Ancient Alexandria: Centre of Hellenistic Culture
By R. L. Faber
Labyrinth: An online journal published by the Classical Studies Department of the University of Waterloo, Issue 57 (1993)
Introduction: One of the great cities of antiquity was Alexandria. Located on the western rim of the Nile Delta, the city was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. Upon conquering Egypt the ambitious general wished to forge a central link in the great chain he was spanning from Macadonia to Persia; that link was Alexandria. In the middle of east-west trade routs, the city quickly became administrative headquarters for the world’s largest empire, and was to be its capital. When Alexander died in 332 his general Ptolemy I (Sote), who gained control of Egypt, established his residence in Alexandria and made it the seat of government for his new kingdom. Thus, although the man after whom the city was named died shortly after its creation, Alexandria remained a strategically important city. Not only was Alexandria a centre for the military and bureaucracy, it was also a cosmopolitan city which nurtured Hellenistic culture.