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The Alexan

it is for that reason that they expect a more favourable attention to their supplications from a female divinity than a god. Accordingly, the devotees of Isis soon outnumbered those of Serapis, though a magnificent temple had been built for him at Rhacotis, in the quarter adjoining the Museum, and his worship was celebrated with more than imperial splendour. In subsequent ages the worship of Serapis diffused itself throughout the Roman empire, though the authorities-consuls, senate, emperors--knowing well the idea it foreshadowed, and the doctrine it was meant to imply, used their utmost power to put it down.

The Alexandrian Museum soon assumed the character of a University. In it those great libraries were collected, the pride and boast of antiquity. Demetrius Phalareus

was instructed to collect all the writings in drian libraries. the world. So powerfully were the exertions of himself and his successors enforced by the government that two immense libraries were procured. They contained 700,000 volumes. In this literary and scientific retreat, supported in ease and even in luxury-luxury, for allusions to the sumptuous dinners have descended to our times—the philosophers spent their time in mental culture by study, or mutual improvement by debates. The king himself conferred appointments to these positions ; in later times, the Roman emperors succeeded to the patronage, the government thereby binding in golden chains intellect that might otherwise have proved troublesome. At first, in honour of the ancient religion, the presidency of the establishment was committed to an Egyptian priest; but in the course of time that policy was abandoned. It must not, however, be imagined that the duties of the inmates were limited to reading and rhetorical display; a far more

practical character was imparted to them. A Botanical gardens ; me-botanical garden, in connection with the Museum, nageries; dissecting

offered an opportunity to those who were inlouses ; ob- terested in the study of the nature of plants; a servatories.

zoological menagerie afforded like facilities to those interested in animals. Even these costly establishments were made to minister to the luxury of the times : in the zoological garden pheasants were raised for the royal table. Besides these elegant and fashionable appointments,

another, of a more forbidding and perhaps repulsive kind, was added; an establishment which, in the light of our times, is sufficient to confer immortal glory on those illustrious and high-minded kings, and to put to shame the ignorance and superstition of many modern nations : it was an anatomical school, suitably provided with means for the dissection of the human body, this anatomical school being the basis of a medical college for the education of physicians. For the astronomers Ptolemy Euergetes placed in the Square Porch an equinoctial and a solstitial armil, the graduated limbs of these instruments being divided into degrees and sixths. There were in the observatory stone quadrants, the precursors of our mural quadrants. On the floor a meridian line was drawn for the adjustment of the instruments. There were also astrolabes and dioptras. Thus, side by side, almost in the king's palace, were noble provisions for the cultivation of exact science and for the pursuit of light literature. Under the same roof were gathered together geometers, astronomers, chemists, mechanicians, engineers. There were also poets, who ministered to the literary wants of the dissipated city-authors who could write verse, not only in correct metre, but in all kinds of fantastic forms-trees, hearts, and eggs. Here met together the literary dandy Life in the and the grim theologian. At their repasts oc- Museum. casionally the king himself would preside, enlivening the moment with the condescensions of royal relaxation. Thus, of Philadelphus it is stated that he caused to be presented to the Stoic Sphærus a dish of fruit made of wax, so beautifully coloured as to be undistinguishable from the natural, and on the mortified philosopher detecting too late the fraud that had been practised upon him, inquired what he now thought of the maxim of his sect that “ the sage is never deceived by appearances.” Of the same sovereign it is related that he received the translators of the Septuagint Bible with the highest honours, entertaining them at his table. Under the atmosphere of the place their usual religious ceremonial was laid aside, save that the king courteously requested one of the aged priests to offer an extempore prayer. It is naively related that the Alexindrians present, ever quick to discern rhetorical merit,


testified their estimation of the performance with loud applause. But not alone did literature and the exact sciences thus find protection. As if no subjects with which the human mind has occupied itself can be unworthy of investigation, in the Museum were cultivated the more doubtful arts, magic and astrology. Philadelphus, who, toward the close of his life, was haunted with an intolerable dread of death, devoted himself with intense assiduity to the discovery of the elixir of life and to alchemy. Such a comprehensive organization for the development of human knowledge never existed in the world before, and, considering the circumstances, never has since. To be connected with it was the passport to the highest Alexandrian society and to court favour.

To the Museum, and, it has been asserted, particularly to Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Christian world is thus under obligation for the ancient version of the Hebrew Scriptures The Septua

-the Septuagint. Many idle stories have been gint transla- related respecting the circumstances under which

that version was made, as that the seventy-two translators by whom it was executed were confined each in a separate cell, and, when their work was finished, the seventy-two copies were found identically the same, word for word. From this it was supposed that the inspiration of this translation was established. If any proof of that kind were needed, it would be much better found in the fact that whenever occasion arises in the New Testament of quoting from the Old, it is usually done in the words of the Septuagint. The story of the cells underwent successive improvements among the early fathers, but is now rejected as a fiction; and, indeed, it seems probable that the translation was not made under the splendid circumstances commonly related, but merely by the Alexandrian Jews for their own convenience. As the Septuagint grew into credit among the Christians, it lost favour among the Jews, who made repeated attempts in after years to supplant it by new versions, such as those of Aquila, of Theodotion, of Symmachus, and others. From the first the Syrian Jews had looked on it with disapproval; they even held the time of its translation as a day of mourning, and with malicious grief pointed out its errors, as, for instance,


they affirmed that it made Methusaleh live until after the Deluge. Ptolemy treated all those who were concerned in providing books for the library with consideration, re. munerating his translators and transcribers in a princely

But the modern world is not indebted to these Egyptian kings only in the particular here referred Lasting into. The Museum made an impression upon the fluence of the intellectual career of Europe so powerful and theological enduring that we still enjoy its results. That and scientific. impression was twofold, theological and physical. The dialectical spirit and literary culture diffused among the Alexandrians prepared that people, beyond all others, for the reception of Christianity. For thirty centuries the Egyptians had been familiar with the conception of a triune God. There was hardly a city of any note without its particular triad. Here it was Amum, Maut, and Khonso; there Osiris, Isis, and Horus. The apostolic missionaries, when they reached Alexandria, found a people ready to appreciate the profoundest mysteries. But with these advantages came great evils. The Trinitarian disputes, which subsequently deluged the world with blood, had their starting-point and focus in Alexandria. In that city Arius and Athanasius dwelt. There originated that desperate conflict which compelled Constantine the Great to summon the Council of Nicea, to settle, by a formulary or creed, the essentials of our faith.

But it was not alone as regards theology that Alexandria exerted a power on subsequent ages : her influence was as strongly marked in the impression it gave to science. Astronomical observatories, chemical laboratories, libraries, dissecting-houses, were not in vain. There went forth from them a spirit powerful enough to tincture all future times. Nothing like the Alexandrian Museum was ever called into existence in Greece or Rome, even in their palmiest days. It is the unique and noble memorial of the dynasty of the Ptolemies, who have thereby laid the whole human race under obligations, and vindicated their title to be regarded as a most illustrious line of kings. The Museum was, in truth, an attempt at the organization of human knowledge, both for its development and its

The Museum

of the Macedonian cam

diffusion. It was conceived and executed in a practical manner worthy of Alexander. And though, in the night through which Europe has been passing-a night full of dreams and delusions--men have not entertained a right estimate of the spirit in which that great institution was founded, and the work it accomplished, its glories being eclipsed by darker and more unworthy things, the time is approaching when its action on the course of human events will be better understood, and its influences on European civilization more clearly discerned.

Thus, then, about the beginning of the third century before Christ, in consequence of the Macedonian campaign,

which had brought the Greeks into contact with was the issue the ancient civilization of Asia, a great degree

of intellectual activity was manifested in Egypt. paigns.

On the site of the village of Rhacotis, once held as an Egyptian post to prevent the ingress of strangers, the Macedonians erected that city which was to be the entrepôt of the commerce of the East and West, and to transmit an illustrious name to the latest generations. Her long career of commercial prosperity, her commanding position as respects the material interests of the world, justified the statesmanship of her founder, and the intellectual glory which has gathered round her has given an enduring lustre to his name.

There can be no doubt that the philosophical activity here alluded to was the direct issue of the political and military event to which we have referred it. The tastes and genius of Alexander were manifested by his relations to Aristotle, whose studies in natural history he promoted by the collection of a menagerie; and in astronomy, by. transmitting to him, through Callisthenes, the records of Babylonian observations extending over 1903 years. His biography, as we have seen, shows a personal interest in the cultivation of such studies. In this particular other great soldiers have resembled him; and perhaps it may

be inferred that the practical habit of thought and accommodation of theory to the actual purposes of life preeminently required by their profession, leads them spontaneously to decline speculative uncertainties, and to be satisfied only with things that are real and exact.

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