A long drive today, to and from Alexandria. We took in the catacombs there, visited the still relatively new Library of Alexandria, and walked around a Greco-Roman theater and its ancient environs.
Founded by Alexander the Great in (as I recall) 332 BC, Alexandria was the capital city of Egypt for approximately nine centuries, and the second city of the Roman Empire for generations. Indeed, for quite a while it, certainly not Rome, was the Empire’s intellectual capital. It was the city of Eratosthenes, Clement, Origen, LonginusEuclid, Ammonius Saccas, Claudius Ptolemy, the younger Plotinus, and a large host of others.
The chief legacy of Alexandria is intellectual, certainly not political or material. Which is, I suppose, as it should be, since the archaeological remnants of the ancient city are modest in scope.
We had a new guide just for today, an exuberant fellow who was exuberant in his praise of Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. I think that some of our people enjoyed hearing something about Egyptian political attitudes. Our main guide, Hany Tawfeek, is also a fan of the current president. Al-Sisi has launched large campaigns of reform and renovation, and I must say that I found the streets of both Cairo and Luxor distinctly cleaner than I’ve ever seen them before. He’s a dictator but, surely, an effective and a popular one — in at least certain circles,
We’re now at the Cairo Airport, from which we’re scheduled to depart for France in somewhat more than two hours. One of the commentators on my blog has been predicting that I’ll be bringing a lethal variant of COVID back with me — human sacrifice! dogs and cats living together! mass hysteria! — and, thus, unleashing apocalyptic destruction upon the unsuspecting residents of North America. Fortunately, my fiendish plan appears to be working: Everybody in our group scored a negative COVID test shortly before the first of us boarded flights for home. That result was probably the product, in some mysterious fashion, of our prior compliance with pandemic rules, including a vastly larger use of alcohol than is common among bus passengers who are all observant Latter-day Saints. My critic will be so very, very disappointed. But there’s a virtually unlimited supply of potential depravities of which I can be accused , so he shouldn’t despair.
Posted from Cairo, Egypt