The Ancient


A Universal Library

Alexander the Great -- the Conquests as a source of knowledge

The Founding of the Library and the Mouseion

All the Books in the World

Aristotle's Books

The Hunt for Books

The Egyptian Section of the Alexandria Library

The Papyri: Evidence of Greek and Egyptian Scientific Interchange

"The Writings of All Men"

The Growth of the Library

The Pinakes -- a Bibliographical Survey of the Alexandria Library

The Alexandria Library -- " The Memory of Mankind"

Appendix 1 -- The Contents of the Alexandria Library

Appendix 2 -- The End of the Library


The Modern

BIBLIOTHECA ALEXANDRINA--The revival of the Ancient Library of Alexandria

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We should not end this chapter without briefly mentioning the well-known work of Callimachus regarding the Alexandria Library.

So far we have seen that an up-to-date register of the books was available for the use of readers, still it was thought necessary to compose a critical appraisal of this unique collection of books, in other words, a bibliographical survey of the contents of the Library 'in every field of learning'.

Such a tremendous undertaking was entrusted to Callimachus of Cyrenae, who was known for his encyclopaedic knowledge and erudition.

The result was the Pinakes.

The work in its entirety has not survived except for a few fragments, which attest to the following divisions :

rhetoric, law, epic, tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, history, medicine, mathematics, natural science and miscellanea.13

Under each division, individual authors were arranged in alphabetical order; and each name was followed by a short bibliographical notice and a critical account of the author's writings.14

It seems that the Pinakes proved indispensable to scholars all over the Mediterranean and it immediately became a model for future works of the same kind.15

We can even trace its influence down to the middle ages, to its brilliant Arabic counterpart of the tenth century, Ibn-Al-Nadim's Al-Fihrist, or Index, which has fortunately reached us intact.

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