The Ancient Library

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On this page: Bona Dea – Bonorum Emptio – Bonus Eventus – Books and the Book Trade




taining a secret understanding with the Byzantine court, and Boethius stood up boldly in his defence, declaring that if Albinus was guilty, so was he and the whole senate with him. Thus involved in the same charge, he was sentenced to death by the cowardly assembly whose cause he had represented. He was thrown into prison at Pavia, and executed in 525.

The most famous work of Boethius, his Consolation of Philosophy, was written in prison. It was much read in the Middle Ages, and translated into every possible language. The book is thrown partly into the form of a dialogue, in which the inter­locutors are the author, and PhilosOpfiia, who appears to him to console him. As in the Menippean satura (see satura), the narrative is relieved by the occasional in­sertion of musical verses in various metres. The consolatory arguments are strictly philosophical.

Boethius was at great pains to make Greek learning accessible to his contemporaries, by means of translations of, and commen­taries upon, Greek books on philosophy, mathematics, rhetoric, and grammar. For this the following ages were much indebted to him. His writings, which were used as manuals throughout the Middle Ages, were the main storehouse of secular knowledge during that period. This is eminently true of his numerous philosophical works, and especially of his translations of Aristotle, which exercised immense influence upon the scholastic philosophy.

B5na D6a (" the good goddess ")• An Italian deity, supposed to preside over the earth, and all the blessings which spring from it. She was also the patron goddess i of chastity and fruitfulness in women. The names Fauna, Maia, and Ops, were origin­ally no more than varying appellations given by the priests to the Bona Dca. She is represented in works of art with a sceptre in her left hand, a wreath of vine leaves on her head, and a jar of wine at her side. Near her image was a consecrated serpent; indeed a number of tame serpents were kept in her temple, which was situated in Rome on the slope of the Aventine. All kinds of '. healing plants were preserved in her sane- j tuary. She was regarded in Rome as an austere virgin goddess, whose temple men were forbidden to enter. She belonged, accordingly, to the circle of deities who were worshipped by the Vestal Virgins. The anniversary of the foundation of her j temple was held on the 1st of May, when

prayers were offered up to her for the averting of earthquakes. Besides this, a secret festival was held to her on behalf of the public welfare, in the house of the officiating consul or praetor of the city, by matrons and the Vestal Virgins, on the night of May 3-4. The mistress of the j house presided. No man was allowed to be present at this celebration, or even to hear the name of the goddess. After offering a sacrifice of sucking pigs, the women per­formed a dance, accompanied by stringed and wind instruments. Under the Empire the festival degenerated into a mystic per­formance of extravagant character.

Bonorura emptlo. The technical term in Roman jurisprudence for the seizure of " i. If a ma

man sentenced to pay a certain sum did not perform his obligation within thirty days, the creditor obtained permis­sion from the praetor to attach his goods. After a renewed respite of thirty days the sale followed by auction to the highest bidder, the intending purchaser bidding for the whole property, with its assets and liabilities. The former proprietor might intervene and promise payment at any time before the fall of the hammer. The property once knocked down to him, the buyer became the absolute owner. A per­son against whom these proceedings were taken incurred infamia.

B5nus Eventus. See eventus.

Books and Book-trade. The Greeks were early familiar with the practice of multiply­ing copies of books by transcription, either to private order or for public sale. As far back as the 5th century b.c. the Athenians had a special place in their market-place for selling books, and it is clearly established that a regular book-fair existed at Athens by about 300 b.c. In Rome, towards the end of the republican age, the business of copying books and the book-trade in general developed on a large scale, and it became a fashionable thing to possess a library. The book-trade, in the proper sense of the term, owes its existence to Atticus, the well-known friend of Cicero. He kept a number of slaves skilled in shorthand and calligraphy (librarii), whom he set to copy a number of Cicero's writings, which he then disposed of at a considerable profit in Italy and Greece. His example was soon fol­lowed, especially as the interest in new literary productions, and the love of reading, greatly increased after the time of Augustus.

To facilitate the appearance of a great number of copies at the same time, the

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.