ptolemy soter

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THE ROYAL LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA


↳ as seen on Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

The Royal Library of Alexandria, or Ancient Library of Alexandria, was one of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world. It was dedicated to the Muses, the nine goddesses of the arts. It flourished under the patronage of the Ptolemaic dynasty and functioned as a major center of scholarship from its construction in the 3rd century BC until the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC. With collections of works, lecture halls, meeting rooms, and gardens, the library was part of a larger research institution called the Musaeum of Alexandria, where many of the most famous thinkers of the ancient world studied.
The library was created by Ptolemy I Soter, who was a Macedonian general and the successor of Alexander the Great. Most of the books were kept as papyrus scrolls, and though it is unknown how many such scrolls were housed at any given time, their combined value was incalculable. The library is famous for having been burned resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books, and has become a symbol of the destruction of cultural knowledge. A few sources differ on who is responsible for the destruction and when it occurred. Although there is a mythology of the burning of the Library at Alexandria, the library may have suffered several fires or acts of destruction over many years. Possible occasions for the partial or complete destruction of the Library of Alexandria include a fire set by Julius Caesar in 48 BC, an attack by Aurelian in the AD 270s, and the decree of Coptic Pope Theophilus in AD 391.
The library’s index, Callimachus’ Pinakes, was lost with the rest of the library, and it is not possible to know with certainty how large and how diverse the collection may have been. At its height, the library was said to possess nearly half a million scrolls, and, although historians debate the precise number, the highest estimates claim 400,000 scrolls while the most conservative estimates are as low as 40,000, which is still an enormous collection that required vast storage space. This library, with the largest holdings of the age, acquired its collection by laborious copying of originals. Galen spoke of how all ships visiting the city were obliged to surrender their books for immediate copying. The owners received a copy while the pharaohs kept the originals in the library within their museum. [x]

Magas, king of Cyrene, with horns, r., 282/75 to 261 BC. Rev: Palm tree and small silphium and crab symbols.

Today a bronze coin of the Hellenistic period, from one of the more interesting kings of the period. Magas was the son of Berenice I, who was the second wife of Ptolemy I (aka Ptolemy Soter). Magas was the son of her first son Philip and found himself suddenly elevated to the royal family upon his mother’s remarriage.

Magas was appointed as governor to Cyrene (aka Cyrenaica, modern Libya) by Ptolemy I, and retained control of the territory under the rule of his stepbrother, Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Magas and Ptolemy II did not get along well, so Magas named himself king and seceded from the Ptolemaic kingdom. Magas maintained the independence of Cyrene until his death.

As a ruler Magas is interesting, in that there are attestations that prove that he was known by contemporary rulers in India. Though he is largely forgotten today, Magas was listen with Alexander the Great and Ptolemy I on a rock inscription of the Indian emperor Ashoka.

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Ptolemaion

Limyra, Lycia, Turkey

ca. 270 BCE


After Alexander the Great had ended Achemenid rule - he passed through Lycia in early 333 BCE - much of Lycia was ruled by Ptolemy I Soter, one of Alexander’s successors, who had started a kingdom of his own in Egypt. He was succeeded by his son Ptolemy II Philadelphos, who supported the Limyrans when they were threatened by the Galatians (a Celtic tribe that had invaded Asia Minor). The grateful citizens of Limyra dedicated a monument to their savior, which was called the Ptolemaion.

Extremely Rare Coin Issued By One Of Alexander The Great’s Best Friends

Worth $164,683; one of only 4 known examples.

This gold stater was struck in Alexandria under Ptolemy I Soter while he was still satrap of Egypt, sometime between 313 and 311 BC.  On the obverse, the coin shows the diademed head of Alexander III (The Great) wearing an elephant’s scalp headdress, an aegis and the horn of Ammon over his ear. The reverse shows the  prow of galley adorned with one large and one small protective eye.

Ptolemy I Soter (c. 367-283 BC) was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt (323–283 BC) and founder of the Ptolemaic Kingdom and dynasty. In 305/4 BC he demanded the title of pharaoh. Before Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Ptolemy was one of Alexander’s most trusted generals, and was among the seven somatophylakes (bodyguards) attached to his person. He was a few years older than Alexander, and had been his intimate friend since childhood.

This is one of the greatest rarities of Ptolemaic coinage, and it celebrates the Ptolemy I’s use of Alexander’s figure as a badge of legitimacy. As is well known, Ptolemy arranged to capture Alexander’s body in 322 BC, when it was in Syria on the way to Macedonia. It was soon placed in a great tomb in Alexandria where it remained until at least the 3rd century AD (though there are reports of it having been seen in the 9th and 10th centuries). This coin bears the typically Ptolemaic portrait of Alexander (with the elephant’s skin headdress) and a prow, which probably commemorates some initial Ptolemaic victories in Cyprus. The portrait itself is remarkably evocative with the visage of a human who was also considered divine.

Marble portrait of Alexander The Great

Youthful image of the conqueror king

Hellenistic Greek, 2nd-1st century BC, Said to be from Alexandria, Egypt

Literary sources tell us, though perhaps not reliably, that Alexander (reigned 336-323 BC) chose only a few artists to produce his image, and famous names such as the sculptor Lysippos and the painter Apelles were associated with his portraiture. Though none of the famous images have been recovered, many sculptures in different materials, as well as portraits on gemstones and coins, survive. These were mostly produced long after Alexander’s death and while the portraits follow similar general characteristics, they also vary in style.

Alexander was always shown clean-shaven, which was an innovation: all previous portraits of Greek statesmen or rulers had beards. This royal fashion lasted for almost five hundred years and almost all of the Hellenistic kings and Roman emperors until Hadrian were portrayed beardless. Alexander was the first king to wear the all-important royal diadem, a band of cloth tied around the hair that was to become the symbol of Hellenistic kingship.

Earlier portraits of Alexander, in heroic style, look more mature than the portraits made after his death, such as this example. These show a more youthful, though perhaps more god-like character. He has longer hair, a more dynamic tilt of the head and an upward gaze, resembling his description in literary sources.

This head was acquired in Alexandria, the city founded by Alexander in 331 BC, and the location of his tomb. Alexandria was also the capital of the longest surviving Hellenistic dynasty, the Ptolemies. From the time of the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (‘Saviour’) (305-282 BC), Alexander was worshipped as a god and the forefather of the dynasty.

Source: British Museum

anonymous asked:

hi can you please explain why thais had to have been involved in the burning of the persepolis palace? im just wondering because im so for kickass women from antiquity :D thanks (:

IN short, we know that thaïs was involved because the sources report it, but the nature of her involvement is what’s interesting: while the sources say that burning persepolis was her idea, it’s actually more likely that alexander asked her to help him carry out the nefarious let’s-burn-persepolis plan. and – obviously – she said yes.

so: 

what is reported (notably in plutarch and arrian, among others): persepolis, 330. CRAZY FUCKING party at the palace. berlusconi would balk at it. wolf of wall street pales in comparison. I’M TALKING drugs, drinking, courtesans, ptolemy’s fucking duct taped to the ceiling, hephaestion making it rain on a pole dancer. craterus? BREAKDANCING. then thaïs, an athenian, probably drunk and high, says HEY, you know what would be a great idea? to BURN THIS PLACE TO THE GROUND in revenge for what happened to my homeland in the persian wars. macedonians had extremely hot blood and, not knowing the difference between a good time and a let’s call the cops my friend has alcohol poisoning time, were like HELL YEAH! HELL YEAH! and alexander threw a torch, and then thaïs threw a torch, and then everyone was throwing torches, and then surprise all of this was very bad for their public image. when everyone sobered up they said they were extremely sorry and all the historians, chief among them ptolemy, promptly tried to gloss it over. and that’s why the official record says, persepolis? drunken night of debauchery, very sorry, we’ll pay for a new carpet.

but in the words of mac mcdonald, history is a LIAR sometimes .

what really happened: is… complicated. we don’t know the whole story, and unless ptolemy i soter, chilling downstairs in hell rn, decides to squeal to the next guy who dante’s himself down there, we never will. but there were some big policy issues at the time, three big policy issues, which i mentioned in that last ask. combine that with the fact that alexander rarely (like, RARELY) did anything as big as razing a city without planning it – especially a city that was so ancient and had so much clout – there’s no way that the burning of persepolis went down the way alexander wanted us to think. there’s no way that it was the result of thaïs’ drunken suggestion at an out of control party. knowing alexander, persepolis was meticulously planned. 

so what PROBABLY happened? alexander and his inner circle sat down and tried to hash out a solution to their problems, of which there were three: persian governors who were still loyal to the achaemenid king who might revolt, locals who viewed the past achaemenid regime as ruthless colonizers who might revolt, and the greeks back home, complaining that alexander was going soft on persia as a whole. who might revolt. a simple, fast solution to all three? 

1) burn persepolis, cultural center of persia & previous location of achaemenid rule, to intimidate naughty governors
2) burn persepolis, location of achaemenid rule, to pacify locals who had hated the achaemenids
3) burn persepolis, where the army that nearly took greece came from in the persian wars, to pacify the greeks back home.

so then someone was like, you know who in court is super trusted and conveniently athenian, so her wanting “revenge” would be believable? 

and somebody else was probably like, oh shit, ptolemy’s girlfriend!

so 1) why the party? and 2) why the lie? 1) it’s not gonna look like very convincing revenge to the greeks or the locals if there’s no anger in it, if it doesn’t seem spontaneous and passionate, is it? 2) why does anybody lie about something after the fact? uh, yeah, because it ended up being TERRIBLE PRESS. like, BAD press. it worked as intended – terrified the satraps, pacified the locals, got the greeks to stfu, sure – but it was also recognized universally as being so wildly disrespectful that alexander had to be like, yeah SORRY, that was, uh, not MY idea. we were drunk. xoxo gossip girl 

6amwritings  asked:

1556

You got it @6amwritings​. And since you didn’t ask for a drabble - YOU GET ONE ANYWAY YAYYYY and because no one has asked for the less well explored relationships you get Lily + Remus (as friends!) and booklovers <3

1976 - Fifth Year - On Prefect Rounds

“I always feel slightly guilty,” sighed Remus, as Lily sent a stinging hex behind the bookshelves on the second floor of the library. The Hogwarts Library was three stories and open from the ground floor. It was filled with more books than perhaps anywhere in Britain, but only the first and second floors had seating, the second floor by balcony only overlooking the long rows and wings of the cathedral-like expanse. 

“About what?” Lily asked, grinning smugly as a couple sheepishly emerged from behind the stacks, yelping as they straightened their clothes, not looking at Lily or Remus as they hurried by.

“Stupid fifth years,” muttered the sixth year boy, glaring balefully behind him. “The older prefects don’t care.”

“I could still give you detention!” Lily threatened, and scowling, he walked off, putting his blue tie back on as he went.

“I feel guilty about interrupting,” Remus said as he and Lily resumed walking around the second floor. 

“Why? They have bedrooms,” scowled Lily, scanning shadowy corners for more trysting couples.

“With roommates,” Remus pointed out gently. “It’s this or empty classrooms. I don’t know where else people go.”

“When it’s warm they usually use the boathouse,” Lily said absently, not quite listening. “But now that it’s winter that and behind the greenhouses aren’t available. Makes people a little less cautious - “ she broke off as another, younger, couple broke guiltily apart. They had only been snogging behind the statue of Ptolemy Soter, holding a bundle of crumbling scrolls in his arms as he fled the burning of the library at Alexandria. 

“Bed,” Lily said firmly, not hearing explanations.

Gratefully this time, the two fourth years scurried away, only linking hands when they had started down the nearest stairs to recover their things.

“I mean, I know about the prefect bathroom,” Remus said casually, trying not to look like the complete innocent virgin that he was. He cleared his throat roughly. He hadn’t even kissed anyone. Ever. It didn’t help that he watched Sirius put his tongue down half the girls in their grade - he quashed the thought as Lily laughed.

“It’s much worse walking in on someone you know,” she agreed. “Or at the very least hearing them in the tub area. “But everybody’s creative. The broomcloset down by the Great Hall? Apparently good for a quick shag.”

Remus made a face. “That place? I can barely stand up in there.”

“Well of course you can’t,” teased Lily. “Being so tall and righteous.”

“I’m not,” mumbled Remus, feeling his face tighten with embarrassment. Lily only laid a hand on his arm, pulling him toward the large round stained glass window where several high wingback chairs stood. 

“When I don’t want a fireplace,” Lily said, squaring Remus properly so he could see the dying light peering through the dark thick colors, “I like to sit up here.”

Remus nodded. “I usually work better with a table, but here it’s beautiful.”

“When I didn’t have a lot of friends…you know…in the early years, Sev and I would come up here and talk for hours,” Lily trailed off wistfully, not glancing at Remus.

“He’s spending a lot of time with his new friends,” he guessed.

“They’re not his friends,” scowled Lily. “They’re his ex-bullies. I don’t know why he bothers to-” she took a huge breath and shook her head. “Anyway. I loved this window. It paints the pages you’re reading different colors.”

Remus had a sudden idea. “You’ve been trying to catch up on wizarding literature, right?” 

“Yeah,” Lily laughed, allowing Remus to pull her farther into the wing so they could look at the other shelves and tables full of suddenly productive students. “I’m really behind on fairytales and children’s stories, so I haven’t even gotten to much of the older stuff yet. Mostly the mysteries where you learn spells and pick your adventures. I like those. I wonder how many variations there are, but I can never keep them long enough to see if the words will reprint themselves just one more time. I just want to be able to speak the culture, you know?”

Remus nodded. “There’s a genre I think you’ll like. It’s up here.” He didn’t realize he was towing Lily by the wrist for a moment, but upon realizing it, he dropped her hand like fire. 

She only laughed. 

“It’s…” Remus was scanning the shelves. He remembered some of these books from when he was younger. “Here.” He had found the one he had especially wanted to show her. 

The Familiar Adventures of an Unfamiliar,” Lily read, turning over the cover in her hands. It had long lost its dust jacket. “What is this about?”

“You read it from the perspective of a cat. A witch’s familiar, you know,” Remus fumbled to make the story as magical as it had felt to him, but it only sounded silly now. “And his adventures.”

“Huh,” Lily said, and he could tell she was trying to be polite.

“No, you’ll love it, I promise. Open it to the first page.”

Lily smiled at him. “Okay,” she promised, hugging it to her chest. “I promise to check it out.”

“No, look, open it now.” Remus was tugging the book from her fingers, flipping it to the familiar chapter 1, the page already beginning to gloss before his eyes with a bright light. He quickly stood behind Lily, lowering the book so her eyes were caught up in the glow. When she gasped, he let the book drop into her stunned and open hands, then stepped back.

Lily was turning her face side to side, pushing it and pulling it from the paper. “Remus,” she said, her voice high and excited, just the way he had hoped it would be. It meant she was a child again, experiencing it for the first time as he had. “Remus, I’m the cat! Look. I can see my paws as I walk forward!” She pushed her head toward the book again. “I can smell the grass! The sky! I can…there she is! Oh.” 

Remus knew which part she had gotten to in the first paragraph, when the familiar trotted over the lawn and into the potions kitchen where his mistress stood. That swell of love and pride and protectiveness. 

“This book has feelings,” Lily’s voice was trembling. She wrenched her gaze from the paper, and the glow of the spell faded. She blinked bright green eyes at him. “How is that possible?”

Remus gave a crooked little smile. “All books have feelings,” he replied. “You just have to be in the right mood to find them.”

Lily closed the book reverently, this time actually pressing it to her chest like a great treasure. “Are all wizarding books like this?” she asked, already knowing the answer.

Remus shook his head. “No, it’s a special type called Interactive Idiometric Glamors, or IIG for short. They mostly make them for young witches and wizards to keep them quiet during traveling or evenings. It’s more similar to television than most things.”

“Better than television,” Lily breathed, stepping back from the bookshelf and glancing at the hundreds of books that stretched before her. “It’s these, right? The ones with the little IIGs on their spines.”

“Yes, they have to label them now,” Remus said, smiling slightly. “In the 1890s people kept reading them at train stations and forgetting their trains or getting off at the wrong station or not watching the time. The country nearly shut down because people wouldn’t walk on the sidewalks or come to work.”

“I can see why,” Lily mumbled, distracted. She was crouching, scanning the titles eagerly, looking for another story. 

“I read a lot of these as a child,” Remus said lightly. He wasn’t about to explain to Lily about being so ill growing up he could hardly get out of bed without excruciating pain. Leaving his body for a glamor where he could be whatever he wanted - young and healthy, old and wise, a cat, a frog, an owl, - it was the ideal his parents had been eager to provide. He always remembered the glow fading at the end of the last page, blinking back into his small brick bedroom, shivering despite the blankets, wishing almost that he could turn back to page one and escape his life even longer. 

“I want to read them all,” Lily said. She turned up an eager, childlike face towards Remus from the floor. “Can you recommend some?”

“Of course,” he said as he bent to catch her elbow. “But maybe when we aren’t on duty.”

Lily sprang up, her face crashing into guilt and remorse. “I forgot! Oh damn! We haven’t nearly finished the library yet!”

“It’s okay,” Remus said, guiding her to the nearest door to the second floor. “Some of them will get away this time.”

The book in Lily’s arms glimmered gold along the Hogwarts library seal and returned to normal after they were out of the double doors. Inside the book, the two week return date had magically appeared on the check-out card with Lily’s name printed neatly beside it. 

“Oh I wish I could run upstairs now,” Lily moaned. She grinned up at Remus however, stuffing the book in her bag. “I haven’t been so excited to read anything since I was a little girl discovering The Secret Garden. Have you read it? It’s my favorite muggle book.”

“No, I haven’t,” Remus said, surprised. He had read quite a lot, on account of his upbringing.

“Oh you’ll love it,” Lily enthused. “It’s a metaphor, you know? The garden - the secret one you know? It’s a metaphor of locking up tragedy and sadness and then letting yourself come back to life through healing and childhood magic and-” she stopped quickly, her cheekbones burning red. “Sorry.”

Remus was looking down at her in amusement. “What? No! Don’t be sorry. The others don’t read much.”

The Others needed no definition. 

“I love to read,” enthused Lily. “Or at least…I did. But then I came here…and reading made me too homesick.” 

Remus pretended not to notice the welling in Lily’s eyes as she looked at her shoes. She quickly pulled out her wand and sent a well-timed stinging hex into the curtains down the hall. Two girls sped out of it, giggling. 

“Do you have it with you?”

“What?”

The Secret Garden?”

“Oh…actually, yes. It was the one I read when…” she trailed off again, not looking Remus in the face, but somewhere behind one shoulder as they automatically swung up a staircase for the third floor. 

“Want to swap?” Remus said. “I’ll read yours if you read mine.”

Lily’s face broke into a huge smile; looking into her glittering eyes was the sun after a stormcloud. Remus had to smile back.

“Deal,” she enthused. “Come on, if we can round our way back up to the Seventh Floor before midnight, I’ll run up and get you my copy.”

“I may not have it read by the morning,” Remus said in alarm.

“It’s not quite as engrossing as a glamor,” Lily agreed.”But I’ll have to work hard not to stay up all night or I’ll be dead for Herbology.”

“Well we can talk about books any time,” Remus said quickly. “I never get to talk about them.”

“Neither do I,” said Lily ruefully. “Sev isn’t…and the others, Marlene and Mary and Alice and them…well they don’t like reading how I like reading. The first time I saw the library here I think I cried.”

“I was in that Study Hall,” Remus teased. “You did not.”

“Well I felt like it,” said Lily stubbornly. She glanced sidelong at Remus. “Book Club?” she offered shyly.

“What?”

“Where we both read books each other has read, then have tea and talk about them.”

Remus could not have imagined a more perfect afternoon if he tried. He smiled back. “Deal,” he said, and sent the stinging swat behind a statue of the trickster Morgana. 

“Oi!” Sirius said, emerging from behind it. “Watch your aim, Remus, you nearly took my eye out!”

Temple of the God Horus at Behdet (Edfu),
detail from the scenes related to the the Feast of “Opening the Year of the Reign of Horus” represented on the north inner side of the Girdle Wall,
lower register of the west part, detail from the III scene:
the King, Ptolemy IX Soter II, offering an ointment vessel.
The King is represented wearing a composite ‘Atef’-Crown with ram’s horns, two high feathers, the winged scarab, two Lion-headed Uraei, and the two volutes of the naos’ sistrum; on the top, five Solar orbs.

(the image has been impiously hammered by the christians…)

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Tetradrachm of Ptolemy II, from Alexandria, Egypt, C. 285-246 BC

Obverse: Diademed head of  Ptolemy I to right, wearing aegis around his neck; behind head, Β. Reverse: ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ Eagle, with closed wings, standing left on thunderbolt; between legs, X.

The importance of  this coin stems not from its elegant portrait on the obverse, but from the special legend on the reverse. Instead of  the usual Basileos Ptolemaiou, which was the official regnal name of  all the Ptolemaic kings of  Egypt, this one has Basileos Soteros, which solely refers to the deified founder of  the dynasty, Ptolemy I. The aegis that the king wears makes the connection with the divine quite clear: it was not worn by mere mortals but by the gods, as Athena, or other deified heroes, such as Alexander the Great himself.

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, (309–246 BC) was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 to 246 BC. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos. He had two half-brothers, Ptolemy Keraunos and Meleager, who both became kings of Macedonia (in 281 BC and 279 BC respectively), and who both died in the Gallic invasion of 280–279 BC. Ptolemy was first married to Arsinoë I, daughter of Lysimachus, who was the mother of his legitimate children; after her repudiation he married his full sister Arsinoë II, the widow of Lysimachus.

During Ptolemy’s reign, the material and literary splendor of the Alexandrian court was at its height. He promoted the Museum and Library of Alexandria, and he erected a commemorative stele, the Great Mendes Stela.

anonymous asked:

ive been a Hellenic polytheist for a while now and recently ive started to feel connected to Egyptian gods as well. is it okay / respectful to worship both? thank you!

This can certainly be done. In fact, the ancient Hellenes did it. In 7th century BC, after the Hellenic ‘dark ages’ (1100-750 BC), the city of Naucratis was founded in Ancient Egypt. It was located on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, 45 mi (72 km) from the open sea. It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Hellenic colony in Egypt; acting as a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Greek and Egyptian art and culture. Under Greco-Roman rule, Egypt hosted several Hellenic settlements, mostly concentrated in Alexandria, but also in a few other cities, where Hellenic settlers lived alongside some seven to ten million native Egyptians.

Alexander the Great conquered Egypt at an early stage of his conquests. He respected the pharaonic religions and customs and he was proclaimed Pharaoh of Egypt. He established the city of Alexandria. After his death, in 323 BC, his empire was divided among his generals. Egypt was given to Ptolemy I Soter, whose descendants would give Egypt her final royal dynasty. Ptolemy and his descendants showed respect to Egypt’s most cherished traditions–those of religion–and turned them to their own advantage. Alexandria became the centre of the Hellenistic world and the centre of international commerce, art and science. The last Pharaoh was an Hellenic princess, Cleopatra VII, who took her own life in 30 BC.

Contacts between both cultures created a sycratic mix of Gods that were influenced by both cultures. Similarly, some Gods were imported one-on-one into either Egypt or Hellas from a very early time on. There might be a depiction of the Egyptian Goddess Taweret in the vault of Minoic Krete, for example, transformed into an aquatic Hellenic deity.

The most important syncratic Gods are the ‘Alexandian Triad’, worshipped–predicatbly–in Alexandria. The triad consisted forstly of the Egyptian God Amon, who was represented by Zeus’ statue with two ram horns. Serapis is the Graeco-egyptian God par excellence: Osiris risen and become the bull Apis. He is identified with Hellenic Gods such as Hades, Zeus and Dionysos. For the Hellenes He was the God of fertility and medicine, represented the male productive forces of nature, and was regarded as sovereign of the kingdom of the dead. He was represented by the Greeks with long hair and beard, and a large cloak covering his entire body except the arms, seated on a throne with Kerberos at his feet. He was represented as a mummy, with the crescent moon and two flails in the Egyptian iconography. Isis, the wife of Osiris and Goddess of motherhood and fertility, was identified firsly with Demeter, but later was associated with other Goddesses such as Aphrodite, Athena or Artemis. She was represented at the Egyptian manner, sometimes with a double crown holding the feather of Maat, or a pair of lyre-shaped horns, and in the half the solar disk. She was also frequently represented sitting with her son Horus in her arms, breastfeeding him. The last god of the 'Alexandrian triad’ was Horus, son of Isis and Osiris. Osiris, after being murdered by his brother Seth, resurrected and had, with Isis, Horus. To the Alexandrians and the Greeks, Horus was equated with Apollon.

Another Alexandrian God was Hermanubis, a combination of Hermes and Anubis. The jackal God was here identified with Hermes Psychopompos, but also was identified with Thoth, the ibis-headed scribe. There were many another assimilations between both pantheons: Hathor and Aphrodite, Min and Pan, Mut and Hera, Nefertum and Prometheus, Ra and also Sobek with Helios, Neith and Athena, Bastet and Artemis, Onuris and Ares, Nekhbet and Eileithyia, and Heryshef and Heracles, amongst others.

But Dionysos was undoubtedly the most accepted Hellenic God by the Alexandrians. Unlike most Hellenic gods, Dionysos was worshiped By His Hellenic name, without being equated with any Egyptian deity. He was the favorite God of Alexander the Great, who, like his mother Olympias, was involved in the Dionysian Mysteries. The kings of the Ptolemaic dynasty, considering themselves the successors of Alexander, encouraged the continuation of the cult throughout their entire reign.

Reconstructing a Graeco-Egyptian pantheon and practice is possible, and I have seen it done. It’ll take a lot of research and a deep understanding of both religious practices to do it respectfully, but I believe a very rewarding practice await those who feel drawn to this pantheon.

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When the Egyptian demi-god and Pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter asked his tutor Euclid of Alexandria if there was an easier way to learn geometry, Euclid is said to have replied that there was no royal road to knowledge. While this story is almost certainly apocryphal and not written down for almost 700 years by Proclus in the 4th century AD, there is wisdom in what Euclid was reported to have said. HisElements stands as the first comprehensive mathematical work, a giant work that continues to define the basis of modern (ahem, non-Euclidean) geometry. The first main obstacle in Book 1 of the Elements is the Fifth proposition, known since antiquity in Latin as the Pons Asinorum, or in English as the ‘bridge of asses’. Perhaps Ptolemy stumbled when confronted with the difficulty of understanding the theorem of isosceles triangles. Perhaps the larger and thornier issue suggested by the Fifth postulate (note that the Fifth proposition and Fifth postulate are not the same, though both lead mathematicians to non-Euclidean geometries) gave him pause.

Today the pons asinorum is used metaphorically to mean any barrier between knowledge and how it is acquired. It also has special use in logic for the perils inherent in discovering the middle term of a syllogism as illustrated above. It has also been long suggested that the name comes from the shape of the proposition when drawn, as it resembles a bridge.

Today Euclid’s reprimand of Ptolemy still holds: do your homework!

Images, left to right: Ptolemy I Soter, a 17th century engraving of the pons asinorum in logic, and Euclid’s fifth proposition.

Cleopatra before Mark Antony

Cleopatra’s family ruled Egypt for more than 100 years before she was born around 69 B.C. The stories and myths surrounding Cleopatra’s tragic life inspired a number of books, movies and plays, including Antony and Cleopatra by Shakespeare. Cleopatra has become one of the most well known ancient Egyptians.

Early Years

Queen. The last ruler of the Macedonian dynasty, Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator was born around 69 B.C. The line of rule was established in 323 B.C., following the death of Alexander the Great and ended with Egypt’s annexation by Rome in 30.

The era began when Alexander’s general, Ptolemy, took over as ruler of Egypt, becoming King Ptolemy I Soter of Egypt. Over the next three centuries, his descendants would follow in his path. At its height, Ptolemaic Egypt was one of the world’s great powers.

Cleopatra’s father was King Ptolemy XII. Little is known about Cleopatra’s mother, but some speculation presumes she may have been her father’s sister, Cleopatra V Tryphaena. Debate also surrounds Cleopatra’s ethnicity. While it was believed for a long time that she was of Greek descent, some speculate that her lineage may have been black African.

In 51 B.C., Ptolemy XII died, leaving the throne to 18-year-old Cleopatra and her brother, the 10-year-old Ptolemy XIII. It is likely that the two siblings married, as was customary at the time. Over the next few years Egypt struggled to face down a number of issues, from an unhealthy economy to floods to famine.

Political turmoil also shaped this period. Soon after they assumed power, complications arose between Cleopatra and Ptolemy XIII. Eventually Cleopatra fled to Syria, where she assembled an army to defeat her rival in order to declare the throne for herself. In 48, she returned to Egypt with her military might and faced her brother at Pelusium, located on the empire’s eastern edge.

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Life With Caesar

Around this same time, the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey was consuming Rome. Pompey eventually sought refuge in Egypt, but on orders by Ptolemy, was killed.

In pursuit of his rival, Julius Caesar followed Pompey into Egypt, where he met and eventually fell in love with Cleopatra. In Caesar, Cleopatra now had access to enough military muscle to dethrone her brother and solidify her grip on Egypt as sole ruler. Following Caesar’s defeat of Ptolemy’s forces at the Battle of the Nile, Caesar restored Cleopatra to the throne. Soon after, Ptolemy XIII fled and drowned in the Nile.

In 47 B.C. Cleopatra bore Caesar a son, whom she named Caesarion. However, Caesar never acknowledged the boy was his offspring, and historical debate continues over whether he was indeed his father.

Cleopatra eventually followed Caesar back to Rome, but returned to Egypt in 44 B.C., following his assassination.

Let's talk about the Ancient Egyptians

Alright, so, I see a lot of fighting on Tumblr about Ancient Egypt, and as an Egyptologist myself, I want to clear his up.

Some Egyptians were black, and some were white. But, these people weren’t ethnic Egyptians, just very small minorities of citizens in the kingdom.

The ethnic ancient Egyptians themselves most likely looked somewhere in between in skin color, and most similar to Arabs and Jews in facial features

What you need to remember is that ancient Egypt was a multiethnic empire. Egyptians, Nubians, Assyrians, Greeks, Jews, Romans, and Libyans were all present throughout its 2,970 year run, so there’s no one “Egyptian race”.

Most of the debate is centred upon the pharaohs and their families, the Egyptian elite. Rameses, Tutankhamen, Cleopatra and so on. I can say, without a doubt that most of them are ethnic ancient Egyptians, with two exceptions.

The 25th dynasty, founded by Piye of Kush, was ruled by invaders from Nubia, the southern part of the Nile region. The Nubians were without a doubt black Africans, but, even during the age of Nubian domination, most Egyptians were still, indeed, Egyptian.

The second exception is the Ptolmsic dynasty, Egypt’s last dynasty before being absorbed into the growing Roman Empire, founded by Ptolemy Soter, a general of Alexander the Great, who took Egypt after Alexander’s empire collapsed. Born in Macedonia, Greece. Ptolemy, and his descendants, all the way up to Cleopatra, were ethnically Greek. But, just like under the Nubians, most of the Egyptian population were Egyptians.

So, in summary, to the people who say the Egyptians were black or white you’re both wrong, but not entirely. What I feel these people need to recognize is that there’s more than two races in Africa, it’s a big, diverse continent. The Egyptians of ancient times weren’t black or white, they were Egyptian. (Again, with the exception of those two foreigner-ruled dynasties.) just look at Egyptian statues and mummies, and you’ll see pretty clearly that they’re neither European nor African.

Finally, I want to say just how stupid all this is. The ancient Egyptians built a marvellous civilization, with innovations of architecture, science, art, and so much more. They more or less invented writing for gods sake! And you think that the only thing worth talking about is what they looked like instead of their spectacular accomplishments? You people care too much about race, and not enough about what really matters.

Please spread this around tumblr, so that we can put this nonsense to rest, and enjoy the greatness of the ancient world’s greatest society together.

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Cato, Lyndon Johnson, and the ancient art of toilet politics

Living in the 1st century BC Cato the Younger was a popular Roman senator and statesman known for his unyielding personality, iron will, and strict adherence to traditional Roman virtues and stoic philosophy.  A lion of the Senate, he was the rival of such powerful figures such as Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great.  In 58 BC Cato held audience with Ptolemy XII, the King of Egypt.  Egypt was in chaos due to infighting over the throne and a rebellion among its citizens.  The Ptolemy’s were Macedonian descendants of Ptolemy Soter, a general who served under Alexander the Great and inherited Egypt after Alexander’s death.  The Romans looked down upon the Ptolemy’s, viewing them as fat, lazy, ugly, over privileged slobs whose incestuous relationships were slowly destroying the Ptolemaic line.  Cato was especially critical of the Ptolemy’s, who offended his stoic lifestyle in values.  Upon news of Ptolemy XII arrival, Cato took a dose of a laxative, and stipulated that he would only hold audience with Ptolemy if the business was to be conducted in Cato’s private lavatory while he was on the toilet.  Negotiations between Cato and Ptolemy were conducted whilst Cato produced a number of loud, smelly bowel movements.  One could only imagine poor Ptolemy, stating his case but periodically being interrupted by a noisy fart here and there.  Cato’s contempt for Ptolemy was clear, he was a worthless as shit as far as Cato was concerned.

More than two thousand years later another great politician was known for using similar tactics.  United States President Lyndon B. Johnson was, like Cato, known for his staunch, uncompromising, and unyielding personality.  Contemporary politicians often described “The Johnson Treatment”, where he would invade a person’s personal space while talking one on one, using subtle and not so subtle intimation to manipulate people.  He gave his penis the nickname, “jumbo” and when people questioned the size of his jumbo he wouldn’t hesitate to whip out his jumbo as proof.  In one incident at a cabinet meeting when one of his secretaries questioned why America was becoming involved in Vietnam, LBJ immediately grabbed his jumbo and shouted, “this is why.”

Taking a cue from Cato, LBJ often held meetings and official business while on the toilet. It was reported that he wasn’t bashful about it at all, often holding his genitals, urinating in the sink, and sitting on the toilet in plain view of politicians and government officials.  Many excused this practice by explaining that he was short on time, however most contemporaries believed that, like Cato, he was putting his rivals in a state of dis-ease in order to control the conversation and manipulate people.  For example; National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy would stand in the farthest corner of the bathroom with his back turned to the President.  Johnson, however, would beckon Bundy to come closer, especially when he had some serious points to make. Johnson remarked,  “I thought he was going to sit on my lap! Hasn’t that guy ever been in the Army?”

Antique Copper Plate, Published London 1705-64 [1744] for “Navigantium atque Itinerantium Bibliotheca; A compleat collection of voyages and travels” by John Harris. Good paper, reverse side blank. Recent professional hand colour by a fine British Colourist.  “The Marble Watch-Tower or Light-House Erected by Ptolemy Soter on the island of Pharus near the Port of Alexandria with the causeway carried through the Sea to the Continent” Minor scuff to skyline. Neat, small old manuscript number top left corner margin.