Titus Pomponius Atticus was a wealthy Roman citizen of the late Republic period who is now best remembered as a close friend of the orator Cicero. However, he is notable in his own right for a substantial personal impact on the literate sphere of the ancient world. He was a writer himself, as well as a collector of manuscripts, a patron of other writers’ efforts, and a publisher with a considerable number of slaves trained as scribes who hand-copied texts for him. He additionally amassed an extensive personal library. None of his works survive, nor does any catalogue of his library, but references to his activities with books survive embedded in the records of Cicero’s correspondence with him in the Letters to Atticus, a published series of letters which Atticus himself preserved. By examining these letters and the scattered literary references within them, it is possible to ascertain an approximation of the contents of Atticus’s library, thanks to the wide range of texts which are named and the patterns between them in subject, authorship, and time and place of origin. Together, these form an image of the distribution of literature among prominent elite Romans of the time period, and shed some light on the history of book-collecting culture. Furthermore, it is possible to develop an image of Atticus’s activities in the acquisition, storage, and production of these texts. This will form a composite picture of the literary landscape of a figure with a disproportionate impact on this area in his own in his time and place.
John Kintz, ’18