http://www.sina.com.cn 2008年01月23日 11:16
The library at Alexandria was said to have been a marvel, the greatest collection of scholarship in the ancient world. It was founded by Ptolemy I, the general that Alexander the Great installed as ruler of the city named after himself. It was Ptolemy’s son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who had the vision of expanding the library to make it the largest collection imaginable.
Under Ptolemy II and those who followed, the library was expanded tremendously. Ptolemy II’s vision was to create a library with every Greek work ever written as well as with as many works from other parts of the Western world as could be gathered together. The number of volumen, or scrolls, in the library has been estimated at anywhere between 3000,000 and 700,000.
A huge number of people’s were employed in preparing scrolls for the library, inasmuch as each scroll to enter the library had to be copied by hand. Manuscripts were bought or borrowed or taken from all over the Western world to be copied and placed in the library (although it was rather common to copy an original manuscript and then return the copy to the owner and keep the original for the library). Ptolemy II often asked for manuscripts from foreign powers in return for traded goods, and manuscripts were often demanded from citizens to pay debts to the government. In addition, any time that manuscripts were found on trading ships in the port at Alexandria, the manuscripts were taken and copied and added to the library. It was in these ways that so many manuscripts were collected in the library at Alexandria.
The great library of Alexandria no longer exists, but it’s not known for sure when the library was destroyed. There’s actually considerable debate among historians about who destroyed the library and when.
One culprit who has traditionally been accused of destroying the library at Alexandria is Julius Caesar. It’s true that Julius Caesar led an invasion of Alexandria in 48-47 B.C. and that, at that time, his forces set the fleet of ships sitting in the Alexandria harbor on fire. Some historians believe that this fire in the harbor that was set by Caesar’s forces, spread into the city of Alexandria and burned the library down, but this belief is no longer widely held today. The main reason that the theory that Julius Caesar destroyed the library at Alexandria isn’t widely believed is that there are numerous references to the library in works written long after Caesar’s death.
The conclusion that seems to be most accepted today is that the library at Alexandria existed, at least in part, until the late fourth century, centuries after the death of Julius Caesar, so it could not have been completely destroyed by Caesar. At that time, at the end of the fourth century, there was a large movement to destroy pagan temples and libraries. It seems likely that whatever remained of the library of Alexandria was destroyed at this time.