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Ptolemy Philadelphus, who interested himself very greatly in collecting this library, wished to make it a complete collection of all the books in the world. He employed scholars to read and study, and travelers to make extensive tours, for the purpose of learning what books existed among all the surrounding nations; and, when he learned of their existence, he spared no pains or expense in attempting to procure either the originals themselves, or the most perfect and authentic copies of them. He sent to Athens and obtained the works of the most celebrated Greek historians, and then causing, as in other cases, most beautiful transcripts to be made, he sent the transcripts back to Athens, and a very large sum of money with them as an equivalent for the difference of value between originals and copies in such an exchange.

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