Example Of The Great (And Ancient) Library Of Alexandria Essay
Being one of the most ancient libraries in the world, the Library of Alexandria is believed to be built in the 3rd century BCE by Ptolemy I. However, some sources claim that the foundation of this library was a merit of Ptolemy II (Konig, Oikonomopoulou, and Woolf 23) as well as the scholar and orator Demetrius of Phalerum, who was the initiator of the very idea to create a library (Haughton).
Although the Library of Alexandria was in Egypt, most of the books were Greek. Nevertheless, the Ptolemies collected books from other cultures which were translated into Greek (Trumble 8). In addition, Haughton claims that the library contained as much as “half a million documents, though whether this refers to the amount of books or the number of papyrus scrolls is unclear”. Many people contributed to the growth of the library’s possessions by translating or writing new books. For example, Egyptian priest Manetho wrote Egyptian history in Greek, while Hermippus was the creator of the book on Persian religion. There were also Buddhist writings and Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek (Trumble 8) and even original manuscripts of Greek authors, one of which was Aristotle (Haughton).
Unfortunately, there is no consensus between scholars regarding the question what actually happened to the library. Julius Caesar is thought to be connected to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 48 BC during occupation of Alexandria (Haughton) when many places were set on fire. However, there are other two personalities linked to the library’s demise: Theophilius of Alexandria and Caliph Omar of Damascus. According to the legend, Theophilius began destroying the library in the name of Christianity in 391 AD. Yet another version is that in 641 AD, Caliph Omar conquered Alexandria and burned the books because they contradicted Koran’s teachings (Upton).
The Library of Alexandria has a long and complex history. Even though the scientists are not sure what happened to the ancient library, people of our age are able to see and visit the modern Library of Alexandria which was built in 2002 (Upton).
Haughton, Brian. What Happened to the Great Library at Alexandria? Ancient History Encyclopedia, 01 Feb. 2011. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
Konig, Jason, Katerina Oikonomopoulou and Greg Woolf. Ancient Libraries. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
Trumble, Kelly. The Library of Alexandria. 2003. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
Upton, Emily. The Mysterious Fate of the Library of Alexandria. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.