Hellenistic Culture and Society

Luciano Canfora, Author, Martin Ryle, Translator University of California Press $19.95 (205p) ISBN 978-0-520-07255-8
Canfora, an expert in ancient literature and a professor at the University of Bari (Italy), has created a loving, anecdotal ramble through that fabled store of classical learning, the Library of Alexandria, its history and destruction, probably not, in Canfora's opinion, during Caesar's campaign but some 300 to 400 years later, as the Arab world began to encroach on a crumbling Roman Empire. The author stops along the way to consider some germane (and some tangential) subjects: the fate of Aristotle's writings, the rival library at Pergamum, Ramses II's victory over the Hittites at Kadesh, the creation of the Septuagint. To avoid further distractions on this peripatetic journey, Canfora reserves the exegesis of historical sources to the second half of the book. But this is not without its drawbacks: the sense that one is getting only half the story at any given point and the inevitable redundancies. Whatever the shortcomings of this approach to an admittedly murky subject, Canfora makes clear g the importance of the Library. No matter how much was destroyed, far more was conserved--or created--by the scholars and copyists who worked within its confines. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1990
Release date: 08/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 205 pages - 978-0-520-07304-3
Hardcover - 205 pages - 978-0-09-174049-8
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