Let us praise the men who burned all the ancient books

The translation of the remains of Philip of Side’s book is coming along.  Much of it is deeply tedious.  I was reading one of the fragments, which consists of a long and boring speech by Constantine, which has not even the merit of being authentic. 

Another fragment consists of one of the most inept pieces of apologetic I have seen for a while, defending the authenticity of Constantine’s vision, In hoc signo vinces, by appealing … to pagan myth.  Yes, that’s right.  The vision must be true because pagans believe in mythological stuff.  No wonder people didn’t copy this work.

We need to regret the losses of ancient texts.  But it is good for us to remember sometimes that most of these books perished because they deserved to, because they were not that interesting and were full of stuff that no-one would willingly read.  In many ways, perhaps we have the cream of ancient literature.

Let us praise those selfless souls who refrained nobly from copying long and boring texts, and who generously gave of their libraries to the flames, so we would be spared wading through it!


6 thoughts on “Let us praise the men who burned all the ancient books

  1. Is the original text of this apologetic piece concerning in hoc signo vinces online somewhere? That’s highly interesting.

  2. Not yet. The fragments of Philip of Side are still being translated for us. When they’re all done, I shall post them online and make them public domain.

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