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Ronnie Ancona

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Classical Literature and Philology


Martial, publication in classical times, libellus, manuscript tradition


I have attempted in this thesis to broadly discuss the nature of literary publication in classical times, characterized by (a) the lack of printing presses or any other means to make multiple copies of a work except by writing out each copy by hand, and (b) the lack of any copyright or other protection of a writer’s work. These factors led to a very different concept of publishing than our modern one. I have then focused on the epigrams of Martial (ca. 40 A.D. – 103 A.D.) in particular, because (a) his epigrams contain a wealth of information relating to how works in general, and in particular his own works, were published in his time; and (b) Martial’s works provide a good example as to how modern scholars have been able to create a manuscript tradition to determine the timing and form of the publication of his works; and (c) there is much scholarly debate in Martial’s own case as to precisely what he published and when.