The Ancient Library of Alexandria: A Pathfinder

Legends of the Library

Because of the limited amount of facts concerning the Alexandrian library, the institution has been the subject of much speculation. The facts are taken, supplemented, and pieced together using what is generally known of the Greek and Roman world. The concept of a universal collection of the world's literature is also a fertile field for the imagination. Speculations on what works we would possess had the library survived reveal the mysteries with which modern historians still struggle.

Canfora, Luciano. The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World. Trans. Martin Ryle. Berekely: University of California Press, 1989.
(Davis Z 722.5.C3513 1989)

Canfora's work is not quite historical fiction. He uses historical and literary sources to weave a fascinating narrative of the events surrounding the ancient library. His work is particularly intriguing in that he includes material which does not bear directly on the library but which places the library in a broader historical context. The work was first published in Italian as La Biblioteca scomparsa [Palermo: Sellerio, 1986].

Thiem, Jon. "Myths of the Universal Library." Serials Librarian. 26.1 (1995): 46-53.
(SILS Periodical Collection)

Thiem takes his readers on a futuristic journey, writing about the universal computerized library of the distant 2000's. He compares this futuristic collection with the "universal" collection of the ancient world, that which was housed by the Alexandrian library. He uses the ancient library to remark upon the possibilities and hazards of a new universal one. The work is rather confusing, for he writes from the perspective of one living in the world of the future universal library. However, it is very entertaining and thought-provoking.

The Alexandrian Library. 9 Nov. 2002

The web page presents a beautiful, though completely imaginary, picture of the interior of the Alexandrian library. The page also presents a brief overview of the institution, focusing on the national god, Serapis.

Universe 13: The Nile Kingdom. 9 Nov. 2002

This website is part of a larger role playing source. It presents the tantalizing prospect that the library was never destroyed and that it holds the wisdom of the ages, including works on magic and books that may reveal the mystery behind the lost kingdom of Atlantis.

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