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Um, basically I'm wanting to make a joke work and want to be sure I'm not painting myself into a corner. I NEED TO BE INFORMED ON THE FOLLOWING:

QUESTION: was it common in 5th and 6th century writings (or heck, 3rd or 4th centuries) to write a TITLE PAGE? Like, the Greek writers and famed writers of the Middle East, etc. etc. did or did not typically include a TITLE PAGE?*

DEFINITION: this would be a multi-paragraphed summation of what the reader was about to experience/read/learn. Also included is the caveat that if there are any mistakes or errors in fact in the tome, it's the fault of the compiler?

My tongue is firmly in cheek, in case that was in question. But I do want to be reminded of writing rules back in the day, should anyone care to wax poetic or prosaic.

[ETA] I should mention that the alleged title page of the book to which I am referring was written originally on solid gold pages, and collected with d-ring binders of an ancient design. Um, I'm not making that up, that's what is claimed. O_O


( 52 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
Not sure? I've read a lot of Classical sources for uni, and yes, those writers typically do a breakdown of what sources they used, their intentions, why they used those sources, etc, though there's no set pattern or format they have to follow, it's more like "Hey reader! You should know x y and z!". This is almost exclusively used by "history" writers, like Herodotus and Arrian. I have no idea about later periods, though. I have Medieval lit in a couple of hours, so I could ask my professor and get back to you.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
That would be fabulous! (And I'm being semi-funny here, as I'm talking about the Book of Mormon's title page, written by the son of the compiler, Mormon. He makes sure to say this is all divine inspiration, and if anything in the book is later found to be incorrect, well, that's just because it's written by a bunch of men.) That's one that feels like it wasn't very common.

...also, the book wasn't written in the 5th century because it's made up by Joseph Smith, BUT FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT (lol) let's pretend it was.

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Sep. 9th, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Had they already switched from scrolls to books then? ... I have a hazy memory of my Latin teacher saying something about writers putting a lot of effort into the first couple of paragraphs, as that is what people would read in bookshop... scrollshops. You know, unrolling a couple of inches to sample the text.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
And this was golden plates, collected with binder clips. Like, literally. *cough*

Yeah, I'm guessing it's not a commonality, then. :)
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
(I saw this on friendsfriends; hope you don't mind me commenting!) I'm a medievalist, so I'm not hugely familiar with Classical writing, but I do know that there were no such things as title pages that early. Frequently, texts didn't even get a title. The first few words of the opening line—the incipit—were simply written in a different colour or in larger lettering, and texts were often referred to by their incipits. There was no other widely used method of distinguishing the beginning of a text.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:51 pm (UTC)
Hello! I'm so glad you decided to comment! (Um, so you know, I'm referring to the Book of Mormon, which claims to be an ancient text. I do not believe it to be so. Also, they claim the original book to have been inscribed on plates of pure gold, which makes the likelihood of a page wasted for the title/summation even more unlikely.)

Oh, that's so interesting about how there weren't even titles, I love my smart flist. (And flistflist. Hee.)
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Sep. 9th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
I can't think that in any of the original ancient manuscripts or facsimiles of them I've translated there has been anything like that, although certainly sometimes scholars would add a gloss (often with their own spin on the text, sometimes more obvious than others) before the work in question. This can be particularly true with religious texts; I feel like there are some in the canonical Hebrew Bible itself, though don't ask me to cite on this little sleep. There was a tradition of writers summarizing other people's works before going on and on about how wrong they were.

Heck, you're lucky if you get paragraph breaks or even titles in ancient manuscripts.

Do you mean BCE or CE? Not that my answer is much different, but my proximity to the texts would change.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Here is the title page in question. (Let me be clear - I believe without question that the Book of Mormon is all made up. I believe that Joe Smith was trying to copy a certain style of writing that he believed to be "ancient.")

Which doesn't help much. And this would be AD (AC) - 490 A.D. is the claim.
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Sep. 9th, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'm gonna say no, since those groups didn't have, you know, real books.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
I forgot about codices, my bad. That said, it seems unlikely that they would waste material on a title page.
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Sep. 9th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
Here are some links to pictures and descriptions of some fifth century religious texts, ie codex texts:



I found some others as well which don't seem to use a title page. The kind of title page you're referring to with the multi paragraph title and the caveats was popular in the 1600's, ie, during the scope of the long eighteenth century.
Sep. 9th, 2010 09:53 pm (UTC)
Sweet! Thank you so much!

And HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. During the scope of the long eighteenth century. (Bleeding into the 19th, perhaps? Like, say, 1830? I'm hoping you've noticed the ETA and know to which I am referring. Hee.)
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Sep. 9th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
These would be the infamous Mormon books that could only be interpreted by that one guy, who never interpreted them the same way twice? Or something?

LOL, ancient-design D-ring binders!
Sep. 9th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
That would be the ones! He had sunglasses made of special crystals that magically translated the "ancient texts" into Victorian English.

...I'm not making that up, either.

It was the Ancient Holy Trapper Keeper! (I actually refer to it that way in my book, lol.)
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Sep. 9th, 2010 10:21 pm (UTC)
If I'm remembering my Elizabethan literature class correctly, title pages didn't come into being until the print era. There wasnt' really a point to them. You had a cover, usually a leather binding, then the actual written text.

Once printing became more prevalent, then book design started (and you should see some of the earliest title pages) and there was a need to identify the author/publisher etal. That's when title pages came into being.

ETA: Wow. You had a lot of responses before mine. And now that I've read them all AND seen what you've eta'd...I have no words. I am boggling right now.

Edited at 2010-09-09 10:26 pm (UTC)
Sep. 9th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
I love all of the responses I'm getting. It's HILARIOUS to me. Because of the shame I still feel for believing the crap I did and for the AWESOME SMACK DOWN that my flist provides.
Sep. 9th, 2010 10:43 pm (UTC)
I understand where you're coming from in regard to the 'authenticity' of the text but can you tell me what is supposed to have happened to the 'golden plates' and the 'kaleidoscope glasses'? Did Mr Joe Smith lose them, melt them down, hide them away or hand them back to a personal angel? I don't know that part of the story--just to satisfy my curiosity (and make me drop my mouth open even further regarding the gullibility of some folk) :)
Sep. 9th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
OH THAT IS A GREAT QUESTION. To which they have a ready answer. The world, you understand, is a place of iniquity. So an angel carried them back to heaven so they wouldn't be used for evil.

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Sep. 9th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'm wrapping up revisions right now, so hopefully within a week or so!

And LOL. You and me (now) both! ;)
Sep. 9th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Well, I could tell you about ancient writing in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, but I get the feeling the Mayans wouldn't have been claimed as the writers of this book.

But FYI, cacao beans > gold back then. I know who I consider to be the enlightened ones in that time period. >.>
Sep. 9th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
But don't you know that the Mayans or the Olecs WERE the people (maybe) of the book of Mormon? Or a civilization of 4 million people that there is no proof of that has yet to be discovered?

Mmmmm, cacao beans. Hahaha.
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Jan. 3rd, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
Haha. Way late to the party. I had to check you out after reading your brilliant "Twilight" spork. It was even better than the South Park sporking. I was raised Mormon from ages 5-11. I think my house is on a permanent Do Not Call list. I told them I'd come back if women could have the priesthood. I know the last thing they want is uppity women. Bwahahaha! I'm watching your book comm with interest.

In a word, no. Scrolls were more common in the ancient world. No need for a title page. Also, the stuff they wrote on was valuable,so unless it was covered with beautiful art, also NO.
Jan. 3rd, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
(I was being sarcastic about wanting an answer. Mostly I'm making fun of a certain Book you and I are most familiar with. *g*)
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( 52 comments — Leave a comment )


Are You Actually

Reading this? I'm just curious. Because that's really detail-oriented of you. Feel free to stop reading. But you can see that there's more here, so are you going to keep reading? Really? That's pretty dedicated. I'm impressed. No, really. I'm not being sarcastic, why do you get like that? See, this is the problem I have with your mother - yes. YES. I'm going there. It's time we put all of our cards on the table.

I love you, why are you doing this? After all we've been through? You don't have to be like this. You know, still reading. You could be baking a pie. And then sharing it with me.

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