Land of Learning

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Demetrius collected his thoughts and rounded one more corner of the structure.  Because a structure of this grandeur couldn’t be hidden from view, he knew that the only time to make any final observations before the grand unveiling would need to be in the middle of the night.  As his eye lingered on the smooth stone and ornate pillars, his memories wandered to his student days under Aristotal.   

“Have you found the scrolls yet, Demetrius?” Artarius asked.

“Why do you continue pestering me with that jovial, ignorant grin, Artarius?”

Artarius had found his way through the sleeping-yet-tense city to innocently pester the man responsible for dedicating the city’s new library to Muses (goddess of the arts) tomorrow.  Artarius knew he would find Demetrius alone finely combing every inch of the grand property for any fragment of stone or Papyrus scroll out of place, even though that had been done numerous times before.

“I just thought you might want someone here to catch you if you faint from finding any gashes in the pillars.”

With the mention of “gashes”, Demtrius’ eyes widened and let out a tiny gasp, only to catch himself to late.

Demetrius looked at his younger friend, knowing the man meant no harm, or not any that would last anyway.

“Imagine yourself in my sandles Artarius.” He gestured for Artarius to walk with him.  “Your career has led you to a position of recognition under the new rule of Ptolemy I Soter, successor to Alexander himself.  Your careful council will be followed by architects, scribes, and soldiers toward the ongoing construction and eventual completion of not only the greatest library the world has ever known, but a new era of knowledge, through the combined effort of the research  conducted in the Musaeum of Alexandria.

“Your words, and efforts will be seen for ages long after yourself, and your name will be regarded as the organizer of it all.”

“It would be a tremendous understatement to say this is the zenith of my training…”  “It is a legacy that will go down in the grand legends of Egypt!”

Artrarius walked and listened, ever aware of the obvious fragility and tension resting on his friends shoulders before such a joy day.

“Yes organizing council of the great Library of Alexandria, but what good will it do to deprive yourself of rest when there is no clear reason?”

“Eh?  Oh, well rest can wait until the library has opened, and it’s annals have been walked.  I just can’t know what new dynamic this will add to the city.

“Surely it will be good though Demetrius!”  Artarius’ familiar smile returned, as if he was an adolescent, talking about epic sword fights in the mountains, brandishing hardened soldier training of the ancient Spartans, and leaving piles of defeated foes in his wake.

“And what brought you from you slumber to inquire of my sleeplessness, my dear Artarius?”

Artarius was silent for a moment, with a stunned look at Demetrius.

“I thought that was quite obvious!”  “I came to watch you squirm!”

Demetrius felt a familiar calm come over him as the phileo of his friend was true.

“Indeed, off your bed – we will carry this conversation on no further.”

Artarius, finding his work for the night done, returned home on the path he had taken earlier.

After watching him go, Demetrius found his way home as well, noticing his legacy wouldn’t mean much if he wasn’t awake for it…

—-

“IT IS OUR GREAT HONOR TO PRESENT TO YOU, CITIZENS OF ALEXANDRIA, THE LATEST ADDITION THE MUSAEUM OF ALEXANDRIA, SOON TO BE THE KNOWLEDGE SOURCE OF THE KNOWN WORLD!”

The hot sands of the northern Egyptian coast were barely visible amidst the numerous sandals of Alexandrian citizens and foreigners present to see the dedication of the new library to the gods.  The crowd offered up a massive uproar, with scribes and students still bringing in scrolls and artifacts of fine quality.  From the distance, the coast could be seen, with the fertile Nile marshlands.  Ships lay majestically in the many ports, one with a long line of scribes pouring from it weaving it’s way to the celebratory location.  Behind them opened the grand Hellenistic city.  Streets were situated for travel, villas allowed the wealthy citizens to live in the comforts of modern city life, and cultural diversity made for different architecture and colors to stand out in the panoramic perspective of the city.

“Come Sartiarius, let’s make our way towards the library entrance, I would love to have a look at the interior of our city’s new namesake!  Perhaps the section on Homer will be accessible!

Sartiarius’ friends, Carcevius and his wives, were recent graduates from the School that was associated with the library’s construction.

Sartarius, a yet-married man, had planned to make a day of the dedication, talking with the philosophers, historians, and architects about the details of the work.  Carcevius was a very religious sort, but also very sociable, and intended to read works of Homer to his wives, and other works of mythology that would further enrich his marriage life.

Sartarius hurried to catch up with his friends as they made their way through the chipper crowd.

A collection of Jews gathered in a home not too far from the dedication to pray and fellowship.

“What are we to make of this building?  It’s dedicated to a pagan goddess, and contains the stories of the ancient Hellenian deities.”

Morticai looked concerned for the loose actions of Greeks, with their pagan rituals, and their fiendish dancing.  The others were appeared somewhat concerned for their neighbors, but were evidently quite content with their daily prayers and studying of Torah.  Many present in the room were well-trained under Jewish Rabbi recently migrated into the city.  Their maturity inhibited a great deal of personal discontentment, but still wanted Jehovah’s name to be exalted amongst the earth.  The Jews were a part of a covenant that gathered weekly for personal prayer and theological discussion.  They knew each other well.

“But Morticai, you do understand that Hellenistic Jews have been encouraged to bring in the Jewish scriptures into the library as well, don’t you?”

Bartholomew knew from word from his own family that copies of the Holy Scriptures were being brought into the library for Hellenistic Jews to study, and even translate into Koine Greek!

“Yes, but what will the pagans know of the precious promises of Jehovah preserved in the scriptures?  They care only for the study of modern sciences and Persian astrology.  The Promises of our great God will stand out amongst such austere literary works.

Morticai, one of the more conservative among the Jews in the gathering, was unconvinced Jews should associate with the Pagan Greeks.  Bartholomew held a look of deep calm of the peace of Jehovah.

“Morticai, perhaps the Holy scriptures present in the new library will permit discuss of our God among the other philosophers.  While we may not understand their ways, neither do they understand ours.  It may be an opportunity to reveal the heritage of our God to our pagan neighbors!”

Morticai, slowly contemplating the prospect, relaxed a bit and the slight frown he held on his lips relaxed.  He nodded, and took his brother’s hand for prayer to Jehovah for opportunities to study in the library in the coming days.

Days later, the library’s shelves had been well-stocked with scrolls, knowledgeable staff, and artifacts to contemplate.  People from throughout the city and even foreigners from other lands could be seen there discussing literary, philosophical, and historical matters.

Demetrius walked the halls with vigor, longing to assist any with a desire to learn.  He had always held the belief that it wasn’t good enough to learn from the others, but to read for one self from the hand-written original sources.  He knew people could interpret the stories and concepts differently, but thought it was more important that individuals came to their own conclusions, rather then accept those other others, however knowledgeable they might be.

Demetrius put away a couple of scrolls that have mistakenly been left on stone benches.  Though tired from numerous trips through the many selves, looking up individual scrolls in codexes, and conversing with scribes about locations of particular scrolls not place with their corresponding volumes, he was very satisfied.

What a treasure it had been to converse with others on the arts, and beliefs others had as they survey the vast collection now available to them.  He knew that history would indeed regard this event as a grand hallmark of culture, and maybe even an inspiration for new schools to begin.

Only time would tell what could transpire as more people learn from the volumes of knowledge contained here.  But something told him that perhaps it wasn’t meant to last forever, and maybe knowledge would still remain, despite not being preserved with ink on scrolls.

 

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