Synesius, On Providence, prologue

Although The Egyptian Tale looks like a retelling of a part of the myth of Isis and Osiris, it is obvious that the two brothers Osiris and Typho represent good and bad government. The story, however, is not just a myth, because the man called Osiris can be identified as Aurelian, praetorian prefect of the Eastern Empire during the reign of Arcadius, and one of Synesius' benefactors. The other people in this ancient roman à clef, however, are less easy to identify, but an attempt is made here.


On Providence, prologue

[1.0] [1209] This has been written in the days of the sons of Taurus,note and the first part here presented was read as far as the riddle of the wolf, precisely at the moment when the inferior man was ruling, after coming into power through a division in the state. [1212] The ensuing part was woven into it after the return of the better men, who begged that this history should not remain incomplete amidst misfortunes; but that since those things which were foretold according to God seemed to be in course of fulfillment, it were better in dealing with the same subject to go on to more happy fortunes than those already recounted. From the moment, therefore, in which the overthrow of the tyranny was already in progress, the story followed the sequence of events. And it is worthy of no ordinary wonderment in all this that the handling suffices for many subjects. Many doctrines which up to this moment remained undecided, have found room for investigation in this story, and each has been examined in detail. Lives are described therein which are to be taken as examples of vice and virtue; the narrative contains a history of contemporary events; and this story has been fashioned and embellished throughout with a view to its utility.