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Cicero Viewed As A Collector
by [?]

Our collectors may not be displeased to discover at their head so venerable a personage as Cicero; nor to sanction their own feverish thirst and panting impatience with all the raptures on the day of possession, and the “saving of rents” to afford commanding prices–by the authority of the greatest philosopher of antiquity.

A fact is noticed in this article which requires elucidation. In the life of a true collector, the selling of his books is a singular incident. The truth is, that the elegant friend of Cicero, residing in the literary city of Athens, appears to have enjoyed but a moderate income, and may be said to have traded not only in books, but in gladiators, whom he let out, and also charged interest for the use of his money; circumstances which Cornelius Nepos, who gives an account of his landed property, has omitted, as, perhaps, not well adapted to heighten the interesting picture which he gives of Atticus, but which the Abbe Mongault has detected in his curious notes on Cicero’s letters to Atticus. It is certain that he employed his slaves, who, “to the foot-boy,” as Middleton expresses himself, were all literary and skilful scribes, in copying the works of the best authors for his own use: but the duplicates were sold, to the common profit of the master and the slave. The state of literature among the ancients may be paralleled with that of the age of our first restorers of learning, when printing was not yet established; then Boccaccio and Petrarch, and such men, were collectors, and zealously occupied in the manual labour of transcription; immeasurable was the delight of that avariciousness of manuscript, by which, in a certain given time, the possessor, with an unwearied pen, could enrich himself by his copy: and this copy an estate would not always purchase! Besides that a manuscript selected by Atticus, or copied by the hand of Boccaccio and Petrarch, must have risen in value, associating it with the known taste and judgment of the COLLECTOR.