The Royal Irish Academy Library

G. L. Huxley

Royal Irish Academy

On Some Books about Greek and the Greeks in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy

During more than two centuries the Library has gathered a fine stock of works to do with the Hellenes and Hellenism. The assemblage deserves to be better known; accordingly the following selection of titles is intended to give an indication of the range and depth of our holdings, some of which are not to be found elsewhere in Ireland.

Earlier printed works are of concern to historians of intellectual development; some of them, moreover, are in their binding and in their typography admirable artefacts of scholarship. Lexicographers will delight in our Etymologicum Magnum edited by F. Sylburg (1594). For philosophers there awaits the complete edition Platonis Opera of I. Bekker (London 1826), with two additional volumes of a Versio Latina. Students of historiography will welcome the presence of H.C. Gent's version of the history of Diodorus Siculus (London 1653), which renders the original as far as the War of Troy. Among our Homers are the texts edited by G. Dindorf of the Iliad (Oxford 1856) and of the Odyssey (Oxford 1855). Eighteenth-century concern with Homeric criticism is illustrated by R. Payne Knight, Prolegomena ad Homerum (ed. F.E. Ruhnkopf) republished at Leipzig (1816), with its discussion of traces of the digamma; and Thomas Blackwell, An Enquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer (second edition, London 1736). Bibliophile antiquarians will take pleasure in the two volumes of John Hudson's edition of the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Oxford 1704). Biographers will be pleased by Xylander's Plutarchi Omnia Opera (two volumes, Paris 1624). For the delectation of cartographers there is to hand Gerardus Mercator, Cl. Ptolemaei Alexandrini Geographiae Libri Octo (1584). Students of political thought in Renaissance Italy will find enjoyment in Guillelmus Du Val, Aristotelis Opera Omnia (two volumes, Paris 1629), wherein are reprinted the two additional books of Aristotle's Politics composed by Kyriacus Stroza. European concern with Central Asia is reflected in the translation by Peter Pratt (of the East India House) of the history of Alexander the Great by Quintus Curtius Rufus (two volumes, revised edition, London 1821).

Several beautiful books came to us by bequest from R.I. Best: we have an Aeschylus edited by G. Hermann in two volumes (Leipzig 1852), which had once been in the library of the Earl of Dartry; from Best came also the six-volume edition of Herodotus edited by Gaisford - the set was bound by Charles Lewis (born 1786), of whom it was said 'his books appear to move on silken hinges'. A notable rarity, of interest to students of Greek lyric poetry, is Dammii Lexicon Pindaricum (Berlin 1765), reprinted and bound with H. Huntingford of Winchester's Pindari Carmina (London 1821).

Much Hellenic matter is to be found in Proceedings of learned Academies; the runs have been obtained by exchange, and some of them extend back even before the time of the founding of the Royal Irish Academy. Periodicals concerned mainly with Greek and Latin philology include Emerita (Madrid), Eranos (Stockholm), Minos (Salamanca), the American Journal of Philology (Baltimore) and Cahiers de l'Institut du Moyen-Age grec et latin (Copenhagen). Greek topics are prominent in Atti della Accademia nazionale dei Lincei (Rome) and in the Journal des Savants (Paris), also in Annali della Scuola normale superiore di Pisa. There is much Greek hagiography in the series Analecta Bollandiana (Brussels). Vestnik Drevnei Istorii (Moscow) devotes ample space to Greek subjects, for example to the Pontic colonies.

Greek religion and philosophy are well represented. We have, for example, Walter Burkert, Die orientalisierende Epoche in der griechische Religion und Literatur (Heidelberg 1984). Interesting not only for the time of its publication but also for its attention to K. Marx's studies in Democritus is S.Y. Luria, Ocherki po Istorii Antichnoi Nauki (Moscow and Leningrad 1947). The recent growth of investigation into later Greek philosophy is reflected in J.M. Dillon and A.A. Long (edd.), The Question of "Eclecticism" (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1988). The mantic element in Greek religion and life is neatly sketched by H.W. Parke in his Greek Oracles (London 1967), and the role of philosophical imagination is explored by Gerard Watson in Phantasia in Classical Thought (Galway 1988).

Archaeologists will be drawn by several works. Among writings by F. Schachermeyr on bronze-age Greece there stands out Mykene und das Hethiterreich (Vienna 1986). J.N. Coldstream, Geometric Greece (London 1977) is a now classic study of early historical Hellas and its connections overseas. J.V. Luce's Homer and the Heroic Age (London 1975) elegantly introduces epic antiquities. The oral tradition inherited by Homer is intently examined by A. Hoekstra in Homeric Modifications of Formulaic Prototypes (Amsterdam 1969). Mantic use of the tradition is analysed in Lene Andersen, Studies in Oracular Verses: Delphic Responses in Hexameter (Copenhagen 1987). J.F. Kindstrand's Homer in der zweiten Sophistik (Uppsala 1973) throws light upon the continuously educative role of Homeric poetry.

Students of Attic state and society will find to be helpful M.H. Hansen, Was Athens a Democracy? (Copenhagen 1989) and R.G. Ussher, Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae (reprint, Bristol 1986). Vital in the study of the Attic calendar is W.K. Pritchett, The Choiseul Marble (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1970). Pertinent to Athenian economics and foreign policy is P. Salmon, La Politique égyptienne d'Athènes (VIe et Ve Siècles) (Brussels 1981).

Late antique history and literature have not been ignored. Editorial industry is manifest in L.G. Westerink, The Greek Commentaries on Plato's Phaedo, I. Olympiodorus (Amsterdam 1976), II. Damascius (Amsterdam 1977). Nor is the eastern Roman Empire forgotten. Historical geographers will, for instance, turn to F. Hild, Das byzantinische Strassensystem in Kappadokien (Vienna 1977); and bright intellects of Byzantium are evoked for students of imperial twilight by Steven Runciman in The Last Byzantine Renaissance (Cambridge 1970). Central to the problems of interpreting hagiography is L. Rydén, Das Leben des heiligen Narren Symeon von Leontios von Neapolis (Stockholm 1963). Not only students of Islam will be helped by V. Christides, The Conquest of Crete by the Arabs (ca.824) (Athens 1984).

Some rare modern Greek printings came by bequest of William Smith O'Brien, himself no mean Greek scholar. In 1856 he received in Athens two volumes of the poems of Alexandros Rhizos Rhangabé (1837, 1840) from their author. Also in O'Brien's library was Esquisse d'une Grammaire du Grec actuel par Rxxx (Athens 1857). An Athenian 1857 printing of poems of Solomos contains the signature of one of the joint editors, E.I. Mantsavinos. A usefully extensive survey is B. Knös, L'Histoire de la Littérature néo-grecque (Stockholm 1961).

Papyrologists will find the series Papyrologica Coloniensia available; titles include S. West, The Ptolemaic Papyri of Homer (1967); J.S. Rusten, Dionysius Scytobrachion (1982); and H.C. Youtie and others, Das Archiv des Petaus (1969). The pioneering efforts of Mahaffy in papyrology are recalled in the Academy's Cunningham Memoirs.

The Library has potential to benefit researchers in related domains. For instance, geologists will find helpful Ludwig Hempel, Forschungen zur physische Geographie der Insel Kreta im Quartär (Gottingen 1991); and architects interested in the diffusion of masonic skills will benefit from C. Nylander, Ionians at Pasargadae (Uppsala 1970).

The selection of books here noted is intended to give a sense of the great variety of pertinent topics accessible in the Academy's Library to Hellenists of diverse persuasions and interests. Our holdings deserve to be better known. It is to be hoped that this note will encourage more scholars devoted to Greek language, literature, and antiquities to come to study in the Library.

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