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such, woulů only have it considered as a work resulting from the pride and vanity of those monarchs, who had amassed such a number of books, not for their own use, but merely for pomp and ostentation. This reflection, however, seems to discover very little sagacity ; for is it not evident beyond contradiction, that none but kings are capable of founding these magnificent libraries, which become a necessary treasure to the learned, and do infinite honour to those states in which they are established ?
The library of Serapion did not sustain any damage, and it was undoubtedly there, that Cleopatra deposited those two hundred thousand volumes of that of Pergamus, which were presented to her by Anthony. This addition, with other enlargements that were made from time to time, rendered the new library of Alexandria more numerous and considerable than the first; and though it was ransacked more than once, during the troubles and revolutions which happened in the Roman empire, it always retrieved its losses, and recovered its number of volumes. In this condition it subsisted for many ages, affording its treasures to the learned and curious, till the seventh century, when it suffered the same fate with its parent, and was burnt by the Saracens, when they took that city in the year of our Lord 642. The manner by which this misfortune happened is too singular to be passed over in silence.
John, sirnamed the Grammarian, and a famous follower of Aristotle, happened to be at Alexandria, when it was taken : and as he was much esteemed by Amri Ebolas, the general of the Saracen troops, he
• Abul, Pharagius, in hist. Dynast. IX.
entreated that commander to bestow upon him the Alexandrian library. Amri replied, that it was not in his power to grant such a request, but that he would write to the khalif, or emperor of the Saracens, for his orders on that head, without which he could not presume to dispose of the library. He accordingly wrote to Omar the then khalif, whose answer was, that if those books contained the same doctrine with the koran, they could not be of any use, because the koran was sufficient in itself, and comprehended all necessary truths ; but if they contained any particulars contrary to that book, they ought to be destroyed. In consequence of this answer, they were all condemned to the Aames, without any farther examination ; and to that effect, were distributed into the public bagnios, where, for the space of six months, they were used for fuel instead of wood. We
may from hence form a just idea of the prodigious number of books contained in that library ; and thus was this inestimable treasure of learning destroyed.
The Museum of Bruchion was not burnt with its library. P Strabo acquaints us, in his description of it, that it was a very large structure near the palace, and fronting the port ; and that it was surrounded with a portico, in which the philosophers walked. He adds, that the members of this society were governed by a president, whose station was so honourable and important, that, in the time of the Ptolemies, he was always chosen by the king himself, and afterward by the Roman emperor ; and that they had a hall where the whole society ate together at the expense of the
P Strab. l. xvii. p. 793.
public, by whom they were supported in a very plentiful manner.
Alexandria was undoubtedly indebted to this Museum, for the advantage she long enjoyed of being the greatest school in all that part of the world, and of having trained up a vast number of excellent men in literature. It is from thence, in particular, that the church has received some of its most illustrious doctors ; as Clemens Alexandrinus, Ammonius, Origen, Anatoilus, Athanasius, and many others; for all these studied in that seminary.
Demetrius Phalereus was probably the first president of this seat of learning, but it is certain that he had the superintendency of the library. Plutarch informs us, that his first proposal to Ptolemy was the establishment of a library of such authors as treated of civil polity and government, assuring him, that they would always supply him with such counsels as none of his friends would presume to offer him. This was almost the only expedient for introducing truth to princes, and shewing them, under borrowed names, their duties, as well as their defects. When the king had relished this excellent advice, and measures were taken to procure all such books as were requisite in this first view, it may easily be imagined that Demetrius carried the affair to a much greater length, and prevailed upon the king to collect all sorts of other books for the library we have mentioned. Who could better assist that prince in the accomplishment of so noble and magnificent a plan, than Demetrius Phale. reus, who was himself a learned man of the first rank, as well as a very able politician ?
We have formerly seen what inducements brought Demetrius to the court of this prince. He was received with open arms by Ptolemy Soter, who heaped a profusion of honours upon him, and made him bis confident. He consulted him preferably to all his other counsellors, in the most important affairs, and particularly those which related to the succession to the crown. * This prince, two years before his death, had formed a resolution to abdicate his crown, in favour of one of his children. Demetrius endeavoured to dissuade him from that design, by representing to him, that he must no longer expect to enjoy any authority, if he divested himself of his dignity in such a manner, and that it would be dangerous to create himself a master. But when he found him absolutely determined on this abdication, he advised him to regulate his choice by the order prescribed by nature, and which was gene. rally followed by all nations: in consequence of which it would be incumbent on him to prefer his eldest son by Eurydice his first wife. But the credit of Berenice prevailed over this equitable and prudent advice, which, in a short time, proved fatal to its author.
• Towards the close of this year died Ptolemy Soter, king of Egypt, in the eighty fourth year
of his age, and two years after his resignation of the empire
He was the most able and worthy man of all his race, and left behind him such examples of prudence, justice, and clemency, as very few of his successors were industrious to imitate. During the space of near forty years, in which he governed Egypt,
to his son.
9 Plut. in Demetr. p. 892. Diog. Laert. in Demetr. Phal. * A. M. 3719. Ant. J. C. 285. * A. M. 3721. Ant. J. C. 283.
after the death of Alexander, he raised it to such an height of grandeur and power, as rendered it superior to the other kingdoms. He retained upon the throne, the same fondness for simplicity of manners, and the same aversion for ostentatious pomp, as he discovered when he first ascended it. He was accessible to his subjects, even to a degree of familiarity. He freequently ate with them at their own houses, and when he gave any entertainment himself, he thought it no disgrace to borrow their richest plate, because he had but very little of his own, and no more than was nec. essary for his common use.' And when some persons represented to him, that the regal dignity seemed to require an air of greater opulence, his answer was, “that the true grandeur of a king consisted in enriching others, not himself.”
MAGNIFICEXT SOLEMNITY AT THE INAUGURATION OF PTOLEMY
PHILADELPHUS KING OF EGYPT.
PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, after his father had abdicated the crown in his favour, entertained the people, when he ascended the throne, with the most splendid festival mentioned by antiquity. Atheneus has left us a long description of it, transcribed from Callixenes the Rhodian, who compiled a history of Alexandria ; and Montfaucon relates it in his antiquities. I shall insert the particulars of it in this place, because they will give us a very proper idea of the riches and opulence of Egypt. I may add too, that as ancient authors
• Plut. in Apoph. p. 181.