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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 32.47

nan And yet how many here have met destruction because of these allurements? Loss of reputation, at any rate, everyone has suffered. And did the Sirens do anything else according to the story? Did they not regularly destroy those who took extravagant delight in them? Yet the Sirens dwelt in a lonely sea and far away, all by themselves, on a lofty cliff, where no one could easily approach; and even there the man of sense escaped in safety and heard them with composure. These entertainers of Alexandria, however, ply their trade in what is practically the centre of the civilized world and in the most populous city of all, not, by Zeus, because of any charm or power of their own, but rather because of your fatuity. For why is it that outside Alexandria they produce an impression quite like that produced by the usual run of performers, nay, frequently have been thought to be unpleasant? Can it be that the ears of the people in those places have been stopped? <

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1. Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, 40.3.1-40.3.8 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2. Strabo, Geography, 16.2.5, 16.2.35-16.2.39, 17.1.12 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

16.2.5. Antioch is the metropolis of Syria. A palace was constructed there for the princes of the country. It is not much inferior in riches and magnitude to Seleuceia on the Tigris and Alexandreia in Egypt.[Seleucus] Nicator settled here the descendants of Triptolemus, whom we have mentioned a little before. On this account the people of Antioch regard him as a hero, and celebrate a festival to his honour on Mount Casius near Seleuceia. They say that when he was sent by the Argives in search of Io, who first disappeared at Tyre, he wandered through Cilicia; that some of his Argive companions separated from him and founded Tarsus; that the rest attended him along the sea-coast, and, relinquishing their search, settled with him on the banks of the Orontes; that Gordys the son of Triptolemus, with some of those who had accompanied his father, founded a colony in Gordyaea, and that the descendants of the rest became settlers among the inhabitants of Antioch. 16.2.35. An Egyptian priest named Moses, who possessed a portion of the country called the Lower [Egypt] * * * *, being dissatisfied with the established institutions there, left it and came to Judaea with a large body of people who worshipped the Divinity. He declared and taught that the Egyptians and Africans entertained erroneous sentiments, in representing the Divinity under the likeness of wild beasts and cattle of the field; that the Greeks also were in error in making images of their gods after the human form. For God [said he] may be this one thing which encompasses us all, land and sea, which we call heaven, or the universe, or the nature of things. Who then of any understanding would venture to form an image of this Deity, resembling anything with which we are conversant? on the contrary, we ought not to carve any images, but to set apart some sacred ground and a shrine worthy of the Deity, and to worship Him without any similitude. He taught that those who made fortunate dreams were to be permitted to sleep in the temple, where they might dream both for themselves and others; that those who practised temperance and justice, and none else, might expect good, or some gift or sign from the God, from time to time. 16.2.36. By such doctrine Moses persuaded a large body of right-minded persons to accompany him to the place where Jerusalem now stands. He easily obtained possession of it, as the spot was not such as to excite jealousy, nor for which there could be any fierce contention; for it is rocky, and, although well supplied with water, it is surrounded by a barren and waterless territory. The space within [the city] is 60 stadia [in circumference], with rock underneath the surface.Instead of arms, he taught that their defence was in their sacred things and the Divinity, for whom he was desirous of finding a settled place, promising to the people to deliver such a kind of worship and religion as should not burthen those who adopted it with great expense, nor molest them with [so-called] divine possessions, nor other absurd practices.Moses thus obtained their good opinion, and established no ordinary kind of government. All the nations around willingly united themselves to him, allured by his discourses and promises. 16.2.37. His successors continued for some time to observe the same conduct, doing justly, and worshipping God with sincerity. Afterwards superstitious persons were appointed to the priesthood, and then tyrants. From superstition arose abstinence from flesh, from the eating of which it is now the custom to refrain, circumcision, excision, and other practices which the people observe. The tyrannical government produced robbery; for the rebels plundered both their own and the neighbouring countries. Those also who shared in the government seized upon the property of others, and ravaged a large part of Syria and of Phoenicia.Respect, however, was paid to the acropolis; it was not abhorred as the seat of tyranny, but honoured and venerated as a temple. 16.2.38. This is according to nature, and common both to Greeks and barbarians. For, as members of a civil community, they live according to a common law; otherwise it would be impossible for the mass to execute any one thing in concert (in which consists a civil state), or to live in a social state at all. Law is twofold, divine and human. The ancients regarded and respected divine, in preference to human, law; in those times, therefore, the number of persons was very great who consulted oracles, and, being desirous of obtaining the advice of Jupiter, hurried to Dodona, to hear the answer of Jove from the lofty oak.The parent went to Delphi, anxious to learn whether the child which had been exposed (to die) was still living;while the child itself was gone to the temple of Apollo, with the hope of discovering its parents.And Minos among the Cretans, the king who in the ninth year enjoyed converse with Great Jupiter, every nine years, as Plato says, ascended to the cave of Jupiter, received ordices from him, and conveyed them to men. Lycurgus, his imitator, acted in a similar manner; for he was often accustomed, as it seemed, to leave his own country to inquire of the Pythian goddess what ordices he was to promulgate to the Lacedaemonians. 16.2.39. What truth there may be in these things I cannot say; they have at least been regarded and believed as true by mankind. Hence prophets received so much honour as to be thought worthy even of thrones, because they were supposed to communicate ordices and precepts from the gods, both during their lifetime and after their death; as for example Teiresias, to whom alone Proserpine gave wisdom and understanding after death: the others flit about as shadows.Such were Amphiaraus, Trophonius, Orpheus, and Musaeus: in former times there was Zamolxis, a Pythagorean, who was accounted a god among the Getae; and in our time, Decaeneus, the diviner of Byrebistas. Among the Bosporani, there was Achaicarus; among the Indians, were the Gymnosophists; among the Persians, the Magi and Necyomanteis, and besides these the Lecanomanteis and Hydromanteis; among the Assyrians, were the Chaldaeans; and among the Romans, the Tyrrhenian diviners of dreams.Such was Moses and his successors; their beginning was good, but they degenerated. 17.1.12. At present Egypt is a (Roman) province, pays considerable tribute, and is well governed by prudent persons, who are sent there in succession. The governor thus sent out has the rank of king. Subordinate to him is the administrator of justice, who is the supreme judge in many causes. There is another officer, who is called Idiologus, whose business it is to inquire into property for which there is no claimant, and which of right falls to Caesar. These are accompanied by Caesar's freedmen and stewards, who are entrusted with affairs of more or less importance.Three legions are stationed in Egypt, one in the city, the rest in the country. Besides these there are also nine Roman cohorts, three quartered in the city, three on the borders of Ethiopia in Syene, as a guard to that tract, and three in other parts of the country. There are also three bodies of cavalry distributed in convenient posts.of the native magistrates in the cities, the first is the expounder of the law, who is dressed in scarlet; he receives the customary honours of the country, and has the care of providing what is necessary for the city. The second is the writer of records, the third is the chief judge. The fourth is the commander of the night guard. These magistrates existed in the time of the kings, but in consequence of the bad administration of affairs by the latter, the prosperity of the city was ruined by licentiousness. Polybius expresses his indignation at the state of things when lie was there: he describes the inhabitants of the city to be composed of three classes; the (first) Egyptians and natives, acute but indifferent citizens, and meddling with civil affairs. Tile second, the mercenaries, a numerous and undisciplined body ; for it was an ancient custom to maintain foreign soldiers, who, from the worthlessness of their sovereigns, knew better how to govern than to obey. The third were the Alexandrines, who, for the same reason, were not orderly citizens; but still they were better than the mercenaries, for although they were a mixed race, yet being of Greek origin, they retained the customs common to the Greeks. But this class was extinct nearly about the time of Euergetes Physcon, in whose reign Polybius came to Alexandreia. For Physcon, being distressed by factions, frequently exposed the multitude to the attacks of the soldiery, and thus destroyed them. By such a state of things in the city the words of the poet (says Polybius) were verified: The way to Egypt is long and vexatious.
3. Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 1.18, 1.23, 3.6-3.7, 31.149, 32.29, 32.35-32.37, 32.41, 62.1 (1st cent. CE

31.149.  You remember the notorious Acratus, who visited practically the whole inhabited world in this quest and passed by no village even — you recall how he came here likewise, and when you were, quite naturally, distressed, he said he had come to see the sights, for he had no authority to touch anything here. Therefore, apart from the beautiful sight which all the world may enjoy, the great number of your statues brings you a renown of another sort! For these things are manifestly a proof of your friendship for your rulers and of their respect for you. 32.35.  But to take just that topic which I mentioned in the beginning, see how important it is. For how you dine in private, how you sleep, how you manage your household, these are matters in which as individuals you are not at all conspicuous; on the other hand, how you behave as spectators and what you are like in the theatre are matters of common knowledge among Greeks and barbarians alike. For your city is vastly superior in point of size and situation, and it is admittedly ranked second among all cities beneath the sun. 32.36.  For not only does the mighty nation, Egypt, constitute the framework of your city — or more accurately its ')" onMouseOut="nd();"appendage — but the peculiar nature of the river, when compared with all others, defies description with regard to both its marvellous habits and its usefulness; and furthermore, not only have you a monopoly of the shipping of the entire Mediterranean by reason of the beauty of your harbours, the magnitude of your fleet, and the abundance and the marketing of the products of every land, but also the outer waters that lie beyond are in your grasp, both the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, whose name was rarely heard in former days. The result is that the trade, not merely of islands, ports, a few straits and isthmuses, but of practically the whole world is yours. For Alexandria is situated, as it were, at the cross-roads of the whole world, of even the most remote nations thereof, as if it were a market serving a single city, a market which brings together into one place all manner of men, displaying them to one another and, as far as possible, making them a kindred people. 32.37.  Perhaps these words of mine are pleasing to your ears and you fancy that you are being praised by me, as you are by all the rest who are always flattering you; but I was praising water and soil and harbours and places and everything except yourselves. For where have I said that you are sensible and temperate and just? Was it not quite the opposite? For when we praise human beings, it should be for their good discipline, gentleness, concord, civic order, for heeding those who give good counsel, and for not being always in search of pleasures. But arrivals and departures of vessels, and superiority in size of population, in merchandise, and in ships, are fit subjects for praise in the case of a fair, a harbour, or a market-place, but not of a city; 32.41.  What, then, do you suppose those people say when they have returned to their homes at the ends of the earth? Do they not say: "We have seen a city that in most respects is admirable and a spectacle that surpasses all human spectacles, with regard both to beauty and sanctuaries and multitude of inhabitants and abundance of all that man requires," going on to describe to their fellow citizens as accurately as possible all the things that I myself named a short while ago — all about the Nile, the land, and the sea, and in particular the epiphany of the god; "and yet," they will add, "it is a city that is mad over music and horse-races and in these matters behaves in a manner entirely unworthy of itself. For the Alexandrians are moderate enough when they offer sacrifice or stroll by themselves or engage in their other pursuits; but when they enter the theatre or the stadium, just as if drugs that would madden them lay buried there, they lose all consciousness of their former state and are not ashamed to say or do anything that occurs to them. 62.1. And indeed, if a person is not competent to govern a single man, and that too a man who is very close to him, in fact his constant companion, and if, again, he cannot guide a single soul, and that his own, how could he be king, as you are, over unnumbered thousands scattered everywhere, many even dwelling at the ends of the earth, most of whom he has not even seen and never could see, and whose speech he will not understand? Why, it is as if one were to say of the man with vision so impaired that he cannot see even what lies at his feet but needs some one to lead him by the hand, that he can reach with his eyes the most distant objects, like those who at sea behold from afar both the mountains and the islands; or as if one were to say of the man who cannot make himself heard even by those who stand beside him, that he is able to speak so as to be heard by whole communities and armies.
4. Pliny The Elder, Natural History, 7.97 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

5. Tacitus, Annals, 15.45.1-15.45.2 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

15.45.1.  Meanwhile, Italy had been laid waste for contributions of money; the provinces, the federate communities, and the so‑called free states, were ruined. The gods themselves formed part of the plunder, as the ravaged temples of the capital were drained of the gold dedicated in the triumphs or the vows, the prosperity or the fears, of the Roman nation at every epoch. But in Asia and Achaia, not offerings alone but the images of deity were being swept away, since Acratus and Carrinas Secundus had been despatched into the two provinces. The former was a freedman prepared for any enormity; the latter, as far as words went, was a master of Greek philosophy, but his character remained untinctured by the virtues. Seneca, it was rumoured, to divert the odium of sacrilege from himself, had asked leave to retire to a distant estate in the country, and, when it was not accorded, had feigned illness — a neuralgic affection, he said — and declined to leave his bedroom. Some have put it on record that, by the orders of Nero, poison had been prepared for him by one of his freedmen, Cleonicus by name; and that, owing either to the man's revelations or to his own alarms, it was avoided by Seneca, who supported life upon an extremely simple diet of field fruits and, if thirst was insistent, spring water.
6. Achilles Tatius, The Adventures of Leucippe And Cleitophon, 5.1 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

7. Aelius Aristides, Orations, 26.11-26.13 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
acratus Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
ailios aristeides Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
alexandria (egypt) Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
antioch Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
apameia Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
caesars, roman Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
citizenship Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
city of alexandria, royal quarters Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
dion of prousa Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
galba Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
humankind, unity of Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
jews in alexandria, jewish district/delta quarter Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
josephus, on the city of alexandria Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
nero Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
oikoumene Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
pompeius magnus, cn. Stanton, Unity and Disunity in Greek and Christian Thought under the Roman Peace (2021) 76
population of alexandria' Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
rhakotis Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
rome Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
sarapis/serapis, serapeum Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21
strabo, description of alexandria Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 21