What were the bestsellers of the day? How far-reaching might its collection have been? Chinese? Indian?
Wikipedia on Library of Alexandria: “It has been reasonably established that the Library, or parts of the collection, were destroyed by fire on a number of occasions”
- Caesar’s conquest 48 BC;
- The attack of Aurelian in the 3rd century;
- The decree of Theophilus in 391;
- The Muslim conquest in 642 or thereafter.
“No index of the Library survives, and it is not possible to know with certainty how large and how diverse the collection was.”
I read that it was a requirement that any ship coming into Alexandria that had any books on board had to loan them to the library so that a copy could be made and kept in Alexandria. So the theory is that any book that was available anywhere in the Mediterranean had a copy in Alexandria.
Some of those scrolls they loaned out must be 2,000 years overdue by now.
Nah, only books that were available in two different places in the Mediterranean.
(waits to see if anyone gets the reference)
Josephus repeated the story in Letter of Aristeas (possibly from ~100 years before) which states that Ptolemy II (Philadelphus) hired 72 Rabbis to translate and interpret the Septuagint (hence the name) from Hebrew into Greek, specifically for the Library. Whether this is truly how this translation came to be made or not (And this translation of the books into Greek were critical to the development of both Judaism and Christianity) - it seems very likely that these scrolls were in the library.
Well, we know quite a few Greek texts only by their mention in another text. Some of those might have been in there. Maybe a complete Homer?