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Serapis   By: (1837-1898)

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Serapis by Georg Ebers is a mesmerizing historical fiction novel that transports readers to the fascinating world of ancient Egypt. Set in the 3rd century B.C., the narrative follows the life of Serapis, a privileged young Greek and aspiring physician who embarks on a remarkable journey of self-discovery.

Ebers effortlessly weaves together elements of history, romance, and adventure, creating an engaging and immersive narrative. From the outset, readers are captivated by Serapis' experiences, as he navigates the tumultuous times of ancient Alexandria, a city bustling with intellectual debate, political intrigue, and religious tension.

The author masterfully brings ancient Egypt to life through rich and vivid descriptions. Whether within the bustling markets, sprawling libraries, or the opulent palaces of the elite, the reader is transported to a bygone era, where lavish imagery and atmospheric detail play a significant role in creating an authentic setting.

Moreover, Ebers showcases his extensive knowledge of ancient history and mythology, intertwining these elements into the story seamlessly. This not only enriches the narrative but also offers a deep understanding of the societal dynamics and cultural beliefs prevalent during that time.

The characters in Serapis are multifaceted and well-developed, each with their own desires, ambitions, and flaws. Serapis himself undergoes significant growth throughout the novel, showcasing his evolution from a naive and idealistic young man to a more mature and introspective individual. The supporting cast, from Serapis' mentors to his love interests, are equally well-crafted, adding depth and complexity to the story.

One of the novel's strengths lies in its exploration of philosophical, religious, and intellectual debates of the time. Ebers deftly incorporates these discussions, drawing upon historical figures and events, to examine the clash between Egyptian polytheism and Greek rationalism. This provides a thought-provoking backdrop to the narrative, elevating it beyond a mere historical romance.

If there is a weakness in Serapis, it is that the pacing occasionally slows, particularly in certain sections where the narrative becomes overly focused on the medical knowledge and practices of the era. While undoubtedly fascinating in and of itself, these detailed descriptions may lose the interest of some readers, longing for a more fast-paced plot.

In conclusion, Serapis is a captivating work of historical fiction, skillfully blending history, romance, and adventure. Georg Ebers' meticulous research and attention to detail make the ancient Egyptian world come alive, while his well-drawn characters and thoughtful exploration of philosophical themes make the novel both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. Overall, Serapis is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and those seeking a glimpse into the ancient wonders of Egypt.

First Page:

SERAPIS, Complete

By Georg Ebers

Translated from the German by Clara Bell



The busy turmoil of the town had been hushed for some hours; the moon and stars were keeping silent watch over Alexandria, and many of the inhabitants were already in the land of dreams. It was deliciously fresh a truly gracious night; but, though peace reigned in the streets and alleys, even now there was in this pause for rest a lack of the soothing calm which refreshes and renews the spirit of man. For some few weeks there had been an oppressive and fevered tension in the repose of night. Every house and shop was closed as securely as though it were done, not only to secure slumber against intrusion, but to protect life and property from the spoiler; and instead of tones of jollity and mirth the sleeping city echoed the heavy steps and ringing arms of soldiers. Now and again, when the Roman word of command or the excited cry of some sleepless monk broke the silence, shops and doors were cautiously opened and an anxious face peered out, while belated wanderers shrunk into gateways or under the black shadow of a wall as the watch came past. A mysterious burden weighed on the Heart of the busy city and clicked its pulses, as a nightmare oppresses the dreamer.

On this night of the year of our Lord 391, in a narrow street leading from the commercial harbor known as Kibotus, an old man was slinking along close to the houses... Continue reading book >>

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