ALEXANDRIA

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ALEXANDRIA (in Turkish, Scanderia); the capital of Lower Egypt, and the ancient residence of the Ptolemies, built 332 B. C, by Alexander the Great, who destined it to be the capital of his empire, and the centre of the commerce of the world. Its natural situation is strong, and it has five harbors. The Ptolemies, especially P Soter, or Lagus, and P. Philadelphus, improved it much, and made it the seat of learning. (See Alexandrian School.)The first inhabitants of Alexandria were a mixture of Egyptians and Greeks, to whom must be added numerous colonies of Jews, transplanted thither in 336, 320 and 312 B. C, to increase the population of the city and country, who, becoming familiar with the Greek language and learning, were called Hellenists, (q.v.) It was they who made the wellknown Greek translation of the Old Testament, under the name of the Septuaginta. (q. v.) The most beautiful part of the city, near the great harbor, where stood the royal palaces, magnificently built, was called Bruction. There was the large and splendid edifice, belonging to the academy and museum, where the greater portion of the royal library (400,000 volumes) was placed; the rest, amounting to 300,000, was in the Serapion, the temple of Jupiter Serapis. The larger portion was burned during the siege of Alexandria by Julius Csesar, but was afterwards replaced by the library of Pergamus, which Antony presented to Cleopatra. The museum, where many scholars lived and were supported, ate together, studied and instructed others, remained unhurt till the reign of Aurelian, when it was destroyed in a period of civil commotion. The library in the Serapion was preserved to the time of Theodosius the Great. He caused all the heathen temples, throughout the Roman empire, to be destroyed; and even the splendid temple of Jupiter Serapis was not spared. A crowd of fanatic Christians, headed by their archbishop, Theodosius, stormed and destroyed it. At that time, the library, it is said, was partly burned, partly dispersed; and the historian Orosius, towards the close of the 4th century, saw only the empty shelves. Christian barbarians, therefore, and not Arabs under Omar, as is usually asserted, were the cause of this irreparable loss to science. The Alexandrian library, called, by Livy, Elegantioe regum tumque egregium opus, embraced the whole Greek and Latin literature, of which we possess but single fragments. In the division of the Roman dominions, Alexandria, with the rest of Egypt, was comprehended in the Eastern Empire. The Arabs possessed themselves of it in 640; the caliph Motawakel, in 845, restored the library and academy; but the Turks took the city in 868, and it declined more and more, retaining, however, a flourishing commerce, until the Portuguese, at the end of the 15th century, discovered a way to the East Indies by sea.The modern A., situated N. lat. 31° 11', E. Ion. 30° 16;, does not occupy the place of the old town, of which nothing remains except a portico in the vicinity of the gate leading to Rosetta, the southwestern amphitheatre, the obelisk, or needle of Cleopatra (presented to the king of England by the pachabut a mass of 400,000 pounds is too heavy to be transported), and Pompey's pillar, 88 feet 6 inches high, which, according to an English traveller (Memoirs relating to Europe and Asiatic Turkey, by Robert Walpole, 1817), was erected by a governor of Egypt, named Pompey, in honor of the emperor Diocletian. The equestrian statue on the top is no longer standing.The town has now 2 citadels and harbors, of which the western, which is the best, is closed against Christian ships. Before both harbors are the peninsula Farillon and the island Pharos, with the ruins of the lighthouse of Ptolemy. (See Pharos.)The population, formerly amounting to 300,000, is now 12,600; the houses, 3132. A. is the seat of a patriarch. The canal of Ramanieh, from Cairo to Alexandria, 40 miles, was restored by the viceroy, Mohammed Ali Pacha, and first navigated 26th Jan., 1820. In consequence of this, the commerce of Alexandria has been much improved. In the year 1824, 1290 ships, among them 606 Austrian, arrived, and 1199 depart* 1.A peculiarity of modern A. is the great number of dogs, which here, as well as in Cairo and Constantinople, run about in a very wild state. According to the latest accounts, the trading pacha of Egypt has appointed an Italian renegade, to collect all the remains of ancient art, which are capable of transportation, in his dominions, in order to sell them, in a bazar to be built for this purpose in A., to the Europeans.