ancient Sources
5.2 Contemporary Sources
6 Print History
6.1 Latin Editions of the De bibliothecis
Table 6.1: List of Latin Editions of the De bibliothecis
6.2 Translations of the De bibliothecis
Table 6.2: List of Translations of the De bibliothecis
7 Editorial Principles
7.1 The Text
7.2 Orthography
7.3 Accents and Punctuation in Lipsius’s Latin
8 A Note on the Commentary

De bibliothecis: Text and Translation
De bibliothecis: Commentary

Works Cited by Author and Date


List of Images
Figure 1: Title Page of the (1602) First Edition of the DB (digitized by Google Books)
Figure 2: Relationships between the DB editions
Figure 3: Ozymandias Fresco from the Vatican Library (photo: author)
Figure 4: The Serapeum in the Roman Period (McKenzie 2007, figure 350; courtesy of Judith McKenzie)
Figure 5: Hadrian’s Library in Athens (Sisson 1929, plate 21)
Figure 6: Rooms Traditionally Identified as Pergamene Royal Library (Bohn 1885, table 3)
Figure 7: Octavia’s Portico (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons: (last access 30.7.16))
Figure 8: The Library of Palatine Apollo in the Augustan Era (Iacopi and Tedone 2005/6, table 8; courtesy of the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma)
Figure 9: Twin Halls of the Post-Domitianic Palatine Apollo Library (De Gregori 1937, figure 5)
Figure 10: Inscription of Antiochus, a bibliotheca latina Apollinis, from Orsini’s Imagines (digitized by Google Books)
Figure 11: Inscription of Julius Falyx, a bibliotheca graeca palat., from Orsini’s Imagines (digitized by Google Books)
Figure 12: Map of Libraries in Ancient Rome (adapted from Wikimedia Commons)
Figure 13: Temple of Peace (Meneghini and Valenzani 2007, figure 65; courtesy of Roberto Meneghini)
Figure 14: Trajan’s Forum (Meneghini 2002, figure 151; courtesy of Roberto Meneghini)
Figure 15: The Sanctuary of Hercules Victor at Tivoli (Giuliani 2004, table 14; courtesy of Cairoli Fulvio Giuliani)
Figure 16: Pluteus from the Biblioteca Laurenziana (Clark 1901, figure 102)

Scholars and advanced students of library history, book history, the history of scholarship, classical studies, Neo-Latin studies, Renaissance humanism, early modern intellectual history, and Justus Lipsius and the Low Countries.
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