The Library of Alexandria: A Cultural Crossroads of the Ancient World

In 2015, Polis—The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities held an international conference on Hellenistic Egypt’s most famous center of scholarship and learning. The interdisciplinary event gathered historians, archaeologists, and linguists, as well as specialists on the Septuagint and on Greek literature to discuss related subjects from a wide array of perspectives and to answer some of the most burning questions related to the rise and fall of this iconic institution.

Created and developed by the Ptolemaic kings, the Library of Alexandria was regarded as the world’s main center of scholarship from the 3rd century BC until at least the reign of Cleopatra (48–30 BC). The dream to establish a gigantic library that could assemble all known texts of the Hellenistic period, the outstanding achievements of the scholars who have worked inside its walls, and, finally, the mysteries surrounding its disappearance, have bestowed an almost mythic status on this monumental library. Where was the Royal Library located exactly, and what kind of texts were kept there? To what extent did the Library of Alexandria become a meeting point for different languages and cultures? Should we distinguish between the Museum and the Library from an institutional point of view? Were the book collections housed in separate buildings? What caused the destruction of those collections and how much was lost? Why do some ancient authors remain silent about the Library’s disappearance?

The book comprises eleven articles written by the scholars who participated in the conference, as well as transcripts of the discussions that followed their presentations, an index locorum of all ancient source texts quoted in the book, an extensive bibliography, and an introduction by editor Christophe Rico, outlining the overall contents and highlighting their interrelation.

Christophe Rico and Anca Dan (edd.)

Authors :  Eran Almagor, Christophe Cusset, Anca Dan, Daniela Dueck, Hélène Fragaki, Emmanuel Friedheim, Sylvie Honigman, Jan Joosten, Jane L. Lightfoot, Étienne Nodet, Christophe Rico

Polis Institute Press: Jerusalem 2017

ISBN : 9789657698105

LoA announcement

Auteur/autrice : Christophe Cusset

Ancien élève de l'ENS Fontenay/ Saint-Cloud. Agrégé de Lettres classiques. Docteur ès Lettres (Université Lyon II). Professeur de littérature grecque à l'ENS de Lyon.

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