In the tradition of the first major library, university, and research institute of the ancient world.
Saturday, June 14, 2003
As Basilides slowly climbed the wide and gleaming marble steps up toward the entrance to the library, he pondered what to pose for discussion to the diverse group scattered around the grand and eclectic Greek-Egyptian style columns above him. Yesterday the officials at Alexandria's port had appropriated all his scrolls for copying as he was disembarking his possessions from the boat, so he had no prepared readings to introduce his months of preparation for his new posting at the Museion. The obligatory appearance must be simply to try to draw out some discussion among this polyglot group, until his scrolls are again made available to him from Ptolemy's feverish team of scribes. Hmmm, all those religious riots last night, leaving rows of unclaimed bodies along the elegant causeway to the harbor, might be on the minds of some. Assuming it is not too early in the day, that is, for the revenge of the grape to have released its grip from their heads, as he had seen many scholars' robes getting soaked in revelry last night, and the bright sunshine is causing many bloodshot eyes much agony, even in the shade beneath the columns. So be it, Basilides thought, as he stood at the top of the stairs and started to shout out his exhortation:
"Scholars of Museion, hear me. You have all heard the words of hatred, the screams of the helpess, and seen the blood in the streets. Would it not benefit the commonweal and the maintenance of peace and prosperity if Ptolemy would declare and establish a single religion for Egypt and Alexandria? Would it not be preferable to having this fair city quartered into major factions of belief, each pressing their interests on the other in endless strife? By decree Ptolemy has built the finest city in the world, with its running water and drains, its fine port shepherded by its wondrous lighthouse, and our own Museion, by decree extracting all knowledge from those who wish to come here. Would it not be a logical extension of such glory to decree that all should give allegiance to a single faith under the force of law, with Ptolemy at its head, choosing those who would dictate what is allowed to be believed, what is allowed to be indoctrinated into the youth?
Speak, O Scholars of Museion. "