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A History of the Growth of the Steam-Engine

Philadelphus and the later Ptolemies


[103] Their estimate of the length of the Saros, or cycle of eclipses--over 19 years--was "within 19-1/2 minutes of the truth."--DRAPER.

A rude method of printing with an engraved roller on plastic clay, afterward baked, thus making up ceramic libraries, was practised long previous to this time; and in the alcoves in which Hero worked were many of these books of clay.

This great Library and Museum of Alexandria was founded three centuries before the birth of Christ, by Ptolemy Soter, who established as his capital that great Egyptian city when the death of his brother, the youthful but famous conqueror whose name he gave it, placed him upon the throne of the colossal successor of the then fallen Persian Empire. The city itself, embellished with every ornament and provided with every luxury that the wealth of a conquered world or the skill, taste, and ingenuity of the Greek painters, sculptors, architects, and engineers could provide, was full of wonders; it was a wonder in itself. This rich, populous, and magnificent city was the metropolis of the then civilized world. Trade, commerce, manufactures, and the fine arts were all represented in this splendid exchange, and learning found its most acceptable home and noblest field within the walls of Ptolemy's Museum; its disciples found themselves welcomed and protected by its founder and his successors, Philadelphus and the later Ptolemies.

justify;">The Alexandrian Museum was founded with the declared object of collecting all written works of authority, of promoting the study of literature and art, and of stimulating and assisting experimental and mathematical scientific investigation and research. The founders of modern libraries, colleges, and technical schools have their prototype in intelligence, public spirit, and liberality, in the first of the Ptolemies, who not only spent an immense sum in establishing this great institution, but spared no expense in sustaining it. Agents were sent out into all parts of the world, purchasing books. A large staff of scribes was maintained at the museum, whose duty it was to multiply copies of valuable works, and to copy for the library such works as could not be purchased.

The faculty of the museum was as carefully organized as was the plan of its administration. The four principal faculties of astronomy, literature, mathematics, and medicine were subdivided into sections devoted to the several branches of each department. The collections of the museum were as complete as the teachers of the undeveloped sciences of the time could make them. Lectures were given in all branches of study, and the number of students was sometimes as great as twelve or thirteen thousand. The number of books which were collected here, when the barbarian leaders of the Roman troops under Caesar burned the greater part of it, was stated to be 700,000. Of these, 400,000 were within the museum itself, and were all destroyed; the rest were in the temple of Serapis, and, for the time, escaped destruction.


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