The man with the book.

In the life of peoples mechanical inventions of the greatest inconspicuousness have often had the greatest impact on the rise of culture. Prometheus, who drew fire from heaven, I mean: the man who struck the first spark out of the stone, he put mankind on different ground; the same did the man who invented the first ship’s wheel and dared the first sea voyage—or the other who first got the iron out of the mine and taught it how to forge: they changed the nature of mankind. No less memorable, however, is the nameless inventor of the first book, the book which — like the ship — is a means of transport, and indeed the most valuable means of transport, since it is the most precious of all goods, the spiritual and thought life of peoples, human memory carries from country to country and from century to century. The book is also one of the most important aids in the hype of the world and has not been celebrated enough as such.

I mean the book that can be duplicated . This is not true of the brick libraries of the ancient Babylonians; it applies from the book of the Egyptians and the Greeks.

The first revelation of Greece was Homer ; but Homer was not the inventor of the book for the Greeks. He didn’t have it yet. It is important to get this straight and I must start with it [177] .

The naïve thinks of old Homer sitting there poetically writing down the 48 books of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Such naïve notions have been asserting themselves again recently, but in any case they contradict the obvious facts. Homer knew the script, though. He himself once mentioned a letter on the writing tablet on the occasion of the adventure of Bellerophon. It is the secret letter that demands the death of the bearer. But the tablet isn’t a book I’m talking about. Who gave Homer the book[p. 100]puts the glasses on him; one was just as foreign as the other at the time. Otherwise he could have written in prose and it would have been much easier; for as soon as the “book” actually appears among the Greeks, legends and history are immediately and systematically written down in prose.

All ancient poetry is in verse, and the purpose of verse is everywhere a reminder, which is necessary because the book is missing. Precisely for that, to help the memory, the strikingly typical in the epic language also serves, not only in the ” tondapameeibomenos ” and thousands of other constant introductory formulas, which later invited to parody, not only in the eternally same and sticky decorative words like the ” in the thunderclouds Zeus”, but also in the repetition of entire sections, which goes so far that one thinks Homer is plundering himself.

Blind Homer without a book.
The good poet even comes to our aid himself; for in his Odyssey he himself lets the singer Demodocus appear, who tells of heroic things in a very Homeric way; but Demodocus is blind and without a book, so he cannot read and only has to trust his own mind and memory [178] . Homer stands out for us in Demodocus, and now even the name “Homeros” itself means the “blind man”, nothing else. Was that supposed to be a coincidence? Iliad and Odyssey, the long epics are poetry for the blind.

We have an old biography of Homer; it says: the poet was originally called Melesigenes; he became blind, and was therefore called Homer while he was in Kyme; for in Kyme the blind are called “Homere” [179] .

In the Greek sculpture that formed his portrait, the poet was clearly portrayed as blind from the start. That already corresponded to his name; there was no other way.

The blind people are in primitive conditions in other respects too[p. 101]often the bearers of poetry and folk and heroic song; they are the lecturers at the markets and festivals. The German Middle Ages are already a witness; because it says: “So the blind sing to us”. They also appear among the Serbs; the liveliest view, however, is what I read about ballad poetry in Palermo. There still existed in recent times and perhaps still exists today, a congregation of the blind, 30 members strong, some of whom only lecture, but others invent something new; they are dead serious about it. They let children lead them when they perform. This guild for the blind was founded there as early as 1661. But what they sing are bandit stories from Testalonga, Fradiavolo, Tabbuso and Zuppa. These are Achilles and Odysseus, the heroes of this Sicilian “Homere”[180] .

Now that among the Greeks of those ancient times too there was more than one “Homer,” i. H. more than one blind singer is beyond doubt. Apparently, with them, as with the Germans, the Serbs, and the people of Palermo, singing and making up stories was the general occupation of the blind who otherwise have no occupation. One has only to hold the blind Demodocus next to the poet of the Homeric hymn to Apollo, who even calls himself the “blind man” to see this.

If we now nevertheless want to add [181] that the blind professional poets on whom the Iliad and the Odyssey are based also had assistant scribes who wrote down the new hymns either immediately or soon afterwards, if we look closely there were around 500 slates necessary to accommodate the approximately 28,000 lines of the two epics [182] . Maintaining the unity of the text was then out of the question; it was completely shattered and a chaotic confusion of the many hundreds of little wooden tablets was the almost inevitable consequence.

In any case, Homer is the man without a book. in the[p. 102]Persecution, on the other hand, is meant to be about the man with the book, as life showed him and as the art of the ancients portrayed him.

Where do you get the book from? The soil of Greece itself was too poor in vegetable produce, or the practical genius of the Greeks was not developed enough to produce the “paper” which alone makes possible a book fit for literary purposes.

However, the writing was already there. You drew a picture on the wall and understood each other. Nothing was more natural. Then the picture was abbreviated to suggestive lines, and the letter was complete. It was a major step forward when the Greeks refined the oriental syllabary, which does not express the vowel, into a letter script that does justice to each individual sound in the word. This was the first great grammatical achievement of Greek culture in the service of phonetics. But what to write about?

Writing material from the earliest times. Other poets without a “book”.
There was no lack of writing surfaces [183] ​​. You would carve the greetings or directions you had on your heart on the front door or on the tree by the way or on the nearest rock face. Olive trees often stood at the borders of fields: the owner regularly dug the boundary note ( arbores notatae) into their bark). Slaves and cattle were also branded with marks so that one knew to whom they belonged; occasionally the whole person was tattooed, even then. State laws, however, were dug early on in the smooth outer walls of the temples or directly in the high enclosure wall that surrounded the place of execution. Graves were provided with inscribed stone slabs. But if the text was to be transportable, one would use fur, cowhide, or even rollable lead plates and wooden boards. The Greek finally covered the handy little wooden tablet with wax early on, and he began to write in the wax, a sign of transience: because the writing could always be smoothed out of the wax again and again.

[p. 103]

But of what use was that to the poets who immediately followed Homer and who, unlike Homer, began to express their own ego in their verses? The first elegy came into being, the first argumentative poem by Archilochus , the first choral song, which Alkman artfully designed. How were these men supposed to secure their text? What they wrote was always small in scope; they laid down a single record of it in the temple; that was the only safeguard: the work should not perish. The temples are in the 7th century BC. the sole archives for such poetry [184]. However, there was hardly any duplication by copying, and publication was only by oral presentation. These men, too, were still waiting for the “Book”.

This also applies to Hesiod. From Hesiod we have Theogony and Works and Days. But whoever reads these two works marvels at the lack of order and plan, and the frequent incoherence of the content. Each of them is only about 1000 lines strong. The damage can only be explained by the fact that the text, as has been said before, was originally distributed over a number of smaller writing surfaces. The parts can only have been put together in a “book” afterwards. Hence the inconsistency. We hear of an ancient example of Hesiod on lead, which was apparently exposed to the weather on Mount Helicon at the famous spring, the Hippocrene. In this lead we have a valuable specimen of the original state of Greek writing. But that the text of the “Werke und Tage” was complete on the lead is hard to believe. Countless ancient lead rolls have been found, and they always contain only a very small amount of text and probably no more than 50 lines[185] .

How should Plato’s state be possible in the aftermath of the great Thucydides prose work on the Peloponnesian War? The “paper” was a crying need, and it couldn’t be found.

[p. 104]

Import of the papyrus roll. emergence of book literature.
Then came the big thing. Egypt finally opened up its foreign trade. Egypt had long had the paper it had longed for, it had long had the book of the future. In the 7th century it happened; At that time Greek trade with Egypt began. The name of King Psammetichs I, who reigned around 670 to 616 and opened up his country, is therefore unforgettable. Around 630 BC BC, the first roll of paper may really have come from the Nile to Athens or Miletus or Sicily. And the actual Greek book literature could begin. It developed suddenly and rapidly.

It is not rag or rag paper, and certainly not our modern wooden paper. Rather, from the marrow of the Nile reed, the material was chartercalled, artfully produced in long flags, and that has been happening there for thousands of years. The whole writing-loving culture of the Egyptians rests on this, on the charter. In Egypt, the described masses of papyrus still lie in dense layers under the sandy soil and are being dug up today, almost as coal is dug in our country; or the dumb mummies are wrapped up in it, and whole cases full of them go to Europe every year (assuming there is no world war) to be rolled up in the libraries and museums of Oxford, London, Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Florence, Geneva, Strasbourg, deciphered to be studied.

Enviously, the cramped land of the pharaohs withheld this wonderful paper from the world for so long. Writing on it was the Egyptian’s special lust. Millions of times these people, often the most distinguished dignitaries of the Nile country, have had themselves squatting in a writing position, statuary or in relief, often whole groups who write to dictation , i.e. are in the process of reproducing a text [186] .

panel 5

reading man.
From a marble relief.
(Paris, coin cabinets.)

So now, at last, the Greeks had won a book that could indeed easily be duplicated hundreds of times.[p. 105]The big business could use: Copies of the better works in any number, book sales, book trade.

And so, just now, in the sixth century, Greek prose writing really begins, which absolutely presupposes the book, since prose cannot be memorized in the manner of an epic poem. But Greek poetry also changed its nature at once and enriched itself wonderfully; for all at once the great lyric comes into being, and then tragedy, oratorio and opera come into being; i.e. H. music can now suddenly develop in the richest way. We recognize the essence of Greek music by the meter. Elaborate metering is now possible, a rhythm with multiple changes of time signature that would have been unthinkable without carefully writing down the text and the musical notes. I only mention the great Stesichorus , who now—beginning around the year 600[187] — writing his powerful, expansive, semi-dramatic, oratorio-like choral poems in Sicily, and Aeschylus creating tragedy in Athens soon after. This revelation of the Greek artistic genius, the tragedy, was only now possible. But further: the Homer text was finally edited and saved in book form for the first time in the form in which we have it, and this also happened in Athens, as is now absolutely certain [188] . This is the first immortal merit that Athens has earned for world literature.

And now Herodotus , the father of history, also appears before us. Herodotus and others like him are now writing in prose the history of legends and states of their country, Anaxagoras and other philosophers before him their bold and eternally memorable drafts of being and becoming and the nature and origin of the universe. The wonderfully drifting Greek spirit had now gained a soil on which it could flourish and proliferate, just as where fresh crumbs of earth form, vegetation immediately arises. Plato, Democritus, Aristotle raised their broad peaks. The book produced literature.

[p. 106]

And how supple was this book! It was light as a feather in the hand. You had flying leaves, and whoever glued many of them together received a surface of any length, which he described and slightly rolled up. Because the book was only a role. Stitching was unknown.

Greek book trade. Production of the papyrus.
And how firm and clear was the deep, dark writing on the light background! The paper was white, but not blank and had no reflections: a treat for the eye. Writing was no longer engraving and scribing; it was paint order. The letters were drawn with a soft pen. And that was quick. There were mass copies right away. Book entrepreneurs kept a slave staff who delivered the copies to dictation quickly enough; because 50 copies could easily be produced at once, 1000 in one week, following dictation. And now people bought the Platodialoges or the plays of Euripides, took them with them on the sea voyage and read them on the ship’s deck. The book trade and mail order went everywhere from Athens, to Sparta, Asia Minor, to the cities of the Black Sea. The roles were kept in pretty wooden cases. Even at school every boy now had his textbook, and the educated man couldn’t do enough with it; Hungry to read, he bought all sorts of authors, Homer, epicharms, tragedies, writings on architecture, cookbooks, etc. together, and sporadically, well-organized little libraries are springing up. For the time being they are only privately owned. With the first library, however, the first overview of the holdings of Greek literature was also given; Greece became conscious of its spiritual possessions; a literary history could emerge and here and there, well-ordered little libraries are springing up. For the time being they are only privately owned. With the first library, however, the first overview of the holdings of Greek literature was also given; Greece became conscious of its spiritual possessions; a literary history could emerge and here and there, well-ordered little libraries are springing up. For the time being they are only privately owned. With the first library, however, the first overview of the holdings of Greek literature was also given; Greece became conscious of its spiritual possessions; a literary history could emerge[189] .

So the development first went through three centuries, from the 6th to the 4th century BC. Chr.

In the Nile Delta, in the wide and muddy side arms of the Nile, papyrus reeds grew and thrived in whole forests. These forests stood like islands in the[p. 107]shallow water areas. However, they did not grow wild; rather, the reeds were carefully planted, tended, and every loss replaced; a huge fortune was invested in these water plantations for the owners. They were tall shafts with gracefully feathered tops and tufts of leaves that rustled and swayed slightly in the sea wind; the shaft more than strong as an arm. Footpaths so narrow that only one man could pass, and on which the gamekeeper could move and the harvest could be brought in, led through the thickets [190] .

This important culture existed there for thousands of years in antiquity. How different now! Since the lack of care, the papyrus has completely disappeared there in the Nile.

For manufacture, the town of Saïs, the residence of King Psammetichus, was the principal place, and a whole series of varieties of charter were made, differing in quality, size, coloring, delicacy, and permanence. Because for important files of the state administration and for beautiful books of poetry one needed better qualities than the merchant needed in his shop for writing accounts.

Anyone who visits our major museums and university libraries, where samples of it are displayed in glass and frames, can have a view of this “Charter” today. The fabrication, however, was difficult and required a great deal of time and a considerable workforce. Because the solid pith of the reed was painstakingly broken up into strips that were as long and as thin as possible, and these strips were then glued together smoothly by laying them on top of one another in the form of a net. However, the fibers easily came loose again, and repeated pressing and renewed gluing, finally careful drying of the goods was always necessary. However, this initially only produced a single sheet of about 34 × 20 cm in size, and once again the adhesives with their fine glue had to be used to make the book flags from 20 sheets,[p. 108]put together that came on the market. The writing was placed on the flag in columns like the columns in our newspapers. If 20 sheets were not enough for the intended book, a number of flags were glued together again, depending on need.

paper prices. Scope and equipment of the roles. book division
This type of production alone explains why paper was very expensive in antiquity [191] ; and the more the demand increased, the more expensive it had to become. For soon the small Nile delta alone was to supply the paper for the entire educated world of that time, for Greece, Syria, Macedonia, Italy, Spain, southern France. Yes, the manufacturers in the Delta formed a trust and, on top of that, jointly drove prices up artificially, Strabo tells us. The great libraries of antiquity, such as those of the Roman Empire, contained immense values. Literature was also a treasure in terms of the paper it was written on.

In large cities like Rome, the paper, the blank rolls, were stored in large warehouses overseen by the state. If the papyrus harvest on the Nile was bad, there would be a world paper shortage almost as bad as the famine that threatened if the grain did not come from Egypt, and the authorities then had to step in and regulate the sale. Paper was often not available in the country. Since the recent war, we too have been able to tell of how the government takes over all stocks of goods in order to control the greatest need.

Today we find it very uncomfortable to read in scrolls, and at first there were really great abuses in the Greek book trade. The thing was tolerable when it comes to rolls of about 20 pages. Today Herodotus is printed on 600 pages, and for such extensive works there were rolls of 50, 70 or 100 meters in length. We have to imagine the first editions of Herodotus and Thucydides as such endless collections; Alexander the Great still had the Iliad and the Odyssey in his hands. A drastic one[p. 109]Reform was therefore necessary. It was Callimachus who famously said, “a great book is a great evil.” i. since the 3rd century BC it became the custom to cut up the larger books (hence the term tomus , “the cut”), i.e. H. the division of books in writing became the custom; it was forced [192] . Virgil therefore published his Aeneid in 12 roles, and Cicero published his work “Of the Orator” in 3 roles; and the art of disposition increased wonderfully. From then on one learned to divide one’s material in such a way that, if possible, each smaller role contained a self-contained “section” of the work that could be read and enjoyed on its own.

This very superficial reason explains the otherwise strange execution of the book divisions in the old authors.

Library. Pictorial representation: writing.
The poets in particular were read in roles that were as thin as possible; a book of odes by Horace stood on a paper galley of only 20 pages, hardly more. That’s still like that; think of Mirza-Schaffy and women’s love and life; we too do not want large formats for our tender poets. If you also wanted to create an effect, you equipped the roll in a pretty ornate way, put it in a colored coat (like we do our table serviettes) and stuck a gilded rod in the middle. The picture books must have been particularly attractive and glamorous; whoever disassembled the scroll saw a succession of colored pictures, portraits, battle scenes from the Roman Wars, etc. Above all, there was always a piece of firm parchment hanging out of the scroll, which people liked to dye purple and on which the title could be found. This piece of paper itself was called the “Title”. In the library room there were cupboards or there were “nests” on the room walls; in it the scrolls lay together like little birds, ready to fly away, always prettily with their heads forwards, on which the title hung. It was certain[p. 110]very nice to stay in such a book room; everything, books and borders and walls, brightly painted and bright with colour; plus fine statue decorations; also painted portraits of favorite poets. The nests were only placed at a comfortable height, and the cupboards were also only low, with 3 shelves. You didn’t have to climb ladders to find your Plato or Livy [193] .

How did the reading person deal with the book? Modern man lacks any perception of this; but the rich ancient art can give it to us [194] . Here is the place to draw on the sculpture and painting of the ancients. Rarely have we been given the opportunity to determine the appropriateness and appropriateness of the artistic motifs, especially with regard to the position of the hands, as in this case.

Even our modern artists sometimes get into the dilemma of having to depict a person with a book. But they lack a tradition or the mindfulness to do so, and they are often oddly wrong. who e.g. B. the beautiful Goethe statue of Schwanthaler in Frankfurt a. M. will presumably pay little attention to the fact that the poet is holding the wreath in his left hand and the book in his right. Why aren’t the items on the hands distributed differently, not the other way around? An idle question! Who has time to dwell on that? The artist just does what looks best. But that was not how it was done in antiquity, and the modern art of the portrait statue is inherited from ancient Greece. Whoever has the book in his right hand wants to read it; whoever holds it in their left hand has read it. But Goethe can only have acquired his wreath after he has performed his work. Greek art would have distributed the wreath and book differently, and this is what actually happened on a Pompeian wall painting (Helbig, Campanian Wall Paintings, no. 1454).

Many today love to be photographed with the book, the ambitious high-ranking daughter, the school man, scholars[p. 111]and diplomat “in his home”, but finally also the butcher’s wife and the sergeant and shop boy. Why not? We are all educated today, and the book is ours! Most of the time, of course, embarrassment has an effect: your hands must be occupied in some way if they’re not in gloves. Thus the whim of the photographer can turn the waiter into a scholar and the milliner into a poet.

It was different in ancient portraiture, even in Egyptian art. Everything makes sense and is useful there. In ancient Egypt, the classes differed according to who could write and who could not. The book ennobles. Whoever cannot read is the donkey, whoever can read is the donkey driver: that’s what people thought. Permit me to speak of “accountants” here, I mean the people who show up with the book. The “bookkeepers” on the Egyptian sculptures are the higher officials. With obstinate consistency and en masse one sees the scroll or the writing implement in the clenched hands of the nobles only on the reliefs of the great temple walls, the tombs and pylons of the land of the pharaohs. Famous and wonderfully realistic are some scribe statues, such as the one in the Louvre: probably never has a high office official and lecturing councilor been so glorified as there; she shows him tense in his activity. It is true that he is very scantily clad. An apron is enough.

The free Greek thought otherwise. He had no kingship, nor a bureaucracy that rose in ranks to the monarch and was based on the book. Among the Greeks, book copies were usually only made by the unfree servants. If the freelancer felt compelled to copy a text himself, he was ashamed of it and did not allow himself to be depicted in writing. All the abundant Greco-Roman art avoids depicting a man writing a book. Because writing in rolls was tedious[p. 112]and created an ignoble attitude. The help of the table was always avoided when reading and writing. Man wrote on the hand. In addition, one would have soiled one’s fingers with the liquid dye. The noble therefore wrote on wax tablets ( codices , codicilli ), in the framed wax surface of which he only had to scratch the letters with a dagger-like pointed metal pencil. That was neat work; she “spotted,” but she didn’t spot. The banker wrote his accounts and receipts on wax tablets, the lover wrote his note to the lady, who immediately scratched the answer on the same tablet, and finally the poet wrote his sketches, which his Amanuensis was then allowed to copy.

Pictorial representation: readers.
So no writers, but readers shows us the old classical visual arts. But one read only in rolls; for not only in Egypt did the scroll dominate the book system for thousands of years; also with the Greeks and Romans it is from about 600 BC. to 400 AD as well as the sole bearer of all reading books and probably also picture books. That, in turn, equals a millennium. The principle of stapling books dates back to antiquity, but only appeared remarkably late, and it was then essentially only used for parchment manuscripts that served the poorer classes [195]. Not a single person reads the innumerable pictorial works of the ancients that come into consideration for this in the stapled manuscripts. The Jewish synagogue is known to have kept the scroll to this day. Rods are used to touch the role; for the scriptures are not to be touched with the hand. Of course, the Greeks in secular life knew nothing of such shyness; it is the hands that handle the book.

table 6

Egyptian scribe. (Paris, Louvre.)

One must know the act of reading itself in order to understand the motives used in ancient art. If you want to start reading, first hold the closed scroll in your right hand. The left then opens the bundle, solves it[p. 113]ribbon and seal, if you have one (think of the Book of Seven Seals of the Apocalypse) and pull the first open page towards you to the left. The left hand pulls one column of text after the other towards itself while at the same time rolling up what has been read. At the end of the reading, the scroll always rests, closed again, in the left hand. This results in the conception that we apply to all sculptures: the figure holding the book in his right hand first wants to read, apart from the cases where he wants to hand it over to another person (because one always hands over with the right hand ); In any case, the figure holding it in his left hand has finished reading; she has no intention of reading. And the latter we now find predominantly represented. They are almost always representative figures. The book is only meant to hint at that; it doesn’t matter for the moment; only the dignity of the person is expressed in the document. Such a Roman consular with the book does not stand before us musing or withdrawn; he addresses the audience watching him with an open soul.

And the reading itself? It looked graceful enough, and it adorned people, so to speak. Nothing is more charming than such a Greek woman reading, walking along with the scroll hanging wide open between her hands (Naples, National Museum), or than the muse, who as a concert singer is waiting for the signal to begin, that of the string player, that of the accompaniment plays, which is supposed to give her, holding the sheet low between her hands like our singers when they are waiting for the insufferably long prelude to end (Vase in Athens). Nothing is more beautiful than Homer reading the illustrated chronicle (Antiquarium in Berlin), nothing more lively than the mathematician of the Codex Arcerianus , who interrupts the reading and is lost in calculationsin Wolfenbuttel; nothing more touching than the Christ with the scroll between his hands, as it were stretched out to heaven, surrounded by disciples, as shown in the Lipsanothek of Brescia [196] .

[p. 114]

But this reading was at the same time uncomfortable and tiring; it captivated the reader in the truest sense, and we are filled with regret when we realize that it had to be endured for thousands of years. Think that every subplot was impossible. Because not only the right hand was busy; moreover, the one on the left was never allowed to let go of the unrolled mass of paper, and the charter was strictly prevented from dissolving and falling to the ground; for its fibers were delicate and splintered easily, and there was constant danger that a leaf, and with it the whole book, would tear. We drink while reading the newspaper or sip ice cream in a café when we are thirsty. The Greek didn’t have a free hand. He couldn’t. Luckily people didn’t smoke back then! Cicero should have given up his cigar while reading; because he couldn’t have held her. If you feel a skin irritation, you scratch it, that’s your right; and whoever gets a fly on his bald head wants to chase it away. When the ancient man read, both hands were tied equally, and all this was an impossibility for him.

Read slowly: read in paragraphs. Narrow reading audience.
And now the contents of the book! The unwinding must have been torture for the reader, who was burning with curiosity. No modern man would endure that. We’re nibbling on the book today, leafing back and forth, skimming through the chapter headings, preferring to read the end first. If we break off, we put a bookmark in it or even dog-ear it. All that was completely out of the question at the time. Above all, the end of the book always remained a deep secret; it was firmly covered by the curling itself. The content “evolved” just as you read the pages, inexorably gradually. The earlier impenetrably covered the later. The book was like life. This sentence already applies here. Who can know what follows? Who can know what the end is?

Thus we come to pity the ancient reader[p. 115]or, even better, to admire. He didn’t gobble, he didn’t nibble. His spirit took the food calmly and resignedly in the order that the poet who had prepared the food wanted. He let the content work on him all the more deeply. He experienced it. In addition, one hardly read more than 1,000 lines or 30 pages of a work a day. This was thanks to the seemingly pointless divisions of the ancient works. At least of the larger entertainment writings, the epics and novels, the individual roles have never been more extensive. The twelve books of Virgil’s Aeneid had to be read in twelve days (this also applies to Ariosto, by the way): the Greeks and Romans viewed their literature differently, they viewed it more devotedly and more closely than we do ours.

However, it is important to differentiate between the times. Whoever goes through the wealth of Graeco-Roman depictions on vases, tombstones, coin images or paintings will notice that on the older ones the person with the book is still to be found very sparsely; in later centuries, on the other hand, examples are plentiful. This is symptomatic. In the time of Sophocles and the great tragedy, the book was primarily used to record and store the text and still relatively little for reading. At that time, the great masses did not read very much in books. Above all, public lectures on the rhapsodes and the theatre, that is, listening, were enough for her, and only a privileged few kept libraries, just as one’s rooms were not yet decorated with wall paintings. The fact that the lay public really dealt with the visual arts and literature in depth, made a study of it, bought its products and even developed their own artistic opinions only happened when great art itself was gone, since the Alexandrian period, especially during the reign Romes. Prudent judgment is the mark of the epigone, and giants in literature are impossible where the education of the lay and[p. 116]of the masses of people, acquired with the help of the book, dominates the taste.

This was connected with the spread of school instruction, a spread of education, which by no means tends to be a deepening at the same time, not even today. Especially since the 2nd century AD, the Roman emperors organized and expanded the elementary school system in the world of that time, nationalized it, and increased its effectiveness. Since then, anyone who felt like reading and writing read and wrote, not only in the capitals, no, also in all the provinces of the Roman Empire, and the line between specialist and layperson became more and more blurred. But at the same time it was what helped the Christian religion to victory; for Christianity was the religion of the book. The Zeus service or Apollo service worked only through the cult and not through writings. The service of Christ is different.

increase in the late period. The deceased with the roll.
So it has come about that even the statues of the second to fifth centuries AD, which fill our antiquities museums, are suddenly littered with depictions of the scroll; especially the sarcophagi and among these especially the Christian ones. It’s amazing to see that.

The emperor himself now accompanies such a book, as is his duty (for example, on the relief of Trajan’s Column); the book in this case is a symbol, an attribute that indicates the judicial, legislative power of the ruler. After that, Christ also constantly receives the book; for he too is king; but not Mary; that is, Mary was not yet Queen of Heaven at that time, which the dogmatist should pay attention to. But the civil servant, the lawyer, the shipbuilder and the tradesman are now often and willingly given the same attribute. All of this can be easily explained from the professional nature of the people; for the shipbuilder carries his construction drawings in his hand, the merchant does[p. 117]his ledger. But when the deceased carries the scroll on the marble sarcophagi of this late period, what does it mean there? How often do you see the deceased like this, in a shell medallion, as adornment of his own ark! The examples are innumerable. Are they all civil servants, lawyers or even all writers or patrons of literature that appear to us? That would be outrageous, or at least hard to believe. The question asked can certainly only be answered in part in the affirmative. Because the book had an even deeper meaning .

tomb symbolism. The role as a banner in the Middle Ages.
Destiny also writes. Even gods have their libraries. Just as we see in the Apocalypse of John that in heaven the good and bad deeds of all living and dead who are resurrected are recorded in books which are unrolled and read by servants of the Almighty before his throne—an unending biographical archive in the Heaven — the Roman fates or women of destiny also have a large archive in the underworld: in it the biographies of all those who are to be born are written down and fixed in books in advance. This is what Ovid tells us. A book is therefore a person: the content of a book is a human life! Hence those deceased on their marble coffins in the Lateran and everywhere else: the book they are holding is often nothing other than a symbol of their own life. The book is unrolled to the end, i. H. the life that Fate wrote and that fate had booked in advance is lived to an end. Indeed, those characters regularly hold the refolded scroll in their left hand, often resting the fingers of their right hand still on the scroll’s head as if to say, “Now I’m done; I’ve come to the end of my book of life and I can rest.” This quiet grave symbolism has a moving effect, and it seems to be specifically Roman, not Greek, just as the writing of Fate was not Greek but Roman-Etruscan often putting the fingers of their right hands still on the head of the scroll, as if saying, “Now I’m done; I’ve come to the end of my book of life and I can rest.” This quiet grave symbolism has a moving effect, and it seems to be specifically Roman, not Greek, just as the writing of Fate was not Greek but Roman-Etruscan often putting the fingers of their right hands still on the head of the scroll, as if saying, “Now I’m done; I’ve come to the end of my book of life and I can rest.” This quiet grave symbolism has a moving effect, and it seems to be specifically Roman, not Greek, just as the writing of Fate was not Greek but Roman-Etruscan[197] .

[p. 118]

In the fifth century Christianity had finally triumphed. At the same time, however, the precious scroll of charter had gradually been superseded by the stapled parchment codex, which was cheaper, infinitely more durable, and therefore more practical in every respect. From then on, a glimmer of the holy and sacrosanct clung to the scroll, which was often retained in sculptures. Because ecclesiastical art loves archaism. Evangelists, prophets and saints now like to keep them. Thus these stretched biblical figures scale the high church walls and fill in rows, radiant on a gold background, the apses and triumphal arches of the basilicas; anyone who has traveled in Italy has seen whole nations of them; I only remember S. Paolo (fuori lm) in Rome and Ravenna. Accountant! Yes sir, these are now true “accountants” of heaven; that is, they keep the book that relates to salvation, ostentatiously presenting it like a sanctuary, in the service of Christianity, so that the church may become aware of it, and they are no longer users of the book themselves, they do not read and do not want to read , but they carry it like a poster, so that the watching crowd can see the pious saying that is visible from afar on the leaf flags hanging open. That was fantastic, unreal and non-antique, and in the Middle Ages the use became more and more external. The openly hanging roll finally becomes the one that flutters in angular folds and they are no longer users of the book themselves, they don’t read and don’t want to read, but they carry it like a poster so that the watching crowd can see the pious saying that is visible from afar on the open flags hanging. That was fantastic, unreal and non-antique, and in the Middle Ages the use became more and more external. The openly hanging roll finally becomes the one that flutters in angular folds and they are no longer users of the book themselves, they don’t read and don’t want to read, but they carry it like a poster so that the watching crowd can see the pious saying that is visible from afar on the open flags hanging. That was fantastic, unreal and non-antique, and in the Middle Ages the use became more and more external. The openly hanging roll finally becomes the one that flutters in angular folds Banner that the angels carry in glory through the air.

Where does our word “role” come from? It’s not German at all; it comes from rotulus and derives from medieval Latin.

In the Middle Ages, when papyrus no longer existed, parchment scrolls were still often made, modeled on the Jewish Torah scrolls, and when unrolled they sometimes reached the monstrous length of 100 to 200 feet: Exult scrolls, coat of arms scrolls, necrologies, the are still widely preserved. Using them is[p. 119] admittedly a penance for today’s historian. But even in real life, in spiritual theater, the rotuli were still used at that time; I mean the “prophet play” in which the prophets and sibyls themselves appeared and recited their pious verse in front of the congregation, holding an open banner on which the audience could read what they, the persons, meant or what “role” they played [198]. That is where we come from when we still say today that the actor plays a “role”. Very few of today’s stage greats know what this saying means. But even in this application, as can be seen, the role had sunk to a mere mark and dead emblem, just as on the murals of which we spoke earlier.

The natural intercourse of the book bearer with the book was abolished in the ecclesiastical art of the Middle Ages. But Michelangelo restored it when it came to an end, and so here we may name one of the greatest names. It was one of Michelangelo’s great achievements that in the Sistina he finally brought his sibyls and prophets back into a natural relationship to the book. These men and women of prophecy, they do read, they study—how expressively that is! In order to prophesy, they seek the future by searching the written word, or they also look past the book.

Michelangelo’s Delphica. The sky as a book.
But the book retains its practical value. This is especially true of the Delphic Sibyl. This most poignant and touching figure of the master, the Delphica , has, I am convinced, not been properly understood. I say that not only with regard to Justi’s “Michelangelo” but also to Steinmann’s work “The Sistine Chapel”. Not “the man with the book”, the superman with the book appears in the Delphic Sibyl, and indeed in a completely new conception. The Seer peeks[p. 120]with the eyes in the future as in the distance, the lips softly parted. Her cloak billows in the wind, and her hair blows in the wind. With her left hand, however, she is forcibly holding an unwritten, openly hanging scroll far to the right, so that the breeze that visibly blows through the picture also seizes and puffs up this scroll itself. After that, the meaning is clear and unmistakable: the Spirit of God is the agent here; for the Spirit of God is breath, is wind! He swells cloak and book at the same time. Thus the hitherto empty and undescribed scroll is filled with the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit performs the miracle that is due to it and fills it mystically and invisibly with words proclaiming salvation. It is the same spirit that wrote the gospels.

This is the highest spiritualization of the book in art. Of course, one thing remained. In Heinrich Heine’s North Sea Pictures we read: “And with a strong hand I tear the tallest fir from Norway’s forests and dip it into Etna’s glowing abyss, and with such a fire-soaked giant feather I write on the dark ceiling of the sky: Agnes, I love you! Here the book is sublimated in a different way; here it begins to encompass the world. Heaven itself is a book; the poet writes on it as on a sheet.

Table 7

Men with scrolls.
Relief of a Roman-Christian coffin.
(Leyden, Rijks Museum.)

Heine is a superlative poet. But in this case he borrowed his grandiose invention from antiquity, casually confusing himself with the gods of antiquity. It is the goddess Ceres who, in the Roman poet Claudian’s “The Rape of Proserpina”, rips the highest cypress tree out of the ground and plunges it into the gorge of Mount Etna in order to use it as a flaming torch; because she is looking for her lost daughter. But that heaven is an unrolled book, that can already be read in Isaiah and in the Revelation to John, and Euripides ( fr. 506 N. ) puts the case that even God Zeus himself far into the surface of heaven the sins of the mortals wrote [199]. God Zeus, who stretches and writes the sins in the vault of the infinite spheres as in a rolled-up scroll! Thought is sublime and old. But which artist could depict that? Michelangelo failed. No Apelles and no genius of antiquity, a Michelangelo could have done it.