Royal Library of Alexandria or Ancient Library of Alexandria, was in its time the largest in the world. Located in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, is believed to have been created at the beginning of 3rd century AD. by Ptolemy I Soter and came to hold up to 700,000 volumes. A new Bibliotheca Alexandrina, promoted by UNESCO, was inaugurated in 2003 in the same city.
The destruction of the Library of Alexandria is one of the great mysteries of western civilization. There is no clear evidence about its most essential aspects, and have not found the ruins of the museum, with the Serapeo rare. You can however assert without doubt that the Great Library was founded by the Ptolemies was not affected by the War Alejandrina 48 AD., and probably had already disappeared when the Arab invasion, which according to some sources, the Caliph Omar ordered the destruction of thousands of books. Whatever the faults of Christians and Muslims, so the library must be placed in an unspecified time of III or IV century, perhaps in 273, when Emperor Aurelian took and plundered the town, or did the same when Diocletian in 297. The library’s daughter Serapeo, successor to the Great Library was plundered, or at least cast in 391, when Emperor Theodosius the Great ordered the destruction of pagan temples in the city of the Ptolemies.
Since the nineteenth century, scholars have tried to understand the organization and structure of the library, and has been debated long and hard about its end. Knowledge of the Library, how it was, how your good work, the exact number of volumes and even the same situation are limited, since very few witnesses are about as great institution, and even these are sporadic and scattered. Researchers and historians of the XX and XXI centuries have insisted that there’s a retrospective utopia around the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. There is no doubt that the library there, but there is little certainty in what was written on it. There have been hundreds of contradictory statements, dubious and simply false, making assumptions based on very limited data, most often, are only approximations.
The Great Library of Alexandria, so called to distinguish it from the small library or sister in Serapeo, was founded by the first Ptolemies for the purpose of assisting the maintenance of Greek civilization within the very conservative Egyptian civilization to the surrounding Alexandrian city. While moving to Falero Demetrius of Alexandria (in the years 296-295 BC) is related to the organization of the library, it is also certain that at least the institution of this plan was developed under Ptolemy Soter (died around 284 BC) and the completion of the work and its connection with the museum was the work up to his successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. As Strabo does not mention the library in their description of the buildings of the port, it seems clear that it was not in this part of town, while its connection with the museum would locate in Brucheion, real district located in northeastern the city.
The shrine housed a small zoo, gardens, a large meeting room and a laboratory. The rooms were devoted to the library ended up being the most important of the whole institution, which was known in the intellectual world of antiquity to be unique. For centuries, the Ptolemies supported and maintained the library, from its inception, maintained an atmosphere of study and work. Spent large sums to the purchase of books, works of Greece, Persia, India, Palestine, Africa and other cultures, though dominated Greek literature.
The museum’s library consisted of ten stays research, each dedicated to a different discipline. A large number of poets and philosophers, who became more than a hundred years at best, dealing with maintenance, with a total dedication. Actually saw the building of the museum as a temple dedicated to the true knowledge.
It is known that from the beginning the library was a section to the museum. But later, when this entity acquired great importance and volume, there was need to build an annex nearby. It is believed that this second library (library daughter) was created by Evergetes Ptolemy III (246-221 BC), and settled in the hill district Racotis (today called Karmuz) in a position farthest from Alexandria Sea, specifically in the ancient temple erected by the early Ptolemies to the god Serapis, called Serapeo, considered one of the most beautiful buildings of antiquity. At the time of the Roman Empire, the emperors protected and upgraded to a large extent, even incorporating central heating pipes in order to keep the books dry well in the underground reservoirs.
The drafters of the library of Alexandria was well known in Greece for his work on the Homeric texts. The more famous editors generally took the title of principal librarian.
The geographical diversity of scholars shows that the library was indeed a great center of learning and research. In 2004, an Egyptian team found what appears to be a part of the library while digging in Brucheion. Archaeologists discovered thirteen conference rooms, each with a central podium. Zahi Hawass, the president of the Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt, estimated that the rooms would have been excavated so far been able to accommodate about 5,000 students, indicating that an institution was too big for its time. In the second century AD, Eumenes II founded a center in imitation of the library in Pergamum.
Ptolemy II commissioned Zenodoto of Ephesus, helped by the poet Calimaco, the task of cataloging all the volumes and books. Zenodoto was the first librarian of Alexandria, and in these years the works were scheduled to half a million. The result of his work was Pinakes first thematic catalog of the story. Some were on rolls of papyrus or parchment, which is what is called “volumes”, and cut into sheets, forming what is called “volumes.” Each of these works could be divided into “parts” or “free.” Hand-made copies of original works, ie “editions, which were highly valued (even more than the original) for the corrections carried out. Persons responsible for organizing the library and helping Calimaco far-fetched by all cultures and in all known languages of the ancient world and sent negotiators could take entire libraries, sometimes to buy as is, as other loans to copies.
Large vessels arriving to the famous port of Alexandria loaded with various cargoes were inspected by the guard, both in search of contraband material. When we find a roll, rioja rioja wore confiscated and deposited into the library, where the scribes were responsible for copying. Once that work, the film was generally returned to their owners. The value of these copies was very high and highly valued. The library of Alexandria became the depository for copies of all books of the ancient world. It was there really was carried out for the first time the art of critical edition.
Often said, erroneously, that first of all attacks against the Library of Alexandria was perpetrated by the Romans: Julius Caesar, in pursuit of Pompey, defeated Farsalia arrived to Egypt to find that his former partner and son had been Potin assassinated by order of the vizier of King Ptolemy XIII Filópator to ingratiate himself with. Egypt suffered a civil war for succession to the throne, and soon Caesar leaned in favor of the king’s sister, Cleopatra VII. Realizing that Rome could not defeat, but to Caesar, and earn the gratitude of his rivals in the Senate, declared war Potin. On November 9 from 48 AD., the Egyptian troops, commanded by a mercenary general named Aquila (formerly centurion), Caesar laid siege to the royal palace in the city and tried to capture the Roman ships in the harbor. Amid the fighting, fire torches were made by order of Caesar against the Egyptian fleet, reducing it to the flames in a few hours. Julius Caesar himself indicated in his bellum alexandrinum that the city was hardly affected by the fire, “because buildings that can not primed wood fire.”
However, for some classical sources may seem that this fire would have extended to deposits of the Great Books Library, near the port. Seneca confirms tranquilitate De Animi in the loss of 40,000 rolls in this unfortunate incident (quadraginta milia librorum Alexandriae arserunt “), citing its source, CXII lost book of Livy, who was contemporary of the disaster. Paulo Orosia repeats in the V century this figure in its pagan Historiarum adversum: “… by invading the flames consumed the city of forty thousand books deposited by chance in the buildings …” Casio Dion alludes to the destruction of the stores (apothekai) port, some of which contained rolls. For its part, Plutarch of Queronea is the first explicit mention of the fire spread to the great Library of Alexandria as though it had been reduced to ashes forever, not just a partial breakdown. However, as Plutarch categorical assertion about the burning of the library seems to have originated in a linguistic error, caused by the change of meaning of Greek word bibliothek at the end of the first century and the beginning of II. The word has lost its connotation of ‘library’ to mean ‘book’ (such as the Library Historical Diodoro Siculo). Meanwhile, ‘library’ would be designated as apothekai ton biblion (literally ‘book store’), and the different meanings attributed to these terms would have resulted in confusion. Aulo Gellius, and much later Marcelino Amiano provided similar information to the above, to suffer the same error in meaning probably repeated by ignorance or credulity of his contemporaries.
Can say without doubt that the Great Alexandrian Library and its treasures were not destroyed in the fire in the year 48 AD. Celebrities that have burned 400,000 volumes were actually 40,000, deposited in warehouses at the port, probably waiting to be cataloged for the library, or for export to Rome, as the bellum Alexadrinum, Seneca and Dion Casio.