By Luciano CANFORA
The Library of Alexandria, one of many wonders of the traditional international, has haunted Western tradition for over 2,000 years. The Ptolemaic kings of Egypt--successors of Alexander the Great--had a brilliant ambition: to accommodate all the books ever written below one roof, and the tale of the common library and its destruction nonetheless has the facility to maneuver us.But what used to be the library, and the place was once it? Did it exist in any respect? modern descriptions are obscure and contradictory. The destiny of the dear books themselves is a topic of unending speculation.Canfora resolves those puzzles in a single of the main strange books of classical historical past ever written. He recreates the realm of Egypt and the Greeks briefly chapters that marry the craft of the novelist and the self-discipline of the historian. Anecdotes, conversations, and reconstructions supply The Vanished Library the compulsion of an unique story, but Canfora bases them all on historic and literary resources, which he discusses with nice panache. because the chilling end to this stylish piece of old detective paintings he establishes who burned the books.This quantity has benefited from the collegial aid of The Wake wooded area collage Studium.
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Extra info for The vanished library. A Wonder of the Ancient World
Apellicon thus acquired a collection which the old Hellenistic rulers, with all their wealth, had been unable to obtain. As well as a bibliophile, he prided himselfon being something of a philosopher - of the peripatetic school, naturally, given his honorary Athenian citizenship (though by this time 51 The VanishedLibrary the School no longer existed in Athens). In reality, he was no more than a fanatical antiquarian who also happened to be a rather shady character: on one occasion, his mania for antiquities had led him to steal the autograph copies ofsome Attic decrees from the Athenian state archives, a crime for which he was lucky to escape the death penalty.
This was a statement in verse of Aristode's theory that the cyclical poems, modey patchworks of incident, lacked true unity. However, this rather exaggerated doctrinal zeal masked a certain impatience on Callimachus's part with the doctrine of the 'single and continuous' narrative. He complained, polemically, that 'the T elchines chirp against me like cicadas because I haven't written one continuous poem thousands of lines long'. 'Telchines', 'a cannibal tribe ready to eat your liver out', maleficent demons: in such terms Callimachus railed at the rivals and adversaries by whom he felt surrounded in the Museum.
For all that, Dionysus of Halicarnassus (whose scholarship bore the stamp of Pergamum) and Plutarch after him both made use of Cratippus's work as if the author had really been what he pretended to be - a contemporary of Thucydides, familiar with the secret reasons that had led the Athenian 47 The Vanished Library historian to cease incorporating passages of direct speech at a certain point in his History. These were not the only ways of discrediting one's rivals. Unlikely stories were invented: at Pergamum, for instance, it was put about that Ptolemy Euergetes had robbed the Athenians of the 'original' texts of the three tragedians by means of a particularly low trick.