Monday, August 11, 2008

Villa of the Papyri

The unique library of the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, buried beneath lava by Vesuvius's eruption in AD79, is slowly revealing its long-held secrets

"..'.The villa remains one of the great buildings of the ancient world and it should certainly be excavated,' Fowler says. 'This would be true even if we were to find no further papyri, though the likelihood that we will find them adds much to the case. The building will certainly contain many other things, and is of unique historical interest. If we know of a site that should be excavated, and we have the capacity, let us get on with it. Of all the sites in the world, this one ranks close to the top of the list for potential and historical importance.'

If a significant number of lost classics are found at the Villa of the Papyri it would enlarge the cultural and intellectual tradition, and might even alter its course. Should scholars find the famous lost second book of Aristotle's Poetics, the narrative spring of Umberto Eco's best-selling medieval mystery, The Name of the Rose, the discovery might shift the ground of Western aesthetics. Of Sophocles' 120 plays, only seven are known, and of these the Oedipus trilogy has embossed itself eternally on the Western imagination. The Kypria, a martial epic believed to have been Homer's source material, disappeared some time in antiquity..."

more at The Australian


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