Less Known Facts About Ancient Libraries: Library of Alexandria

Alexander the Great went out on a journey to rule the world. He brought historians and geographers to write down whatever they experienced or found, such as all the cultures and societies they would encounter. When Alexander passed away, Hellenism started to take over time in history. It was the mixture of Alexander’s culture as well as the cultures of the societies he met on his conquest. The grand library embodied the essence of Hellenism.

Interesting and Least Known Facts

  1. Demetrius of Phaleon, who was a politician from Athena that escaped to Egypt after he lost his standing. Demetrius of Phaleon founded the Library of Alexandria. The ruler of Egypt at the time, Ptolemy I Soter, was amazed by Demetrius’ intelligence, so he asked him to establish a library.
  2. The Alexandrian Museum was what the Library of Alexandria was meant to be, a segment of the museum’s institution. The library was a place where the scholars did their studies.
  3. There were more than two hundred thousand books contained in the library, and there were different subjects that the texts covered and were sorted by in the library. The topics covered were law, rhetoric, epic, tragedy, lyric poetry, comedy, history, mathematics, medicine, natural science, and miscellaneous.
  4. Rhodes and Athens were the book markets that everyone went to in the Ancient Mediterranean, which is where the library got its books from.
  5. Officials from the government went on every ship that docked in Alexandria’s harbor looking for books for the library. The books they found on the boats were inspected at the library to either be returned or copied only to return the copy but keep the original.
  6. The books at the library were either written in Egyptian or Greek. The library was thought to contain every piece of Ancient Greek literature. The books written in Egyptian had the history and traditions of Ancient Egypt written in them.
  • The library was used by scholars to help them categorize the dynasties of the history of Ancient Egypt. This is what we use in the present when we refer to the history of Egypt.
  • There were two times in history when the library was destroyed. The first time was when the library was built close to the harbor near Alexander’s palace in Alexandria. Julius Caesar set fire to the ships that were docked in the port when he tried to step in the middle of the civil war that Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra were going through. The fire set by Caesar was thought to have reached the library and burned it down.
  • The second library was built in a temple that was created to honor the god Serapis. The Roman Emperor during 391 BCE established that the only religion that was legally allowed was Christianity, and he told his men to destroy all temples that weren’t Christian. The emperor’s men eviscerated the temple with the library.
  • The library’s spiritual successor was opened in 2002, and it is called the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Built in Alexandria, the new library is meant to establish Alexandria as the center of learning. It was built as a memorial to the old library. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina houses manuscripts in digital form and the most extensive French book collection in the continent of Africa.