polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: memphis

The First Vatican Mythographer 78

“Solinus relates that among all the things that Egypt holds worthy of mention, the people especially marvel at a bull called Apis. This bill is notable for a spot, a white mark engendered by nature on its right flank, which bears the appearance of the horned Moon. Egypt worships this bull like a god because it gives certain clear signs about the future. The bull is seen also in Memphis. There its length of life is decided, for it is drowned in the depth of a sacred spring. It is killed so that it might not live longer than allowed. Soon, without public mourning, another bull is sought. A hundred priests accompany this bull to Memphis, and suddenly, as if panic-stricken, they utter predictions. The bull reveals everything clearly about future events, especially if it takes food from the hand of the one consulting it. The Jews made an image of its head for themselves in the wilderness.” – The First Vatican Mythographer 78

UPZ 1.8

“To Dionysios one of the friends and strategos, from Ptolemaios son of Glaukias, Makedonian, one of those in katoche in the great Serapeion in Memphis in my 12th year. Being outrageously wronged and often put in danger of my life by the below-listed cleaners from the sanctuary, I am seeking refuge with you thinking that I shall thus particularly receive justice. For in the 21st year, on Phaophi 8, they came to the Astartieion in the sanctuary, in which I have been in katoche for the aforesaid years, some of them holding stones in their hands, others sticks, and tried to force their way in, so that with this opportunity they might plunder the temple and kill me because I am a Greek, attacking me in concerted fashion. And when I made it to the door of the temple before them and shut it with a great crash, and ordered them to go away quietly, they did not depart; but they struck Diphilos, one of the servants compelled to remain by Serapis, who showed his indignation at the way they were behaving in the sanctuary, robbing him outrageously and attacking him violently and beating him, so that their illegal violence was made obvious to everybody. When the same men did the same things to me in Phaophi of the 19th year, I petitioned you at that time, but because I had no one to wait on you it happened that when they went unwarned they conceived an even greater scorn for me. I ask you, therefore, if it seems good to you, to order them brought before you, so that they may get the proper punishment for all these things. Farewell. Mys the clothing seller, Psosnaus the yoke-bearer, Imouthes the baker, Harembasnis the grain-seller, Stotoetis the porter, Harchebis the doucher, Po… os the carpet-weaver, and others with them, whose names I do not know.” – UPZ 1.8

P.Lond. 26

“To King Ptolemy and Queen Kleopatra the sister, gods Philometores, greeting. Thaues and Taous, twins, perform rites in the great Sarapeion at Memphis. And formerly, when you stayed in Memphis and went up to the temple to sacrifice, we petitioned you and presented a petition to you, carrying before you our complaint that we had not received the required salary that should have been given to us by the Sarapeion and the Asklepeion. But since we still have not received this in full, we have necessarily been compelled— undone as we are by hunger—to peition you once again and to place before you in a few words the selfishness of those who are treating us unjustly. For you had previously set aside an allocation for the Sarapeion and the Asklepeion; and from this the twins who preceded us also received the daily necessities. And furthermore, they indicated to us, when we first went into the temple, for a few days rightaway, that whatever was appropriate for us would be carried out in due course; but subsequently it has not been done. Consequently, we both sent people who petitioned the director, and we reported on these things to you when you happened to be in Memphis. And when the appointed administrators of the Sarapeion and Askleprion were cruel to us, and denied us the privileges you granted, and paid no attention to religious duty, being oppressed by necessities, we asked Achomarres, the temple supervisor, several times to pay us. And we approached the son of Psintaes, the temple supervisor, when he was going up to the temple the day before yesterday, and gave him information about each of these things. And when he had summoned Archomarres, he ordered him to pay all we were owed. But the latter, who is the most unfeeling of men, promised us that he would comply with the order. But when the son of Psintaes had departed from Memphis, he (Archomarres) no longer took any account of the issue. And not only this man, but also others associated with the Sarapeion and others in the administration of the Asklepeion, from whom it is customary for us to receive our necessities, are cheating us, whose names and obligations, on account of being so numerous, we decided not to record. We beg you, therefore—hoping on the basis of the aid which comes from you—to send our petition to Dionysios—a member of the court and stratêgos —in order the he might write to Apollonios the director so that he, in turn, having received from us the written list of what pay is owed us, and for what length of time and by whom, may compel them to pay it to us in order that, when we have everything in order, we may fulfill the customary duties to Sarapis and Isis much better on behalf of you and your children. May it be granted to you to rule all the land that you desire. May you prosper.” – P.Lond. 26

P. Leiden 1.371

“To the able spirit Ankhiry: What have I done against you wrongfully for you to get into this evil disposition in which you are? What have I done against you? As for what you have done, it is your laying hands on me even though I committed no wrong against you. From the time that I was living with you as a husband until today, what have I done against you? I took you for a wife when I was a youth so that I was with you while I was functioning in every office and you were with me. I did not divorce you, nor did I cause you to be vexed. And when your friends came over, I received them well out of consideration for you, saying, ‘I will do according to your desire.’ I concealed nothing at all from you during your lifetime. I did not let you suffer any discomfort in anything I did, nor did you find me cheating on you after the manner of a field hand, entering a strange house. Now look, you aren’t letting my mind be at ease. I shall litigate with you, and right shall be distinguished from wrong. You are disregarding how well I have treated you. I am writing you to make you aware of the things you are doing. When you became ill with the disease which you contracted, I sent for a chief physician, and he treated you. When I was away on business for the Pharaoh, l.p.h., this condition (i.e. death) befell you, and I spent several months without eating or drinking like a normal person. When I arrived in Memphis I begged leave of Pharaoh, l.p.h., and came to where you were. And I and my people wept sorely before your body. I gave clothing of fine linen to wrap you up in and had many clothes made. I overlooked nothing good that needed to be done for you. Now look, I’ve spent these last three years without entering another house, although it is not proper for one of my position to do this, nor have I entered into any of the sisters of the house (sexually). I have done this out of consideration for you, so why are you doing this to me? One will judge between you and me.” – P. Leiden I 371

UPZ 1.78.1-28

“In my dream I seemed to be walking in Memphis, from west to east, and I climbed up a pile of straw, and a man coming toward me from the west also climbed up. My eyes were as though closed, and when I suddenly opened them I saw the twins in Tothes’ classroom. They were calling me. I answered, ‘Don’t be discouraged, Tothes is tired of finding the way to me, because I’ve overturned my bed!’ I then heard Tothes answer, ‘Go away! Why are you saying that? I’ll bring you the twins.’ … I walked toward them until I reached them, and I walked for a while in the street with them. I said, ‘I have very little time left outdoors and what I was will disappear tomorrow morning.’ Immediately I saw one of them go into a dark corner of a house, and she sat down on the other side and did many things which I cannot describe. I begged Serapis and Isis with these words, ‘Come to me, goddess of goddesses, have pity and hear me! Pity the twins whom you have made twins. Save me! I am old and I know the end will soon come. But they will be women, and if they are sullied, they will never again be pure.'” – UPZ 1.78.1-28

Herodotos, The Histories 3.28ff

About the time when Cambyses arrived at Memphis, Apis appeared to the Egyptians. Now Apis is the god whom the Greeks call Epaphus. As soon as he appeared, straightway all the Egyptians arrayed themselves in their gayest garments, and fell to feasting and jollity: which when Cambyses saw, making sure that these rejoicings were on account of his own ill success, he called before him the officers who had charge of Memphis, and demanded of them- “Why, when he was in Memphis before, the Egyptians had done nothing of this kind, but waited until now, when he had returned with the loss of so many of his troops?” The officers made answer, “That one of their gods had appeared to them, a god who at long intervals of time had been accustomed to show himself in Egypt- and that always on his appearance the whole of Egypt feasted and kept jubilee.” When Cambyses heard this, he told them that they lied, and as liars he condemned them all to suffer death.

When they were dead, he called the priests to his presence, and questioning them received the same answer; whereupon he observed, “That he would soon know whether a tame god had really come to dwell in Egypt” — and straightway, without another word, he bade them bring Apis to him. So they went out from his presence to fetch the god. Now this Apis, or Epaphus, is the calf of a cow which is never afterwards able to bear young. The Egyptians say that fire comes down from heaven upon the cow, which thereupon conceives Apis. The calf which is so called has the following marks: — He is black, with a square spot of white upon his forehead, and on his back the figure of an eagle; the hairs in his tail are double, and there is a beetle upon his tongue.

When the priests returned bringing Apis with them, Cambyses, like the harebrained person that he was, drew his dagger, and aimed at the belly of the animal, but missed his mark, and stabbed him in the thigh. Then he laughed, and said thus to the priests: — “Oh! blockheads, and think ye that gods become like this, of flesh and blood, and sensible to steel? A fit god indeed for Egyptians, such an one! But it shall cost you dear that you have made me your laughing-stock.” When he had so spoken, he ordered those whose business it was to scourge the priests, and if they found any of the Egyptians keeping festival to put them to death. Thus was the feast stopped throughout the land of Egypt, and the priests suffered punishment. Apis, wounded in the thigh, lay some time pining in the temple; at last he died of his wound, and the priests buried him secretly without the knowledge of Cambyses.

And now Cambyses, who even before had not been quite in his right mind, was forthwith, as the Egyptians say, smitten with madness for this crime.

Cambyses no sooner heard the name of Smerdis than he was struck with the truth of Prexaspes’ words, and the fulfilment of his own dream- the dream, I mean, which he had in former days, when one appeared to him in his sleep and told him that Smerdis sate upon the royal throne, and with his head touched the heavens. So when he saw that he had needlessly slain his brother Smerdis, he wept and bewailed his loss: after which, smarting with vexation as he thought of all his ill luck, he sprang hastily upon his steed, meaning to march his army with all haste to Susa against the Magus. As he made his spring, the button of his sword-sheath fell off, and the bared point entered his thigh, wounding him exactly where he had himself once wounded the Egyptian god Apis. Then Cambyses, feeling that he had got his death-wound, inquired the name of the place where he was, and was answered, “Agbatana.” Now before this it had been told him by the oracle at Buto that he should end his days at Agbatana. He, however, had understood the Median Agbatana, where all his treasures were, and had thought that he should die there in a good old age; but the oracle meant Agbatana in Syria. So when Cambyses heard the name of the place, the double shock that he had received, from the revolt of the Magus and from his wound, brought him back to his senses. And he understood now the true meaning of the oracle, and said, “Here then Cambyses, son of Cyrus, is doomed to die.”

– Herodotos, The Histories 3.28ff

Suidas s.v. Serapis

“Archbishop Theophilus destroyed his statue in Alexandria at the time of emperor Theodosius the Great. Some said this depicted Zeus, some said it was the Nile because it had on its head the bushel and the cubit, that is to say the measure of water; others said that it was Joseph, others said that it was Apis, a rich man and king in the Egyptian city Memphis. When a famine had occurred he provided food for the Alexandrians out of his own stores, and after his death they built in honour of him a temple, in which a bull was bred, bearing a sign distinctive of the farmer and having some marks on the skin; the bull was also named after him and called Apis. The coffin of this Apis, in which his body lay, was transferred to Alexandria and they created a composite name out of the coffin (soros) and Apis and they called him Sorapis, but those afterwards called him Sarapis. An immense and brilliant temple for him was built by Alexander.” – Suidas s.v. Serapis

Suidas s.v. Apides

“They were gods honored by the Egyptians, having a sign around the tail and the tongue, indicating that they are Apides. These are begotten from time to time, as they used to say, from the shining of the moon. For them they would celebrate a great festival and certain priests perform the ritual around the ox that is born, presenting a complete banquet to feed them sumptuously. Apis: this Apis an Egyptian god. Egyptians honor him with a moon, and this ox was sacred to the moon, as Memphis to the sun. Okhos having killed Apis wanted to hand him over to the butchers, so that they might cut him up for meat and prepare him for dinner.” – Suidas s.v. Apides

Strabo, Geography 17.555

“Before the enclosure where Apis is kept is a vestibule, in which also the mother of the sacred bull is fed and into this vestibule Apis is sometimes introduced, in order to be shown to strangers. After being brought out for a little while he is again taken back. At other times he is only seen through a window. The temple of Apis is close to that of Hephaistos which last is remarkable for its architectural beauty, its extent, and the richness of its decoration.” – Strabo, Geography 17.555

Aelian, On Animals 18.10

“As soon as a report is circulated that the Egyptian god has manifested himself, certain of the sacred scribes, well versed in the mystical marks known to them by tradition, approach the spot where the divine cow has deposited her calf, and there, following the ancient ordinance of Hermes, feed it with milk during four months, in a house facing the rising sun. When this period has passed the sacred scribes and prophets resort to the dwelling of Apis, at the time of the new moon, and placing him in a boat prepared for the purpose convey him to Memphis, where he has a convenient and agreeable abode, with pleasure-grounds and ample space for wholesome exercise. Female companions of his own species are provided for him, the most beautiful that can be found, kept in apartments to which he has access when he wishes. He drinks out of a well or fountain of clear water; for it is not thought right to give him the water of the Nile, which is considered too fattening. It would be tedious to relate what pompous processions and sacred ceremonies the Egyptians perform on the celebration of the rising of the Nile, at the fete of the Theophania in honour of this god, or what dances, festivities, and joyful assemblies are appointed on the occasion, in the towns and in the country. The man from whose herd the divine beast has sprung, is the happiest of mortals, and is looked upon with admiration by all people. Apis is an excellent interpretation of futurity. He does not employ virgins or old women sitting on a tripod, like some other gods, nor require that they should be intoxicated with the sacred potion but inspires boys who play around his stable with a divine impulse, enabling them to pour out predictions in perfect rhythm.” – Aelian, On Animals 18.10

P. Hor 14-20

“From Hor the scribe, the man of the town of Isis, lady of the cavern, the great goddess, in the nome of Sebennytos. The dream which told to me of the safety of Alexandria and the journeyings of Antiochos, namely that he would leave Egypt by year 2, Paoni, final day. I reported this to Irenaeus the strategos … Cleon, the agent of Antiochos, had not yet left Memphis. I gave it to the Pharaohs in the Great Serapeion which is in Alexandria. There came about the counsel of Isis, the great goddess, and Thoth the three times great, in every matter which concerned these things ….” – P. Hor 14-20

UPZ 1.59

“Isias to her brother Hephaistion [greeting]. If you are well and other things are going right, it would accord with the prayer which I make continually to the gods. I myself and the child and all the household are in good health and think of you always. When I received your letter from Horos, in which you announce that you are in katoche in the Serapeum at Memphis, for the news that you are well I straightway thanked the gods, but about your not coming home, when all the others who had been secluded there have come, I am ill-pleased, because after having piloted myself and your child through such bad times and been driven to every extremity owing to the price of wheat, I thought that now at least, with you at home, I should enjoy some respite, whereas you have not even thought of coming home nor given any regard to our circumstances, remembering how I was in want of everything while you were still here, not to mention this long lapse of time and these critical days, during which you have sent us nothing. As, moreover, Horos who delivered the letter has brought news of your having been released from detention, I am thoroughly ill-pleased. Notwithstanding, as your mother also is annoyed, for her sake as well as for mine please return to the city, if nothing more pressing holds you back. You will do me a favor by taking care of your bodily health. Farewell. Year 2, Epeiph 30.” – UPZ 1.59

Epiphanius, De Fides 12.1-4

“If I described the orgies of Memphis and Heliopolis, where the tambourine and the flute capture hearts, and the dancing girls, and the triennial festivals of Batheia and Menouthis where women abandon their modesty and their customary state, to what verbal pretensions and to what drawn-out style should I resort to express the number that is truly inexpressible? If even I were to make an extraordinary effort I would not reach the end of this enumeration – as it is said, ‘young girls innumerable!’ The sancturaries of Sais, of Pelusis, of Boubastis, and of Antinoe; the mysteries there, those of Pharbetos, those in honor of the ram of Mendes, as well as those in Bousiris, all those in Sebennytos, and in Diopolis; ceremonies performed just as much in the name of Seth, that is, Typhon, as the one for Tithrambos, the indigenized Hekate; other sacrifice to Senephty, others to Thermouthis, others to Isis.” – Epiphanius, De Fides 12.1-4