The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World

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University of California Press, Aug 29, 1990 - History - 205 pages
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The Library of Alexandria, one of the wonders of the Ancient World, has haunted Western culture for over 2,000 years. The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt—successors of Alexander the Great—had a staggering ambition: to house all of the books ever written under one roof, and the story of the universal library and its destruction still has the power to move us.

But what was the library, and where was it? Did it exist at all? Contemporary descriptions are vague and contradictory. The fate of the precious books themselves is a subject of endless speculation.

Canfora resolves these puzzles in one of the most unusual books of classical history ever written. He recreates the world of Egypt and the Greeks in brief chapters that marry the craft of the novelist and the discipline of the historian. Anecdotes, conversations, and reconstructions give The Vanished Library the compulsion of an exotic tale, yet Canfora bases all of them on historical and literary sources, which he discusses with great panache. As the chilling conclusion to this elegant piece of historical detective work he establishes who burned the books.

This volume has benefited from the collegial support of The Wake Forest University Studium.
 

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User Review  - karnoefel - LibraryThing

The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World by Luciano Canfora, Martin Ryle (translator) 3.45 Rating details 242 ratings 39 reviews Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DinadansFriend - LibraryThing

This is a clever reconstruction of the probable history of the scholarly community that we describe as the "Library at Alexandria" generally regarded as the focus of Hellenistic scholarly activity ... Read full review

Contents

Part I
6
The Library
77
The Fire
81
The Dialogue of John Philoponus with the Emir Amrou Ibn elAss while Amrou prepared to burn the Library
83
The Sacred Library 3 The Forbidden City 4 The Fugitive
100
The Universal Library 6 I leave my books to Neleus
101
The Symposium 8 In the Cage of the Muses
102
The Rival Library
103
Aulus Gellius
123
Isidore of Seville
126
Livy
132
Conjectures
137
Hecataeus
145
The Elusive Library
147
The Soma of Rameses
161
Kadesh
166

Reappearance and Disappearance of Aristotle II The Second Visitor 12
104
The Third Visitor
105
The Sources
107
Gibbon
109
The Dialogues of Amrou
115
Revisions of Aristeas
119
Strabo and Neleus
173
Library Traditions
183
Conflagrations
190
Epilogue
194
66
199
Copyright

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About the author (1990)

Luciano Canfora teaches at the University of Bari and is the editor of the journal Quaderni di Storia. A specialist in ancient literature, he has published a history of Greek literature and studies of Thucydides.

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