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Survival of Aristotle's texts

When Aristotle retires, shortly before his death, he appoints Theophrastus as head of his school. About thirty-four years later, in 288 BC, Theophrastus dies. He leaves his personal library, which includes papyrus scrolls of all Aristotle's texts, to a certain Neleus. For nearly two centuries the descendants of Neleus keep them in their cellar, eventually selling them in about 100 BC to a book collector by the name of Apellicon.

From his house in Athens they are seized, in 84 BC, by the Roman general Sulla. He has been waging a successful campaign in Anatolia and is on his way back to Rome with all the booty he can gather.

In Rome the scrolls are acquired by a connoisseur of Greek texts, Tryannion. From him, and probably at his behest, they make their final journey to a secure future. They are sent to Andronicus, head of an Aristotelian school on the island of Rhodes.

Between about 43 and 20 BC Andronicus edits the material into the form in which it is now known (placing the Metaphysics after the Physics for example). He then publishes the texts, which means arranging for many papyrus scrolls to be written of each (see Publishing in Rome). The individual scrolls will suffer their misfortunes, but from this moment the texts are unlikely ever again to be entirely lost - unlike so many less fortunate works.

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