History of the Ancient Ephesus
Celsus Library in Ephesus
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Library of Celcius
THE LIBRARY OF CELSUS
The Celsus Library was erected in A.D 135
by Julius Aquila for his father Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the consul
of Asia province of Roman Empire. He died in A.D.114 at the age of 70.
In the Roman period all but the bodies of heroes were buried outside
the borders of cities. Aquila was granted permission for his father to
be buried in a marble grave in a burial chamber in the library.
Celsus�s sarcophagus lay inside the building, under the middle apse.
library, measuring 60.90 by 16.72 meters had a two storied facade and a
large room inside. The columns at the sides of the facade are shorter
than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being
greater in size. Its facade contains exemplars of
architectural elements that are among the most beautiful ones of the
period, such as doors, windows, gables, niches and columns. A gap of
one meter between inner and outer walls of the the library protected
the books from extremes of temperature and humidity. The sarcophagus
of Celsus stand under the west side of the library. The
semicircular niche on the main floor facing the central portal probably
contained either the statue of Celsus or his son or the statue of
Athena. It is thought that there was an auditorium for lectures or
presentations between the library and the Marble Road.Four female
statues standing between the columns personify the virtues of Celsus:
Sophia (wisdom), Arete (virtue), Ennoia (intelligence), Episteme
(knowledge). The original of the statues were taken to Vienna, Austria.
Celsus himself is buried in a sarcophagus beneath the west side of the
Inside of the library is measured 10.92m x 16.72m.
There were 12.000 rolls of books at the library. During the attacks of
the Goths inside of the library was burned down however the facade of
the library was not destroyed. The facade was restored together with
the other structures at Ephesus in A.D. 4th century and a small
nymphaeum was built near the stairs. The whola facade was ruined during
a severe earthquake occured in A.D. 10th century. During the
excavations carried out at the library the friezes on both sides
of the nymphaeum which depicted the wars against the Parthians. It is
assumed that these friezes belonged to the altar situated in the north
of the court just in front of the library. The sarcophagus which lies
in the court was unearthed in 1968. The inscriptions on it state
that it belonged to Tiberius Claudius Flavianus Dionysos and it
was built in the 2nd century A.D.THE GATE OF MAZEUS AND MÝTHRÝDATES
Mazaeus and Mithridates Gate is the triple gateway next to the Celsus
Library which opens into the commercial agora forming its southeast
gate. According to the inscriptions in Latin, it was built by two freed
slaves Mazaeus and Mithridates in honor of Augustus, his wife Livia,
his daughter Julia and his son-in-law Agrippa. According to the
inscriptions in Greek, Mazaeus and Mithridates dedicated the gate to
their masters.The gate had three arched entrance of which the middle
one is wider than the others. In the walls of the side entrances there
are semicircular niches. The insciption on the right niche reads that
anyone who pissed there would be punished severely.
reconstruction of the gate was only completed in 1988. Missing parts
were replaced with concrete and its surface was plastered
Following the Marble Road you will arrive at The Celsus Library, one of the city's most magnificent
buildings and the finest example of its form in existence.
the criterion of the Roman architect Vitruvius, the library faces east
to take advantage of the morning light. The front entrance is a
two-storied façade with large windows over the doors to let in the
light. The library had to be squeezed into the space available between
older buildings. The columns in front were very cleverly designed,
producing an optical illusion that the building front looks wider than
it actually is.
Behind the front columns are four niches containing replicas of the original statues. Sophia represented Wisdom,
Arete-Excellence, Eunoia-Goodwill and Episteme-Knowledge.
the front of the building is two-tiered, the interior was one large
room with three levels of galleries or balconies. The building had a
double wall to protect the books inside against humidity.
books, or papyrus scrolls, were kept in the many niches which lined the
walls. Access to the niches was via the balconies. The Library was
believed to have held about 12,000 books, a substantial collection for
its time Inscriptions on the front of the building
indicate that the library was erected in 110 AD by the Consul Gaius
(Tiberius) Julius Aquila as a mausoleum for his father Gaius (Tiberius)
Julius Celsus Polemaenus Aquila (92-114 AD). A sum of 25,000 denarii
was bequeathed for the purchase of books and the upkeep of the
building. In 262 AD during the Gothic raids, the library was destroyed
by fire, but the façade remained undamaged. It seems that the building
was then abandoned and in the 4th Century the area in front of it was
converted into a pool and fountain. The beautiful façade, would have
been reflected in the pool, and the library served no function other
than mere decoration.The façade collapsed during an earthquake around the 10th Century.
In the course of excavation, a reliefs commemorating a victory over the Parthians
was found in the pool. This relief or frieze, depicting the victory of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius
Verus, is now on diplay in a museum in Vienna.