Alexander Romance

Pseudo-Kallisthenes

[When Alexander the Great was laying the foundations of Alexandria a snake was slain; Alexander establishes a hero cult for it as Agathos Daimon — Alexander Romance (Armenian version) 86-87]

And they began to build the city of Alexandria in the middle of the plain. First the place was given a name so as to begin from there the building of the city. And a serpent used to come to those who were busy working, and it frightened the workers and put a stop to the work. Because of the serpent’s raids, Alexander came and said, “Let it be captured by the workmen wherever it is found tomorrow.” And upon receiving the order, they subdued and slew the beast when it came to the place which is now called Yark. And Alexander asked that a shrine be built for it there, and they buried the serpent in it. And he declared that the excavation for the foundations be made nowhere else but on that same spot, where to this day the high mountain called the Albiwrk appears …. And when the shrine had been built for this divinity, he set it upon the pillar. And many serpents came out of it and slithered into the houses that were now there. For Alexander was still there on the twenty-fifth of Tybi, building the city and that very shrine for the serpent. Thus, when these snakes came into the houses, the gatekeepers worship them as kindly spirits, for they are not poisonous, like wild animals, but rather, drive out poisonous beasts. And sacrifices are made to him as being of the family of serpents. And they wreathed all the beasts of burden and let them rest on that day; for, by bearing burdens, they had done their share in the building of the splendid city. And the king ordered that grain be given the guards. And when they had ground the grain and made bread, this was given to the inhabitants as in time of great rejoicing. On account of this, to this day these customs are kept among the Alexandrians on the twenty-fifth of Tybi. They garland all beasts of burden, and offer sacrifices to the god, and render homage to the serpents who safeguard the home, and make a distribution of bread.

 

 

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