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Books of ancient times, made of perishable papyrus, survive today in only a few isolated cases. But their illustrations, because of literary connections, were used as models in many other media, such as terra cotta vases, relief sarcophagi, marble plaques, fresco paintings, textiles, and metal reliefs. And during medieval times these illustrations were copied onto parchment as the more durable medium was adopted. This study attempts to show as many different classical texts as possible—with extensive immature cycles.
Kurt Weitzmann’s years of research in the fields of classical philology, papyrology, classical and early Christian archaeology, Byzantine art and medieval art enable him to trace the evolution of the material which he divides into four categories: scientific and didactic treatises and poems; epic poetry; dramatic poetry, tragedies, comedies and mimes; prose texts, both fiction and nonfiction. In almost every group of monuments, papyri, manuscripts, terra cotta bowls, etc., there are some here shown for the first time in the book’s many excellent illustrations.