Lost Books Redux

In the wake of my umpteenth repost of my 1994 April Fool’s day prank report that originally appeared on the Classics list, it seems useful to note that it gave rise to an interesting discussion of the lost/missing works the Classicists on that august discussion group would really like to have (besides the lost bits of Tacitus, of course) … so I culled the list for the list:

  • Ovid’s Medea and Varius’ Thyestes
  • Petronius (the *whole* Satyricon)
  • Lucilius
  • Comedies by Cratinus
  • Callimachus
  • Ennius
  • Asinius Pollio
  • Poseidonius
  • Aristotle’s On Comedy
  • Protagoras’ Truth (or anything by him)
  • Sybilline Oracles
  • Eupolis
  • lost diaries of Sosylos and Silenos (as an alternative to Polybius)
  • The Atthis of Philochorus (or of Androtion)
  • Theopompus
  • Aristotle’s collection of constitutions
  • Hieronymus of Cardia
  • Cato’s Origines
  • Claudius’ Etruscan and Carthaginian histories
  • the lost books of Ammianus Marcellinus
  • the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia
  • Syriscus of Chersonesus
  • Didymus Chalcenterus
  • Aethiopis_ of Arctinus
  • Cicero’s Hortensius
  • Sappho (all)
  • Aeschylus (more/all)
  • Pseudo-Aeschylus (Prometheia)
  • Suetonius’s Roman Games And Festivals, and Famous Courtesans
  • Claudius’ Etruscan history
  • Euripides’ Oedipus
  • Livy’s missing bits

… there were probably quite a few more (items started repeating). While it’s always amazed me what we do have, it boggles the mind to think how much we’ve lost and how different our view of the ancient world might be if we hadn’t …

7 thoughts on “Lost Books Redux

  1. A tantalising list indeed! I’m surprised no-one mentioned Augustus’ lost memoirs, though. I’d certainly love to have those – though of course Christopher Smith and Anton Powell’s book about them has got us closer than we were when this list was first compiled. I also notice that Claudius’ Etruscan Histories are on the list twice, although I’d say that’s a perfectly reasonable reflection of how particularly excellent it would be to have those.

  2. No. 1 for me is Asinius Pollio, esp. the Histories, even though translated parts of it are in Appian/Plutarch. Not on the list, but probably as important, would be Strabo’s Historical Sketches. And it would be great to finally read Caesar’s lost writings… not just the Anticato, of course. 🙂 Some bits by Suetonius are also lost etc. Another interesting thing would be the missing pieces of Diodorus’ Bibl. Hist.; in the 17th century Kircher quoted from a manuscript which apparently contained some of those missing passages. (Or was he quoting from a testimonium? We don’t know.)

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