This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
THE tyrant Pisistratus is said to have been the first to establish at Athens a public library of books relating to the liberal arts. Then the Athenians themselves added to this collection with considerable diligence and care; but later Xerxes, when he got possession of Athens and burned the entire city except the citadel, 1 removed that whole collection of books and carried them off to Persia. Finally, a long time afterwards, king Seleucus, who was surnamed Nicanor, had all those books taken back to Athens. At a later time an enormous quantity of books, nearly seven hundred thousand volumes, was either acquired or written 2 in Egypt under the kings known as Ptolemies; but these were all burned during the sack of the city in our first war with Alexandria, 3 not intentionally or by anyone's order, but accidentally by the auxiliary soldiers.
1 In 480 B.C.
2 i.e. copied from other manuscripts.
3 In 48 B.C. By no means all of the Alexandrian Library was destroyed at that time, and the losses were made good, at least in part, by Antony in 41 B.C. A part of the library was burned under Aurelian, in A.D. 272, and the destruction seems to have been completed in 391.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.