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AUC Press's Description
The Library of Alexandria explores one of the greatest cultural adornments of the late ancient world. The origins of the ‘vanished library’ of Alexandria lie in the distant echoes of the great library of Pisistratus in Athens, an institution that set the tone for establishing a dominant culture and inspired Alexander the Great to build a library of his own in his empire’s most important city. Thus he expanded his cultural and imperial influence and power throughout the world. The library contained thousands of scrolls of Greek, Hebrew, and Mesopotamian literature as well as art and artefacts from ancient Egypt.
Roy MacLeod has here assembled an array of distinguished scholars to bring this great—tragically destroyed—institution back to life. They demonstrate how the contemporary reputation of its library helped Alexandria to become a point of convergence for Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Syrian culture that drew scholars and statesmen from throughout the ancient world. The Library of Alexandria explores Alexandria as the largest city in the ancient world, whose site was, in Alexander the Great’s own words, ‘the very best in which to found a city that would prosper.’ It also covers Greek heritage and surveys contemporary literature; Aristotle and Alexandria; Greek medical literature; the link between Alexandria and Paphos, the Ptolemaic capital of Cyprus; higher education and the book trade in antiquity; Neoplatonists; Mystery Schools and the early Christian fathers; and Alexandria’s medieval legacy following the destruction of the city.
The introduction by Ismail Serageldin, director of the newly inaugurated Bibliotheca Alexandrina, brings the story full circle to the latest incarnation of the great library.