This section is from the book "A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature", by I. Platt. Also available from Amazon: A library of wonders and curiosities.
Buildings, and Library, of Alexandria. - The aichi-tect emploved by Alexander, in this undertaking, was the celebrated Dinocrates, who had acquired so much reputation by rebuilding the temple of Diana at Ephesus. The city was first rendered populous by Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexander's captains, who, after the death of the Macedonian monarch, being appointed governor of Egypt, soon assumed the title of king, and took up his residence at Alexandria, about three hundred and four years before Christ. In the thirtieth year of his reign he made his son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, partner with him in the empire; and by this prince the city of Alexandria was much embellished. In the first year of his reign, the famous watch-tower of Pharos was finished. It had been begun several years before by Ptolemy Soter; and, when finished, was looked upon as one of the wonders of the world.
The same year, the island of Pharos itself, originally seven furlongs distant from the continent, was joined to it by a causeway. This was the work of Dexiphanes, who completed it at the same time that his son put the last hand to the tower. The tower was a large square structure of white marble, on the top of which, fires were kept constantly burning for the direction of sailors. The building cost 800 talents; which, if Attic, amounted to £165,000; if Alexandrian, to twice that sum. The architect employed in this famous structure, fell upon the following contrivance to usurp the whole glory to himself. Being ordered to engrave upon it the following inscription, "King Ptolemy, to the Gods the Saviours, for the Benefit of Sailors;" instead of the king's name, he substituted his own, and then filling up the marble with mortar, wrote upon it the above-mentioned inscription. In process of time, the mortar being worn off, the following inscription appeared: "Sostratus the Cnidian, the son of Dexiphanes, to the Gods the Saviours, for 'the Benefit of Sailors"
This year, also, was remarkable for bringing the image of Serapis from Pontus to Alexandria. It was set up in one of the suburbs of the city called Rhacotis, where a temple was afterwards erected to his honour, suitable to the greatness of that stately metropolis, and called, from the god worshipped there, Serapium. This structure, according to Ammianus Marcellinus, surpassed in beauty the magnificence of all others in the world, except the capitol at Rome.
Within the verge of this temple was the famous Alexandrian library. It was founded by Ptolemy Soter, for the use of an academy he instituted in this city; and, from continual additions by his successors, became at last the finest library in the world, containing no fewer than seven hundred thousand volumes. One method adopted in collecting books for this library, was, to seize all those which were brought into Egypt by the Greeks, or other foreigners. The books were transcribed in the museum by persons appointed for that purpose; the copies were then delivered to the proprietors, and the originals laid up in the library. Ptolemy Euergetes, having borrowed from the Athenians the works of Sophocles, Euripides, and AEschylus, returned them only the copies, which he caused to be transcribed in as beautiful a manner as possible, presenting the Athenians at the same time with 13 talents (upwards of £3000 sterling) for the exchange. As the museum was at first in that quarter of the city called Bru-chion, near the royal palace, the library was placed there likewise; but when it came to contain four hundred thousand volumes, another library within the Serapium was erected, by way of supplement to it, and on that account called the Daughter of the former. In this second library, three hundred thousand volumes, in process of time, were deposited; and both libraries together contained the seven hundred thousand volumes already mentioned. In the war carried on by Julius Caesar against the inhabitants of this city, the library in the Bruchion, with the four hundred thousand volumes it contained, was reduced to ashes. The library in the Serapium, however, still remained; and here Cleopatra deposited two hundred thousand volumes of the Permagean library, with which Marc Antony presented her. These, and others added from time to time, rendered the new library at Alexandria more numerous and considerable than the former; and though it was often plundered during the revolutions and troubles of the Roman Empire, yet it was again and again repaired, and filled with the same number of books.