The Serapeum was one of the grandest temples in all of Alexandria. The arms of the statue of Serapis reached the temple walls on either side. A soldier, described by the great historian Gibbon as “intrepid” struck a blow to the cheek of the statue. The belief was that should “any impious hand should dare to violate the majesty of of the god, the heavens and earth would instantly return to their original chaos”.
Instead, the “cheek fell to the ground; the thunder was still silent, and both the heavens and the earth continued to preserve the accustomed order and tranquility”. In lieu of apocalypse, as David Bentley Hart recounts, thousands of rats poured out from the carcass of the statue. The inside of the idol had been rotten by scores of rodent nests who had eaten out from the inside. The Christian thinker Theodoret records in his Ecclesiastical History that
Serapis was broken into small pieces of which some were committed to the flames, but his head was carried through all the town in sight of his worshippers, who mocked the weakness of him to whom they had bowed the knee.
Your Correspondent, He likes you so much better when you are naked