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Philodemus (ca. 110-35 B.C.E.) was an Epicurean poet and philosopher who settled on the Bay of Naples at Herculaneum. He was praised by Cicero and counted Virgil and Horace among his pupils in the Roman intelligentsia. Philodemus’ epigrams proved him a verbal artist of the first rank, but the remainder of his writings were buried under lava in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Excavated in 1752, his private library consisting of some eight hundred papyrus rolls is one of the few collections of texts recovered intact from the ancient world.
Marcello Gigante’s Philodemus in Italy, first published in Italy in 1990, provides a lively and concise survey of current scholarship on these difficult and fascinating texts. It relates the histories of the papyri and efforts to unroll and decipher the texts, then outlines the content of the texts and the scope of current research about them. The text is enhanced by illustrations depicting the plan of Herculaneum and the text of various fragments within the papyri rolls.
Published by The University of Michigan Press. www.press.umich.edu
ISBN 0-472-08908-0 paperback £12.50
by Marcello Gigante. Translated by Dirk Obbink