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Journal Article

The Oldest Library Motto: ψγxhσ Iatpeion

Cora E. Lutz
The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy
Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jan., 1978), pp. 36-39
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4306897
Page Count: 4
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The Oldest Library Motto: ψγxhσ Iatpeion
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Abstract

The earliest authenticated library, that of Pharaoh Ramses II, in the second millennium before our era, bore an inscription over its portals designating it as "the house of healing for the soul." Knowledge of the inscription was made available to the Western world in the time of Caesar by Diodorus Siculus in his Greek History of the World, but it seems to have been unnoticed even by the keenest Roman bibliophiles. Finally, when the History was translated into Latin by Poggio in the fifteenth century, the significance of the unusual library motto began to make an impact upon scholars. It is mentioned by several Renaissance writers, and it was adopted by the Swedish Royal Library for its official bookplate. Then, in 1760, when the beautiful baroque library was built at St. Gall, the inscription, in Greek, was placed upon a scroll above the doors of the main hall where it remains a focal point of interest for present-day scholars.

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