The Vanished Library

Front Cover
University of California Press, 1990 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 205 pages
1 Review
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. 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.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

1989, 1987, 1984, & . Wow! Just the first page or and already overwhelmingly overwhelmed by the dates of . ..Wow!.. ){

Contents

Chronology
vii
Parti
xi
The Pharaohs Tomb 3
xiii
The Sacred Library 8
ii
The Forbidden City
13
The Fugitive
16
The Universal Library
20
I leave my books to Neleus
26
The Sources
107
Gibbon
109
The Dialogues of Amrou
115
Revisions of Aristeas
119
Aulus Gellius
123
Isidore of Seville
126
Livy
132
Conjectures
137

The Symposium
30
In the Cage of the Muses
37
The Rival Library
45
Reappearance and Disappearance of Aristotle
51
The Second Visitor
59
War
66
The Third Visitor
71
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
References
100
Hecataeus
145
The Elusive Library
147
The Soma of Rameses
161
Kadesh
166
Strabo and Neleus
173
Library Traditions
183
Conflagrations
190
Epilogue
194
Index
199
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

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.

Bibliographic information