4 Antichi e Moderni: una battaglia di libri La disputa sugli Antichi e i Moderni secondo Swift (1710): la “battaglia fra i libri” • • A Full and True Account OF THE BATTE L Fought last F R I D A Y, Between the Antient and the Modern BOOKS IN St. J A M E S's LIBRARY. • • L O N D O N: Printed in the Year, MDCCX. Dalla prefazione del Libraio al Lettore “I must warn the Reader, to beware of applying to Persons what is here meant, only of Books in the most literal Sense. So, when Virgil is mentioned, we are not to understand the Person of a famous Poet, call'd by that Name, but only certain Sheets of Paper, bound up in Leather, containing in Print, the Works of the said Poet, and so of the rest.” Notare come per poeta il libraio intenda ormai un insieme di pagine stampate e rilegate: il libro nella sua materialità “tecnologica” e di “prodotto”. This Quarrel first began […] about a small Spot of Ground, lying and being upon one of the Two tops of the Hill Parnassus; the highest and largest of which had, it seems, been time out of Mind, in quiet Possession of certain Tenants, called the Antients; And the other was held by the Moderns. But, these disliking their present Station, sent certain Ambassadors to the Antients, complaining of a great Nuisance, how the Height of that Part of Parnassus, quite spoiled the Prospect of theirs, especially towards the East; and therefore, to avoid a War, offered them the Choice of this Alternative; either that the Antients would please to remove themselves and their Effects down to the lower Summity, which the Moderns would graciously surrender to them, and advance in their Place; or else the said Antients will give leave to the Moderns to come with Shovels and Mattocks, and level the said Hill, as low as they shall think it convenient. To which the Antients made Answer: How little they expected such a Message as this, from a Colony, whom they had admitted out of their own Free Grace, to so near a Neighbourhood. That, as to their own Seat, they were Aborigines of it, and therefore, to talk with them of a Removal or Surrender, was a Language they did not understand. That, if the Height of the Hill, on their side, shortened the Prospect of the Moderns, it was a Disadvantage they could not help, but desired them to consider, whether that Injury (if it be any) were not largely recompenced by the Shade and Shelter it afforded them. That, as to levelling or digging down, it was either Folly or Ignorance to propose it, if they did, or did not know, how that side of the Hill was an entire Rock, which would break their Tools and Hearts; without any Damage to itself. That they would therefore advise the Moderns, rather to raise their own side of the Hill, than dream of pulling down that of the Antients, to the former of which, they would not only give Licence, but also largely contribute. Penne e inchiostro nuova tecnologia bellica All this was rejected by the Moderns, with much Indignation, who still insisted upon one of the two Expedients; And so this Difference broke out into a long and obstinate War, maintained on the one Part, by Resolution, and by the Courage of certain Leaders and Allies; but, on the other, by the greatness of their Number, upon all Defeats, affording continual Recruits. In this Quarrel, whole Rivulets of Ink have been exhausted, and the Virulence of both Parties enormously augmented. Now, it must be here understood, that Ink is the great missive Weapon, in all Battels of the Learned, which, conveyed thro' a sort of Engine, call'd a Quill, infinite Numbers of these are darted at the Enemy, by the Valiant on each side, with equal Skill and Violence, as if it were an Engagement of Porcupines. This malignant Liquor was compounded by the Engineer, who invented it, of two Ingredients, which are Gall and Copperas, by its Bitterness and Venom, to Suit in some Degree, as well as to Foment the Genius of the Combatants. Il libro infestato da spiriti, potenziali fomentatori di controversia But, I believe, it is with Libraries, as with other Cemeteries, where some Philosophers affirm, that a certain Spirit, which they call Brutum hominis, hovers over the Monument, till the Body is corrupted, and turns to Dust or to Worms, but then vanishes or dissolves: So, we may say, a restless Spirit haunts over every Book, till Dust or Worms have seized upon it; which to some, may happen in a few Days, but to others, later; And therefore, Books of Controversy, being of all others, haunted by the most disorderly Spirits, have always been confined in a separate Lodge from the rest; and for fear of a mutual violence against each other, it was thought Prudent by our Ancestors, to bind them to the Peace with strong Iron Chains.