Early Censorship?

First few pages of textblock held together with a stitch

 I was doing the paperwork for my newest conservation project and came across a group of pages that were held together with a stitch of thread. Unfortunately I’m not a Latin expert so I can’t translate the title to get any further information, but here it is in case a Latin expert comes across this post Persii Flacci Satyrae Sex.

When I saw it I asked everyone in the workshop whether this was a common characteristic of the collection, but nobody had seen this before. Of course our first thought was to peek inside the pages to see why they were sewn shut, but to our disappointment it was all in Latin with no printed plates to give us a little understanding as to what was going on in the text. Who knows why the pages were stitched together, maybe to censor the text, maybe to mark an interesting section, or maybe it was just an apprentices mistake, we will never know. Either way it’s an interesting bit of history and got us all thinking. If anyone has encountered something like this in their work please share it with us.

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2 Responses to Early Censorship?

  1. Rachel Kadel-Garcia says:

    I’m no expert, but some poking around on the web tells me this is “The Six Satires of Persius Flaccus” (or “The Satires of Persius” for short). There are some translations available on the web, for example this one on Google Books: http://tinyurl.com/4qwrcbo

    I’m fascinated by the sewn-together pages — I’d never encountered that. Censorship seems the most likely explanation. I find it hard to imagine accidentally sewing pages together at the foredge after the edges have been trimmed, and it’d be weird to mark an interesting passage in a way that makes it harder to read that passage. But it’s a more restrained method of censorship than I’m used to seeing — why didn’t they remove the pages outright? Mysterious!

  2. Joe McLaughlin says:

    Yes, it’s Six Satires of Perseus Flaccus all right. I don’t know why he would be censored, as he has nowhere near as ribald as Juvenal’s satires. I have one slight problem with the censorsip theory; surely it would have been a simple matter to get round the censorship simply by cutting the stitch? Although I hope it doesn’t occur to any of you guys to do that now!

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