Library of Alexandria
Library of Alexandria

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Library of Alexandria

Ammianus Marcellinus, Histories 22.16.13–14

Barnes, R. (2004) ‘Cloistered bookworms in the chicken-coop of the Muses: the ancient library of Alexandria’ in MacLeod, R. (ed.) The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World, London and New York, I.B. Tauris, p. 71.

In addition there are [in Alexandria] temples with elevated roofs, among which the Serapeum stands out. Although it cannot be done justice with an inadequate description, it is so adorned with great columned halls, and statuary which seems almost alive, and a great number of other works, that, apart from the Capitolium, by which the venerable city of Rome claims eternal renown, nothing more magnificent can be seen in the whole world. In this temple were libraries beyond calculation, and the trustworthy testimony of ancient records agrees that 700,000 books, brought together by the unsleeping care of the Ptolemaic kings, were burned in the Alexandrian war, when the city was sacked under the dictator Caesar.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371