Ambrosian Library

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am·bro·sia / amˈbrōzh(ē)ə/ • n. Greek & Roman Mythol. the food of the gods. ∎  something very pleasing to taste or smell: the tea was ambrosia after the slop I'd been drinking. ∎  a dessert made with oranges and shredded coconut. DERIVATIVES: am·bro·sial adj. ORIGIN: mid 16th cent.: via Latin from Greek, ‘elixir of life,’ from ambrotos ‘immortal.’

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Ambrosian Library, Milan, Italy; founded c.1605 by Cardinal Federigo Borromeo. Named for Milan's patron saint, it was one of the first libraries to be open to the public. Its earliest collection was a group of codices in Greek, Latin, Latin Vulgate, and various Asian languages that originated in a number of religious institutions. Other holdings came from prominent 16th–19th-century scholars and bibliophiles. Among its noted possessions are numerous classical manuscripts, e.g., Homer and Vergil; Asian texts; incunabula; palimpsests; the 5th-century Ilias picta manuscript; the Virgilio illustrated by Simone Martini; the Irish and the Provençal codices; the De prospectiva pingendi by Piero della Francesca; and da Vinci's Codex atlanticus. The Ambrosian Library also has a notable art gallery, est. 1618, housing more than 1,500 works of art.

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ambrosia (ămbrō´zhə), in Greek mythology, food and drink with which the Olympian gods preserved their immortality. Extraordinarily fragrant, ambrosia was probably conceived of as a purified and idealized form of honey. It was accompanied by nectar, wine of the gods.