The work of Giorgio Pasquali (1885-1952) was very influential in twentieth-century Italy due to his Storia della tradizione e critica del testo (1934), in which he re-defined both the domain and the tools of philology by stressing the role played by a thorough reconstruction of the transmission of manuscripts and of each source as an individual object, which is historically located. In this paper, I shall look into Pasquali’s pivotal Enciclopedia Italiana article on ‘Biblioteca’ (1930), in which he gave an impressive definition of what a library is by relying on Strabo’s description of the library of Aristotle and its whereabouts. Says Pasquali, Aristotle is the first who crossed the threshold between mere book-collecting scientifically ordering books into a library. Aristotle, as far as Strabo knows, was the first library owner and he was the one who taught the kings of Egypt how to build a library (Geographia 13.1.54 C608). One cannot exclude Aristotle had found a library at the Academia of Plato, but Pasquali is firm in noticing that for this legitimate hypothesis we continue to miss documental evidence. All objects are divided into phainómena and éndoxa, states Aristotele (Topica 1.1.100b18-22), and if for the former the Peripatus had a musem, for the latter it had a library. The Peripatus was quite close to a modern university in as far as it joined teaching and research. Aristotle and Theophrastus were the first who considered the need of a library as tool for work, which is proven by the fact that, argues Pasquali, the Athenensium respublica, a large systematic work on éndoxa would not have been conceivable without a well furnished library. The Aristotelian origin of the Alexandrinian library is quite clear, continues Pasquali, for it reproduces the same dichotomy between phainómena, stones, shells, insects and plants, in the Mouseîon and éndoxa, the books, in the Bibliothéke. Finally, when writing about the tale of Apellicon’s recovery of the library of Aristotle and Theophrastus, Strabo provides the first expression ever of the notion of ‘bibliophile’, which he exemplifies in Apellicon of Theos himself, who did not succeed in establishing an authoritative edition of Aristotle of his own. The reason was, ên dè ho Apellikôn philóbiblos mâllon è philósophos (Geographia 13.1.54 C609). We owe Pasquali the merit of having opened up the most fundamental issues of what today is pursued under the heading of ‘philosophy of the book’.
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