The horse trainers, Castor and Pollux were in greek mythology twin brothers of the same mother (Leda), but different fathers (Tyndareus and Zeus/Jupiter). The two sons were the patrons of mariners, and manifest in St Elmo’s fire in the rigging of ships. The two sons were celebrated on the victory of Lake Regillus 495BC. A temple was built to celebrate this victory in the roman forum, and today is celebrated outside the parliament house in Italy (See previous post)
After three months on Malta, Paul was to join a ship of Alexandria flying under the colours of Castor and Pollux to travel to Syracuse. Acts 28:11,12
Both Syracuse and Alexandria represented some of the greatest trading centres on the Mediterranean.
Syracuse was a Phoenician trading port, and it was through here that the goods of Tyre and Sidon were traded. Hippocrates overran the port in 498BC and attempted to remove the Phoenician influence from the western part of the island, but unsuccessfully. Continued dispute between the Carthaginian empire and the Romans was to continue through the Pyrric wars until the final defeat of Hannibal at the gates of Rome and the subsequent destruction of Carthage in 146BC when the city fell to Scipio Aemilianus: “Delanda est Carthago” The attempts of the Pyrrhic wars [aptly demonstrated by the final death of Pyrrus 272BC by a random tile flung from a rooftop by a woman at Argos has echoes of the woman at Thebez] were prolonged and ineffective against the men of Carthage. It later became the nature of the Vandals who invaded the Roman empire leading to a protracted struggle for the same territory. Rev 8
Alexandria was an attempt by Greece to replace the influence of Tyre and Sidon on the world scene. After the humiliating Tyre siege, Alexander proceeded to Egypt and set up one of 23 (?) cities named after himself as the new centre for Grecian influence in Egypt. It started a tradition of Grecian influence in Egypt under Soter and his successors known as the Ptolemaic empire or in biblical terms “the king of the south” which will continue until the time of the Russian invasion Dan 11. The city now more famous for its costal corniche cafes than for trade, contained a world famous harbour, the entrance marked by the Pharos, and enormous lighthouse commissioned shortly after the death of Alexander by Soter in 305BC and finished under his son Ptolemy Philadelphus. It’s base was marked by the dedication to the “saviour gods” [His name Ptolemy Soter] and later celebrated on the flags of its ships in the form of Castor and Pollux. Tritons held each corner, and a statue of Poseidon finished the celebration to everything apart from God himself as the protector of the mariners. A smaller version to celebrate the lighthouse can be seen at Lake Meriout on the western extremities of the Nile delta. [Incidentally the arabic word for lighthouse is minaret having the same root word as menorah in the Aramaic nur meaning fire. It seems that Pharos may have been the inspiration for the minarets so commonly seen throughout arabic lands]
Pharos at Lake Meriout: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=30.947912,29.523654&num=1&t=h&sll=37.051958,15.272284&sspn=0.041032,0.136986&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=30.947994,29.522645&spn=0.002756,0.008562&z=14&output=embed
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One further important thing happened at Alexandria. Apart from the Pharos, the city became famous for its library. Again as a result of the antagonism with the Phoenician empire, and in particular the city of Byblos, known for its parchments. As an adjunct of this, a group of 72 men were held within 72 chambers and asked each to independently write a copy of the hebrew scriptures in greek. This document known as the Septuagint [Greek: ἡ μετάφρασις τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα / Latin: Interpretatio septuaginta virorum, “interpretation of the seventy men,” ] or it’s abbreviation as LXX, also included some other mystic and historical books such as the books of Maccabees, Judith etc. and are known as the Apocrypha. The important impact of this translation was seen through the use of the greek language. Instantly the scriptures were able to be read throughout the whole world, and the scriptures could be discussed outside the synagogue. This would be vastly important particularly for the work of Paul and others in his footsteps.
The modern Library, Alexandria, Egypt: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Pharos+Egypt&aq=&sll=31.147282,29.860625&sspn=0.011,0.034246&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=%C3%8Ele+de+Pharos&ll=31.202047,29.870968&spn=0.002748,0.008562&t=h&z=14&output=embed
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