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Historiae by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Book IV Chapter 83: Vespasian emperor. Origin of Serapis[AD 70]
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The origin of this God Serapis has not hitherto been made generally known by our writers. The Egyptian priests give this account. While Ptolemy, the first Macedonian king who consolidated the power of Egypt, was setting up in the city of Alexandria fortifications, temples, and rites of worship, there appeared to him in his sleep a youth of singular beauty and more than human stature, who counselled the monarch to send his most trusty friends to Pontus, and fetch his effigy from that country. This, he said, would bring prosperity to the realm, and great and illustrious would be the city which gave it a reception. At the same moment he saw the youth ascend to heaven in a blaze of fire. Roused by so significant and strange an appearance, Ptolemy disclosed the vision of the night to the Egyptian priests, whose business it is to understand such matters. As they knew but little of Pontus or of foreign countries, he enquired of Timotheus, an Athenian, one of the family of the Eumolpids, whom he had invited from Eleusis to preside over the sacred rites, what this worship was, and who was the deity. Timotheus, questioning persons who had found their way to Pontus, learnt that there was there a city Sinope, and near it a temple, which, according to an old tradition of the neighbourhood, was sacred to the Infernal Jupiter, for there also stood close at hand a female figure, to which many gave the name of Proserpine. Ptolemy, however, with the true disposition of a despot, though prone to alarm, was, when the feeling of security returned, more intent on pleasures than on religious matters; and he began by degrees to neglect the affair, and to turn his thoughts to other concerns, till at length the same apparition, but now more terrible and peremptory, denounced ruin against the king and his realm, unless his bidding were performed. Ptolemy then gave directions that an embassy should be despatched with presents to king Scydrothemis, who at that time ruled the people of Sinope, and instructed them, when they were on the point of sailing, to consult the Pythian Apollo. Their voyage was prosperous, and the response of the oracle was clear. The God bade them go and carry back with them the image of his father [Note 1], but leave that of his sister behind.

Note 1: father = Serapis

Event: Vespasian emperor

Origo dei nondum nostris auctoribus celebrata: Aegyptiorum antistites sic memorant, Ptolemaeo regi, qui Macedonum primus Aegypti opes firmavit, cum Alexandriae recens conditae moenia templaque et religiones adderet, oblatum per quietem decore eximio et maiore quam humana specie iuvenem, qui moneret ut fidissimis amicorum in Pontum missis effigiem suam acciret; laetum id regno magnamque et inclutam sedem fore quae excepisset: simul visum eundem iuvenem in caelum igne plurimo attolli. Ptolemaeus omine et miraculo excitus sacerdotibus Aegyptiorum, quibus mos talia intellegere, nocturnos visus aperit. atque illis Ponti et externorum parum gnaris, Timotheum Atheniensem e gente Eumolpidarum, quem ut antistitem caerimoniarum Eleusine exciverat, quaenam illa superstitio, quod numen, interrogat. Timotheus quaesitis qui in Pontum meassent, cognoscit urbem illic Sinopen, nec procul templum vetere inter accolas fama Iovis Ditis: namque et muliebrem effigiem adsistere quam plerique Proserpinam vocent. sed Ptolemaeus, ut sunt ingenia regum, pronus ad formidinem, ubi securitas rediit, voluptatum quam religionum adpetens neglegere paulatim aliasque ad curas animum vertere, donec eadem species terribilior iam et instantior exitium ipsi regnoque denuntiaret ni iussa patrarentur. tum legatos et dona Scydrothemidi regi (is tunc Sinopensibus imperitabat) expediri iubet praecepitque navigaturis ut Pythicum Apollinem adeant. illis mare secundum, sors oraculi haud ambigua: irent simulacrumque patris sui reveherent, sororis relinquerent.