Alexandria’s Legacy

From the luscious shores and reeds of the Mesopotamian to the dense salt of the Atlantic Ocean, Egypt has been widely renowned for their vast inventions and educational prowess, especially the Library of Alexandria. 

The Library of Alexandria was regarded as one of the most influential educational institutions in all of Mesopotamia, and even the world.

The library was built in Alexandria, Egypt during the reign of King Ptolemy I Soter (323 BCE – 285 BCE). Demetrius of Phaleron, a fallen politician from Athens, was the main visionary of the project. 

The idea of such a national library came about with the teachings of Plato and Herodotus. With the voyages of Alexander the Great, the spread of knowledge and global education came into realization as science circulated. 

This circulation, with a little prodding from Ptolemy, allowed Demetrius to start his work on the Library of Alexandria. It is even said that Demetrius wanted “his library with the writings of all men as far as they were worth serious attention,” Irenaeus said. 

The library was a glorious success, holding up to 400,000 scrolls (nearly 100,000 books). The teachings of many poets and scientists could be viewed clearly and accessed easily by the masses.

This collection even included works by Aeschylus, Sophacles and Euripides, found by Ptolemy III, as noted by Galen and Hippocrates.

However, the library was short-lived, being destroyed by Caesar on his conquest for Pompey in 48 BCE. While it was not his intention, Caesar destroyed a very influential piece of history from the ancient world.

This library could have held secrets that anthropologists and philosophers for decades have tried to unearth. 

It is as Plato said: “A library of wisdom is more precious than all wealth, and all things that are desirable cannot be compared to it.”