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Alexandria, and of maintaining it in the performance of its functions, 

was very great; the question might, however, very naturally arise 

whether this glory was justly due to the architect through whose 

scientific skill the work was actually accomplished, or to the monarch 

by whose power and resources the architect was sustained. The name of 

the architect was Sostratus. He was a Greek. The monarch was, as has 

already been stated, the second Ptolemy, called commonly Ptolemy 

Philadelphus. Ptolemy ordered that, in completing the tower, a marble 

tablet should be built into the wall, at a suitable place near the 

summit, and that a proper inscription should be carved upon it, with his 

name as the builder of the edifice conspicuous thereon. Sostratus 

preferred inserting his own name. He accordingly made the tablet and set 

it in its place. He cut the inscription upon the face of it, in Greek 

characters, with his own name as the author of the work. He did this 

secretly, and then covered the face of the tablet with an artificial 

composition, made with lime, to imitate the natural surface of the 

stone. On this outer surface he cut a new inscription, in which he 

inserted the name of the king. In process of time the lime moldered 

away, the king's inscription disappeared, and his own, which 

thenceforward continued as long as the building endured, came out to 



The Pharos was said to have been four hundred feet high. It was famed 

throughout the world for many centuries; nothing, however, remains of it 

now but a heap of useless and unmeaning ruins. 


Besides the light that beamed from the summit of this lofty tower, there 

was another center of radiance and illumination in ancient Alexandria, 

which was in some respects still more conspicuous and renowned, namely, 

an immense library and museum established and maintained by the 

Ptolemies. The Museum, which was first established, was not, as its name 

might now imply, a collection of curiosities, but an institution of 

learning, consisting of a body of learned men, who devoted their time to 

philosophical and scientific pursuits. The institution was richly 

endowed, and magnificent buildings were erected for its use. The king 

who established it began immediately to make a collection of books for 

the use of the members of the institution. This was attended with great 

expense, as every book that was added to the collection required to be 

transcribed with a pen on parchment or papyrus with infinite labor and 

care. Great numbers of scribes were constantly employed upon this work 

at the Museum. The kings who were most interested in forming this 

library would seize the books that were possessed by individual 

scholars, or that were deposited in the various cities of their 

dominions, and then, causing beautiful copies of them to be made by the 

scribes of the Museum, they would retain the originals for the great 

Alexandrian library, and give the copies to the men or the cities that 

had been thus despoiled. In the same manner they would borrow, as they 

called it, from all travelers who visited Egypt, any valuable books 

which they might have in their possession, and, retaining the originals, 

give them back copies instead. 


In process of time the library increased to four hundred thousand 

volumes. There was then no longer any room in the buildings of the 

Museum for further additions. There was, however, in another part of the 

city, a great temple called the Serapion. This temple was a very 

magnificent edifice, or, rather, group of edifices, dedicated to the god 

Serapis. The origin and history of this temple were very remarkable. The 

legend was this: 


It seems that one of the ancient and long-venerated gods of the 

Egyptians was a deity named Serapis. He had been, among other 

divinities, the object of Egyptian adoration ages before Alexandria was 

built or the Ptolemies reigned. There was also, by a curious 

coincidence, a statue of the same name at a great commercial town named 

Sinope, which was built upon the extremity of a promontory which 

projected from Asia Minor into the Euxine Sea. Sinope was, in some 

sense, the Alexandria of the north, being the center and seat of a great 

portion of the commerce of that quarter of the world. 


The Serapis of Sinope was considered as the protecting deity of seamen, 

and the navigators who came and went to and from the city made 

sacrifices to him, and offered him oblations and prayers, believing that 

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