polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: rome

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

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 10.15

“Of the ceremonies of the priest and priestess of Jupiter; and words quoted from the praetor’s edict, in which he declares that he will not compel either the Vestal virgins or the priest of Jupiter to take oath. Ceremonies in great number are imposed upon the priest of Jupiter and also many abstentions, of which we read in the books written On the Public Priests; and they are also recorded in the first book of Fabius Pictor. Of these the following are in general what I remember: It is unlawful for the priest of Jupiter to ride upon a horse; it is also unlawful for him to see the ‘classes arrayed’ outside the pomerium, that is, the army in battle array; hence the priest of Jupiter is rarely made consul, since wars were entrusted to the consuls; also it is always unlawful for the priest to take an oath; likewise to wear a ring, unless it be perforated and without a gem. It is against the law for fire to be taken from the flaminia, that is, from the home of the flamen Dialis, except for a sacred rite; if a person in fetters enter his house, he must be loosed, the bonds must be drawn up through the impluvium to the roof and from there let down into the street. He has no knot in his head-dress, girdle, or any other part of his dress; if anyone is being taken to be flogged and falls at his feet as a suppliant, it is unlawful for the man to be flogged on that day. Only a free man may cut the hair of the Dialis. It is not customary for the Dialis to touch, or even name, a she-goat, raw flesh, ivy, and beans. The priest of Jupiter must not pass under an arbour of vines. The feet of the couch on which he sleeps must be smeared with a thin coating of clay, and he must not sleep away from this bed for three nights in succession, and no other person must sleep in that bed. At the foot of his bed there should be a box with sacrificial cakes. The cuttings of the nails and hair of the Dialis must be buried in the earth under a fruitful tree. Every day is a holy day for the Dialis. He must not be in the open air without his cap; that he might go without it in the house has only recently been decided by the pontiffs, so Masurius Sabinus wrote, and it is said that some other ceremonies have been remitted and he has been excused from observing them. The priest of Jupiter must not touch any bread fermented with yeast. He does not lay off his inner tunic except under cover, in order that he may not be naked in the open air, as it were under the eye of Jupiter. No other has a place at table above the flamen Dialis, except the rex sacrificulus. If the Dialis has lost his wife he abdicates his office. The marriage of the priest cannot be dissolved except by death. He never enters a place of burial, he never touches a dead body; but he is not forbidden to attend a funeral. The ceremonies of the priestess of Jupiter are about the same; they say that she observes other separate ones: for example, that she wears a dyed robe, that she has a twig from a fruitful tree in her head-dress, that it is forbidden for her to go up more than three rounds of a ladder, except the so called Greek ladders; also, when she goes to the Argei, that she neither combs her head nor dresses her hair. I have added the words of the praetor in his standing edict concerning the flamen Dialis and the priestess of Vesta: ‘In the whole of my jurisdiction I will not compel the flamen of Jupiter or a priestess of Vesta to take an oath.’ The words of Marcus Varro about the flamen Dialis, in the second book of his Divine Antiquities, are as follows: He alone has a white cap, either because he is the greatest of priests, or because a white victim should be sacrificed to Jupiter.” – Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 10.15

Lampridius, Vita Antonini Heliogabali 3.4-5; 6.6-7.4

“He established Elagabalus as a god on the Palatine Hill close to the imperial palace and built him a temple, to which he desired to transfer the emblem of the Great Mother, the fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the shields of the Salii, and all that the Romans held sacred, purposing that no god might be worshipped at Rome save only Elagabalus. He declared, furthermore, that the religions of the Jews and the Samaritans and the rites of the Christians must also be transferred to this place, in order that the priesthood of Elagabalus might include the mysteries of every form of worship … He violated the chastity of a Vestal Virgin, and by removing the holy shrines he profaned the sacred rites of the Roman nation. He also desired to extinguish the everlasting fire. In fact, it was his desire to abolish not only the religious ceremonies of the Romans but also those of the whole world, his one wish being that the god Elagabalus should be worshipped everywhere. He even broke into the sanctuary of Vesta, into which only Vestal Virgins and the priests may enter, though himself defiled by every moral stain and in the company of those who had defiled themselves. He also attempted to carry away the sacred shrine, but instead of the true one he seized only an earthenware one, which the Senior Vestal had shown him in an attempt to deceive him, and when he found nothing in it, he threw it down and broke it. The cult, however, did not suffer at his hands, for several shrines had been made, it is said, exactly like the true one, in order that none might ever be able to take this one away. Though this be so, he nevertheless carried away the image which he believed to be the Palladium, and after washing it over with gold he placed it in the temple of his god. He also adopted the worship of the Great Mother and celebrated the rite of the taurobolium; and he carried off her image and the sacred objects which are kept hidden in a secret place. He would toss his head to and fro among the castrated devotees of the goddess, and he infibulated himself, and did all that the eunuch-priests are wont to do; and the image of the goddess which he carried off he placed in the sanctuary of his god. He also celebrated the rite of Salambo with all the wailing and the frenzy of the Syrian cult — thereby foreshadowing his own impending doom. In fact, he asserted that all gods were merely the servants of his god, calling some its chamberlains, others its slaves, and others its attendants for divers purposes.” – Lampridius, Vita Antonini Heliogabali 3.4-5; 6.6-7.4

Prokopios, The Wars of Justinian 1.19.34-37

“Diocletian went so far as to select a certain island in the River Nile close to the city of Elephantine and there construct a very strong fortress in which he established certain temples and altars for the Romans and the barbarians in common, and he settled priests of both nations in this fortress, thinking that the friendship between them would be secure by reason of their sharing the things sacred to them. And for this reason he named the place Philae. Now both these nations, the Blemyes and the Nobatae, believe in all the gods in which the Hellenes believe, and they also reverence Isis and Osiris, and not least of all Priapus. But the Blemyes are accustomed also to sacrifice human beings to the sun. These sanctuaries in Philae were kept by these barbarians even up to my time, but the Emperor Justinian decided to tear them down. Accordingly Narses, a Persarmenian by birth, whom I have mentioned before as having deserted to the Romans, being commander of the troops there, tore down the sanctuaries at the emperor’s order, and put the priests under guard and sent the statues to Byzantium.” – Prokopios, The Wars of Justinian 1.19.34-37

AE 631

“To the liberator of the Roman world, the restorer of the temples, reviver of town councils and of the state, destroyer of the barbarians, our lord Julian ever Augustus, mighty victor over the Almanns, mighty victor over the Franks, mighty victor over the Sarmatians, chief priest, father of his country: the provincial assembly of the Phoenicians ordered this.” – AE 631

CIL 8.18529

“To our lord Flavius Claudius Julianus, devout, blessed, powerful in every kind of virtue, invincible leader, restorer of freedom and of the Roman religion, and conqueror of the whole world.” – CIL 8.18529

I.Strat. 1101

“When Ptolemaios was the chief magistrate, in the month of Artemisios, with Sosandros, son of Diomedes, secretary of the town council, the following was proposed: In former times the city has been saved from many great and constant dangers by the providence of its protective and mighty deities, Zeus of Panamara and Hekate, whose sanctuaries were recognized by a decree of the sacred Roman Senate as being inviolable and possessing the right to receive suppliants, on account of the manifest miracles which they performed for the safety of the eternal empire of our Roman lords. It is right to apply all possible zeal to honoring Zeus and Hekate and not neglect any opportunity to honor and entreat them. Statues of the aforementioned deities stand in the august council-chamber, producing miracles which manifest their divine power. On account of these miracles the whole populace offers sacrifice, burns incense, prays and gives thanks without ceasing to these deities who manifest themselves. It is right to honor them with a hymn-singing procession. The council has decided to select thirty boys from among the well-born, whom the supervisor of education and the public guardians of boys shall lead each day to the council-chamber, dressed in white, wearing crowns made of olive branches, likewise carrying olive branches in their hands and accompanied by a lyre-player and herald. Moreover the annually chosen priest of Hekate is to select boys from within the precinct of the goddess’ temple and from the neighborhood every year and they are to sing the customary hymn to the goddess.” – I.Strat. 1101

Cato, De Agricultura 143

“The mistress of the estate must not perform rites, or cause others to perform them for her, unless at her master’s orders: it must be understood that the master performs rites for all the household. She must be clean, and keep the farmhouse sweet and clean. She must have the hearth ready swept all round each day before she goes to bed. On the Kalends, the Ides, the Nones, and on a feast day, she must place a wreath at the hearth, and on those days she must make offering to the Lar of the Household according to her means.” – Cato, De Agricultura 143

Cato, De Agricultura 139-141

“To open up a clearing, you must use the Roman rite, as follows. Do sacrifice of an expiation piglet, and say it thus: ‘Whatever god, whatever goddess you may be to whom this place is sacred, since it is proper to sacrifice the expiation swine for the taking of this sacred place, therefore, may what I do or what another by my order does be rightly done. Therefore in slaughtering for you this expiation swine I pray with good prayers that you be willing and favourable to me, to my house and household and to my children; wherefore, accept the slaughter of this expiatory piglet.’ If you want to dig there, do another Expiation. Say explicitly ‘for the purpose of working the land’. Then do some of the work on each consecutive day till all is done. If you interrupt it, or public or household holidays intervene, you must do another Expiation. You must consecrate the field as follows. Instruct Pig, Sheep and Ox to be driven all around: ‘Under the favour of the spirits and in confidence of a good outcome I entrust to you, (Manius), to consecrate by your care my farm, field and land; driving or drawing Pig, Sheep and Ox thereupon, wherever you may determine.’ First invoke Janus and Jove with wine, and say: ‘Father Mars, I ask and pray that you be ready and favourable to me, our house and household. Wherefore I have ordered Pig, Sheep and Ox to be driven all around my land and farm, so that you will prevent, ward off and avert sicknesses seen and unseen, childlessness and fruitlessness, disaster and storm; so that you will permit fruits, grains, vines and saplings to flourish and come to fruition; so that you will keep safe shepherds and flocks and give good heart and health to me, our house and household. Therefore, for the consecration and making sacred of my farm, field and land as aforesaid, accept the slaughter of this suckling Pig, Sheep and Ox.’ Repeat: ‘… therefore, Father Mars, accept the slaughter of this suckling Pig, Sheep and Ox.’ Do it with a knife. Have strues and fertum at hand. Offer immediately. As you slaughter the piglet, lamb and calf, then: ‘… therefore accept the slaughter of Pig, Sheep and Ox.’ Mars must not be named, nor must one say ‘lamb’ or ‘calf’. If all the offerings are unpromising, say it thus: ‘… Father Mars, if anything dissatisfies you in that suckling Pig, Sheep and Ox, I offer you this Pig, Sheep and Ox in expiation.’ If only one or two are doubtful, say it thus: ‘… Father Mars, since you were dissatisfied with that piglet, I offer you this piglet in expiation.’” – Cato, De Agricultura 139-141

Cato, De Agricultura 134

“Before you harvest, you may do sacrifice of the Harvest Sow, in the following way. A female piglet, the Harvest Sow is offered to Ceres before the following crops are put up: emmer, wheat, barley, broad bean, rapeseed. With incense and wine address Janus, Jove and Juno before you slaughter the female pig. Offer a strues to Janus thus: ‘Father Janus, as I offer you this strues, I pray with good prayers that you be ready and favourable to me and my children, to my house and household.’ Offer and present a fertum to Jove thus: ‘Jove, as I offer you this fertum, I pray with good prayers that you be ready and favourable to me and my children, to my house and household, accepting this fertum.’ Then give wine to Janus thus: ‘Father Janus, since in offering you a strues I prayed well with good prayers, therefore accept this offertory wine.’ Then to Jove thus: ‘Jove, accept this fertum, accept this offertory wine.’ Then slaughter the Harvest Sow. When the organs are cut out, offer and present a strues to Janus as you did before; offer and present a fertum to Jove as you did before; give Janus wine and give Jove wine as you gave it before on account of the offering of the strues and the slicing of the fertum. Then give the organs and the wine to Ceres.”  – Cato, De Agricultura 134

Cato, De Agricultura 131-32

“When the pear blossoms, make the Feast for the Oxen. After that, begin the spring ploughing. First plough the fields that are gritty and sandy; thus plough last those that are heaviest and wettest. The Feast may be performed as follows. Present a culigna of wine, as much as you wish, to Festive Jove. The day is holiday for the oxen, the oxherds, and those who perform the Feast. When you are to present, you do so thus: ‘Festive Jove, my household brings a culigna of wine to the Feast, as is proper in your domestic worship. Therefore accept the presentation of this Feast of ours.’ Wash your hands, and take the wine. ‘Festive Jove, accept the presentation of our Feast, accept our offertory wine.’ Offer to Vesta if you wish. The Feast to Jove: a roast from herd or flock; one urna of wine. You should share with Jove with proper purity and with the touch of your own hand. Then, once the Feast is performed, sow broomcorn millet, foxtail millet, garlic, lentil.” – Cato, De Agricultura 131-32

Cato, De Agricultura 83

“Make a dedication for the health of the oxen as follows. To Mars and Silvanus, in the forest, in daytime, dedicate the following per head of oxen: 3 lb. emmer, 4 lb. fat, 4 lb. lean meat, 3 pints wine. You may place it all together in one jug; the wine, also, may be placed all in one jug. They may be offered by a slave or a free person. When they have been offered, they should be consumed, at once, on the spot. No woman must be present or see the rite. You may make this dedication each year if you wish.” – Cato, De Agricultura 83

Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica 8.14.9

“Emperor Maximin ordered temples to be erected in every city throughout the empire and the sacred groves that had been destroyed through long lapse of time to be restored with all diligence; and he appointed priests in every locality and city, and over them as high priest of each province one of those engaged in statecraft, who was the most manifestly distinguished in every branch of the public service, with an escort and body-guard of soldiers. He appointed to important positions in the government only those who were pious and dear to the gods.” – Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiastica 8.14.9

Acta Alexandrinorum CPJ 2.157

“While Hermaiskos was saying this, the bust of Serapis which the ambassadors had carried in suddenly broke into a sweat. Trajan was amazed at the sight. And soon crowds gathered in Rome, numerous shouts rang forth, and everyone began to flee to the highest parts of the hills ….”  Acta Alexandrinorum (CPJ 2.157)

Tertullian, Apology 6.8

“Serapis, Isis, Harpokrates, and the Dog-head were forbidden on the Capitol – in other words, expelled from the assembly of the gods; and Piso and Gabinius – consuls, not Christians, you know – actually overturned their altars and banished them, in the endeavor to restrain the vices that go with foul and idle superstition.” – Tertullian, Apology 6.8

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

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19

“Proclus made use of the noble purificatory practices which woo us from evil, that is lustrations and all of the other processes of purification whether Orphic or Chaldean, such as dipping himself into the sea without hesitation every month, and sometimes even twice or thrice a month. He practiced this discipline, rude as it was, not only in his prime, but even also when he approached his life’s decline; and so he observed, without ever failing, these austere habits of which he had, so to speak, made himself a law … As to the necessary pleasures of food and drink, he made use of them with sobriety, for to him they were no more than a solace from his fatigues. He especially preached abstinence from animal food, but if a special ceremony compelled him to make use of it, he only tasted it, out of consideration and respect. Every month he sanctified himself according to the rites devoted to the Mother of the Gods by the Romans, and before them by the Phrygians; he observed the holy days observed among the Egyptians even more strictly than did they themselves; and especially he fasted on certain days, quite openly. During the first day of the lunar month he remained without food, without even having eaten the night before; and he likewise celebrated the New Moon in great solemnity, and with much sanctity. He regularly observed the great festivals of all peoples, so to speak, and the religious ceremonies peculiar to each people or country. Nor did he, like so many others, make this the pretext of a distraction, or of a debauch of food, but on the contrary they were occasions of prayer meetings that lasted all night, without sleep, with songs, hymns and similar devotions. Of this we see the proof in the composition of his hymns, which contain homage and praises not only of the gods adored among the Greeks, but where you also see worship of the god Marnas of Gaza, Asklepios Leontukhos of Askalon, Thyandrites who is much worshipped among the Arabs, the Isis who has a temple at Philae, and indeed all other divinities. It was a phrase he much used, and that was very familiar to him, that a philosopher should watch over the salvation of not only a city, nor over the national customs of a few people, but that he should be the hierophant of the whole world in common. Such were the holy and purificatory exercises he practiced, in his austere manner of life.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19

Livy, History of Rome 39.13

“Then Hispala gave an account of the origin of these rites. At first they were confined to women; no male was admitted, and they had three stated days in the year on which persons were initiated during the daytime, and matrons were chosen to act as priestesses. Paculla Annia, a Campanian, when she was priestess, made a complete change, as though by divine monition, for she was the first to admit men, and she initiated her own sons, Minius Cerinnius and Herennius Cerinnius. At the same time she made the rite a nocturnal one, and instead of three days in the year celebrated it five times a month. When once the mysteries had assumed this promiscuous character, and men were mingled with women with all the licence of nocturnal orgies, there was no crime, no deed of shame, wanting. More uncleanness was wrought by men with men than with women. Whoever would not submit to defilement, or shrank from violating others, was sacrificed as a victim. To regard nothing as impious or criminal was the very sum of their religion. The men, as though seized with madness and with frenzied distortions of their bodies, shrieked out prophecies; the matrons, dressed as Bacchae, their hair dishevelled, rushed down to the Tiber with burning torches, plunged them into the water, and drew them out again, the flame undiminished, as they were made of sulphur mixed with lime. Men were fastened to a machine and hurried off to hidden caves, and they were said to have been rapt away by the gods; these were the men who refused to join their conspiracy or take a part in their crimes or submit to pollution. They formed an immense multitude, almost equal to the population of Rome; amongst them were members of noble families both men and women. It had been made a rule for the last two years that no one more than twenty years old should be initiated; they captured those to be deceived and polluted.” – Livy, History of Rome 39.13

Livy, History of Rome 39.8

“A low-born Greek went into Etruria first of all, but did not bring with him any of the numerous arts which that most accomplished of all nations has introduced amongst us for the cultivation of mind and body. He was a hedge-priest and wizard, not one of those who imbue men’s minds with error by professing to teach their superstitions openly for money, but a hierophant of secret nocturnal mysteries. At first these were divulged to only a few; then they began to spread amongst both men and women, and the attractions of wine and feasting increased the number of his followers. When they were heated with wine and the nightly commingling of men and women, those of tender age with their seniors, had extinguished all sense of modesty, debaucheries of every kind commenced; each had pleasures at hand to satisfy the lust he was most prone to. Nor was the mischief confined to the promiscuous intercourse of men and women; false witness, the forging of seals and testaments, and false informations, all proceeded from the same source, as also poisonings and murders of families where the bodies could not even be found for burial. Many crimes were committed by treachery; most by violence, which was kept secret, because the cries of those who were being violated or murdered could not be heard owing to the noise of drums and cymbals.” – Livy, History of Rome 39.8

Plutarch, Roman Questions 63

“Why is the so-called rex sacrorum, that is to say ‘king of the sacred rites,’ forbidden to hold office or to address the people? Is it because in early times the kings performed the greater part of the most important rites, and themselves offered the sacrifices with the assistance of the priests? But when they did not practice moderation, but were arrogant and oppressive, most of the Greek states took away their authority, and left to them only the offering of sacrifice to the gods; but the Romans expelled their kings altogether, and to offer the sacrifices they appointed another, whom they did not allow to hold office or to address the people, so that in their sacred rites only they might seem to be subject to a king, and to tolerate a kingship only on the gods’ account. At any rate, there is a sacrifice traditionally performed in the forum at the place called Comitium, and, when the rex has performed this, he flees from the forum as fast as he can.” – Plutarch, Roman Questions 63

Porphyry, as quoted in Macarius Magnes’ Apocriticus 4.21; 23

“At any rate, if you say that angels stand before god, who are not subject to feeling and death, and immortal in their nature, whom we ourselves speak of as gods, because they are close to the godhead, why do we dispute about a name? And are we to consider it only a difference of nomenclature? For she who is called by the Greeks Athene is called by the Romans Minerva; and the Egyptians, Syrians, and Thracians address her by some other name. But I suppose nothing in the invocation of the goddess is changed or lost by the difference of the names. The difference therefore is not great, whether a man calls them gods or angels, since their divine nature bears witness to them, as when Matthew writes thus: ‘And Jesus answered and said, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of god; for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels in heaven’ (Matt. xxii. 29-30). Since therefore he confesses that the angels have a share in the divine nature, those who make a suitable object of reverence for the gods, do not think that the god is in the wood or stone or bronze from which the image is manufactured, nor do they consider that, if any part of the statue is cut off, it detracts from the power of the god. For the images of living creatures and the temples were set up by the ancients for the sake of remembrance, in order that those who approach thither might come to the knowledge of the god when they go; or, that, as they observe a special time and purify themselves generally, they may make use of prayers and supplications, asking from them the things of which each has need. For if a man makes an image of a friend, of course he does not think that the friend is in it, or that the limbs of his body are included in the various parts of the representation; but honour is shown towards the friend by means of the image. But in the case of the sacrifices that are brought to the gods, these are not so much a bringing of honour to them as a proof of the inclination of the worshippers, to show that they are not without a sense of gratitude. It is reasonable that the form of the statues should be the fashion of a man, since man is reckoned to be the fairest of living creatures and an image of god. It is possible to get hold of this doctrine from another saying, which asserts positively that god has fingers, with which he writes, saying, ‘And he gave to Moses the two tables which were written by the finger of god’ (Exod. xxxi. 18). Moreover, the Christians also, imitating the erection of the temples, build very large houses, into which they go together and pray, although there is nothing to prevent them from doing this in their own houses, since the lord certainly hears from every place … I could also give proof to you of that insidious name of ‘gods’ from the law, when it cries out and admonishes the hearer with much reverence, ‘Thou, shalt not revile gods, and thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.’ For it does not speak to us of other gods than those already within our reckoning, from what we know in the words, ‘Thou shalt not go after gods’ (Jer. vii. 6); and again, ‘If ye go and worship other gods’ (Deut. xii. 28). The gods we honour are mentioned not only by Moses but by his successor Joshua as well. For he says to the people, ‘And now fear him and serve him alone, and put away the gods whom your fathers served’ (Josh. xxiv. 14). And further Paul says, ‘For though there be that are called gods, whether on earth or in heaven, yet to us there is but one god and father, of whom are all things” (1 Cor. viii. 5). Therefore you make a great mistake in thinking that god is angry if any other is called a god, and obtains the same title as himself. For even rulers do not object to the title from their subjects, nor masters from slaves. And it is not right to think that god is more petty-minded than men. Enough then about the fact that gods exist, and ought to receive honour.” – Porphyry, as quoted in Macarius Magnes’ Apocriticus 4.21; 23

John the Lydian, De Mensibus 4.76-80

“Those theologians who inquire into the nature of things wish May to be water. That it what it is called in the Syrian language and even today they call aqueducts meiouri. Also, they call feasting ‘to do the Maiuma’, from which we get the term Maiuma. The festival was held in Rome in the month of May. The leading men of the city went down to the shore and the city of Ostia to enjoy themselves by throwing one another into the waters of the sea. And so all festivals of this sort are traditionally called Maiuma.” – John the Lydian, De Mensibus 4.76-80

P.Mich.inv. 2458

“Aphrodite, Venus
Artemis, Diana
Charon, Orcus
Daimon, Genius
Demeter, Ceres
Eileithyia, Juno Lucina
Enypnion, Somnium
Ge Meter, Terra Mater
Hemitheoi, Indigetes
Hera Basilissa, Juno Regina
Hera, Juno
Heroes katoikidioi , Lares familiares
Hestia, Vesta
Hygieia, Salus
Leto, Latona
Meter Megale, Mater Magna
Nemesis, Ultrix
Phersephone, Proserpina
Sarapis, Serapis
Semele, Libera
Thanatos, Mors
Tyche, Fortuna” – P.Mich.inv. 2458

Juvenal, Satires 6.522-41

“In winter she will go down to the river in the morning, break the ice, and plunge three times into the Tiber, dipping her trembling head even in its whirling waters, and crawling out thence naked and shivering, she will creep with bleeding knees right across the field of Tarquin the Proud. If the white Io shall so order, she will journey to the confines of Egypt, and fetch water got from hot Meroe with which to sprinkle the Temple of Isis which stands hard by the ancient sheepfold. For she believes that the command was given by the voice of the goddess herself–a pretty kind of mind and spirit for the gods to have converse with by night! Hence the chief and highest place of honour is awarded to Anubis, who, with his linen-clad and bald crew, mocks at the weeping of the people as he runs along. He it is that obtains pardon for wives who break the law of purity on days that should be kept holy, and exacts huge penalties when the coverlet has been profaned, or when the silver serpent has been seen to nod his head. His tears and carefully-studied mutterings make sure that Osiris will not refuse a pardon for the fault, bribed, no doubt, by a fat goose and a slice of sacrificial cake.” – Juvenal, Satires 6.522-41

Propertius, Elegies 2.33A

“Once again to my sorrow the dismal rites have returned: now for ten nights is Cynthia engaged in worship. Down with the rites which the daughter of Inachus has sent from the warm Nile to the matrons of Italy! The goddess that has so often sundered ardent lovers, whoever she was, was always harsh. In your secret love of Jove, Io, you certainly discovered what it means to travel on many paths. When Juno bade you, a human girl, put on horns and drown your speech in the hoarse lowing of a cow, ah, how often did you chafe your mouth with oak leaves and chew in your stall the arbute you had fed on! Is it because Jupiter has taken that wild shape from your features that you have become such a haughty goddess? Are the swarthy daughters of Aegyptus too few for your worship? What profit is it to you that girls should sleep alone? Take it from me, either you will have horns again or else, cruel creature, we will banish you from our city: the Nile has never found favour with the Tiber.” – Propertius, Elegies 2.33A

P. Tebt. 1.33

“Hermias to Horos, greeting. A copy of the letter to Asklepiades is appended. Take care that things take place accordingly. Farewell. Year 5, Xandikos 17, Mecheir 17.

“To Asklepiades. Lucius Memmius, a Roman senator, who occupies a position of great dignity and honor, is making the voyage from the city [Alexandria] to the Arsinoite Nome to see the sights. Let him be received with special magnificence, and take care that at the proper spots the guest-chambers be prepared and the landing-places to them be got ready with great care, and that the gifts of hospitality mentioned below be presented to him at the landing-place, and that the furniture of the chamber, the customary bites of food for Petesouchos and the crocodiles, the necessaries for the view of the labyrinth, and the victims to be offered and the supply for the sacrifices be properly managed; in general take the utmost pains in everything that the visitor may be satisfied, and display the utmost zeal.” – P. Tebt. 1.33

Rescript of Maximinus Daia

“Let them look at the standing crops already flourishing with waving heads in the broad fields, and at the meadows glittering with plants and flowers, in response to abundant rains and the restored mildness and softness of the atmosphere. Finally, let all rejoice that the might of the most powerful and terrible Mars has been propitiated by our piety, our sacrifices, and our veneration; and let them on this account enjoy firm and tranquil peace and quiet; and let as many as have wholly abandoned that blind error and delusion and have returned to a right and sound mind rejoice the more, as those who have been rescued from an unexpected storm or severe disease and are to reap the fruits of pleasure for the rest of their life.” – Rescript of Maximinus Daia, quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesastical History 6.7.10-11