isis unveiled, vol 2: chapter i (the church)

“No more do sundry very learned Copts scattered all over the East in Asia Minor, Egypt, and Palestine, believe in the total destruction of the subsequent libraries. For instance, they say that out of the library of Attalus III of Pergamus, presented by Antony to Cleopatra, not a volume was destroyed. At that time, according to their assertions, from the moment that the Christians began to gain power in Alexandria – about the end of the fourth century – and Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, began to insult the national gods, the Pagan philosophers and learned theurgists adopted effective measures to preserve the repositories of their sacred learning.

Theophilus, a bishop, who left behind him the reputation of a most rascally and mercenary villain, was accused by our named Antoninus, a famous theurgist and eminent scholar of occult science of Alexandria, with bribing the slaves of the Serapion to steal books which he sold to foreigners at great prices. History tells us how Theophilus had the best of the philosophers, in A.D. 389; and how is successor and nephew, the no less infamous Cyril, butchered Hypatia.

Suidas gives us some details about Antoninus, whom he calls Antonius, and his eloquent friend Olympus, the defender of the Serapion. But history is far from being complete in the miserable remnants of books, which, crossing so many ages, have reached our own learned century; it fails to give the facts relating to the first five centuries of Christianity, which are preserved in the numerous traditions current in the East.

Unauthenticated as these may appear, there is unquestionably in the heap of chaff, much good grain. That these traditions are not oftener communicated to Europeans is not strange, when we consider how apt our travelers are to render themselves antagonistic to the natives by their skeptical bearing, and occasionally, dogmatic intolerance. When exceptional men like some archeologists who knew how to win the confidence and even friendship of certain Arabs are favored with precious documents, it is declared simply a “coincidence”.

And yet, there are widespread traditions of the existence of certain subterranean, and immense galleries, in the neighborhood of Ishmonia – the “petrified City”, in which are stored numberless manuscripts and rolls. For no amount of money would the Arabs go near it. At night, they say, from the crevices of the desolate ruins, sunk deep in the unwatered sands of the desert, stream the rays from lights carried to and fro in the galleries, by no human hands. The Afrites study the literature of the antediluvian ages, according to their belief, and the Djinn learns from the magic rolls the lesson of the following day.

The encyclopedia Britannica, in its article on Alexandria, says: “When the temple of Serapis was demolished…the valuable library was pillaged or destroyed; and twenty years afterwards the empty shelves excited the regret…etc.” But it does not state the subsequent fate of the pillaged books.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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