Bugs eat literature
I heard on NPR that letters were found underneath some stairs in Alexandria, Egypt. It seems that it were some letters of a Roman Soldier writing back to Rome. In addition, I heard another story (NPR is great for Roman stories) that some poetry was found in what some consider to be an ancient trash pile. I find this all wonderful, but sometimes it makes me think what has been lost. It’s like the Library of Alexandria being burned. What went up in ash was irreplaceable. I’m not saying everything is another Aeneid, and deserves to be saved, but what if there was a work that could have been considered…for instance…another ‘Odyssey?’ Some poor fellow, labors for years to produce another epic. He sits at his table, his eyes straining by the lamp, he gives up his vacations in Tarentum to add another line to his tale of the poet who enters Mount Olympus and meets the gods. It sits on his shelf for years. He reads it at a few patrician parties and receives praise on his work. He goes to Rome and reads it to the Emperor and receives a grant to finish the work. He labors for years, and finally dies in Ostia, his new master work on the shelf. It is put in a box. It is sold. It is ignored by a Christian as being too pagan. It some how finds its way to Damascus. It is translated into Arabic and is burned by crusaders using it as a fire starter on some cold night. A few remaining pages survive and are discovered by a monk who translates it into Latin. It sits in a monastary for hundreds of years until eaten by a large black beetle.
I need some sleep. It is 4:00 a.m.