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Library Of Alexandria Essay

1281 words - 5 pages

HOW WAS THE GREAT LIBRAY OF ALEXANDRIA ORGANIZED AND OPERATED? WHO OR WHAT CAUSED ITS DESTRUCTION?

     For the extra credit assignment I have decided to compose as essay describing the great library of Alexandria. The library itself is wrapped up in a great mystery that has had many historians and archeologists heavily interested in its existence for many years. It has been recorded that the library of Alexandria held many thousands, if not millions, of books, volumes and other documents. The library is also believed to be one of the biggest libraries in human history. Its significance is of invaluable knowledge. The mammoth size of such a huge monument for the period of time that is existed is phenomenal. Even though it was significant in it’s time, the destruction of such a beautiful collection of thoughts, novels and other writings is somewhat of a tragic occurrence that has baffled many for years.

Alexandria was founded in Egypt by Alexandria the Great. His successor as Pharaoh was known as Ptolemy II Soter. He founded the Museum or Royal Library of Alexandria in 283 BC. The Museum was a shrine of the Muses modeled after the Lyceum of Aristotle in Athens. The Museum was a place of study which included lecture areas, gardens, a zoo, and shrines for each of the nine muses as well as the Library itself. It has been estimated that at one time the Library of Alexandria held over half a million documents from Assyria, Greece, Persia, Egypt, India and many other nations. Over 100 scholars and scribes lived at the Museum full time to perform research, write, lecture or translate and copy documents (Hertzke 2004). The library got so large it actually had another branch or "daughter" library at the Temple of Serapis.

There are many stories and rumors surrounding the real destruction of such a great library. It is still unknown exactly who are what destroyed the entire library but many stories and personal accounts that were put onto historical text much later on reveal clues to its possible “real” destruction. The first person blamed for the destruction of the Library is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In 48 BC, Caesar was pursuing Pompey into Egypt when he was suddenly cut off by an Egyptian fleet at Alexandria. Greatly outnumbered and in enemy territory, Caesar ordered the ships in the harbor to be set on fire. Supposedly the fire spread and destroyed the entire Egyptian fleet. Unfortunately, it also burned down part of the city. The area that also took damage was, where the great library stood. Caesar wrote of starting the fire in the harbor but neglected to mention the burning of the Library. Such an omission “proves little since he was not in the habit of including unflattering facts while writing his own history (Trumble and Marshall 2003, 56)”. But Caesar was not without public cynics. If he was solely to blame for the disappearance of the Library it is very likely significant documentation on the...

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