Anthony Grafton

Anthony Grafton teaches European history at Princeton. He has written biographies of Joseph Scaliger, Leon Battista Alberti and Girolamo Cardano, as well as The Footnote: A Curious History and What Was History?

Fake it till you make it: Indexing

Anthony Grafton, 23 September 2021

Indexes aretrouble. If you index your own work, you have to chew your cabbage twice, and then again, and again. You must reread the text that seemed so cogent when you sent it to the publisher – not to mention when you revised it, following the advice of your editor and referees, and when you answered the copy editor’s queries, and when you read the proofs. As you collect...

Piranesi’s ‘Plan of Rome’ (1756)

Thelife of a Renaissance antiquarian was far from simple. In April 1436, when Cyriac of Ancona arrived in Athens, he was thrilled by his first sight of the Parthenon, the ‘marvellous marble temple of the goddess Pallas, the divine work of Phidias’. He counted its columns, admired its friezes and commented on the artistry...

What if it breaks? Renovating Rome

Anthony Grafton, 5 December 2019

Inthe last decades of the 16th century, Rome attracted visitors much as Moscow would in the 1920s and 1930s. Like Moscow, it was the centre of an international movement that sought to transform the world. Like Moscow, it provided spectacles for tourists and enclaves for foreign recruits, who were often warmly admired but never wholly trusted. And like Moscow, Rome was a Rorschach blot in...

Locum, Lacum, Lucum: The Emperor of Things

Anthony Grafton, 13 September 2018

In​ 1496 Pietro Bembo, a young Venetian scholar, published a short book on a long walk he had taken with a friend. Their hike led them from Messina, where the two of them had been studying Greek with Constantine Lascaris, to the top of Mount Etna. No one had seen a book like De Aetna. Mountains, though some curious thinkers had climbed them, were usually seen as fearsome and inhuman....

Invented Antiquities

Anthony Grafton, 27 July 2017

In​ 1661 Athanasius Kircher SJ made an archaeological discovery. He had gone to Tivoli, a town of villas and baths east of Rome, to restore his health and gather material for a book on the topography and history of the Lazio region. He was nearly sixty. Walking in the hills with a friend, he found a ruined church on a mountain. As he explored the ruin, he came upon a marble tablet with the...

Despite their obvious significance in the production of books, correctors were treated like manual labourers. One complained that he and his colleagues ‘would be off like a shot from this sweatshop’...

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When the King’s printer Robert Barker produced a new edition of the King James Bible in 1631, he overlooked three letters from the seventh commandment, producing the startling injunction:...

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Things Keep Happening: Histories of Histories

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 November 2008

A story, as John Burrow says of his own History of Histories, is selective. It looks forward ‘to its later episodes or its eventual outcome for its criteria of relevance’. Hence a...

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Giovanni Pisano and Giotto are widely recognised as the founders of Renaissance sculpture and painting, and Brunelleschi of Renaissance architecture, but it was Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72)...

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It is a shame for a 16th-century historian to know nothing about astrology, but that has been my case, and I should think that of most others in this branch of the profession. I come across, say,...

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When Browning’s grammarian, grown old and bald and sick, was urged to get out of his cell and see a bit of life before he died, he replied that he still had work to do: ‘Grant I have...

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In one era and out the other

John North, 7 April 1994

The first great Scaliger problem is that of distinguishing between father and son. When Swift, in his Treatise on Good Manners and Good Breeding, insisted that fiddlers, dancing-masters, heralds...

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Well done, you forgers

John Sutherland, 7 January 1993

It is difficult to talk sensibly about literary forgery when one has to call it that. The term carries heavy legal baggage. Criminal forgery – in the form of counterfeit money or altered...

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Patrons

Peter Burke, 15 October 1987

‘Patrons are patrons,’ a citizen of Florence wrote to the Grand Duke, Ferdinando de’Medici, in 1602: ‘the patron is accountable to no one.’ But what exactly was a...

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Homage to Scaliger

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 17 May 1984

Joseph Scaliger (1540-1609) was a towering figure in the history of European scholarship. During the first half of his career, he virtually created the systematic study of early Latin; during the...

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