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science, or for increasing the enjoyments or improving the condition of their fellow-beings. It may have owed its origin, as it owed much of its early celebrity, to the intimate relation existing between the family and descendants of Aristotle, and those of Alexander the Great.* For, Nicomachus, the father of the philosopher, was the physician and friend of Amyntas, the grandfather of the conqueror; and Alexander himself had been the pupil and afterwards the patron of Aristotle. Again, Erasistratus, the grandson of the latter, was among the most prominent of the scientific men brought together at the Museum by Ptolemy Soter, its founder; who was, by repute, the natural son of of Philip, and consequently, brother to Alexander. And finally, we read of another Nicomachus, a name for several generations running through the family of Aristotle, among the associates of the Museum at a later date.
The men of learning in the several faculties of this institution, lived together in a sort of fraternity, eating at a common table, supported in whole or in part at the public expense. Some of them officiated as professors under a fixed salary; some of them as private tutors, deriving at least a portion of their income from their pupils ; some of them were engaged in the public works, or in the service of the state; and some, as original investigators
* We are told by Strabo, that Aristotle was the first to collect a library; and that the kings of Egypt, after his example, founded the library of the Museum. See Schulze, p. 359. Athenæus, however, as we shall see, mentions earlier collections.
in the arts, in literature or philosophy, or in works of fancy, in the exact sciences, in natural history, or in medicine.
Under Ptolemy Philadelphus, the Museum had already risen to the highest rank among the Greek schools. Its library already held two hundred thousand rolls of papyrus, equal to about ten thousand of our modern printed volumes. At the head of this library, under Ptolemy Soter, its founder, was Demetrius Phalereus, who had formerly been chief-magistrate of Athens. The system of instruction, as at first arranged, was divided among the four faculties of literature, mathematics, astronomy , and medicine; but other faculties, or special departments, must have been early adjoined to these.
At the head of the mathematical department was Euclid. In that of poetry were Theocritus and Callimachus. The chair of philosophy was assigned to Hegesias of Cyrene, that of astronomy to Timocharis. The department of natural history was under Philostephanus, then engaged in a work on the history of fishes. Manetho, an aboriginal Egyptian, was occupied in preparing an elaborate history of his own country; and Timosthenes, the commander of the fleet, had in charge the subject of geography. In the medical faculty were Cleombrotus of Cos, Herophilus, and Erasistratus. The first of these was in high repute as a practitioner ; was sent to the relief of Antiochus when dangerously ill, and after curing that king, received on his return a present of a hundred talents, about fifteen thousand pounds sterling, as a reward from Philadelphus.
Ptolemy Soter was himself an author, and the biographer of Alexander. As a man of enlightened understanding and cultivated taste, he took delight in the society of the Museum. He was in daily intercourse with the philosophers, listening to their discourses in the lecture-room, or entertaining them at his own table. At one of these literary dinners he is said to have asked Euclid for a shorter way to the higher mathematics than that by which the pupils were led in the lecture-room; when Euclid, as if to remind him of the royal roads of Persia which ran by the side of the public highways, but were kept clear and free for the king's use, -gave him the well-known reply, that there is no royal road to geometry.
Among the rhetoricians of the museum was the sophist Diodotus Cronus, with whom Ptolemy was in the habit of jesting, and who among
paradoxes maintained the non-existence of motion,arguing that motion was neither in the place from which bodies moved, nor in that to which bodies moved, and consequently had no existence. Cronus, however, by a fall, dislocated his shoulder; and when asked by Herophilus, who had been called to assist him, whether the fall had occurred at the place where the shoulder now was, or at that from which it had descended, he was by no means contented with the application of his own argument, and begged the physician to begin at once by adjusting the dislocation.
The seven ablest literary men at the Museum, were called the Pleiades; and they had in charge
the business of adjudging prizes and rewards to the pupils. At one of their public sessions, a chair accidentally vacant among them, was, for the moment, assigned to the grammarian Aristophanes. When the reading of the exercises was ended, and most of those present were agreed upon the one deemed best of all the compositions, Aristophanes dissented from the general judgment, and pointed to the very volume in the library from which this performance had been copied. Ptolemy was struck with this test of the grammarian's acquirements, and soon afterwards promoted him to the post of librarian, then the most honorable office of the Museum. The Ptolmies reserved to themselves the right of appointment to office, and occasionally silenced the professors. Hegesias, in the midst of a discourse against the fear of death, was thus silenced, lest by his eloquence he might excite a passion for suicide among his hearers. But, while watching with solicitude over the business of oral instruction, they took no official notice of books. And Hegesias, no longer able to lecture, consoled himself by recording his opinions, and circulating them among his friends.
At a time when books were expensive and readers few, the influence of private reading could hardly be felt upon the social institutions or political destiny of the nation; and hence it was disregarded. Not so with oral instruction. Among the Greeks this had always been the common mode of enlightening the people, of amusing them, and of molding their opinions. Most of the poetry, and much of the written history of the nation, were prepared for public recitation. Plato,* aware of the influence of such exercises, would have had a censorship upon the poets, that they might not be permitted to recite their compositions in public before submitting them to the judges and guardians of the law, and obtaining their approbation. The business of lecturing, therefore, was at Alexandria, as in the other cities, of more importance than that of composing for the private reader. The custom of appointing readers for familiarizing the people with Homer and other standard authors, had already been introduced here. And Hegesias, after the loss of his professorial chair, was occupied as the official reader of Herodotus.
Before the settlement of Egypt by the Greeks, papyrus was only in limited use among them. Their adoption of this material in the making of books, was an improvement almost equal to the modern invention of printing. To many of the people books were now known for the first time; and the new substance upon which they were written, replacing the wax tablets, the rolls of bark, the cloth, and other articles formerly employed, continued in general use until it was in turn superseded by the comparatively recent invention of writing paper. The Charta Pergamenta, or parchment, introduced two hundred years later than papyrus, was always too expensive for general use, and was, indeed, an invention of necessity by the scholars of Pergamus, when
* In the Laws, book vii. c. 9.