ALEXANDRIA - PART 2
MORE RECENT FACTS
After the 4th century AD the town became one of the first and important centres of Christianity. Since approximately 50 AD Christianism had spread a lot and Marc, the Evangelist, also built a church there. One more fact depicting the importance of Alexandria to the orthodox religion is that the first ecumenical synod took assembly at the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
After the horrible persecution of the Christians by Dekkius (250-251), the growth of Christendom was rapid. During the time period of 5th to 6th century it had become a centre of monophysitism.
Famous was also the Theological School of Alexandria, whose aim was to make peace between the Greek scholars and the Evangelists, as well as the protection of Christianity from the influence of nationalism and cognitive tendencies.
In Alexandria there were also the great Library and the Museum of Alexandria, which was the work of Ptolemy, the Saviour. The Library was the most famous of its time and disposed around 700,000 volumes; however, together with the ones that were kept in the Library of Serapes they were altogether 1,000,000. Zenodotus, Kallimachus, possibly also Eratosthenes were its first directors. Caesar set fire to both Libraries during the battles between the Nationalists and the Christians. Later on, when the Arabs conquered Egypt, they burnt down the last remains of the two libraries.
Ptolemy established the renowned museum, as well, where philosophers and poets of the time stayed and ate together. The museum was the basic factor of the cultural thriving of Alexandria, as scholars such as Eucleides, Nicomachus, Eratosthenes, etc., gathered there.
In Alexandria there was also the Philosophical Faculty of Alexandria, which was set up by Ammonius Sakas in the 3rd century. In that School they used to try to compare the secret theories of the East with the principles of the Hellenic philosophy and most of all those of Pythagoras and Plato. That School also helped develop Sciences in general, most of which Literature, Medicine, Theology, Physics and Mathematics.
Egypt and Alexandria in particular came back to the limelight during the Roman times when it was under the influence of the Ptolemy Dynasties. The disputes between Cleopatra and her brother, Ptolemy IA’, concerning the challenging of the throne provoked the Romans’ intervention into Egypt’s internal affairs. On persecuting Pompeii, Cesar invaded Egypt and helped Cleopatra by setting fire to the Egyptian navy. Due to the fire that was spread to town many ancient monuments were damaged or even destroyed. Cleopatra’s affair with Marcus Antonius, however, caused later on the further development of Alexandria, which was enriched with several masterpieces .
After the battle in Actio (31 BC) the Romans conquered the city. In those years the port became the largest port in the world. Nevertheless, during the period of Caracalla’s reign the city was shattered by terrorism and the persecutions of Christians. The worst ordeal took place in the year 269 AD during the warfare between the Romans and the queen of Palmyra, Zenovia.
After 325 AD Alexandria came under the influence of Byzantium and became the most important Christianity centre. During the era of Theodosius the Great, however, many ancient temples and other extraordinary pieces of ancient Hellenic art were unfortunately destroyed. The fanatic patriarch Theophilus, with the emperor’s consent, played the leading part of this unnecessary destruction in his attempt to obliterate everything national. In 616 AD the Persian king, Hosroy, conquered Alexandria. Many of the people were killed, while others were sold as slaves to Persia. Heraclious later on liberated the city, but in 641 it was submitted to the Arabs, who destroyed its libraries as well as most of its monuments and led the city into decay . Finally, in 1517 it was conquered by the Turks.
Alexandria has also played an important part in recent world history, namely since the 18th century up to now. In 1798 it was conquered by the troops of Napoleon Bonaparte, when it found itself in great decay, as it only counted 7,000 people. That was the result of the Arab and Turkish occupation.
During the time of the cunning Turk-Albanian, Mohamed Ali, Alexandria began to win back its rightful position in the Middle East. The Machmundia canal was built and the port was modernized too. Since then the further development of Alexandria followed in a more rapid pace.
In the year 1825 Kanaris and Cohran attempted to seize the port and create counterplot to the Turkish and Egyptian troops that were fighting in Greece, but without any effect. In 1882 the British invaded Alexandria, which had the same future as that of the whole country. During the Second World War it was the major military base of the allies in the Mediterranean.