At 5:20 PM -0700 9/8/00, Michael Button wrote: >Reading in "A Short Account of the History of Mathematics" by Ball, I came >upon a passage that said .... >Does anyone know where Ball got this quote? I seem to recall that it comes >from one of the later Roman writers, but I do not recall which one.
I cannot answer your question as to the source of the quotation. However, I recollect that the book
Title: The vanished library / Luciano Canfora ; translated by Martin Ryle. Uniform Title: Biblioteca scomparsa. English Author: Canfora, Luciano. Edition: California ed. (Corr. translation) Published: Berkeley : University of California Press, 1990, c1987 Description: ix, 205 p. : plans ; 23 cm. Series: Hellenistic culture and society ; 7 Subjects: Libraries--Egypt--Alexandria--History--To 400. Civilization, Classical. Alexandria (Egypt)--Intellectual life. Alexandria (Egypt)--Antiquities. Subjects (Name): Aliksandrina (Library) Notes: Translation of: La biblioteca scomparsa. Includes bibliographical references (p. 100-106) and index. ISBN: 0520072553 (paper)
gives an account of the loss to the world of the resource which was the Great Library at Alexandria which describes it as not the result of a single catastrophe but of a series of losses of cultural heritage.
While looking in the University of Michigan Catalogue for the correct citation for that book, I came across several references, which I have not read, that seemed relevant and may serve to illustrate that there is some scholarly controversy on the subject. I particularly would like to see the first item listed below because it is from an Arab scholar and published after, and the second one because it is brand new. I include the list below.
Records from a Library Search at UM ===================================
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: The life and fate of the ancient Library of Alexandria / Mostafa El-Abbadi. Author: El-Abbadi, Mostafa. Edition: 2nd ed., rev. Published: Paris : Unesco/UNDP, 1992. Description: 250 p. : ill. ; 18 cm. Subjects: Libraries--Egypt--Alexandria--History--To 400. Subjects (Name): Aliksandrina (Library) Contributors: Unesco. United Nations Development Programme. Notes: Bibliography: p. 229-233. Includes index. ISBN: 9231026321 (pbk.) ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: The Library of Alexandria : centre of learning in the ancient world / : edited by Roy MacLeod. Published: England I B Tauris & Co Biblios 2000. Description: xii/196p. ISBN: 1860644287 ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: The library of ancient Alexandria; lecture delivered at the University Reception Hall, Monday, December 21, 1953. Author: Westermann, William Linn, 1873-1954. Published: Egypt, University of Alexandria Press, 1954. Description: 16 p. 25 cm. Subjects: Libraries--History--Ancient. Subjects (Name): Alexandrian Library ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: The ancient library of Alexandria and early Christian theological development / by J. Harold Ellens. Author: Ellens, J. Harold, 1932- Published: Claremont, Calif. : Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, 1993. Description: 51,  p. ; 25 cm. Series: Occasional papers (Institute for Antiquity and Christianity) ; no. 29. Subjects: Christianity and culture--History--Early church, ca. 30-600. Alexandria (Egypt)--Civilization. Alexandria (Egypt)--Religion. Subjects (Name): Aliksandrina (Library) Philo, of Alexandria. Notes: Cover title. Includes bibliographical references (p. [52-60]). ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: Fihris makhtutat Baladiyat al-Iskandariyah / iÃÂdad wa-taqdim Yusuf Zaydan ; tasdir Muhsin Muharram Zahran. Author: Zaydan, Yusuf. Published: al-Iskandariyah : al-HayÃÂah al-ÃÂAmmah li-Maktabat al-Iskandariyah, 1996- Description: v. : col. ill. ; 24 cm. Subjects: Manuscripts, Arabic--Egypt--Alexandria--Catalogs. Subjects (Name): Maktabat Baladiyat al-Iskandariyah Contributors: Maktabat Baladiyat al-Iskandariyah. Zahran, Muhsin Muharram. Other Titles: Catalogue of mnanuscripts in The Municipal Library of Alexandria Notes: Includes bibliographical references. Contents: al-JuzÃÂ 1. al-Makhtutat al-ÃÂilmiyah. ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: The Jew of Alexandria, or, The myth of the Library : a poetic drama / by Tawfik Ali Mansour. Author: Mansur, Tawfiq ÃÂAli. Edition: 1st ed. Published: Cairo : Dar Al Maaref, , c1993. Description: 65 p. ; 20 cm. Other Titles: Myth of the Library. ISBN: 9770512125 ----------
Source: UMich Library (MCAT) Title: Kallimachos : the Alexandrian Library and the origins of bibliography / Rudolf Blum ; translated from the German by Hans H. Wellisch. Uniform Title: Kallimachos und die Literaturverzeichnung bei den Griechen. English Author: Blum, Rudolf, 1909- Published: Madison, Wis. : University of Wisconsin Press, c1991. Description: ix, 282 p. ; 24 cm. Series: Wisconsin studies in classics Subjects: Libraries--Egypt--Alexandria--History--To 400. Greek literature--Bibliography--Methodology. Bibliography--Egypt--Alexandria--History. Cataloging--Egypt--Alexandria--History. Greece--Bibliography--Methodology. Subjects (Name): Aliksandrina (Library) Callimachus Callimachus Notes: Translation of: Kallimachos und die Literaturverzeichnung bei den Griechen. Includes bibliographical references (p. 248-262) and indexes. ISBN: 029913170X (cloth) : ----------