Alexandria: City of the Western Mind - Theodore Vrettos [epub]
After Alexander the Great founded and built the city in 322 B.C., Alexandria quickly grew into the cultural and commercial center of the Mediterranean. An eloquent raconteur, Vrettos (The Elgin Affair) spins a lively tale of Alexandria's rise and fall. It was by far the largest city in the known world; its elegance and luxury were unsurpassed.
Visitors marveled at its beautiful palaces and colossal buildings: the Pharos Lighthouse, which towered some 350 feet above the sea, was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Alexandria's library, the most magnificent in the ancient world, contained copies of the works of Greek poets, Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures, the writings of Zoroaster and Egyptian writings. Alexander's tutor, Aristotle, developed not only the earliest philosophical treatises on ethics, but also the first literary criticism (Poetics), and his biological studies were not outdone until Darwin. Galen, the medical pioneer, developed his ideas about human anatomy after studying Hippocrates's works in Alexandria's library. Both Arius and Athanasius, whose arguments about Jesus' divinity established what is now Christian orthodoxy on the matter, hailed from Alexandria. Cleopatra, the beautiful young queen whose political wiles won her Caesar, Antony and Rome, used Alexandria as the base of her operations. The city also produced the Greek lyric poetry of Callimachus, Theocritus and Apollonius, the astronomy of Ptolemy and geography of Strabo, the philosophy of Thales and Philo and the theology of Clement and Origen. Recounting the stories of the philosophers, geographers, religious thinkers and politicians who passed through this marketplace of ideas, Vrettos demonstrates with verve how the city bequeathed a rich intellectual legacy to the Western world.
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (November 27, 2001)