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The Serapeum Temple

The Temple Of The Deity Serapis

The Serapeum Temple was built by Ptolemy I Soter {A dear friend and biographer of the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, after his death king of Egypt, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, one of the Diadochi.}.

He dedicated the temple to the deity Serapis, who was believed to be the defender of Alexandria. It has been well known that Soter wanted to select an official god for Egypt, he chose Serapis, ordering his architect Parmeniscus to design what became one of the largest and best known of the god Serapis’s temples. 

Apart from playing host to the image of Serapis, the temple district also contained an annexe of the great Library of Alexandria after the destruction of the library. The annexe was located in the western part of the city based on the accounts of Strabo the geographer.

Unfortunately, the only existing object in the area is Pompey’s massive pillar. From information provided by Rowe and Rees 1956, a historical visit was paid to Serapeum in 315 AD by the famous Greek orator from Antioch, Aphtonius.

In July, 325 AD, Constantine presumably ordered the closure of the Serapuem temple. The religious riots of 391 AD, based on the account of Wace, forced the Pagans into hiding and the Serapeum was said to be their final fortress based on the security offered by the impregnable building. However, it was eventually breached by the Christians who drove out the pagans and destroyed the contents of the temple as well as the library. Another theory attributes the sacking of the temple to Roman Soldiers rather than a Christian mob and even questions the validity of 391  as the date of its destruction.


Updated On April 21, 2020