Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy little gems from the library!

Old books are one of my life's small pleasures. Since I do a lot of reading in Latin and Greek, I tend to check out old books because, hey, the text really hasn't changed that much since these books were published! Today I was paging through my copy of Cicero's Phillipics when I came across this...

Now, I don't write in library books. EVER. I write in my own textbooks, yes, in pencil. Library books, no. But thank God that some people do write in their library books because I just love coming across little notes like this one.
This one says "probably the earliest instance in literature **** of the title divus, later to become the official imperial designation." It's in a very thick black pen, and in cursive, which I think is a sign it was written before 1990. This particular copy of this book was published in 1951, so it's actually not that old at all. And really, even if this was just written last year I still find it intriguing. Was this mysterious Columbia scholar writing a paper on the term divus? Were they just particularly interested in it? Why was it SO important that they felt they should nicely write this in the margins of a library book? Did a graduate student doing thesis work on this very topic and feeling loopy after a long night in the library sleepily write this? Is this person still at Columbia?
I still haven't managed to convince myself that writing in library books is not a sin, but, if anyone ever finds a strange little squirrel drawing in the margins of a dorky library book... you'll know it was your favorite New York City Squirrel!

1 comment:

  1. It could be that the library got the book as a donation and the writing was already in it.