Library of Alexandria
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The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, in Alexandria, Egypt, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. The library was conceived and opened either during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (323–283 BC) or during the reign of his son Ptolemy II (283–246 BC).
The Library is famous for having been burned, resulting in the loss of many books. After the main library was destroyed, ancient scholars used a "daughter library" in a temple known as the Serapeum (located in another part of the city). During Plutarch's (AD 46–120) visit to Alexandria in 48 BC, he wrote that Julius Caesar had accidentally burned the library down when he set fire to his own ships. However, Florus and Lucan note that the flames Caesar set only burned the fleet and some "houses near the sea"; ancient sources do not mention the Library. Furthermore, years after Caesar's campaign in Alexandria, the Greek geographer Strabo worked in the Alexandrian Library and described its two buildings as "perfectly intact."
The exact date of the Library's burning is not known. In fact, sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria: Julius Caesar's fire in the Alexandrian War, in 48 BC; the attack of Aurelian in AD 270 – 275; the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in AD 391; and the Muslim conquest in AD 642 or thereafter.
Intended both as a commemoration and an emulation of the original, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina was inaugurated in 2002 near the site of the old library.
What is known of the Alexandria Library is a mixture of history and myth. The library's main purpose was to show off the wealth of Egypt, with research as a lesser goal, but the library's contents were used to aid the ruler of Egypt.
According to the earliest source of information, the pseudepigraphic Letter of Aristeas composed between c180 and 145 BC, the library was initially organized by Demetrius of Phaleron, a student of Aristotle, under the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (ca.367 BC—ca.283 BC). The Library was built in the Brucheion (Royal Quarter) in the style of Aristotle's Lyceum, adjacent to and in service of the Musaeum (a Greek Temple or "House of Muses", whence the term "museum"), the library comprised a Peripatos walk, gardens, a room for shared dining, a reading room, meeting rooms and lecture halls. However, the exact layout is not known. The influence of this model may still be seen today in the layout of university campuses. The library itself is known to have had an acquisitions department (possibly built near the stacks, or for utility closer to the harbour), and a cataloguing department. A hall contained shelves for the collections of scrolls (as the books were at this time on papyrus scrolls), known as bibliothekai (βιβλιοθῆκαι). Legend has it that carved into the wall above the shelves was an inscription that read: The place of the cure of the soul.
The Library at Alexandria was in charge of collecting all the world's knowledge, and most of the staff was occupied with the task of translating works onto papyrus paper. It did so through an aggressive and well-funded royal mandate involving trips to the book fairs of Rhodes and Athens. According to Galen, that any books found on ships that came into port were taken to the library, and were listed as "books of the ships". Official scribes then copied these writings; the originals were kept in the library, and the copies delivered to the owners.
According to Galen, Ptolemy III requested permission from the Athenians to borrow the original scripts of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, for which the Athenians demanded the enormous amount of fifteen talents (450 kg of a precious metal) as guarantee. Ptolemy III happily paid the fee but kept the original scripts for the library. This story may also be construed erroneously to show the power of Alexandria over Athens during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
This detail is due to the fact that Alexandria was a man-made bidirectional port between the mainland and the Pharos island, welcoming trade from the East and West, and soon found itself to be an international hub for trade, the leading producer of papyrus and, soon enough, books.
Other than collecting works from the past, the library served as home to a host of international scholars, well-patronized by the Ptolemaic dynasty with travel, lodging and stipends for their whole families. As a research institution, the library filled its stacks with new works in mathematics, astronomy, physics, natural sciences and other subjects. Its empirical standards applied in one of the first and certainly strongest homes for serious textual criticism. As the same text often existed in several different versions, comparative textual criticism was crucial for ensuring their veracity. Once ascertained, canonical copies would then be made for scholars, royalty, and wealthy bibliophiles the world over, this commerce bringing income to the library.
The editors at the Library of Alexandria are especially well known for their work on Homeric texts. The more famous editors generally also held the title of head librarian. These included, among others,
- Zenodotus (early 3rd century BC)
- Callimachus, (early 3rd century BC), the first bibliographer and developer of the Pinakes, popularly considered to be the first library catalog.
- Apollonius of Rhodes (mid-3rd century BC)
- Eratosthenes (late 3rd century BC)
- Aristophanes of Byzantium (early 2nd century BC)
- Aristarchus of Samothrace (late 2nd century BC).
In the early 2nd century BC scholars began to abandon Alexandria for safer areas with more generous patronage, and in 145 BC Ptolemy VIII expelled all foreign scholars from Alexandria.
It is now impossible to determine the collection's size in any era with any certainty. Papyrus scrolls comprised the collection, and although codices were used after 300 BC, the Alexandrian Library is never documented as having switched to parchment, perhaps because of its strong links to the papyrus trade. (The Library of Alexandria in fact had an indirect cause in the creation of writing parchment — due to the library's critical need for papyrus, little was exported and thus an alternate source of copy material became essential.)
A single piece of writing might occupy several scrolls, and this division into self-contained "books" was a major aspect of editorial work. King Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309–246 BC) is said to have set 500,000 scrolls as an objective for the library. Mark Antony supposedly gave Cleopatra over 200,000 scrolls (taken from the great Library of Pergamum) for the library as a wedding gift, but this is regarded by some historians as a propagandist claim meant to show Antony's allegiance to Egypt rather than Rome. No index of the library survives, and it is not possible to know with certainty how large and how diverse the collection may have been. For example, it is likely that even if the Library of Alexandria had hundreds of thousands of scrolls (and thus perhaps tens of thousands of individual works), some of these would have been duplicate copies or alternate versions of the same texts.
The library of Alexandria was but one part of the Museum of Alexandria, which functioned as a sort of research institute. In addition to the library, the Museum included rooms for the study of astronomy, anatomy, and even a zoo of exotic animals. The classical thinkers who studied, wrote, and experimented at the museum include the fathers of mathematics, engineering, physiology, geography, and medicine. These included notable thinkers such as Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes, Herophilus, Erasistratus, Hipparchus, Aedesia, Pappus, Hypatia, Aristarchus of Samos, and Saint Catherine.
Ancient and modern sources identify four possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria: Julius Caesar's fire in the Alexandrian War, in 48 BC; the attack of Aurelian in AD 270 – 275; the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in AD 391; and the Muslim conquest in AD 642 or thereafter.
Caesar's conquest in 48 BC 
when the enemy endeavored to cut off his communication by sea, he was forced to divert that danger by setting fire to his own ships, which, after burning the docks, thence spread on and destroyed the great library.—Plutarch, Life of Caesar
William Cherf argued that this scenario had all the ingredients of a firestorm which set fire to the docks and then the library, destroying it. This would have occurred in 48 BC, during the fighting between Caesar and Ptolemy XIII. In the 2nd century AD, the Roman historian Aulus Gellius wrote in his book Attic Nights that the Royal Alexandrian Library was burned by mistake when some of Caesar’s soldiers started a fire. Furthermore, in the 4th century, both the pagan historian Ammianus and the Christian historian Orosius wrote that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina had been destroyed by Caesar's fire. The anonymous author of the Alexandrian Wars wrote that the fires set by Caesar's soldiers to burn the Egyptian navy in the port also burned a store full of papyri located near the port. However, a geographical study of the location of the historical Bibliotheca Alexandrina in the neighborhood of Bruchion suggests that this store cannot have been the Great Library. It is more probable that these historians confused the two Greek words bibliothecas, which means “set of books”, with bibliotheka, which means library.
Whether the burned books were only some stored books or books found inside the library itself, the Roman stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD 65) refers to 40,000 books having been burnt at Alexandria. During Marcus Antonius' reign of the eastern part of the Empire (40–30 BC), he plundered the second largest library in the world (at Pergamon) and presented the collection as a gift to Cleopatra as a replacement for the books lost to Caesar's fire. Abaddi uses this story as anti-Antony propaganda to show his loyalty to Egypt.
Theodore Vrettos describes the damage caused by the fire: "The Roman galleys carrying the Thirty-Seventh Legion from Asia Minor had now reached the Egyptian coast, but because of contrary winds, they were unable to proceed toward Alexandria. At anchor in the harbor off Lochias, the Egyptian fleet posed an additional problem for the Roman ships. However, in a surprise attack, Caesar's soldiers set fire to the Egyptian ships resulting in the flames spreading rapidly and consuming most of the dockyard, including many structures near the palace. This fire resulted in the burning of several thousand books that were housed in one of the buildings. From this incident, historians mistakenly assumed that the Great Library of Alexandria had been destroyed, but the Library was nowhere near the docks... The most immediate damage occurred in the area around the docks, in shipyards, arsenals, and warehouses in which grain and books were stored. Some 40,000 book scrolls were destroyed in the fire. Not at all connected with the Great Library, they were account books and ledgers containing records of Alexandria's export goods bound for Rome and other cities throughout the world."
However, the Royal Alexandrian Library was not the only library located in the city. There were at least two other libraries in Alexandria: the library of the Serapeum Temple and the library of the Cesarion Temple. The continuity of literary and scientific life in Alexandria after the destruction of the Royal Library, as well as the city's status as the world’s center for sciences and literature between the 1st and the 6th centuries AD, depended to a large extent on the presence of these two libraries. Historical records indicate that the Royal Library was private (used by the royal family as well as scientists and researchers), but the libraries of the Serapeum and Cesarion temples were public and accessible to the people.
Furthermore, while the Royal Library was founded by Ptolemy II in the royal quarters of Bruchion near the palaces and the royal gardens, it was his son Ptolemy III who founded the Serapeum temple and its adjoined "Daughter" Library in the popular quarters of Rhakotis.
The next account is from Strabo's Geographia in 28 BC, which does not mention the library specifically, but does mention that he could not find a city map which he had seen when on an earlier trip to Alexandria, before the fireStrabo does not mention the library but he also does not mention a city map, I searched all of section 1 and 2, I don't know why this person said that Strabo mentions this. Abaddi uses this account to infer that the library was destroyed to its foundations.
The accuracy of this account is suspect. The adjacent Museum was, according to the same account, fully functional, even though the building next door was completely destroyed. Also, we do know that at this time the daughter Library at the Serapeum was thriving and untouched by the fire. Strabo also confirms the existence of the "Museum." But when he mentions the Sarapeum and Museum, Strabo and other historians are inconsistent in their descriptions of the entire compound or the specific temple buildings. So we may not infer that the library arm had been demolished. Strabo was one of the world's leading geographers, but it is possible that since his last visit to the library, the map he was referencingagain, there is no account of a map in Strabo's writing - where did it come from? (quite possibly a rare or esoteric map considering his expertise and the vast collection of the librarythis person just made that up) might have been part of the library that was partially destroyed or simply a victim of a library that didn't have the funds to recopy and preserve its collectionhearsay, by all accounts the libraries were well funded and dedicated most of their labour to transcription.
Therefore, the Royal Alexandrian Library may have been burned after Strabo's visit to the city (25 BC) but before the beginning of the 2nd century AD when Plutarch wrote. Otherwise Plutarch and later historians would not have mentioned the incident and mistakenly attributed it to Julius Caesar. It is also most probable that the library was destroyed by someone other than Caesar, although the later generations linked the fire that took place in Alexandria during Caesar's time to the burning of the Bibliotheca. Some researchers believe it most likely that the destruction accompanied the wars between Zenobia of Palmyra and the Roman Emperor Aurelian, in the second half of the 3rd century (see below).
Attack of Aurelian, 3rd century 
The library seems to have been maintained and continued in existence until its contents were largely lost during the taking of the city by the Emperor Aurelian (270–275), who was suppressing a revolt by Queen Zenobia of Palmyra (ruled Egypt AD 269–274). During the course of the fighting, the areas of the city in which the main library was located were damaged. The smaller library located at the Serapeum survived, but some of its contents may have been taken to Constantinopleduring the 4th century to adorn the new capital. However, Ammianus Marcellinus, writing around AD 378, seems to speak of the library in the Serapeum temple as a thing of the past and states that many of the Serapeum library's volumes were burnt when Caesar sacked Alexandria. In Book 22.16.12–13, he says:
Besides this there are many lofty temples, and especially one to Serapis, which, although no words can adequately describe it, we may yet say, from its splendid halls supported by pillars, and its beautiful statues and other embellishments, is so superbly decorated, that next to the Capitol, of which the ever-venerable Rome boasts, the whole world has nothing worthier of admiration. In it were libraries of inestimable value; and the concurrent testimony of ancient records affirm that 70,000 volumes, which had been collected by the anxious care of the Ptolemies, were burnt in the Alexandrian war when the city was sacked in the time of Caesar the Dictator.
While Ammianus Marcellinus may be simply reiterating Plutarch's tradition about Caesar's destruction of the library, it is possible that his statement reflects his own empirical knowledge that the Serapeum library collection had either been seriously depleted or was no longer in existence.
Decree of Theodosius, destruction of the Serapeum in 391 
Socrates of Constantinople provides the following account of the destruction of the temples in Alexandria, in the fifth book of his Historia Ecclesiastica, written around 440:
At the solicitation of Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, the emperor issued an order at this time for the demolition of the heathen temples in that city; commanding also that it should be put in execution under the direction of Theophilus. Seizing this opportunity, Theophilus exerted himself to the utmost to expose the pagan mysteries to contempt. And to begin with, he caused the Mithreum to be cleaned out, and exhibited to public view the tokens of its bloody mysteries. Then he destroyed the Serapeum, and the bloody rites of the Mithreum he publicly caricatured; the Serapeum also he showed full of extravagant superstitions, and he had the phalli of Priapus carried through the midst of the forum. [...] Thus this disturbance having been terminated, the governor of Alexandria, and the commander-in-chief of the troops in Egypt, assisted Theophilus in demolishing the heathen temples.
The Serapeum housed part of the Great Library, but it is not known how many, if any, books were contained in it at the time of destruction. Notably, the passage by Socrates makes no clear reference to a library or its contents, only to religious objects. An earlier text by the historian Ammianus Marcellinus indicates that the library was destroyed in the time of Julius Caesar; whatever books might earlier have been housed at the Serapeum were no longer there in the last decade of the 4th century (Historia 22, 16, 12-13). The pagan scholar Eunapius of Sardis, witnessed the demolition, and though he detested Christians, his account of the Serapeum's destruction makes no mention of any library. When Orosius discusses the destruction of the Great Library at the time of Caesar in the sixth book of his History against the Pagans, he writes:
So perished that marvelous monument of the literary activity of our ancestors, who had gathered together so many great works of brilliant geniuses. In regard to this, however true it may be that in some of the temples there remain up to the present time book chests, which we ourselves have seen, and that, as we are told, these were emptied by our own men in our own day when these temples were plundered—this statement is true enough—yet it seems fairer to suppose that other collections had later been formed to rival the ancient love of literature, and not that there had once been another library which had books separate from the four hundred thousand volumes mentioned, and for that reason had escaped destruction.
Thus Orosius laments the pillaging of libraries within temples in 'his own time' by 'his own men' and compares it to the destruction of the Great Library destroyed at the time of Julius Caesar. He is certainly referring to the plundering of pagan temples during his lifetime, but this presumably did not include the library of Alexandria, which he assumes was destroyed in Caesar's time. While he admits that the accusations of plundering books are “true enough,” he then suggests that the books in question were not copies of those that had been housed at the Great Library, but rather new books "to rival the ancient love of literature." Orosius does not say where temples' books were taken, whether to Constantinople or to local monastic libraries or elsewhere, and he does not say that the books were destroyed.
As for the Museum, Mostafa El-Abbadi writes in Life and Fate of the Ancient Library of Alexandria (1990):
The Mouseion, being at the same time a 'shrine of the Muses', enjoyed a degree of sanctity as long as other pagan temples remained unmolested. Synesius of Cyrene, who studied under Hypatia at the end of the fourth century, saw the Mouseion and described the images of the philosophers in it. We have no later reference to its existence in the fifth century. As Theon, the distinguished mathematician and father of Hypatia, herself a renowned scholar, was the last recorded scholar-member (c. 380), it is likely that the Mouseion did not long survive the promulgation of Theodosius' decree in 391 to destroy all pagan temples in the city.
John Julius Norwich, in his work Byzantium: The Early Centuries, places the destruction of the library's collection during the anti-Arian riots in Alexandria that transpired after the imperial decree of 391 BC (p. 314). Edward Gibbon claimed that the Library of Alexandria was destroyed by Theophilus, Bishop of Alexandria, who ordered the destruction of the Serapeum in 391.
Arabic sources 
In 642 AD, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. There are five Arabic sources, all at least 500 years after the supposed events, which mention the fate of the library.
- Abd'l Latif of Baghdad (1162–1231) states that the library of Alexandria was destroyed by Amr, by the order of the Caliph Omar.
- The story is also found in Al-Qifti (1172–1248), History of Learned Men, from whom Bar Hebraeus copied the story.
- The longest version of the story is in the Syriac Christian author Bar-Hebraeus (1226–1286), also known as Abu'l Faraj. He translated extracts from his history, the Chronicum Syriacum into Arabic, and added extra material from Arab sources. In this Historia Compendiosa Dynastiarum he describes a certain "John Grammaticus" (490–570) asking Amr for the "books in the royal library." Amr writes to Omar for instructions, and Omar replies: "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them."
- Al-Maqrizi (1364–1442) also mentions the story briefly, while speaking of the Serapeum.
- There is also a story in Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) which tells that Omar made a similar order about Persian books.
The story was still in circulation among Copts in Egypt in the 1920s.
Bernard Lewis has argued that this version, though untrue, was reinforced in mediaeval times by Saladin, who decided to break up the Fatimid caliphate's collection of heretical Isma'ili texts in Cairo following his restoration of Sunnism to Egypt, and will have judged that the story of the caliph Umar's support of a library's destruction would make his own actions seem more acceptable. Kelly Trumble and Roy MacLeod reject the story as well.
Luciano Canfora included the account of Bar Hebraeus in his discussion of the destruction of the library without dismissing it.
- Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Sagan, C 1980, "Episode 1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean"
- Phillips 2010.
- Pollard, Justin, and Reid, Howard. 2006. The Rise and Fall of Alexandria, Birthplace of the Modern World.
- Roy MacLeod (4 September 2004). The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World, Revised Edition. I.B.Tauris. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-85043-594-5. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- David C. Lindberg (15 March 1980). Science in the Middle Ages. University of Chicago Press. pp. 5–. ISBN 978-0-226-48233-0. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- Letter of Aristeas, 9–12.
- Entry Μουσείον at Liddell & Scott.
- Manguel, Alberto, The Library at Night. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008, p. 26.
- Erksine, Andrew. 1995. "Culture and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt: The Museum and Library of Alexandria". Greece & Rome, 2nd ser., 42(1), 38–48.
- Galen, xvii.a, p.606.
- Galen, xvii.a, p.607.
- Trumble & MacIntyre Marshall 2003.
- Kennedy, George.The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism:Classical Criticism,New York: University of Cambridge Press, 1999.
- Whibley, Leonard; A Companion to Greek Studies 1916 pp. 122–123.
- Paul G P Meyboom (1995). The Nile Mosaic of Palestrina: Early Evidence of Egyptian Religion in Italy. BRILL. pp. 373–. ISBN 978-90-04-10137-1. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- Murray, S. A., (2009). The library: An illustrated history. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, p.14
- Tarn, W.W. 1928. Ptolemy II. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 14(3/4), 246–260. The Byzantine writer Tzetzes gives a similar figure in his essay On Comedy.
- MacLeod Roy,The Library of Alexandria:Center of Learning in the Ancient World, New York:I.B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2005.
- Plutarch, Life of Caesar, 49.6.
- Aulus Gellius. Attic Nights book 7 chapter 17.
- See Amm. 22.6; cf. Dio 42.38.
- Caesar, de bello alexandrino (the Alexandrian Wars).
- Empereur 2002, p. 43.
- Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi (On Tranquility of Mind).
- Vrettos, Theodore. "Alexandria, City of the Western Mind". New York: The Free Press, 2001, pp. 93–94.
- Empereur 2002, p. 41.
- Strabo, Book 17 1.7–10
- Empereur 2002, p. 18.
- Empereur 2002, p. 44.
- Staff Report: "What happened to the great Library of Alexandria? The Straight Dope, 6 December 2005
- Gibbon 1776–1789, ch. 28.
- De Sacy, Relation de l’Egypte par Abd al-Latif, Paris, 1810: "Above the column of the pillars is a dome supported by this column. I think this building was the portico where Aristotle taught, and after him his disciples; and that this was the academy that Alexander built when he built this city, and where was placed the library which Amr ibn-Alas burned, with the permission of Omar." Google books here. Translation of De Sacy from here. Other versions of Abd-el-Latif in English here.
- Samir Khalil, «L’utilisation d’al-Qifṭī par la Chronique arabe d’Ibn al-‘Ibrī († 1286)», in : Samir Khalil Samir (Éd.), Actes du IIe symposium syro-arabicum (Sayyidat al-Bīr, septembre 1998). Études arabes chrétiennes, = Parole de l'Orient 28 (2003) 551–598. An English translation of the passage in Al-Qifti by Emily Cottrell of Leiden University is at the Roger Pearse blog here.
- Edward Pococke, Bar Hebraeus: Historia Compendiosa Dynastiarum, Oxford, 1663. Arabic text, Latin translation. This is the only edition and translation ever printed of this work. In 1650 Pococke had previously translated this portion in his Specimen Historiae Arabvm; sive, Gregorii Abul Farajii Malatiensis De origine & moribus Arabum succincta narratio, in linguam latinam conversa, notisque è probatissimis apud ipsos authoribus, fusiùs illus., operâ & studio Edvardi Pocockii. Oxoniae: 1650: excudebat H. Hall. This is a collection of extracts from Arabic histories, all unpublished at that date, intended to determine if there was public interest.
- Ed. Pococke, p.181, translation on p.114. Online Latin text and English translation here. Latin: “Quod ad libros quorum mentionem fecisti: si in illis contineatur, quod cum libro Dei conveniat, in libro Dei [est] quod sufficiat absque illo; quod si in illis fuerit quod libro Dei repugnet, neutiquam est eo [nobis] opus, jube igitur e medio tolli.” Jussit ergo Amrus Ebno’lAs dispergi eos per balnea Alexandriae, atque illis calefaciendis comburi; ita spatio semestri consumpti sunt. Audi quid factum fuerit et mirare."
- Alfred J. Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty Years of the Roman Dominion, Oxford, 1902, Chapter 25, p.401 f.: "Thus speaking of the Serapeum he says, ‘Some think that these columns upheld the Porch of Aristotle, who taught philosophy here: that it was a school of learning: and that it contained the library which was burnt by `Amr on the advice of the Caliph Omar’ (Khitat, vol. i. p. 159)."
- Quoted by Wahid Akhtar (tr), Murtada Mutahhari-quddisa sirruh, Alleged Book Burnings in Iran and Egypt: A Study of Related Facts and Fiction, in al Tawhid vol 14, No. 1 Spring 1997. Ibn Khaldum is quoted as follows: "It is said that these sciences reached Greece from the Persians, when Alexander killed Darius and conquered Persia, getting access to innumerable books and sciences developed by them. And when Iran was conquered (by Muslims) and books were found there in abundance, Sa’d ibn Abi al-Waqqas wrote to `Umar ibn al-Khattab asking his permission to have them translated for Muslims. ‘Umar wrote to him in reply that he should cast them into water, “for if what is written in those books is guidance, God has given us a better guide; and if that which is in those books is misleading, God has saved us from their evil.” Accordingly those books were cast into water or fire, and the sciences of the Iranians that were contained in them were destroyed and did not reach us."
- Alfred J. Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty Years of the Roman Dominion, Oxford, 1902, Chapter 25, p.403.
- E. Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chapter 51 : "It would be endless to enumerate the moderns who have wondered and believed, but I may distinguish with honour the rational scepticism of Renaudot, (Hist. Alex. Patriarch, p. 170: ) historia … habet aliquid ut απιστον ut Arabibus familiare est." However Butler says: "Renaudot thinks the story has an element of untrustworthiness: Gibbon discusses it rather briefly and disbelieves it." (ch.25, p.401)
- The civilisation of Arabs, Book no III, 1884, reedition of 1980, page 468
- Lewis, Bernard. "The Vanished Library". The New York Review of Books. 37(14). 27 September 1990.
- Trumble & MacIntyre Marshall 2003, p. 51. "Today most scholars have discredited the story of the story of the destruction of the Library by the Muslims."
- MacLeod 2004, p. 71. "The story first appears 500 years after the Arab conquest of Alexandria. John the Grammarian appears to be John Philoponus, who must have been dead by the time of the conquest. It seems, as shown above, that both of the Alexandrian libraries were destroyed by the end of the fourth century, and there is no mention of any library surviving at Alexandria in the Christian literature of the centuries following that date. It is also suspicious that Omar is recorded to have made the same remark about books found by the Arab during their conquest of Iran."
- Canfora 1990, p. 109.
- Canfora, Luciano (1990). The Vanished Library. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520072558.
- Empereur, Jean-Yves (2002). Alexandria: Jewel of Egypt. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0810991019.
- Gibbon, Edward (1776–1789). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
- MacLeod, Roy (2004). The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World (2 ed.). I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1850435945.
- Phillips, Heather (2010). "The Great Library of Alexandria?". Library Philosophy and Practice. University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Archived from the original on 26 July 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Trumble, Kelly; MacIntyre Marshall, Robina (2003). The Library of Alexandria. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0395758328.
Further reading 
- Berti, Monica & Costa, Virgilio (2010). La Biblioteca di Alessandria: storia di un paradiso perduto. Tivoli (Roma): Edizioni TORED. ISBN 978-88-88617-34-3.
- El-Abbadi, Mostafa (1992). Life and fate of the ancient Library of Alexandria (2nd edition ed.). Paris: UNESCO. ISBN 92-3-102632-1.
- Jochum, Uwe. "The Alexandrian Library and Its Aftermath" from Library History vol, pp. 5–12.
- Orosius, Paulus (trans. Roy J. Deferrari) (1964). The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America. (No ISBN).
- Parsons, Edward. The Alexandrian Library. London, 1952. Relevant online excerpt.
- Stille, Alexander: The Future of the Past (chapter: "The Return of the Vanished Library"). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002. pp. 246–273.
- James Hannam: The Mysterious Fate of the Great Library of Alexandria.
- Krasner-Khait, Barbara (October–November 2001). "Survivor: The History of the Library". History Magazine. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Papyrus fragment (P.Oxy.1241): An ancient list of head librarians.
- The Straight Dope Straight Dope Staff Report: "What happened to the great Library of Alexandria?"
- The BBC Radio 4 program In Our Time (BBC Radio 4) discussed The Library of Alexandria 12.03.2009
- Friends of the Library of Alexandria (official Mexican site)
- Bibliotheca Alexandrina (official site)
- The Burning of the Library of Alexandria
- David B. Hart: The Myth of the Great Library
- Texts on Wikisource: