Return to Serapis
"Nor did the fire fall upon the vessels only: the houses near the sea caught fire from the spreading heat, and the winds fanned the conflagration, till the flames, smitten by the eddying gale, rushed over the roofs as fast as the meteors that often trace a furrow through the sky, though they have nothing solid to feed on and burn by means of air alone."
Lucan, Pharsalia (X.497ff)
Julius Caesar himself provides the first indication of what might have happened to the Great Library at Alexandria. In the Civil Wars, he recounts the Battle of Pharsalus (48 BC) and his pursuit of the defeated Pompey to Alexandria, where Caesar became embroiled in the Alexandrian War between Cleopatra and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII. There was an attempt by the Egyptians to seize the ships in the harbor, the capture of which would jeopardize any hope for supplies and reinforcement. Besieged in a wing of the palace where he resided, Caesar "burned all these vessels and those in the dockyards, since he could not protect so wide an area with his small force" (III.111) and retreated during the fighting to the island of Pharos in the middle of the harbor, which was seized. He then garrisoned the Pharos itself, the famed lighthouse "of great height, a work of wonderful construction, which took its name from the island" (III.112). Having secured access to the sea, a defensive cordon then was drawn around the most important positions, which were strengthened during the night and in the days to follow. This included the adjoining theater that served as a citadel and commanded access to the harbor and dockyards.
Here, Caesar's account ends but is continued by Aulus Hirtius, one of his lieutenants. Battering rams were used to knock down buildings and extend the barriers. Hirtius then interjects that "Alexandria is almost completely secure against fire; the buildings have no carpentry or timber, and are composed of masonry constructed in arches and roofed with rough-cast or flag-stones" (The Alexandrian War, I.1). It is an unexpected observation and, in remarking that the city could not burn, Hirtius may have been trying to counter accusations that it had. There was, in fact, sufficient timber in the roof supports and framing of colonnades, gymnasia, and other public buildings that the Egyptians were able to replace a shortage of oars and even build additional ships (I.13).
Twenty years later, in about 25 BC, Strabo accompanied his friend Aelius Gallus, the new Roman prefect, to Egypt and toured the province (Geography, II.5.12). He was to stay there for five years and reside in Alexandria, which he describes in detail. On entering the harbor, one passed the Pharos, "a tower that is admirably constructed of white marble with many stories," erected, as stated in the inscription, to safely guide mariners to its entrance (XVII.1.6). Opposite was the Lochias promontory and a royal palace and then, further on, "the inner royal palaces, which are continuous with those on Lochias and have groves and numerous lodges painted in various colours" (XVII.9). This warren of buildings, monuments, and public spaces extended along the eastern shore and comprised a quarter or even a third of the city, all built up by successive kings and connected with one another and to the harbor (XVII.1.8). Here, too, were the Theater and Temple of Poseidon, the Caesareum, Emporium, and warehouses. Finally were the ship-houses, extending as far as the causeway that connected Pharos to the mainland.
The Mouseion ("a shrine of the muses," in Latin, museum) was "a part of the royal palaces" and, like Aristotle's Lyceum upon which it was based, had a colonnaded walkway (peripatos, after which the Peripatetic philosophers were named), exedra with seats, and a large communal building with a refectory or dining hall for the "men of learning" who shared the Museum in common. In charge was a priest, formerly appointed by the Ptolemies but now by the emperor (XVII.1.8).
The Museum (itself a major attraction of Alexandria, Herondas, Mimes, I) is presumed to have had a library, where scrolls would be readily accessible for the recension of texts such as Homer and the Athenian playwrights by scholars "at the same time poet and critic," as Philitas of Cos was described (XIV.2.19). But whether it comprised a collection within the Museum itself or occupied a separate building is not known, although the library at Pergamon suggests that it likely was part of the Museum complex.
Strabo does not mention a library, although he does say, in defense of his predecessor Eratosthenes (the third prostates or director of the Library), that the geographer had read many historical treatises "with which he was well supplied if he had a library as large as Hipparchus says it was" (II.1.5), implying that it since had diminished. Strabo also speaks of making a comparison between two different authors to discover who might have copied the other (XVII.1.5).
He notes, too, that the island of Pharos was uninhabited, aside from a few seamen who lived near the lighthouse, it having "been laid waste by the deified Caesar in his war against the Alexandrians" (XVII.1.6), but says nothing about any further destruction. Nor does Cicero, who had fought with Pompey at Pharsalus.
Dismissive of the importance of "numberless books and libraries, whose titles their owner can hardly read through in a lifetime," the younger Seneca quotes from a lost book by Livy (Periochae 112) that a library is "a splendid result of the taste and attentive care of the kings" but rejoins that, if "forty thousand books were burned at Alexandria," they had been collected merely for ostentatious display (On the Tranquility of the Mind, IX.5). This passing remark, written sometime after Seneca's return from exile in AD 49 to tutor the young Nero, is the first indication that books (libri) actually had been destroyed in the Caesarian fire a century before. He does not say where these books were lost, but the context implies that they were in the Library. (Gibbon admonishes the Stoic philosopher for such flippancy, "whose wisdom, on this occasion, deviates into nonsense," LI.3.)
Seneca was forced to commit suicide in AD 65, suspected in a plot against Nero—as was his nephew Lucan, author of Pharsalia, an unfinished epic on the civil war. Lucan relates how Caesar took refuge in a section of the palace, where he found himself hemmed in (X.439ff). Unable to breach the gates, the Egyptians made an assault "at the point where the splendid pile projected with bold frontage right over the water" (X.486ff). Caesar ordered firebrands to be hurled against the ships, the wind fanning flames that spread to nearby houses. When the besiegers rushed to fight the fire, he escaped to the Pharos. Here the poem ends, at almost the same point as Caesar's own account. Florus later relates the same event in his epitome of Livy. Caesar thwarted his assailants "by setting fire to neighbouring buildings and docks" and then, making a sudden sally, occupied the Pharos (Epitome of Roman History, II.13.59).
Like Florus, Plutarch wrote during the reign of Hadrian (early in the second century AD). He agrees that Caesar's situation was desperate and recounts that "when the enemy tried to cut off his fleet, he was forced to repel the danger by using fire, and this spread from the dockyards and destroyed the great library [megalê bibliothekê]" (Life, XLIX.6). This is the first mention that Caesar himself destroyed the Library and not simply its books. Plutarch had visited Alexandria (Quaestiones Convivales, V.5.1), perhaps after AD 83, when there was an eclipse (or earlier, since his grandfather still was alive when he returned), and may have seen the Library but says nothing more about it. Nor does Appian, writing sometime before AD 162, who says only that "various battles took place around the palace and on the neighbouring shores" (Civil Wars, II.90).
Early in the third century AD, Dio elaborates on what happened. "Many battles occurred between the two forces both by day and by night, and many places were set on fire, with the result that the docks and the storehouses of grain among other buildings were burned, and also the library, whose volumes [biblia], it is said, were of the greatest number and excellence" (XLII.38.2). Galen, in his commentary on the Epidemics of Hippocrates, says that books arriving in Alexandria were not immediately placed in the Library but first heaped together in warehouses. Presumably, this is where they were stored for accessioning, and it may be that Dio has confused these storehouses with the Library itself, bibliotheke or bibliotheca meaning simply a collection of books (cf. Isidore of Seville: "a library takes its name from Greek, because books are deposited there," Etymologies, VI.3.1). Writing in the fifth century AD, Orosius remarks that the books were "stored in a building which happened to be nearby" (Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII, VI.15.31ff), implying that they may have been there by chance.
During the summer, a strong Etesian wind blows inland from the sea (Geography, XVII.1.7; also Diodorus Siculus, XVII.52.2) which, as Caesar complains, had prevented him from sailing out of the harbor (Civil Wars, III.107). Fifty ships then were moored there: quadriremes (four banks of oars) and quinqueremes (five banks), all fitted out and ready to sail, as well as another twenty-two decked ships (III.111). Altogether, relates Hirtius, more than one hundred and ten ships, either at anchor or tied up at the quay, were lost (Alexandrine War, I.12). It was late August and, from Lucan's poetic description of the tarred rigging and waxed decks catching fire, it is easy to imagine burning embers being blown across the harbor onto the wharves, dockside warehouses, nearby houses—and possibly the Great Library itself. The many other places said by Dio to have been set on fire only would have added to the conflagration.
There is a sanguine note, however. Plutarch relates that in 41 BC Marc Antony, in an extravagant gesture to his inamorata Cleopatra, "bestowed upon her the libraries from Pergamum, in which there were two hundred thousand volumes" (Life, LVIII.5), each representing the work of a single author. Such largess was one of a litany of complaints directed against Antony, although most were thought to have been false, or so Plutarch thought (LIX.1). The volumes (volumina) may never have been sent but, if they were, would have mitigated the loss a few years before. (Casson, on the other hand, takes just the opposite view: that the Library did survive because the story "could not have been told if the library had ceased to be.")
Or it may not have been completely destroyed, as it is difficult to reconcile the Library burning but not the Museum. Suetonius notes that Claudius, who ruled from AD 41 to 54, "added to the old Museum at Alexandria a new one called after his name" provided that the twenty books of his Etruscan history be read each year from beginning to end (XLII.2; "the modern professors in the Claudian Institute" are compared to a School for Parasites by a playwright in Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, VI.240B). And there is a Latin inscription recording that Tiberius Claudius Balbillus, prefect of Egypt (Tacitus, Annals, XIII.22) from AD 55 to 59, was director of the Library, a political appointment presumably in recognition of his service. Balbillus was the grandfather of Julia Balbilla, who later accompanied Hadrian and his wife during their visit to Egypt, writing four epigrams in commemoration of the occasion. In AD 130, the tour took Hadrian to the Museum in Alexandria, where the emperor is said to have "propounded many questions to the teachers and answered himself what he had propounded" (Historia Augusta, XX.2). An Oxyrhynchus papyrus also records the sale in AD 173 of a boat by a certain Valerius Diodorus, "member of the Museum."
If received, Antony's gift may explain how later authors could comment on the destruction of the Library and yet imply that its books still were being copied. Suetonius (who was Hadrian's private secretary) records that Domitian, himself indifferent to history or poetry, "provided for having the libraries, which were destroyed by fire, renewed at very great expense, seeking everywhere for copies of the lost works, and sending scribes to Alexandria to transcribe and correct them" (XX). This occurred at the beginning of his rule, which he assumed upon the death of his brother Titus in AD 81. Two years before, there had been a devastating fire that burned "the Octavian buildings [Portico of Octavia] together with their books" (Dio, LXVI.24.1). And a library associated with the Temple of Augustus had been destroyed shortly before AD 79 (Pliny, XII.94) that also was restored by Domitian (Martial, XII.3.7-8). In the fourth century AD, Aurelius Victor comments that "With exemplars sought from everywhere, especially Alexandria, he restored libraries consumed by fire" (De Caesaribus, XI.4).
Aulus Gellius, who died sometime after AD 180, does admit that the destruction at least was unintentional. "At a later time an enormous quantity of books, nearly seven hundred thousand volumes, was either acquired or written in Egypt under the kings known as Ptolemies; but these were all burned during the sack of the city in our first war with Alexandria, not intentionally or by anyone's order, but accidentally by the auxiliary soldiers" (Attic Nights, VII.17.3).
Athenaeus, writing early in the third century AD (after AD 228, if the Ulpian who hosts the symposium is modeled on the celebrated jurist who was murdered that year), seems to imply that the Museum at Alexandria and its well-fed pedants endlessly quarreling in "the Muses' bird-cage" (I.22D) were a thing of the past. "And concerning the number of books, the establishing of libraries, and the collection in the Hall of the Muses, why need I even speak, since they are in all men's memories?" (V.203D). But the remark also can be understood to mean that the Library was so famous that it was known to all.
The figure of Gellius is repeated by Ammianus Marcellinus, who lived at least until AD 391, the year that the Serapeum in Alexandria was destroyed. Ammianus thinks it still to be standing; indeed, "the whole world beholds nothing more magnificent" (Res Gestae, XXII.16.12). But he mistakenly conflates the Serapeum and the Great Library: "In this [the Temple of Serapis] were invaluable libraries, and the unanimous testimony of ancient records that 700,000 books, brought together by the unremitting energy of the Ptolemaic kings, were burned in the Alexandrine war, when the city was sacked under the dictator Caesar" (XXII.16.13). In the same excursus on Egypt, Ammianus also thought that the Pharos had been built by Cleopatra, who was said to have constructed the causeway to the island in only seven days so that it, too, could be part of her domain.
Ammianus continues his account of Alexandria "the crown of all cities" (XXII.16.7), which he probably visited on his trip to Egypt, by telling of the civil war that later raged there during the reign of Aurelian, who recaptured the city occupied by those loyal to Zenobia, queen of Palmyra, in AD 273. "The quarrels of the citizens turned into deadly strife; then her walls were destroyed and she lost the greater part of the district called Bruchion, which had long been the abode of distinguished men" (XXII.16.15; Zosimus, New History, I.61, "the Alexandrians, who were disposed to a rebellion, being already in commotion"). If the Library was not destroyed in the Caesarian fire, the assumption is that it surely must have been in the Aurelian more than three centuries later. (Coincidentally, Firmus, a rich merchant who led the revolt in Alexandria, was said to have "owned so many books that he used often to say in public that he could support an army on the paper and glue," Historia Augusta, III.2.)
Twenty-five years after the Bruchion had been destroyed by Aurelian, Alexandria again was put to the torch in AD 298 by Diocletian who, after an eight-month siege, "set fire to the city and burnt it completely, and he established his authority over it" (John of Nikiu, Chronicle, LXXVII.6). John Malalas relates that Diocletian swore to slaughter the inhabitants until their blood reached the knees of his horse; only when it stumbled over a corpse did the carnage end (Chronicle, XII.41). One wonders if the Bruchion ever did recover from these depredations. Almost a century later (in AD 392), Epiphanius wrote that this quarter of the city still was a wasteland (On Weights and Measures, IX.52b).
To commemorate their salvation, the Alexandrians erected a column to Diocletian in the Serapeum that still marks the site. And it was there in the Serapeum that a second library existed—a "daughter" to the Great Library.
Although libri, volumina, and in Greek biblia all were used to describe papyrus book rolls, it is not always clear how many books (in the modern sense of an author's composition bound in a volume) are contained in a scroll—whether a single complete work, parts of one, or several shorter works. A scroll often contained only one "book" of an ancient work and was the equivalent of a modern chapter. The Iliad, for example, is a book by Homer but was divided into twenty-four chapters or cantos, each represented by a single scroll.
Seneca says that 40,000 libri were destroyed. Gellius and Ammianus, using a different source than Livy, record the loss of 700,000 volumina. Later ecclesiastical authors cite multiples of these figures: Orosius, who wrote about AD 416, 400,000 books (Historiarum Adversum Paganos Libri VII, VI.15.31ff) and Isidore of Seville (d. AD 636), 70,000 (Etymologies, VI.3.5). This confusion between 40,000 and 400,000, and 70,000 and 700,000 strongly suggests an error by the medieval copyist (different manuscripts preserve all of these numbers). It would take only a horizontal line over the Roman numeral C in the original manuscript, for example, to indicate a multiple by a thousand or an inattentive copyist to confuse quadraginta with quadringenta.
In the twelfth-century, the Byzantine scholar Johannes Tzetzes wrote a scholia on the comedies of Aristophanes in which he states that there were 400,000 mixed rolls inside the palace quarter (presumably comprising more than one work, either from the same or different authors), and 90,000 unmixed rolls (one work); another 42,800 were outside (in the Temple of Serapis)—for a total of 532,800 scrolls (Prolegomena on Comedy, XX). Epiphanius, who also speaks of two libraries, one in the Bruchion (the royal precinct) and a second in the Serapeum, says that there had been 54,800 (On Weights and Measures, XI.52c), a tenth of that number. Josephus records that originally there were 200,000 books (Antiquities of the Jews, XII.2.1), a figure he takes from the Letter of Aristeas (X), a second-century BC pseudepigraphical text that is the earliest to mention the Library and the size of its collection, the purpose of which was to collect "all the books in the world" (IX).
Although there may have been multiple copies of the same work, Blum is doubtful whether the Great Library ever grew to the size stated by Tzetzes; indeed, it is "inexplicable." He calculates that 400,000 scrolls would require that two thousand Greek authors each wrote ten works averaging twenty scrolls apiece. Bagnall, too, questions the plausibility of such large numbers, assuming that the hundreds of thousands of scrolls actually ever were counted or read. Vitruvius does recount, however, the story of Aristophanes of Byzantium, "who with great labour and application was day after day reading through the books in the library." When the winner of a poetry contest was about to be announced, only Aristophanes disagreed with the other judges. Relying on his memory, he "quoted a vast number of books on certain shelves in the library, and comparing them with what had been recited, made the writers confess that they had stolen from them" (On Architecture, VII, Preface, 4ff).
Bagnall posits that about four hundred and fifty Greek authors (the Library held only works in Greek) are known to have lived or were born in the fourth century, many of whom are known from only a few surviving lines of text. Another one hundred seventy five lived or were born in the third century BC (when the Library was founded), who probably wrote only a few scrolls. If all these authors are allowed to have produced an average of fifty scrolls, their output still would total only 31,250, which is fewer than the lowest number given by Seneca. Bagnall further contends that only about 3,773,000 words survive in Greek from authors who lived from the second to the fourth centuries BC, or before (a figure calculated from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, a searchable database of virtually all surviving texts in Greek from Homer to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, and later). Allowing an average of ten thousand words per scroll, this corpus comprises a mere 377 scrolls. Even if the estimate is too low and a hundred times more writings existed than have survived, the number still is less than Seneca's. In short, Bagnall concludes that "the ancient figures for the size of the Library or the number of volumes lost in the Alexandrine War do not deserve any credence."
Other authors have tried to calculate the scrolls in the Library by estimating the number listed in the Pinakes of Callimachus, the complete title of which is Tables of Men Distinguished in Every Branch of Learning, and their Works in 120 books (Suda, K227), an index of authors, a brief biography, and their work (including the approximate number of lines), divided into genres and listed alphabetically. Allowing forty-four lines per column and twenty-seven columns per scroll, Bagnall calculated 142,560 lines in total. If two thirds of these lines are allocated just for titles, there would have been approximately 94,000 in the Library. McKenzie posits different variables: assuming that each scroll was eight meters long with forty lines per column and three lines per entry, she estimates that there were 128,000 scrolls.
Certainly, many were written. The grammarian Didymus of Alexandria, a contemporary of Cicero who flourished in the first century BC, was said to have composed thirty-five hundred books, so many that he could not remember them all and so was given the epithet Bibliolathas ("book forgetter") (Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 139D, who himself cites almost eight-hundred authors). "Unsurpassed for the number of books which he wrote," Didymus once was criticized for declaring a story to be absurd only to have forgotten that he had repeated it himself (Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, I.8.20). Seneca the Younger gives the figure as four thousand libri (Epistles, X.88.37), which was such a prodigious number that Didymus also was called Chalcenterus ("bronze guts") because of his "indefatigable industry with regard to books" (Suda, D872)—which must have been accessible to him.
As to libraries, a Greek sophist living in first-century Rome purchased more than 30,000 books (Suda, T1184; another Greek in the time of Nero was said to have done the same, 2004E). And the tutor to Gordian II supposedly left the emperor more than twice that number at his death, an estimated sixty-two thousand books (Historia Augusta, XVIII.2). Diogenes Laertius relates that Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle, left "a very large number of writings," which, given their excellence, he felt compelled to catalog. Approximately two hundred twenty five titles are listed, which comprised an even greater number of scrolls and totaled 232,808 lines (Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, V.36ff; compared to Aristotle himself, who wrote fewer titles but almost twice the number of lines—444,270, V.1ff). Euripides is another example of all that has been lost. Of ninety-two plays that were written, seventy-eight were known to Alexandrian scholars, and only eighteen survive, which still is more than twice the number of either Aeschylus or Sophocles.
Curiously, the Library and the Museum never are mentioned together, only one or the other. Caesar speaks of the fire but not the Library; Strabo, the Museum but not the fire; Seneca, the fire and the loss of books but not the Library; Plutarch, the Library but not the books; Dio, the fire and possibly the Library or perhaps only storehouses of books; Florus, the fire but not the Library or its books; and Appian, neither fire, the Library, or books—only the battle. As the account of the fire is repeated, so too are its consequences ever more disastrous. In the first century AD, Seneca mentions the loss of 40,000 books; in the second century, Aulus Gellius, almost 700,000; in the third century, Dio, the loss of books "of the greatest number and excellence"; in the fourth century, Ammianus, the burning of a priceless library and 700,000 books; and in the fifth century, Orosius, 400,000 books and the destruction of that "marvelous monument of the literary activity of our ancestors, who had gathered together so many great works of brilliant geniuses."
Insofar as the destruction of the Great Library has a single cause, Plutarch and Ammianus attribute it to Caesar; and Seneca, Dio, Gellius, and Orosius, the Caesarian fire. If so, the loss has to be reconciled with later references to both the Library and the Museum, which, in turn, requires that the two be considered distinct entities (the contention of the Oxford Classical Dictionary) or that the scrolls were not lost, replaced if they were, or to be found in other book collections, such as the Serapeum or Caesareum.
Too, the assumption is that, if the Library had been destroyed, Caesar, Hirtius, Cicero, and Strabo all would have commented upon the fact. Delia, for example, makes this argument, contending that "the silence of that omnivorous bibliophile and gossip, Cicero, cannot be similarly ignored [as can that of Hirtius]; on the contrary, it is compelling." But this is an argumentum a silentio or what Fischer calls "the fallacy of the negative proof," where there is "an attempt to sustain a factual proposition merely by negative evidence." An argument from silence often is used to draw conclusions about the past and does not have to be fallacious. But it seems to be so here.
Caesar cannot be expected to claim responsibility for the accidental destruction of the Library nor Hirtius to blame his commander. Cicero had been pardoned after the Battle of Pharsalus and very well may have felt some obligation to Caesar, who had "continued to show him honour and kindness" (Plutarch, Cicero, XXXIX.5). Strabo was thoroughly Roman in his sympathies and likely a citizen. All therefore had reasons to be reticent, and their silence regarding the Library is no more an indication that it was not destroyed than it was. As Fisher cautions: "Not knowing that a thing exists is different from knowing that it does not exist...Not knowing that something exists is simply not knowing."
Coined by John Locke in the seventeenth century, argumentum ad ignorantiam is an argument made from ignorance (that is, a lack of evidence to the contrary) and the conclusion drawn from this negative evidence. The inference is that a proposition is false because it cannot be proven to be true. It is similar to what Fischer calls "the fallacy of the presumptive proof," which "consists in advancing a proposition and shifting the burden of proof or disproof to others." Delia commits it when she contends that "The literary sources do not conclusively prove that the main library was destroyed in 48/47 B.C. and the burden of proof rests squarely with scholars who attempt to substantiate this claim." Nor do these sources prove the contrary.
Some critics have found it more economical simply to assert that the Library was not destroyed in 48 BC but survived for another three hundred years, until a large part of the Bruchion was burned by Aurelian in AD 273. If so, Ammianus makes no mention of the Library, the Museum, or any lost books in his account of the fire. Too, there is an entry in the Suda, a tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia, on Theon, the father of Hypatia, that describes him as "the man from the Mouseion" (T205), who died more than a century later in the reign of Theodosius.
Even if not consumed in any single conflagration, the reality is that the papyrus scrolls, which had been collected since the Library's founding by the first Ptolemies in the third century BC, were subject to a coastal Mediterranean climate and the depredations of mice and insects, human use and carelessness—the "moisture and moths" that damaged the library of Aristotle (Geography, XIII.1.54). They would have deteriorated gradually and almost imperceptibly over the five and a half centuries since they first were collected. Their loss, in other words, did not hasten a diminished age so much as reflect one already indifferent to the maintenance of the Library.
The replacement by the codex in the fourth century AD only would have aggravated that decline. Once works were copied to a codex, with its neat quires of folded and cut sheets of parchment, pages to which the reader could readily turn, the ancient scrolls no doubt became even more neglected.
In the Confessions (VIII.12.29), Augustine recounts his conversion to Christianity when, in despair, he heard from his garden a neighboring child chanting "Pick it up, read it, pick it up, read it" (tolle lege). Opening at random the book he had with him, Augustine read Paul's admonishment to walk honestly, as in the day (Romans 13:13). Augustine mentions the codex one more time.
"Their book is never closed, nor their scroll folded up....Yet heaven and earth also shall pass away, but Thy words shall not pass away. Because the scroll shall be rolled together: and the grass over which it was spread, shall with the goodliness of it pass away; but Thy Word remaineth for ever" (XIII.15.18).
The detail is from a statue in the Louvre, possibly of the Epicurean philosopher Metrodorus or an adaptation of a sitting Socrates.
References: Caesar: The Civil War Together with The Alexandrian War, The African War, and The Spanish War by Other Hands (1967) translated by Jane F. Gardner (Penguin Classics); Caesar: Civil Wars (1914) translated by A. G. Peskett (Loeb Classical Library); Strabo: Geography (1917-) translated by H. L. Jones (Loeb Classical Library); Lucan: The Civil War (1928) translated by J. D. Duff (Loeb Classical Library); Florus: The Epitome of Roman History (1929) translated by E. S. Forster (Loeb Classical Library); Plutarch: Parallel Lives (1916-) translated by Bernadotte Perrin (Loeb Classical Library); Aulus Gellius: Noctes Atticae (1927) translated by J. C. Rolfe (Loeb Classical Library); Athenaeus: The Deipnosophistae (1927-) translated by Charles Burton Gluck (Loeb Classical Library); Suetonius: The Lives of the Caesars (1914) translated by John C. Rolfe (Loeb Classical Library); Sextus Aurelius Victor: Epitome de Caesaribus (2009) translated by Thomas M. Banchich (curiously, this electronic text does not accord either with the Latin or the translation by H. W. Bird); Zosimus: New History (1982) translated by Ronald T. Ridley; Ammianus Marcellinus: Roman History (Vol. II) (1940) translated by John C. Rolfe (Loeb Classical Library); Seven Books of History Against the Pagans: The Apology of Paulus Orosius (1936) translated by Irving Woodworth Raymond; Epiphanius' Treatise on Weights and Measures (1935) edited by James Elmer Dean; Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists (1921) translated by Wilmer Cave Wright; The Chronicle of John of Nikiu (1916) translated by R. H. Charles; Appian: Roman History (Civil Wars) (1913) translated by Horace White (Loeb Classical Library); Historia Augusta (1921-) translated by David Magie (Loeb Classical Library); The Scholia on the Aves of Aristophanes (1914) edited by John Williams White.
"Alexandria: Library of Dreams" (2002) by Roger S. Bagnall, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 146(4), 348-362; Travelling Mathematics: The Fate of Diophantos' Arithemtic (2010) by Ad Meskens; What Happened to the Ancient Library of Alexandria? (2008) edited by Mostafa El-Abbadi and Omnia Mounir Fathallah; The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt: 300 BC to AD 700 (2007) by Judith McKenzie; "Cloistered Bookworms in the Chicken-Coop of the Muses: The Ancient Library of Alexandria" by Robert Barnes, in The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World (2000) edited by Roy Macleod; "From Romance to Rhetoric: The Alexandrian Library in Classical and Islamic Tradition" (1992) by Diana Delia, The American Historical Review, 97(5), 1449-1467; Ptolemaic Alexandria (1972) by P. M. Fraser; Kallimachos: The Alexandrian Library and the Origins of Bibliography (1991) by Rudolf Blum; The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World (1990) by Luciano Canfora; "The Alexandrian Library and its Aftermath" (1999) by Uwe Jochum, Library History, 15, 5-12; "Tradition's Destruction: On the Library of Alexandria" (2002) by Daniel Heller-Roazen, Obsolescence, 100, 133-153; Libraries in the Ancient World (2001) by Lionel Casson; Arguments from Ignorance (1996) by Douglas Walton; Historians' Falacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought (1970) by David Hackett Fischer.
There also is the very satisfying Alexandria (2009) by Lindsey Davis, which is even more enjoyable when read by Christian Rodska.
See also Scroll and Codex and Hypatia.
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