May 3, 2013

Writing about Amazon.com’s ranking of Alexandria as the nation’s “Most Well-Read City” for the second year in a row, The Post faulted Roman Emperor Julius Caesar for having destroyed the famed and ancient Library of Alexandria in Egypt [“Most prolific readers? Alexandrians, again,” Style, April 25].

Historical sources cite three parties just as probable as Caesar to have contributed to the library’s destruction, including the Emperor Aurelian (in A.D. 270), Pope Theophilus (in A.D. 391) and Muslim conquerors (in A.D. 641). Each probably played a part in the destruction, and we will never know for certain if any one was single-handedly culpable for that unimaginable loss of cultural treasure.

Besides, as the Christian Theophilus would have been quick to point out, it was only a pagan collection; how much could posterity have learned anyway from the writing of has-been authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripedes and Aeschylus?

Rocky Semmes, Alexandria