Ancient Alexandria Library - The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Alexandria Library - The Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Besides the light that beamed from the summit of this lofty tower, there was another center of radiance and illumination in ancient Alexandria Library.

which was in some respects still more conspicuous and renowned, namely, an immense library and museum established and maintained by the tolemies.

The Museum, which was first established, was not, as its name might now imply, a collection of curiosities, but an institution of learning, consisting of a body of learned men, who devoted their time to philosophical and scientific pursuits.

The institution was richly endowed, and magnificent buildings were erected for its use.

The king who established Alexandria Library began immediately to make a collection of books for the use of the members of the institution.

This was attended with great expense, as every book that was added to the collection required to be transcribed with a pen on parchment or papyrus with infinite labor and care.

Great numbers of scribes were constantly employed upon this work at the Museum.

The kings who were most interested in forming this Alexandria library would seize the books that were possessed by individual scholars, or that were deposited in the various cities of their dominions, and then, causing beautiful copies of them to be made by the scribes of the Museum.

They would retain the originals for the great Alexandrian library, and give the copies to the men or the cities that had been thus despoiled.

In the same manner they would borrow, as they called it, from all travelers who visited which they might have in their possession, and, retaining the originals, give them back copies instead.

In process of time the Alexandria library increased to four hundred thousand volumes.

There was then no longer any room in the buildings of the museum for further additions.

There was, however, in another part of the city, a great temple called the Serapion. This temple was a very magnificent edifice, or, rather, group of edifices, dedicated to the god Serapis.

The origin and history of this temple were very remarkable.

Let's hear Carl Sagan introduces the library of Alexandria

Back to Alexandria page

Return Home