I've read an article about Plato's Academy and how knowledge was spread in Athens in the middle of 5th century BCE. It was thought that knowledge was spread through speaking (orally). But some researches lately suggest that "books" were playing a great role by that time and that there was a great circulation of "books" in Athens.

I couldn't find a lot of info apart from that article and I would like to know if there is enough evidence of such a suggestion?

  • 1
    Please link to the article or include a relevant excerpt along with attribution. Considering that books were all handwritten at the time, you might want to qualify "great circulation". Mar 25, 2013 at 8:20
  • The link is akadimia-platonos.blogspot.gr/2013/03/blog-post_24.html but it is in Greek and it's not the whole article. The article is based in a book by K. Staikos. By "great circulation" I mean that this circulation was more important than we thought it was by that time.
    – Ioanna
    Mar 25, 2013 at 17:52
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    Please incorporate all that information into your question. Translating the excerpt in question will also help Mar 25, 2013 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


About the circulation of books, in his "Lives of Eminent Philosophers" Diogenes Laertius tells this anecdote about Socrates:

They relate that Euripides gave him the treatise of Heraclitus and asked his opinion upon it, and that his reply was, "The part I understand is excellent, and so too is, I dare say, the part I do not understand; but it needs a Delian diver to get to the bottom of it."

Book II, Chapter 5, 22

Besides that Heraclitus can get really deep, we can infer from this that book lending in Classical Athens was not unheard of.

The source for this anecdote seems to be Aristo of Ceos, a 3rd-century BC philosopher, as Diogenes Laertius explains in the Herodotus chapter:

The story told by Ariston of Socrates, and his remarks when he came upon the book of Heraclitus, which Euripides brought him, I have mentioned in my Life of Socrates. However, Seleucus the grammarian says that a certain Croton relates in his book called The Diver that the said work of Heraclitus was first brought into Greece by one Crates, who further said it required a Delian diver not to be drowned in it.

Book IX, Chapter 1, 10

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