Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 1 >> Isculapius to Or School Alexandrian Age >> or School Alexandrian Age

or School Alexandrian Age

alexandria, greek and literature

ALEXANDRIAN AGE, or SCHOOL, the school or period of Greek literature and learning that existed at Alexandria in Egypt during the 300 years that the rule of the Ptole mies lasted (323-30 s.c.), and continued under the Roman supremacy. Ptolemy Soter founded the famous library of Alexandria (q.v.) and his son, Philadelphus, established a kind of acad emy of sciences and arts. Many scholars and men of genius were thus attracted to Alex andria, and a period of literary activity set in which made Alexandria for long the focus and centre of Greek culture and intellectual effort. It must be admitted, however, that originality was not a characteristic of the Alexandrian age, which was stronger in criticism, grammar and science than in pure literature. Among the grammarians and critics were Zenodotus, Era tosthenes, Aristophanes, Aristarchus and Zoilus, proverbial as a captious critic. Their merit is to have collected, edited and preserved the ex isting monuments of Greek literature. To the poets belong Apollonius, Lycophron, Aratus, Nicander, Euphonon, Callimachus, Theocritus, Philetas, etc- Among those who pursued math ematics, physics and astronomy was Euclid, the father of scientific geometry; Archimedes, great in physics and mechanics; Apollonius of Perga, whose work on conic sections still exists; Nicomachus, the first scientific arith metician, and (under the Romans) the as tronomer and geographer Ptolemy. Alexan

dria also was distinguished in philosophical speculation, and it was here that the New Pla tonic school was established at the close of the 2d century after Christ by Ammonius of Al exandria (about 193 A.n.), whose disciples were Plotinus and Origen. Being for the most part Orientals, formed by the study of Greek learn ing, the writings of the New Platonists are strikingly characterized — for example, those of Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus,. Iamblicus Porphy rius —by a mixture of Asiatic and European elements. The principal Gnostic systems also had their origin in Alexandria.