Earlier this month, as I entered through the gate of Bibliotheca Alexandrina to give a lecture, I could hear my heart beating loud, not out of anxiety, but rather out of awe for the place and its history. As I addressed the 180+ attendees, I started my lecture with an introduction that explained it all:
“it’s an incredible feeling to be lecturing at an institution that, in its original version, was the main vehicle of the Hellenistic Culture (whose capital was Alexandria, the world’s most learned city at the time). Under the Ptolemaic rule –and later under the Romans- this institution along with other ‘sister’ entities witnessed the genius of such names as Claudius Ptolemy (Geography), Aristarchus and Hipparchus (Astronomy), Eratosthenes (Mathematics), Euclid (Geometry) and the great Hypatia (Philosophy, MAthematics, Astronomy, etc.) whose assassination in 415 AD symbolically marked the end of Classical Antiquity. This place used to be a temple to knowledge, a beacon of humanism, a dream for travelers, and we should have these meanings present in our minds before I proceed with the lecture.”
Attached are photos from my lecture.