Leuven Database of Ancient Books

The present database attempts to collect the basic information on all ancient literary texts, as opposed to documents. At present, it includes 14655 items, dating from the fourth century B.C. to A.D. 800 and incorporating authors from Homer (8th cent. B.C.) to Romanus Melodus and Gregorius the Great (6th cent. A.D.), including 3671 texts of which the author can no longer be identified (to find an empty field, type "=" (without the quotes) in the field authorname).

Text editions by classical philologists and patristic scholars are usually based upon medieval manuscripts, dating many centuries after the work in question was first written down and transmitted by copies from copies from copies. Here the user will find the oldest preserved copies of each text. At the same time he will get a view of the reception of ancient literature throughout the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine period: which author was read when, where and by whom throughout Antiquity.

The term "books" is used in the same wide sense as in the catalogues of Mertens-Pack and Van Haelst, for "texts that were intended to reach the eyes of a reading public or at least possessed a more than ephemeral interest or usefulness". Therefore we have excluded documents quoting some line of Homer (e.g. Pack2 399, 471, Van Haelst 1191), but also oracle questions (e.g. Pack2 2492-2493, Van Haelst 954, 958) and horoscopes, which we consider documentary texts. As we are interested in books, we do not include references to inscriptions (e.g. Pack 2960, 2490; Van Haelst 53, 111, 792-818). Magical texts on gold, lead, bronze etc. (e.g. Van Haelst 184-191) are not incorporated, because their aim is purely practical. But magical texts based on handbooks will be found, even though the dividing line is often subjective.

Our interest being in books, not in the study of literature, we have grouped multiple texts on a single roll if they were intended as parts of one book . This is especially the case for anthologies, which are split up in Pack among the different authors (e.g. Pack2 0031 + 0401 + 1319 + 1320 are grouped as LDAB 1048). We keep two entries, however, when a literary papyrus is reused for another literary text, and also in the case of composite codices, when the different works were originally written on individual quires (LDAB 107760, 17904, 107905).