polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: ptolemies

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


Harris Stela 8-10

“I went to the residence of the Greek kings, which is located on the shores of the Great Green [the Mediterranean], on the west side of the Canopic branch, and whose name is Rhakotis. The King of Upper and Lower Egypt, the god Philopator Philadelphos, the young Osiris, left his palace in life and vigor and went to the temple of Isis … He presented the goddess with with numerous and profuse offerings. As he left the temple of Isis in his chariot, the king himself stopped his chariot and placed on my head a diadem of gold and all sorts of genuine precious stones, bearing the effigy of the king. I thus became his priest, and he promulgated a royal decree for all the cities and nomes, saying ‘I have promoted Psenptais, the high priest of Ptah, to be priest of my cult, and I have accorded him revenues in the temples of Upper and Lower Egypt.'” – Harris Stela 8-10

I.Faiyum 2.112

“Place of asylum by royal ordinance. Access forbidden to undesirables. To King Ptolemy Alexander, god Philometor, greetings on behalf of the priests of Isis Sachypsis, the very great goddess who was the first to appear, of the temple in Theadelphia … Oh very great king, given that the sanctuary in question has been sacred since the time of your ancestors, and that it has been venerated and placed in the highest rank in all times past, but that now, certain impious people, who are behaving contrary to convention, are not only driving out by force the suppliants who come to take refuge there, but also, by treating them roughly and using the most terrible violence, are committing sacrilegious acts, offending the piety you display toward the divine and especially toward the goddess Isis, oh most holy king, we therefore pray you, victory bearing god, if it pleases you, to ordain that the said sanctuary be a place of asylum, and that stelai of stone be erected towards the four winds, at a distance of fifty cubits around the temple, bearing the inscription ‘access denied to undesirables.’ That, most great king, in your interest … so that the sacrifices, libations, and all the other ceremonies instituted by you, your children, and your ancestors in honor of Isis and Serapis, might be better celebrated, and so that we might be blessed by your beneficent deeds. Good fortune. Reply of the King: To Lysanias, the strategos of the nome; execute the request of the priests. Year 21, Mekhir 7.” – I.Faiyum 2.112

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 7.276a

“In my Alexandria a festival called Lagunophoria was celebrated, concerning which Eratosthenes has some discussion in his book on Arsinoe. He says as follows: While Ptolemy was celebrating all sorts of festivals and sacrifices, especially ones for Dionysos, Arsinoe asked the one who was carrying branches what day he was celebrating and what the festival was. He replied, It is Lagunophoria and they feast on food brought to them as they recline on rustic couches and each drinks from his own flask or lagunos, which they all bring with them. When he had gone she looked at us and said, ‘These are dirty feasts, for it means that there is a gathering of an undifferentiated crowd, offering stale and unattractive food.’ If, however, the type of food had pleased her, the queen would not have become irritated, since they were doing the very same things as are done during the Khoes. For during that festival they feast in private and the one who invited them to the feast provides these things.” – Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 7.276a

Lucian, On Slander 16

“A very effective form of slander is the one that is based on opposition to the hearer’s tastes. For instance, in the court of the Ptolemy who was called Dionysos there was once a man who accused Demetrios, the Platonic philosopher, of drinking nothing but water and of being the only person who did not wear women’s clothes at the Dionysia. He was summoned next morning, and had to drink in public, dress up in gauze, clash and dance to the cymbals, or he would have been put to death for disapproving the King’s life, and setting up for a critic of his luxurious ways.” – Lucian, On Slander 16

BGU 6.121

“By the Order of the King. Those in the country districts who impart initiation into the mysteries of Dionysos are to come down by river to Alexandria, those residing not farther than Naukratis within 10 days after the promulgation of this decree, those beyond Naukratis within 20 days, and register themselves before Aristobulus at the registry office within 3 days of the day of their arrival, and they shall immediately declare from whom they have received the rites for three generations back and give in the Sacred Discourse (Hieroi Logoi) sealed, each man writing upon his copy his own name.” – BGU 6.121


“Be it resolved by the guild of artists dedicated to Dionysos and the Theoi Adelphoi, and by those who share membership in the guild, that Dionysios, the son of Mousaeus, who is a Prytanis for life, is hereby authorized to adorn himself, in accordance with native custom, with the crown of ivy, in recognition of his generosity to the city of the Ptolemaeans and to the guild of artists dedicated to the great Dionysos and the Theoi Adelphoi. This crowning shall take place publicly at the Dionysia, and this resolution shall be inscribed upon a stele and set up in front of the temple of Dionysos. The cost of the stele shall be paid by the treasurer Sosibios.” – OGIS 50

P.Hal. 1

“Apollonios to Zoilos, greeting. We have released the [teachers] of letters and masters of gymnastic and [performers of] the rites of Dionysos and victors in the Alexandrian contest and in the Basileia and Ptolemaia from the tax on salt, them and their (descendants, as the king] has ordered. Farewell. Year …” – P.Hal. 1

Sokrates the Rhodian, History of the Civil War Book 3

“But Cleopatra having met Antony in Cilicia, prepared a royal entertainment, in which every dish was golden and inlaid with precious stones, wonderfully chased and embossed. And the walls were hung with cloths embroidered in gold and purple. And she had twelve triclinia laid; and invited Antony to a banquet, and desired him to bring with him whatever companions he pleased. And he being astonished at the magnificence of the sight, expressed his surprise; and she, smiling, said that she made him a present of everything which he saw, and invited him to sup with her again the next day, and to bring his friends and captains with him. And then she prepared a banquet by far more splendid than the former one, so as to make that first one appear contemptible; and again she presented to him everything that there was on the table; and she desired each of his captains to take for his own the couch on which he lay, and the goblets which were set before each couch. And when they were departing she gave to all those of the highest rank palanquins, with the slaves for palanquin bearers; and to the rest she gave horses, adorned with golden furniture: and to every one she gave Ethiopian boys, to bear torches before them. And on the fourth day she paid more than a talent for roses; and the floor of the chamber for the men was strewed a cubit deep, nets being spread over the blooms. Antony himself, when he was staying at Athens, a short time after this, prepared a very superb scaffold to spread over the theatre, covered with green wood such as is seen in the caves sacred to Bacchus; and from this scaffold he suspended drums and fawn-skins, and all the other toys which one names in connection with Bacchus, and then sat there with his friends, getting drunk from daybreak, a band of musicians, whom he had sent for from Italy, playing to him all the time, and all the Greeks around being collected to see the sight. And presently, he crossed over to the Acropolis, the whole city of Athens being illuminated with lamps suspended from the roof; and after that lie ordered himself to be proclaimed as Bacchus throughout all the cities in that district.” – Sokrates the Rhodian, History of the Civil War Book 3 [Quoted in Athenaios, 4.29]

Plutarch, Life of Antony 26.1-3

“Though Kleopatra received many letters of summons both from Antony himself and from his friends, she was so bold as to sail up the river Cydnus in a barge with gilded poop, its sails spread purple, its rowers urging it on with silver oars to the sound of the flute blended with pipes and lutes. She herself reclined beneath a canopy spangled with gold, adorned like Venus in a painting, while boys like Loves in paintings stood on either side and fanned her. Likewise also the fairest of her serving-maidens, attired like Nereïds and Graces, were stationed, some at the rudder-sweeps, and others at the reefing-ropes. Wondrous odours from countless incense-offerings diffused themselves along the river-banks. Of the inhabitants, some accompanied her on either bank of the river from its very mouth, while others went down from the city to behold the sight. The throng in the market-place gradually streamed away, until at last Antony himself, seated on his tribunal, was left alone. And a rumour spread on every hand that Venus was come to revel with Bacchus for the good of Asia.” – Plutarch, Life of Antony 26.1-3

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13.22

“Ptolemy Philopator built a temple to Homer. He set up a fine statue of the poet, and around it in a circle all the cities which claim Homer as theirs.” – Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13.22

Ps.-Nicolaus, Ecphrasis of the Tychaion 8.2-9

“A sacred precinct is established in the middle of Alexandria, composed of many more gods, but the whole precinct is named after Tyche. And those who gave the area its name seem to me to do so out of necessity. For as to those from whom everything is hidden by Tyche, for them the name of the gods had been hidden because of Tyche. The area is decorated somewhat as follows. It is completely adorned from floor to ceiling. The decoration is divided into semicircles, and varied columns are placed in front of each. The semicircles, in turn, are made to serve as receptacles for statues, and it is possible to measure the semicircles in terms of their statues; columns are set up alongside the statues. Gods are placed standing— not all but only twelve in number. And a column capital holds the Founder out apart from the two end ones and middle ones, and he stands, himself bearing a token of the Soter, but being borne up by the things by which the city is customarily nourished. And the nature of the earth is represented by Charis; half the stated number of gods surround her in their middle. And in the very middle stands a statue of Tyche, making clear by a crown the victories of Alexander; and Earth is being crowned by Tyche, and Earth herself is crowning the victor. Victories stand on either side of Tyche, with the craftsman admirably showing the power of Tyche, that Tyche knows how to be victorious over all. The decoration of the area is completed with a crown of laurel made from a statue. And one man philosophizes on a chair at one end, while another stands naked at the other end, holding an image of heaven in his left hand, while holding his right hand ready for everything, and he stands bare of covering. And bronze stelae stand in the middle of the floor, engraved with the laws of the city. And in the middle are the doors leading to the precinct of the Muses. Bronze kings stand in the middle, not all that time has brought, but those it has brought who were most revered. These things were a wonder to see, a benefit to learn of, and a crime to hide away in silence.” – Ps.-Nicolaus, Ecphrasis of the Tychaion 8.2-9

Aelian, On Animals 8.4

“I have heard that the Egyptians assert that the sacred crocodiles are tame, and if their keepers at any rate touch and handle them they submit and do not object; and they keep their jaws open when the keepers insert their hands and cleanse their teeth and pick out bits of flesh that have got between them. Further, the Egyptians assert that the sacred crocodiles are endowed with prophecy, and adduce the following evidence. Ptolemy (which of the line it was, you must ask them) was calling to the tamest of the crocodiles, but it paid no attention and would not accept the food he offered. And the priests realized that the crocodile knew that Ptolemy’s end was approaching and consequently declined to take food from him.” – Aelian, On Animals 8.4

Aelian, On Animals 7.44

“Elephants do obeisance to the rising sun by lifting their trunks like hands to face its beams, and that, you see, is why they are beloved of Helios. Let Ptolemy Philopator be a trustworthy witness to the fact. With the aid of the god he overcame Antiochos, and in sacrificing for his victory and to propitiate the Sun he not only offered sacrifices on a magnificent scale but even went so far as to offer four of the very largest elephants as victims, paying homage, as he supposed, to the god by this very sacrifice. But a vision in his sleep troubled him: the god seemed to threaten him for this unusual and strange offering. And he in his fear caused four elephants to be made of bronze and offered them to the god in place of those he had slaughtered, hoping to placate him and ensure his favor. Elephants for their part worship the gods, whereas mankind is in doubt whether in fact there are gods, and if there are, whether they take thought for us.” – Aelian, On Animals 7.44

P.Tebt. 3.781

“To … a chief of the body-guard and strategos, from … overseer of the temple of Ammon at Moeris of the 45-arouras holders. The shrine in the said temple having been (destroyed) by the men of Antiochos in … of the 2nd year, and the ground having later been regained by Ptolemy, the temple was restored to its ancient state. Afterwards when the Egyptian rebels had attacked it and not only thrown down parts of the temple but split the stone-work of the shrine and carried off the door-fixtures and other doors to the number of more than 110 and also torn down some of the boarding, after some time … I came forward and stopped up all the gates and breaches in order that the remaining colonnades might be held together. But now …” – P.Tebt. 3.781

Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 20.100.4

“But as for Ptolemy, they wished to repay his favor with an even greater one, and sent sacred ambassadors to Africa to ask the oracle of Ammon whether he advised the Rhodians to honor Ptolemy as a god. When the oracle had given its assent they consecrated a square enclosure in the city, which they called the Ptolemaeion, and constructed on each of its sides a gallery 200 meters long. They also rebuilt the theater, the parts of the wall that had collapsed and the other buildings that had been destroyed, all far more beautifully than before.” – Diodoros Sikeliotis, Library of History 20.100.4

Scholion to Theokritos

“The title of this idyll is Syracusan women or Women at the festival of Adonis. The subject is some women from Syracuse who are staying at Alexandria; they arrange to go to watch the procession of Adonis, which has been furnished by Arsinoe, the wife of Philadelphos. Gorgo visits Praxinoa, and together they go out to watch. Theokritos modelled the poem on the Spectators at the Isthmia by Sophron, and it is different from his usual style of poetry. At the festival of Adonis, the inhabitants of Alexandria used to adorn the statues of Adonis and escort them in traditional fashion down to the sea. When the Syracusan women leave their house, they are astonished by the crowd and by what is happening in the crowd. Theokritos wrote this poem while he was staying at Alexandria, to please the queen. He describes the violent commotion of the men, and the singer who in her song extols the lavishness of Arsinoe.” – Scholion to Theokritos

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 12.73

“And Ptolemy the seventh king of Egypt was a man of this sort, the same who caused himself to be styled Euergetes (‘Benefactor’) but who was called Kakergetes (‘Malefactor’) by the Alexandrians. Accordingly, Poseidonios the Stoic, who went with Scipio Africanus when he was sent to Alexandria, and who there saw this Ptolemy, writes thus, in the seventh book of his History (Fr. 6) ‘But owing to his luxury his whole body was eaten up with fat, and with the greatness of his belly, which was so large that no one could put his arms all round it; and he wore over it a tunic which reached down to his feet, having sleeves which reached to his wrists, and he never by any chance walked out except on this occasion of Scipio’s visit.’ And that this king was not averse to luxury he tells us when he speaks of himself, relating in the eighth book of his Commentaries how he was priest of Apollon at Kyrene, and how he gave a banquet to those who had been priests before him; writing thus: ‘The Artemitia is the great festival of Kyrene, on which occasion the priest of Apollon (and that office is one which lasts a year) gives a banquet to all those who have been his predecessors in the office; and he sets before each of them a separate dish. And this dish is an earthenware vessel, holding about twenty artabae, in which there are many kinds of game elaborately dressed, and many kinds of bread, and of tame birds, and of sea-fish, and also many species of foreign preserved meats and pickled-fish. And very often some people also furnish them with a handsome youth as an attendant. But we ourselves omitted all this, and instead we furnished them with cups of solid silver, each being of as much value as all the things which we have just enumerated put together; and also we presented each man with a horse properly harnessed, and a groom, and gilt trappings; and we invited each man to mount his horse and ride him home.’ And his son Alexander also became exceedingly fat,  the one, I mean, who put his mother to death who had been his partner in the kingdom. Accordingly Poseidonios, in the forty-seventh book of his History (Fr. 26), mentions him in the following terms: ‘But the king of Egypt being detested by the multitude, but flattered by the people whom he had about him, and living in great luxury, was not able even to walk, unless he went leaning on two friends; but for all that he would, at his banquets, leap off from a high couch, and dance barefoot with more vigour than even those who made dancing their profession.’ – Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 12.73

P. Tebt. 1.6

“King Ptolemy and Queen Kleopatra the sister and Queen Kleopatra the wife to the strategoi and the garrison commanders and the superintendents of police and chiefs of police and epimeletai and oikonomoi and basilikoi grammateis and the other royal functionaries, greeting. The priests of…  and of the Brother-and-Sister Gods and the Benefactor Gods and the Father-Loving Gods and the Manifest Gods and the God Eupator and the Mother-Loving Gods and the Benefactor Gods have written to us concerning the sacred land …  with that which has been dedicated by the cleruchs, and the profits from the honorable offices and posts as prophet or scribe and all the religious duties purchased for the temple and …  from properties and the sums paid in accordance with the decrees for …  and the several associations and the sacred slaves from trades and manufactures and salaries, and the sums collected by men and women at Alexandria and in the country for treasuries and bowls and cups, and the proceeds of the so-called aphrodisia and their revenues in general for … are registered, (stating that) certain persons who lease lands and other properties for a long period, and some who even take forcible possession without any contracts, fail to pay the rents due, and do not contribute the full amount of the profits of the honorable offices or posts as prophet or scribe, while others steal the sums paid and collected, and setting up aphrodisia without the authorization of the priests receive. . . for the sake of collecting the dues to the goddess, and other try to mix themselves up with the revenues and lay hands upon them and manage the temple contrary to custom. In accordance therefore with our previous ordinances concerning the dues which belong to the temples, so long as the aforesaid revenues of the goddess remain let them be (?) undisturbed, and permit no one under any circumstances to exact payment of any of the above-mentioned revenues or to drive away by force the agents of the priests engaged in collecting them; and compel those who disobey to pay all the sums regularly, in order that the priests may obtain all their receipts in full, and may be able without hindrance to pay the customary offerings to the gods on behalf of us and our children. Farewell. [Year] 31, Panemos 10 (?).” – P. Tebt. 1.6

Scholia on Kallimakhos’ Hymn to Demeter v. 1

“Ptolemy Philadelphos among other imitations of Athenian customs which he established in Alexandria, instituted the Procession of the Basket. For it was the custom in Athens that on a fixed day a basket should be borne upon a carriage in honor of Athene.” – Scholia on Kallimakhos’ Hymn to Demeter v. 1

3 Maccabees 2.27-30

“King Ptolemy set up a stone on the tower in the courtyard with this inscription: ‘None of those who do not sacrifice shall enter their sanctuaries, and all Jews shall be subjected to a registration involving poll tax and to the status of slaves. Those who object to this are to be taken by force and put to death; those who are registered are also to be branded on their bodies by fire with the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysos, and they shall also be reduced to their former limited status.’ In order that he might not appear to be an enemy of all, he inscribed below: ‘But if any of them prefer to join those who have been initiated into the mysteries, they shall have equal citizenship with the Alexandrians.'” – 3 Maccabees 2.27-30

Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 11.497b

“Now the rhyton was earlier called a horn; and it appears to have been manufactured first under the orders of King Ptolemy Philadelphos, that it might be used as an attribute borne by the statues of Arsinoe. For in her left hand the queen carries that sort of object filled with all kinds of fruit, the artists thus indicating that this horn is even richer in blessings than the horn of Amaltheia. Theokes mentions it in his Ithyphallic Verses thus: ‘All we artists have today celebrated with sacrifice the festival of Salvation; in their company I have drunk the double horn and am come into the presence of our dearest king.’” – Athenaios, Deipnosophistai 11.497b

P. Oxy. 27.2465.7-23

“.. let no one walk .. to the basket bearer .. of Arsinoe Philadelphus.. [together with] the prytaneis, the priests, [the gymnasiarchs], the ephebes and the rod-[bearers. Those who] wish to sacrifice to Arsinoe Aphrodite shall sacrifice in front of their [private doors] or on their [houses] or [on the] / road along which the basket-bearer walks; everyone should sacrifice either a bird [or whatever victim] each wishes except for a male or female goat; everyone shall construct [the] altars out of sand; should any persons / [have] altars made of bricks they shall spread sand on top of them, and shall place [on] it the firewood on [which] they shall burn the pulses …” – P. Oxy. 27.2465.7-23

P.Enteux. 13

“To King Ptolemy, greetings from Asia. I am wronged by Poöris, the owner of our billet. My husband Machatas was billeted in the village of Pelousion. He made a division with Poöris and built a shrine to the Syrian goddess and Aphrodite Berenike in his part. There was a half-finished wall between Poöris’ part and that of my husband. When I wanted to complete the wall to prevent access to our part of the house, Poöris stopped the building. It was not that the wall concerned him, but he despised me since my husband has died. I take refuge with King, and pray that I may receive justice.” – P.Enteux. 13

SEG 1.366

“Resolved by the boule and the demos, proposal of the prytaneis, concerning [(the matters) which] Hippodamas son of Pantonaktides initially raised, (namely) that Boulagoras son of Alexis, having rendered many services to the demos as a whole and individually to many of the citizens, might be praised and crowned as the boule and demos may decide: whereas Boulagoras … supervised the good-conduct of the ephebes and the youths fairly and nobly; and in the present year, when it was time for the dispatch of the theoroi to Alexandria, knowing that the demos set the greatest importance by the honors of King Ptolemy and his sister Queen Berenike, since limited funds were available for their crowns and for the sacrifices, which the theoroi must needs perform in Alexandria, while for the travelling expenses of the architheoros and the theoroi, by whom the crown had to be delivered and the sacrifices performed, there was no (money) at all nor any place whence at the time it might be got, wishing that nothing be lacking from the honors previously decreed for the king and the queen and their parents and ancestors, he promised to advance the money required for these things from his own resources, (a sum) not much less than 6000 drachmas … and in all other matters he continues to show himself zealous and kind both to the demos in general and individually to each of the citizens, [giving] the best [counsel] and reconciling those with differences and lending without interest from his own resources to many of those who are in difficulties; in order, then, that we may be clear in honoring good men and in urging many of the citizens to the same attitude, be it resolved by the demos: to praise Boulagoras son of Alexis for his virtue and his good-will toward the citizens, and to crown him with a gold crown at the tragedies during the Dionysia, and for the agonothetes to look after the announcement; and for the exetastai to have this decree inscribed on a stone stele and set up in the sanctuary of Hera; and for the treasurer of the sacred funds to provide the expense from the money he has on hand from fines. Present were Hyblesios, Herodotos, Monimos, Demetrios.” – SEG I 366

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

PSI 4.328

“The priests of Aphrodite to Apollonios [the dioiketes] greeting. In accordance with what the king has written to you, to give one hundred talents of myrrh for the burial of [the Hesis], please order this [to be given]. For you know that the Hesis is not brought up to the nome unless we have in readiness everything required for the burial, because [the embalming is done (?)] on the day (of her death). Know that the Hesis is Isis, and may she give you favor in the eyes of the king. Farewell. Year 28, Hathyr 15.” – PSI 4.328