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The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography

Rudolf Blum

Publication Year: 2011

The famous library of Alexandria, founded around 295 BCE by Ptolemaios I, housed the greatest collection of texts in the ancient world and was a fertile site of Hellenistic scholarship. Rudolf Blum’s landmark study, originally published in German in 1977, argues that Kallimachos of Kyrene was not only the second director of the Alexandrian library but also the inventor of two essential scholarly tools still in use to this day: the library catalog and the “biobibliographical” reference work. Kallimachos expanded the library’s inventory lists into volumes called the Pinakes, which extensively described and categorized each work and became in effect a Greek national bibliography and the source and paradigm for most later bibliographic lists of Greek literature. Though the Pinakes have not survived, Blum attempts a detailed reconstruction of Kallimachos’s inventories and catalogs based on a careful analysis of surviving sources, which are presented here in full translation.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ii


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pp. v-vi

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Translator's Preface

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pp. vii-viii

GREEK NAMES in this work are not rendered in their commonly used Latinized form but by transliteration, using the system employed by the library of Congress (which is identical with the one used in the German original). Only a few names have been retained in their Latinized form, e.g. Alexandria, Aristotle, Byzantium, Plato, Socrates. My authority for this is George Sarton who in the introduction to ...

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pp. ix

THIS WORK deals with the beginnings of bibliography. Kallimachos of Kyrene, a Hellenistic scholar and a famous poet, created about 260 B.C. a fundamental list of Greek authors with biographical and bibliographical data, the first national author bibliography, based on the holdings of the Alexandrian library. But what he, his predecessors, and successors achieved...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-13

THE TERM "bibliography" is generally understood to mean the compilation of lists of books. Some bibliographies contain also biographical data about the authors whose works are being listed. These are known by the technical term "biobibliographies," and often they are also called biographical...

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2. Forerunners: Aristotle, His Predecessors and Pupils

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pp. 14-94

IT IS NOT my intention to repeat here the entire prehistory and early history of philology, since Pfeiffer has dealt with it extensively. But in order to clarify the situation of those Alexandrian scholars to whom the Ptolemies entrusted the care of the book treasures which they had...

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3. Preconditions: The Museion and Its Library

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pp. 95-123

VIEWED from our own vantage point, Aristotle and his pupils witnessed the end of an era in Greek history and the beginning of the era which has been known since Droysen as the "Hellenistic

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4. Kallimachos and His Lists of Greek Authors and Their Works

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pp. 124-181

ACCOUNTS of the life and work of Kallimachos are neither particularly extensive nor are they particularly sparse. Our main source is the article "Kallimachos" in the Suda which contains some biographical data and a selective bibliography of his works. The article is based on an...

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5. Later Lists of Greek Writers and Their Works

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pp. 182-225

AS THE GREAT Alexandrian library was far superior to any earlier Greek book collections, so also its catalog, the Pinakes created by Kallimachos, a repertory of the works of Greek literature held by the library with data on their authors, was unique, the more so since the library had copies...

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6. The Development and Character of Kallimachos's Lists of Greek Authors and Their Works

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pp. 226-243

THE IMAGE of the Pinakes by Kallimachos which we have formed in our mind on the strength of quotations has been verified and complemented by conclusions drawn from later lists. It remains now to clarify how the Pinakes were compiled. To be sure, that process has not...

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7. The Achievements of Kallimachos in the Field of Bibliography

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pp. 244-247

KAlLIMACHOS "invented" the library catalog and the biobibliography, and therefore bibliography as such. These are, briefly stated, his achievements in the field of bibliography-major achievements, in my opinion, no matter whether his library catalog and the biobibliography of Greek authors which was based on it were good or bad. He created the first real library...


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pp. 248-262

Name and Subject Index

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pp. 263-276

Title Index

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pp. 277-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780299131739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299131746

Publication Year: 2011