Saturday, October 12, 2013

the great library at Alexandria was destroyed by budget cuts, not fire...,

io9 | Though it seems fitting that the destruction of so mythic an institution as the Great Library of Alexandria must have required some cataclysmic event . . . in reality, the fortunes of the Great Library waxed and waned with those of Alexandria itself. Much of its downfall was gradual, often bureaucratic, and by comparison to our cultural imaginings, somewhat petty. For example, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus suspended the revenues of the Mouseion, abolishing the members’ stipends and expelling all foreign scholars. Alexandria was also the site of numerous persecutions and military actions, which, though few were reported to have done any great harm to the Mouseion or the Serapeum, could not help but have damaged them. At the very least, what institution could hope to attract and keep scholars of the first eminence when its city was continually the site of battle and strife?

What's interesting here is Phillips' emphasis on how the decline of the library rested as much on its reputation as a learning center as it did on the number of books in its collection. What made the Museum and its daughter branch great were its scholars. And when the Emperor abolished their stipends, and forbade foreign scholars from coming to the library, he effectively shut down operations. Those scrolls and books were nothing without people to care for them, study them, and share what they learned far and wide.

The last historical references to the library's contents meeting their final end come in stories about the events of 639 CE, when Arab troops under the rule of Caliph Omar conquered Alexandria.

Luciano Canfora has written one of the most complete histories of the library, based on primary source material — documents written by people who knew and worked in the library. In The Vanished Library, he describes what the library at Alexandria had been reduced to by the time of its ultimate destruction in 639:
The Serapeum had been destroyed in the attack on the pagan temples in 391. The last famous figure associated with the Museum had been Theon, father of the celebrated Hypatia who studied geometry and musicology and whom the Christians, convinced in their ignorance that she was a heretic, barbarously murdered in 415 . . . Naturally, the city's books had changed, too; and not only in their content. The delicate scrolls of old had gone. Their last remnants had been cast out as refuse or buried in the sand, and they had been replaced by more substantial parchment, elegantly made and bound into thick codices - and crawling with errors, for Greek was increasingly a forgotten language. The texts now consisted chiefly of patristic writings, Acts of Councils, and 'sacred literature' in general.
This was not Ptolemy's great collection, nor was it the center of scholarship in what was then the modern world. It was a broken-down remnant of its former self, neglected for centuries. The collection was mostly stocked with materials that reflected what Judeo-Christian bureaucrats would have considered important; these materials did not reflect the Greek ideal of universal knowledge that had birthed the library in the first place.

In the end, it was only this diminished version of the library that was burned on the orders of Caliph Omar when Emir Amrou Ibn el-Ass took the city.


Tom said...

I'm sorry but the information about a hologram of a rose is less accurate than the take on the same subject in the science fiction story "Fragments of a Hologram Rose." A hologram does not contain all its information in every part, and even the sci-fi story recognizes that.

I know there's a theory called "Holographic Universe" but whoever wrote this knows less than I do about it, which isn't much.

CNu said...

Help us all out and indulge your confirmation bias against Talbot's popularization of Aspect and Bohm

ken said...

"We use this word without understanding its true meaning We take " eternity " to be an infinite extension of time, while really " eternity " means another dimension of time"

I am pretty sure in the majority of thinking and writing, ancient and today about time and eternity, most would put time as an icon of eternity, not eternity as an icon of time like this guy here is trying to do. In other words most would conclude eternity includes all time, there wouldn't be a time outside of eternity. This guy here with his definition is leading us to believe there is time eternity doesn't account for, I don't know of anyone who would with a principle like that.

Tom said...

Sorry, I don't understand what you're asking. The guy made a statement about holograms that certainly is not true of optical holograms. Would you like to get into the technical details on that?

CNu said...

Almost as much as i'd like to do a protracted IBS set-to with Ken...,

Tom said...

Ha! And I see ur alot more capable on Sundays since u Romed up.

But I honestly don't understand exactly what you're saying or asking, except that I guess you feel I'm biased against pop sci or against entheogens or against people who want to be Bohm but aren't physicists. Which, sure.

CNu said...

Lol, Ken - the ancient "contemporaries" Pythagoras and Buddha were each thoroughly familiar with more sophisticated conceptions of time and eternity than what you've been exposed to. Each was what you might consider highly educated, and that's nearly 2700 years ago.

I'm not saying this to highlight their influence, rather, i'm calling them out as representative of ancient deep thought of a kind very influential in the formulation of Christian thought.