polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: oracles

Acts of the Apostles 9.3-8

“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And he said, ‘Who are you?’ And the reply came, ‘I am the Lord Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’ The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” – Acts of the Apostles 9.3-8

Isidore of Seville, Etymologie 8.9.11

“Necromancers are those by whose spells the dead appear to be raised in order to prophesy and to answer questions, for corpse is nekros in Greek and divination mantia. Blood is thrown on a corpse to raise the dead because demons are said to love blood. Therefore whenever necromancy is practiced blood is mixed with water to obtain more easily the color of blood.” – Isidore of Seville, Etymologie 8.9.11

St. Jerome, as quoted in Collectio Hibernensis 49.13-14

“Some believe that the souls of the dead can see other things that happen, not merely the present but the past and future as well, when it is needful either for them or for us. But the truth is that not all the dead can see what happens here, just as not everyone, except for prophets, foresees all things in this world.” – St. Jerome, as quoted in Collectio Hibernensis 49.13-14

Homilia de sacrilegiis 5

“And whoever consults seers or seeresses, that is pythonesses, through whom devils make reply, who goes to question them and believes what they say, or goes to listen to them attentively in order to hear anything from demons – he is not Christian but a Pagan.” – Homilia de sacrilegiis 5

Charlemagne, Concilia 2.1.1-4

“We have decreed that each bishop, with the help of the gravio, who is the defender of the Church, should take care according to the canons that the people of god in his diocese do not perform Pagan acts but cast off and spurn every filth of Paganism, and that they should forbid sacrifices of the dead or sorcerers or soothsayers or amulets or omens or enchantments or the sacrificial victims which stupid men honor in the name of the blessed martyrs or confessors in the vicinity of churches, provoking god and his saints to anger, or those sacrilegious fires which they call nied fyr, and all those who love Pagan observances.” – Charlemagne, Concilia 2.1.1-4

Ratio de catichizandis rudibus 81, 82

“Do not pay honor to idols, do not use charms, do not read omens, do not make sacrifices to mountains, nor trees, nor at the corners of foundation stones. Foolish, faithless and wretched men make idols for themselves with their own hands. They cast and sculpt gods for themselves in the image of man, some from gold, some from silver, some from bronze. Then they set them up and adore them. But others make themselves gods from wood and stone. Others still adore animals and worship them as gods. They give these idols the names of men who died badly in the midst of vices and sins, and whose souls now suffer eternal torments.” – Ratio de catichizandis rudibus 81, 82

Charlemagne, Admonitio Generalis 65

“Let no one be found among you who accepts arioli and observes dreams and omens, nor one who is a sorcerer or enchanter nor one who consults a pythoness.” – Charlemagne, Admonitio Generalis 65

St. Boniface, Sermons 6.1

“All the sacrifices and soothsayings of the Pagan are sacrileges, as are the sacrifices of the dead and those conducted around corpses or over tombs. Also omens, amulets and offerings made on stones, or to springs, trees, Jupiter, Mercury or the other Pagan gods, because they are diabolic; and many other things which would take too long to list are all, according to the judgment of the holy fathers, sacrileges to be avoided and detested by Christians, and they are recognized as capital sins.” – St. Boniface, Sermons 6.1

Sig3 1004

“Gods! From the onset of winter until the spring plowing season the priest of Amphiaros is to go into the sanctuary with no greater interval than three days between visits, and he is to be in residence there not less than ten days in each month. He is to require the neokoros to care for the sanctuary in accordance with the law and also for those who visit the sanctuary. If anyone commits a crime in the sanctuary, whether a stranger or a member of the deme, the priest has authority to fine him up to the maximum of five drachmas, and he is to require security from the person so fined. Should he pay the fine, he is to deposit it in the treasury in the presence of the priest. If anyone suffers some private injury in the sanctuary, whether a stranger or a member of the deme, the priest is to give judgement up to a maximum of three drachmas; as for larger sums, the judgments provided in the laws for each victim are to be in effect here also. Any summons arising from an offense in the sanctuary must be issued on the same day. If the defendant does not make restitution, a trial is to be held on the next day. When a person comes to be healed by the god, he is to donate a first-fruit offering of at least nine obols of silver, and deposit it in the treasury in the presence of the neokoros. When he is present, the priest is to say the prayers over the sacrifices and place the victim on the altar; when he is not present the person making the sacrifices is to do this. During the public sacrifice each person to say the prayers for himself, but the priest is to say them over the public sacrifices and he is to receive the skin of all the victims sacrificed within the sanctuary. Each person may offer whatever sacrifices he wishes. No portions of meat are to be carried out of the precinct. Sacrificers are to donate the shoulder-portion of each victim to the priest except during a festival; at that time he is to receive the shoulder portion only from the public victims … Rules for incubation: the neokoros is to record the name and city of the incubator when he deposits his money, and to display it on a bulletin board for anyone to read. In the sleeping-hall men and women are to sleep separately, the men to the east of the altar, the women to the west …” – Sig3 1004

Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

“And Sokrates advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and consult the god in regard to this journey. So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind and, after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety; and Apollon in his response told him to what gods he must sacrifice. When Xenophon came back from Delphi, he reported the oracle to Sokrates; and upon hearing about it Sokrates found fault with him because he did not first put the question whether it were better for him to go or stay, but decided for himself that he was to go and then asked the god as to the best way of going. However, he added, since you did put the question in that way, you must do all that the god directed.” – Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

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

The First Vatican Mythographer 19

“Icarius’ dog returned to his daughter, Erigone; she followed his tracks and, when she found her father’s corpse, she ended her life with a noose. Through the mercy of the gods she was restored to life again among the constellations; men call her Virgo. That dog was also placed among the stars. But after some time such a sickness was sent upon the Athenians that their maidens were driven by a certain madness to hang themselves. The oracle responded that this pestilence could be stopped if the corpses of Erigone and Icarius were sought again. These were found nowhere after being sought for a long time. Then, to show their devotedness, and to appear to seek them in another element, the Athenians hung rope from trees. Holding on to this rope, the men were tossed here and there so that they seemed to seek the corpses in the air. But since most were falling from the trees, they decided to make shapes in the likeness of their own faces and hang these in place of themselves. Hence, little masks are called oscilla because in them faces oscillate, that is, move.” – The First Vatican Mythographer 19

MIFAO 104.127-33

“Now, what means your not going to the Wise Woman about the two boys who died in your charge? Consult the Wise Woman about the death the two boys suffered: was it their fate or was it their lot? While you consult about them for me, also see about my own life and the life of their mother. And should she happen to mention any god to you, you will be sure to write me afterwards about his name and any work that he wills to be done by one who knows their duty.” – MIFAO 104.127-33

Zosimus, New History 5.39ff

“The Romans called to mind the aid which the city had formerly met with in emergencies; and that they, by transgressing their ancient institutions, were now left destitute of it. While they were occupied in these reflections, Pompeianus, the prefect of the city, accidentally met with some persons who were come to Rome from Tuscany, and related that a town called Neveia had delivered itself from extreme danger, the Barbarians having been repulsed from it by storms of thunder and lightning, which was caused by the devotion of its inhabitants to the gods, in the ancient mode of worship. Having discoursed with these men, he performed all that was in his power according to the books of the chief priests. Recollecting, however, the opinions that were then prevalent, he resolved to proceed with greater caution, and proposed the whole affair to the bishop of the city, whose name was Innocentius. Preferring the preservation of the city to his own private opinion, he gave them permission to do privately whatever they knew to be convenient. They declared however that what they were able to do would be of no utility, unless the public and customary sacrifices were performed, and unless the senate ascended to the capitol, performing there, and in the different markets of the city, all that was essential. But no person daring to join in the ancient religious ordinances, they dismissed the men who were come from Tuscany, and applied themselves to the endeavouring to appease the Barbarians in the best possible manner. With this design they again sent ambassadors. After long discussions on both sides, it was at length agreed, that the city should give five thousand pounds of gold, and thirty thousand of silver, four thousand silk robes, three thousand scarlet fleeces, and three thouand pounds of pepper. As the city possessed no public stock, it was necessary for the senators who had property, to undertake the collection by an assessment. Palladius was empowered to rate every person according to his estate, but was not able to complete the whole sum out of all, either because many persons concealed part of their property, or because the city was impoverished, through the avarice and unceasing exactions of the magistrates appointed by the emperor. The evil genius, who at that time presided over the human race, then incited the persons employed in this transaction to the highest pitch of wickedness. They resolved to supply the deficiency from the ornaments that were about the statues of the gods. This was in effect only rendering inanimate and inefficacious those images, which had been fixed up, and dedicated to sacred rites and ceremonies, and were decorated with precious attire, for preserving the city in perpetual felicity. And since every thing then conspired to the ruin of the city, they not only robbed the statues of their ornaments, but also melted down some of them that were made of gold and silver. Among these was that of Valour or Fortitude, which the Romans call Virtus. This being destroyed, all that remained of the Roman valour and . intrepidity was totally extinguished; according to the remarks of persons who were skilled in sacred rites and observances.” – Zosimus, New History 5.39ff

CMRDM 1.69

“Great is Meis Axiottenos who rules Tarsi! When a scepter was set up to involve the god if anyone stole anything from the bath-house and a himation was then stolen, the god punished the thief and caused him after some time to bring the himation back and confess. The god then ordered by an angel that the himation be sold for the benefit of the temple and the thief to write the power of the god on a stele.” – CMRDM 1.69

IG 10.2.255

“It seemed in his sleep that Serapis was standing near him and ordered him to come to Opus so that he might announce to Eurynomos son of Timesitheos that he should receive him and his sister Isis, and that he should present to him the letter under his pillow. When he woke up he wondered at the dream and was at a loss to know what to do, because he was a political enemy of Eurynomos. But falling asleep again, and seeing the same thing again, and waking, he found the letter under his pillow exactly as had been signified to him. Going home, he delivered the letter to Eurynomos and announced to him what orders had been laid on him by the god. Eurynomos, taking the letter and hearing what Xenainetos said, was at a loss as to what to do since, as previously mentioned, the two were political rivals. But opening the letter and seeing written in it what accorded with what Xenainetos had said, he received Serapis and Isis.”- IG 10.2.255

Philo, On The Special Laws 4.3

“For generally the prophet proclaims nothing on his own. Rather, he merely lends his voice to him who prompts everything that he says. When he is inspired he becomes unconscious. Thought fades away and leaves the fortress of the soul. But the divine Spirit has entered there and and made its dwelling. And it makes all the vocal organs sound, so that the man expresses clearly what the Spirit gives him to say.” – Philo, On The Special Laws 4.3

P. Oxy. 1926

“My lord god almighty and Saint Philoxenos my patron, I beg you by the mighty name of the lord god, if it is not your will that I make an offer for the money-changing business and for the weighing office, let me know and I will not make the offer.” – P. Oxy. 1926

The Life of the Younger Saint Symeon the Stylite 161

“On his way to the city of Antioch he destroyed many of the unrighteous found en route, so that men shuddered with fear at his countenance. For everywhere he suppressed all evil-doing whether in word or deed, inflicting punishment, including death, on those who had gone astray, so that from then on even those living a blameless life feared his presence. He claimed that what he did was in response to an oracle from god which appeared to him in a dream, namely that the lord was angry with the Hellenes and heretics and he should reveal the idolatrous errors of the atheists and gather together all their books and burn them. After some investigation he discovered that the majority of the leaders of the city and many of its inhabitants were preoccupied with Hellenismos, Manichaeism, astrological practices, automatism and other hateful heresies. He arrested them and put them in prison, and after gathering together all of their books – a huge number – he burned them in the middle of the stadium. He brought out their idols and their polluted accoutrements and hung them along the streets of the city, and their wealth was expended on numerous fines.” – The Life of the Younger Saint Symeon the Stylite 161

Liutprand 84.1.727

“If some one, forgetful of their fear of god, shall go to a soothsayer, male or female, for divination, or to receive answers from them, he shall pay half his price in the sacred palace, according as he is valued … and he shall also do penance according to the church canons. In the same way he who worships a tree which the rustics call holy and at springs, or performs sacrilege or incantation, shall pay a similar price. And if some one knows of a male or female soothsayer and does not denounce them or those who consult them, he shall pay the penalty. The same applies to those who send their servant or handmaid to consult the soothsayer.” – Liutprand 84.1.727

Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 172-74

“King Menaus, who was the first king of the Egyptians, is also responsible for founding the cult of the holy bull. The reason for this is because he became seriously ill and despaired. But then in his sleep he saw a great spirit speaking to him and it said, ‘Nothing will cure you but your worship of cows,’ because the zodiac at that time was in the sign of Taurus, which is in the image of a bull with two horns. When the king awoke he gave orders and they got a handsome piebald bull and made for it in his palace a shrine with a gilded dome and he worshiped him in secret, afraid that others might find out, and he was cured. Later on a bull appeared in a dream and talked to the king and directed him to worship and look after the bull and in return the bull would look after the king’s interests and strengthen and cure him. So the king established a shrine for the bull and arranged servants to care for it and hold the service of its cult. According to some of their books that bull, after they worshiped him for some time, ordered them to make an image of him in gold, a hollow one, and to take some hair from his head and tail and a scraping from his horn and hooves, and put it all in the statue. And he informed them that he would join his heavenly world and that they were to place his body in a stone sarcophagus and establish it in the shrine with his statue on top, when the planet Saturn was in his sign and the Sun was looking upon him in trine. And the statues was to be inscribed with the signs of the images of the seven planets, and they did that. Later on after the holy bull was buried people from all over Egypt and neighboring areas flocked to his shrine with offerings to his statue and he would tell them whatever they wanted to know.” – Anonymous, Akhbar Al-Zaman 172-74

Al-Ya’qubi, Tarikh 1.87-88

“The Sage of the Copts is Hermes the Copt. He was the first builder of temples and the inventor of the script of the temples. And in our time nobody knows how to read it, because only the elite among them were writing in it; they would not allow the common people to do so. The ones in charge of it were their sages and priests. This script held the secrets of their religion and the origins of sciences which nobody was allowed to see but their priests, who did not teach it to anyone unless ordered to do so by the king. Their religion was the worship of the planets and stars. From their sayings: The souls are old and were in the upper paradise and every thirty six thousand years all this is in the world will perish, either from dust meaning the earth, its earthquakes and eclipses, or from fire and burning, destructive poisons, or from great and noxious wind in which animals, plants and humans will perish. Then nature will bring back to life from every kind and the world will return after its demise. They honored spirits and gods who descend into the idols, causing the idols to speak, but that was deception for they did not let the common people see how the idols were made to speak, which was a craft of the priests and the result of certain drugs. Through tricks such as whistles or screams they made people think that the idol was indeed a bird or some other animal. Then the priests would translate the sound of the idol according to whatever they like to judge, using astronomical signs and physiognomy. They say that when the souls depart they go to these deities who are the planets who wash and purify them of whatever sins they had. The souls then go up to paradise where they belong. They say that their prophets were spoken to by the planets, which informed them that the spirits descend into the idols and take up residence there, foretelling events before they happen. They had such precise and wondrous astuteness which which they instilled in the common people the illusion that they were conversing with the planets and gaining knowledge of the future. This was possible only because of the perfection of their knowledge of the secrets and signs of the zodiac and their exact physiognomy. They were seldom wrong.” – Al-Ya’qubi, Tarikh 1.87-88

The Diocesan Council of Auxerre

1. It is not permitted to dress up as a calf or a stag on the Kalends of January or to present diabolical gifts; on that day all favors shall be granted as on other days.

3. It is forbidden to make offerings or keep vigils on saints’ festivals in private houses, or to discharge vows among woods or at sacred trees or at springs, but, whoever has a vow, let him keep vigil in the church and fulfill his vow by giving to the servants of the church or the poor. Nor let anyone dare to make feet or images of men out of wood.

4. It is forbidden to turn to soothsayers or to augurs, or to those who pretend to know the future, or to look at what they call ‘the lots of the Saints’ or those they make out of wood or bread. But whatever a man wishes to do, let him do it in the name of god.

5. Forbid especially, in every way, these observances on the vigils which are kept in honor of Saint Martin.

8. It is forbidden to offer mellita, mulsa or any other mixture of wine and honey at the altar of the divine sacrifice. Any potion other than wine mixed with water is forbidden. Great sin and crime belong to the presbyter who dares offer any drink other than wine in the consecration of the blood of Christ.

– The Diocesan Council of Auxerre

Maximus of Turin, Sermon 107

“Some days ago I admonished your charity, brethren, that as holy and religious men, you should remove all pollution of idols from your properties and cast out the whole error of Paganism from your fields. For it is not right that you, who have Christ in your hearts, should have Antichrist in your houses; that your men should honor the devil in his shrines while you pray to god in church. And let no one think he is excused by saying, ‘I did not order this, I did not command it.’ Whoever knows that sacrilege takes place on his estate and does not forbid it, in a sense orders it. By keeping silence and not reproving the man who sacrifices, he lends his consent. For the blessed apostle states that not only those who do sinful acts are guilty, but also those who consent to the act. You, therefore, brother, when you observe your peasant sacrificing and do not forbid the offering, sin, because even if you did not assist the sacrifice yourself you gave permission for it. If your order was not behind the crime your will is still to blame. As long as you remain silent, what your peasant does pleases you: if he did not act in this way perhaps he would displease you. So the subject does not merely involve himself in sin when he sacrifices, he also involves his lord, who does not forbid him; if he had done so neither would have sinned. Idolatry is a great evil. It pollutes those who practice it. It pollutes the inhabitants of the region. It pollutes those who look on. It penetrates its ministers, it penetrates those who know of it and those who keep silent. The peasant’s offering defiles the lord of the land. He cannot not be polluted when he eats food gathered by sacrilegious hands, brought forth by earth stained with blood, stored in foul barns. For all things are defiled, all are abominable, where the devils dwell, whether houses, fields or peasants. There is nothing free from evil where everything is steeped in evil. If you entered a rustic shrine you would find there bleaching sods and dead coals – a worthy devil’s sacrifice when a dead god is worshiped with dead things. And if you went into the fields you would see wooden altars and stone images, suitable to a rite in which insensible gods are served at moldering altars. If you woke up earlier than you usually do you would see a rustic reeling with wine. You ought to know that he is what they call either a devotee of Diana, one who is epileptic or made mad by the moon, or a soothsayer. For a god who makes mad usually has a frantic priest. Such a priest prepares himself with wine for his goddess’ blows, so that, being drunk, the wretch may not feel his punishment. They do this not only out of intemperance but by design, so that, buoyed up by wine, they may feel less pain. The seer who thinks piety is intensified by cruelty is wholly useless. How merciful his god must be to others who is so cruel to his priests! To sketch briefly this seer’s dress. He has a shaggy head with long hair. His breast is bare, he has a cloth half round his loins, and like a gladiator prepared for combat, he brandishes a weapon in his hand. But he is worse than a gladiator, for he is forced to fight against another man, whereas this fellow has to fight against himself. The gladiator strikes at others’ guts, this man tears his own limbs to pieces, and if one can say this, as his trainer works on the gladiator, so his god urges this man on to self-flagellation. Wrapped in this dress, bloody with his self-slaughter, judge for yourselves whether he is a gladiator or a priest! As the public outrage of gladiators has been removed by the religious piety of our princes, these gladiators of insanity should be removed by Christians from their own dwellings.” – Maximus of Turin, Sermon 107

Hermes Trismegistos, Asclepius 24

“Statues, Asclepius, yes. See how little trust you have! I mean statues ensouled and conscious, filled with spirit and doing great deeds; statues that foreknow the future and predict by lots, by prophecy, by dreams and by many other means; statues that make people ill and cure them, bringing them pain and pleasure as each deserves.” – Hermes Trismegistos, Asclepius 24

Ammianus Marcellinus, The History 12.1-19

“Yet in the midst of these anxieties, as if it were prescribed by some ancient custom, in place of civil wars the trumpets sounded for alleged cases of high treason; and to investigate and punish these there was sent that notorious state-secretary Paulus, often called Tartareus. He was skilled in the work of bloodshed, and just as a trainer of gladiators seeks profit and emolument from the traffic in funerals and festivals, so did he from the rack or the executioner. Therefore, as his determination to do harm was fixed and obstinate, he did not refrain from secret fraud, devising fatal charges against innocent persons, provided only he might continue his pernicious traffic. Moreover, a slight and trivial occasion gave opportunity to extend his inquisitions indefinitely. There is a town called Abydos, situated in the remotest part of the Thebaid; here the oracle of a god called in that place Besa in days of old revealed the future and was wont to be honoured in the ancient ceremonials of the adjacent regions. And since some in person, a part through others, by sending a written list of their desires, inquired the will of the deities after definitely stating their requests, the papers or parchments containing their petitions sometimes remained in the shrine even after the replies had been given. Some of these were with malicious intent sent to the emperor who (being very narrow-minded), although deaf to other serious matters, on this point was softer than an earlobe, as the proverb has it; and being suspicious and petty, he grew furiously angry. At once he admonished Paulus to proceed quickly to the Orient, conferring on him, as a leader renowned for his experience, the power of conducting trials according to his good pleasure. A commission was also given to Modestus (at that very time count in the Orient) a man fitted for these and similar affairs. For Hermogenes of Pontus, at that time praetorian prefect, was rejected as being of too mild a temper. Off went Paulus (as he was ordered) in panting haste and teeming with deadly fury, and since free rein was given to general calumny, men were brought in from almost the whole world, noble and obscure alike; and some of them were bowed down with the weight of chains, others wasted away from the agony of imprisonment. As the theatre of torture and death Scythopolis was chosen, a city of Palestine which for two reasons seemed more suitable than any other: because it is more secluded, and because it is midway between Antioch and Alexandria, from which cities the greater number were brought to meet charges. Among the first, then, to be summoned was Simplicius, son of Philippus, a former prefect and consul, who was indicted for the reason that he had (as was said) inquired about gaining imperial power; and by a note of the emperor, who in such cases never condoned a fault or an error because of loyal service, he was ordered to be tortured but, protected by some fate, he was banished to a stated place, but with a whole skin. Then Parnasius (ex-prefect of Egypt), a man of simple character, was brought into such peril that he was tried for his life, but he likewise was sent into exile; he had often been heard to say long before this, that when, for the purpose of gaining a certain office, he left Patrae, a town of Achaia where he was born and had his home, he had dreamt that many shadowy figures in tragic garb escorted him. Later Andronicus, known for his liberal studies and the fame of his poems, was haled into court; but since he had a clear conscience, was under no suspicion, and most confidently asserted his innocence, he was acquitted. Also Demetrius, surnamed Cythras, a philosopher of advanced years, it is true, but hardy of body and mind, being charged with offering sacrifice several times, could not deny it; he declared, however, that he had done so from early youth for the purpose of propitiating the deity, not of trying to reach a higher station by his investigations; for he did not know of anyone who had such aspirations. Therefore, after being long kept upon the rack, supported by his firm confidence he fearlessly made the same plea without variation; whereupon he was allowed to go without further harm to his native city of Alexandria. These and a few others a just fate in alliance with truth saved from imminent danger. But as these charges made their way further by entangling snares extended endlessly, some died from the mangling of their bodies, others were condemned to further punishment and had their goods seized, while Paulus was the prompter of these scenes of cruelty, supplying as if from a storehouse many kinds of deception and cruelty; and on his nod (I might almost say) depended the life of all who walk the earth. For if anyone wore on his neck an amulet against the quartan ague or any other complaint, or was accused by the testimony of the evil-disposed of passing by a grave in the evening, on the ground that he was a dealer in poisons, or a gatherer of the horrors of tombs and the vain illusions of the ghosts that walk there, he was condemned to capital punishment and so perished. In fact, the matter was handled exactly as if many men had importuned Claros, the oaks of Dodona, and the once famous oracles of Delphi with regard to the death of the emperor. Therefore the palace band of courtiers, ingeniously fabricating shameful devices of flattery, declared that he would be immune to ordinary ills, loudly exclaiming that his destiny had appeared at all times powerful and effective in destroying those who made attempts against him. And that into such doings strict investigation was made no man of good sense will find fault. For we do not deny that the safety of a lawful prince, the protector and defender of good men, on whom depends the safety of others, ought to be safeguarded by the united diligence of all men; and in order to uphold him the more strongly when his violated majesty is defended, the Cornelian laws exempted no one of whatever estate from examination by torture, even with the shedding of blood. But it is not seemly for a prince to rejoice beyond measure in such sorrowful events, lest his subjects should seem to be ruled by despotism rather than by lawful power. And the example of Tully ought to be followed, who, when it was in his power to spare or to harm, as he himself tells us, sought excuses for pardoning rather than opportunities for punishing; and that is the province of a mild and considerate official. At that same time in Daphne, that charming and magnificent suburb of Antioch, a portent was born, horrible to see and to report: an infant, namely, with two heads, two sets of teeth, a beard, four eyes and two very small ears; and this misshapen birth foretold that the state was turning into a deformed condition. Portents of this kind often see the light, as indications of the outcome of various affairs; but as they are not expiated by public rites, as they were in the time of our forefathers, they pass by unheard of and unknown.” – Ammianus Marcellinus, The History 12.1-19

The Council of Trullo, Canon 60

“Those who seek the advice of fortune tellers, the so-called hekatontarches, or other similar individuals in order to learn from them that which they want revealed about themselves, let them, according to the recent decisions of the fathers, be placed under the canon of six years. Further, let those who keep bears and other animals on leashes for the entertainment and harm of the simple-minded be subjected to the same canonical penalty. The same goes for those who speak of destiny, fate, genealogies, and a multitude of meaningless talk that stems from error, as well as for those who are called the dispensers of clouds, those who practice witchcraft, those who distribute amulets, and sooth-sayers. We have decided that those who continue to participate in such activities and do not change their ways nor flee from these destructive practices and Hellenic customs are to be thrown out completely from the Church, just as the divine canon declares.” – The Council of Trullo, Canon 60

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

P. Oxy. 1213

“To Zeus Helios, great Serapis, and the associated gods. Menandros asks: is it granted me to marry? Answer me this.” – P. Oxy. 1213

Strabo, Geography 17.16

“Canopos is a city situated at a distance of one hundred and twenty stadia from Alexandria if one goes on foot, and was named after Canopos, the pilot of Menelaüs, who died there. It contains the temple of Sarapis which is honored with great reverence and effects such cures that even the most reputable men believe in it and sleep in it — themselves on their own behalf or others for them. Some writers go on to record the cures, and others the virtues of the oracles there. But to balance all this is the crowd of revelers who go down from Alexandria by the canal to the public festivals; for every day and every night is crowded with people on the boats who play the flute and dance without restraint and with extreme licentiousness, both men and women, and also with the people of Canopos itself, who have resorts situated close to the canal and adapted to relaxation and merry-making of this kind.” – Strabo, Geography 17.16