Saturday, October 20, 2018


OXYRHYNCHUS in Upper Egypt was well-known in ancient times, but it is even better known today among scholars because of bits of crumbling papyrus which give us important written history.

This city, also spelled Oxyrhynchos, named for an infamous pointy-nosed fish, was one of the last places Antinous saw during the ill-fated journey up the Nile in October of the year 130 AD. 

The Egyptians had many stories about the Passion of Isis and Osiris. 

Oddly enough, there is no one single version of the story from start to finish, only bits and pieces of the story from many sources, many of them totally contradicting other versions.

In one version, it was said that Seth had murdered and mutilated his brother Osiris and had strewn the bodily parts up and down the Nile Valley. 

Grief-stricken Isis set out to find every piece so that she could use magical spells to bring Osiris back to life. With the help of Thoth, she extorted that Sacred Magic from Ra after having poisoned him (but that's another story). 

It was said that she recovered every single part of his body except for his penis, which had been swallowed by the phallic-shaped oxyrhynchus fish.

To this day, Egyptians avoid eating the oxyrhynchus fish because it is considered "unclean."

Isis was forced to create a magical phallus instead, by which she mated with Osiris and brought him to orgasm. The issue from that union was the god Horus.

What must Antinous have thought as his Egyptian guides told him these strange tales of murder, dismemberment and penile penetration? 

There were many other versions. One involved a cedar tree in Lebanon which had grown up around the corpse of Osiris. Another involved the scorpion goddess Selket and six of her stinging sisters guarding the baby Horus, who (in this version) had been born prior to his father's death. 

Who could make sense of these ancient and contradictory tales, each of which the Egyptian priests insisted was true in some way or other? Perhaps there is a version of the story, complete from start to finish, which could resolve all the contradictions. If so, it may have been written on some piece of papyrus found at Oxyrhynchus which has not yet been deciphered.

Against this mythological backdrop, Antinous entered the city of Oxyrhynchus, a Greek city founded by the Ptolemies, that has since become famous for the thousands of papyrus fragments unearthed in its buried libraries.

Flamen Antonyus Subia explains the special importance of the imperial visit:

The people of Oxyrhynchus were highly literate and therefore made a welcome stop for the Greek-loving emperor Hadrian.

The visit of Antinous to this city is important because several fragments mention his name, and the sacred poem of the LION HUNT was found here.

We are reminded by Oxyrhynchus of the fragile nature of the written word and how easily knowledge can be lost, and therefore, we sanctify the memory of the city to the importance that these fragments confer about our God Antinous. The Goddess of Oxyrhynchus is Athena-Sophia, patroness of learning.

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