Alexandria, Library of


Alexandria, Library of

Most famous library of classical antiquity. It was part of the Alexandrian Museum, a research institute at Alexandria, Egypt. The museum and library were founded and maintained by a succession of Ptolemies from the early 3rd century BC. The library aspired to the ideal of an international library—incorporating all Greek literature and also translations into Greek—but it is uncertain how close this ideal came to being realized. A bibliography of the library compiled by Callimachus, lost in the Byzantine period, was long a standard reference work. The museum and library were destroyed in civil war in the late 3rd century AD; a subsidiary library was destroyed by Christians in AD 391.

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