The Ancient Library

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On this page: Librarius – Liburna – Lichas – Licinius Macer – Lictors – Lighthouse – Lighting



attributed the establishment of a public library at Athens to Pisistratus in the 6th century b.c. This was said to have been carried off by Xerxes, and afterwards restored by the Syrian Seleucus Nicanor. The greatest library known in antiquity was that founded by the first Ptolemy at Alexandria, which is said to have contained 400,000 volumes. Next to this, the most important was that of the kings of Per-gamon, said to have contained 200,000 volumes. This library was presented by Marcus Antonius to Cleopatra, when the best part of the library at the Museum of Alexandria was burnt down at the taking of the town by Caesar. There was a second library at Alexandria in the Serapeum.

The first libraries which were formed at Rome were Greek, as, for instance, those of jEmilius Paullus, Sulla, and Lucullus, who had brought them to Home as booty after their wars in Macedonia, Athens, and Asia Minor. From the middle of the last century of the Republic it became the fashion in wealthy families to form libraries; in country houses, especially, they were regarded as indispensable.

Csesar had formed the plan of founding a public library in Rome, and of setting Varro to make a collection of Greek and Latin books. The first public library of Greek and Latin books was actually set up in the time of Augustus by Aslnius Pollio in the atrium of Libertas. Augustus him­self founded two more, the Octavian library in the portico of Octavia, and the Palatine in the temple of the Palatine Apollo. The most celebrated of those founded by the later emperors was the byblwtheca Ulpia of Trajan. In the later imperial period there were twenty-eight public libraries in Rome. There were some very considerable private collections, for instance, that of Serenus Saminonicus, the tutor of Gordian, which consisted of 62,000 volumes. 1,700 rolls have been found in a library discovered during the excavations at Herculaneum.

Libraries. The Latin name for a book­seller. (See books and book-trade.)

LIburna. A kind of light war-vessel, with two banks of oars and of little draught. Its shape was long and narrow, pointed at both ends. The pattern was taken by the Romans from the Liburnians, a piratical tribe on the Dalmatic coast. (See ships.)

Llchas. The attendant of Heracles (q-v.), who brought him from Deianira the poisoned garment, and was hurled by him into the sea, where his body became a rock.

LIcInins Macer. See annalists.

Lictors (Lictures). Attendants who bore the fasces (q.v.) before Roman magistrates who had a right to these insignia. They were generally freedmen, and formed in Rome a corps consisting of three dScuriai under ten presidents. From these decurice, the first of which was exclusively reserved for the consuls, the magistrates in office drew their lictors, while the provincial office-bearers nominated their own for their term of power. There was besides another decuria of thirty lictores curiuH to attend on the public sacrifices, to summon the c.OmUla curiata, and, when these meetings became little more than formal, to repre­sent in them the thirty curias j from this decuria probably were also chosen the lictors of the flamen didlis and of the Vestals. It was the duty of the lictors to accompany the magistrate continually, whenever he appeared in public. On these occasions they marched before him in single file, last in order and immediately preceding him being the lictw proxlmus, who was superior in rank. All passers by, with the exception of matrons and Vestals, were warned by the lictors to stand aside and make due obeisance. The space required for official purposes was kept clear by them. Sentences of punishment were also executed by them. Their dress corresponded to that of the magistrate; inside the city the tdga, outside, and in a triumph, the red military cloak.

Lighthouse. See phabos.

Lighting. In the earliest times the rooms of the Greeks were lighted by means of pans filled with dried chips of logs, and strips of resinous wood, or long deal staves tied together with bands of bast, and the like. In later times torches were made of metal or clay cases filled with resinous sub­stances. Or again, wooden staves dipped in pitch, resin, or wax were tied close together and inclosed in a metal casing, inserted in a saucer to catch the ashes and drops of resin. These torches were either carried by a handle under the saucer, or had a long shaft and a stand to set them up on. Resinous torches were in use among the Romans also, in early and later times. They used besides a dry wick of linen or oakum dipped in wax or tallow. Oil lamps, however, were no sooner invented than they became the most general medium of illumination among both Greeks and Romans. The lamp consisted of two parts : (1) A saucer for the oil, sometimes round,

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