Then bright Mandulis came from high Olympus
bearing his bright cheeks and walking by the right hand of Isis.
You boast how you provide for the people,
how day and night and all the seasons revere you
and call you kin, Breith and Mandulis,
stars, emblems of the gods rising in heaven.
– Paccius Maximus
(My own translation)
These lines come from a poem written by a Roman soldier named Paccius Maximus and painted on the wall of the temple to Mandulis at Kalabsha, in modern Sudan. We know very little about Paccius besides what he tells us in this and one other poem, but based on some clues he is believed to have been a local African officer in the late Roman army.
Mandulis, often associated with his twin brother Breith, was a Nubian sun god. It’s interesting to note how Paccius readily connected Mandulis with both the Olympian gods and the Egyptian goddess Isis, easily harmonizing Greco-Roman, Egyptian, and Nubian religious traditions. His poem gives us a glimpse at how culturally complex and interconnected the world of the Roman empire was.
But, as fascinating as Paccius’ poem is, it’s on my mind today for a different reason.
It snowed here last night. Again. That’s the fifth snowstorm we’ve had this March.
You see this stuff? You see it? I’m sick of it. I like winter just fine, but it’s time for this winter to be over.
Mandulis, wherever you are, we could really use you and your bright cheeks right now. Any time you want to come start providing for us people here, buddy. Any time. I’ll be waiting.
When the suckage just sucks too much.
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