Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven,
or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the
powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to
Nay, it should rather be said that the whole Kosmos dwells in
this our land as in its sanctuary.
And yet, since it is fitting
that wise men should have knowledge of all events before they
come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of this:
will come a time when it will be seen that in vain have the
Egyptians honored the deity with heartfelt piety and assiduous
service; and all our holy worship will be found bootless and
For the gods will return from earth to heaven.
Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of
religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its
This land and region will be filled with foreigners; not only
will men neglect the service of the gods, but ... ; and Egypt
will be occupied by Scythians or Indians or by some such race
from the barbarian countries thereabout. In that day will our
most holy land, this land of shrines and temples, be filled with
funerals and corpses.
To thee, most holy Nile, I cry, to thee I
foretell that which shall be; swollen with torrents of blood,
thou wilt rise to the level of thy banks, and thy sacred waves
will be not only stained, but utterly fouled with gore.
Do you weep at this, Asclepius? There is worse to come;
herself will have yet more to suffer; she will fall into a far
more piteous plight, and will be infected with yet more,
grievous plagues; and this land, which once was holy, a land
which loved the gods, and wherein alone, in reward for her
devotion, the gods deigned to sojourn upon earth, a land which
was the teacher of mankind in holiness and piety, this land will
go beyond all in cruel deeds.
The dead will far outnumber the
living; and the survivors will be known for Egyptians by their
tongue alone, but in their actions they will seem to be men of
O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty
tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe;
nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will
tell of thy piety.
And in that day men will be weary of life,
and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent
wonder and of worship. And so religion, the greatest of all
blessings, for there is nothing, nor has been, nor ever shall
be, that can be deemed a greater boon, will be threatened with
destruction; men will think it a burden, and will come to scorn
They will no longer love this world around us, this
incomparable work of God, this glorious structure which he has
built, this sum of good made up of things of many diverse forms,
this instrument whereby the will of God operates in that which
be has made, ungrudgingly favoring man’s welfare, this
combination and accumulation of all the manifold things that can
call forth the veneration, praise, and love of the beholder.
Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought
more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven
; the pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise; the
madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be
esteemed as good.
As to the soul, and the belief that it is
immortal by nature, or may hope to attain to immortality, as I
have taught you, all this they will mock at, and will even
persuade themselves that it is false.
No word of reverence or
piety, no utterance worthy of heaven and of the gods of heaven,
will be heard or believed.
And so the gods will depart from mankind, a grievous thing!, and
only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and
drive the poor wretches by main force into all manner of
reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all
things hostile to the nature of the soul.
Then will the earth no
longer stand unshaken, and the sea will bear no ships; heaven
will not support the stars in their orbits, nor will the stars
pursue their constant course in heaven; all voices of the gods
will of necessity be silenced and dumb; the fruits of the earth
will rot; the soil will turn barren, and the very air will
sicken in sullen stagnation.
After this manner will old age come
upon the world. Religion will be no more; all things will be
disordered and awry; all good will disappear.
But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then the Master and
Father, God, the first before all, the maker of that god who
first came into being, will look on that which has come to pass,
and will stay the disorder by the counterworking of his will,
which is the good.
He will call back to the right path those who
have gone astray; he will cleanse the world from evil, now
washing it away with water-floods, now burning it out with
fiercest fire, or again expelling it by war and pestilence.
thus he will bring back his world to its former aspect, so that
the Kosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and
wondering reverence, and God, the maker and restorer of the
mighty fabric, will be adored by the men of that day with
unceasing hymns of praise and blessing.
Such is the new
birth of the Kosmos; it is a making again of all things good, a
holy and awe-striking restoration of all nature; and it is
wrought in the process of time by the eternal will of God.
Gods will has no beginning; it is ever the same, and as it now
is, even so it has ever been, without beginning.
For it is the
very being of God to purpose good.