History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 304 pages of information about History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12).

In this reign the schools of Alexandria, though not holding the rank which they had gained under Philadelphus, were still highly thought of.  The king still gave public salaries to the professors; and Panaretus, who had been a pupil of the philosopher Arcesilaus, received the very large sum of twelve talents, or ten thousand dollars a year.  Sositheus and his rival, the younger Homer, the tragic poets of this reign, have even been called two of the Pleiades of Alexandria; but that was a title given to many authors of very different times, and to some of very little merit.  Such indeed was the want of merit among the poets of Alexandria that many of their names would have been unknown to posterity had they not been saved in the pages of the critics and grammarians, and pieced together by the skill of nineteenth century investigators.

[Illustration:  260.jpg TEMPLE OF KOM OMBO.]

But, unfortunately, the larger number of the men of letters had in the late wars taken part with Philome-tor against the cruel and luxurious Euergetes.  Hence, when the streets of Alexandria were flowing with the blood of those whom he called his enemies, crowds of learned men left Egypt, and were driven to earn a livelihood by teaching in the cities to which they then fled.  They were all Greeks, and few of them had been born in Alexandria.  They had been brought there by the wealth of the country and the favour of the sovereign; and they now withdrew when these advantages were taken away from them.  The isles and coasts of the Mediterranean were so filled with grammarians, philosophers, geometers, musicians, schoolmasters, painters, and physicians from Alexandria that the cruelty of Euergetes II., like the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, may be said to have spread learning by the ill-treatment of its professors.

The city which was then rising highest in arts and letters was Pergamus in Asia Minor, which, under Eumenes and Attalus, was almost taking the place which Alexandria had before held.  Its library already held two hundred thousand volumes, and raised a jealousy in the mind of Euergetes.  Not content with buying books and adding to the size of his own library, he wished to lessen the libraries of his rivals; and, nettled at the number of volumes which Eumenes had got together at Pergamus, he made a law, forbidding the export of the Egyptian papyrus on which they were written.  On this the copiers employed by Eumenes wrote their books upon sheepskins, which were called charta pergamena, or parchment, from the name of the city in which they were written.  Thus our own two words, parchment from Pergamus, and paper from papyrus, remain as monuments of the rivalry in book-collecting between the two kings.

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History of Egypt From 330 B.C. To the Present Time, Volume 10 (of 12) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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