All Roads Lead to AlexandriaLeonard George, Ph.D.
Alexandria, the Cosmopolis: Global Community, Then and NowDavid Fideler, Ph.D.
The Ancient Library of Alexandria: Cultural Interchange and Originality
Mostafa El-Abbadi, Ph.D.
Hermeticism as a Philosophy of HopeMervat Nasser, M.D., M.Phil.
Greco-Egyptian OraclesCrystal Addey, Ph.D.
Gnosticism and Hermeticism: Two Paths of Ascent Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil., and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
Alexandria: Crossroads of Judaism, Hellenism, Gnosticism, and ChristianityChristopher Bamford
Synesius and Alexandrian SyncretismJay Bregman, Ph.D.
An Alexandria Quartet: Callimachus, Philo, Origen and CavafyJohn Dillon
The Alexandrian Sciences in Baghdad – Ahmed Etman, Ph.D.
Divine Women: Cleopatra and Hypatia – Marjorie Roth, DMA, Ph.D.

All Roads Lead to Alexandria
Leonard George, Ph.D.

No better emblem of ancient Alexandria could there be than the Lighthouse on Pharos Island.  An ambience unique in history made Alexandria “the city that questioned everything”, and seekers from far and wide were drawn by its bright beacon to probe the nature of soul, body and world as never before.  They blazed spiritual and scientific trails that have defined the Western quest ever since.  Old Alexandria lives on in the rising spirit of the new, in the evocative physical remnants of the past, and as an image of compelling possibilities.  For the pursuer of deepest truth, all roads led – and lead – to Alexandria.

Alexandria, the Cosmopolis:
Global Community, Then and Now
David Fideler, Ph.D.

The Greek philosophers had spoken of the cosmopolis, the “world-city” in which all individuals are related to one another, regardless of country, race, or religion. But with the coming of the Hellenistic age, the idea of global civilization became a tangible reality, and Alexandria its most significant expression — a meeting point between East and West, philosophies and religions, and disparate cultures. Once again, we find ourselves in a global community. But what makes for a genuine world community, and how is the ancient idea relevant for our own times? And in a time of conflict, is there a higher unity that can foster harmony between different religions?

The Ancient Library of Alexandria:
Cultural Interchange and Originality
Mostafa El-Abbadi, Ph.D.

The founding of the Great Library and Mouseion in Alexandria by Ptolemy I began a period of intensive cultural interchange which coincided with the emergence of a concept of universal knowledge. The original achievements of the Ptolemaic period included the works of Euclid in mathematics, Aristarchus of Samos in the formulation of the heliocentric theory in astronomy, and Eratosthenes’ brilliant measurement of the polar circumference of the earth. And the coexistence of both Greek and Egyptian medical traditions led to a virtual revolution in medical knowledge. Perhaps, as Strabo observed, the natural interchange of diverse backgrounds explains much of the originality of Alexandrian scholarship.

Hermeticism as a Philosophy of Hope
Mervat Nasser, M.D., M.Phil.

The Hermetic philosophy represents the intellectual, philosophical and reflective tradition of ancient Egypt. It reached us through the Corpus Hermeticum, manuscripts collected in the city of Alexandria in the second and third centuries. Its enduring legacy is reflected in the work of major European figures of science, philosophy, art and literature, and in its tendency to emerge at times when humanity is faced with difficulties and uncertainties. Its appeal in our post-modern era stems from our disillusionment with the reductionist view of science and also our rejection of a religious extremism that threatens humanistic values. Hermetism, on the other hand, preaches no religious dogma but offers instead harmony, reconciliation and transformation.

Greco-Egyptian Oracles
Crystal Addey, Ph.D.

For at least a thousand years, the people living around the ancient Mediterranean turned to oracles, often located in ancient temples, for spiritual, personal and civic advice and guidance.  The Egyptians had many oracular temples, including oracles of the gods Horus, Thoth, Serapis and the goddess Isis.  Oracles of Isis and Serapis were particularly common and became widespread throughout the Mediterranean.  An oracle of Serapis was established in Alexandria by Ptolemy III.  Egyptian oracles, like their Greek counterparts, often used dream incubation to obtain oracles from the gods and cult statues of the gods in their oracular practices.

Gnosticism and Hermeticism:
Two Paths of Ascent
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil., and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.

In Hellenistic Alexandria, two radically different world-views emerged over the first centuries CE. Although Hermetic and Gnostic literatures have much in common, they propose different views of human beings, God, time, and the cosmos, and the means to salvation. With Persian and Jewish roots, Gnosticism is complex and various but core ideas can be discerned in the Gnostic religious systems and myths of the second and third centuries CE. The Greco-Egyptian Hermetica were brought from Byzantium to the court of Cosimo de Medici in 1460 and translated by Marsilio Ficino in Florence. They were to become one of the most important founding documents of the Renaissance and the whole subsequent Western Esoteric Tradition.

Alexandria: Crossroads of Judaism, Hellenism, Gnosticism, and Christianity
Christopher Bamford

Alexandria around the time of Christ opened a new age of infinite possibilities—of paths taken and not taken. During this period, Jewish philosophers like Philo, so-called gnostics like Basilides and Valentinus, Neoplatonists like Plotinus, and Christian theologians like Clement and Origen rubbed shoulders with Egyptian priests, Gymnosophists from India, and alchemical adepts. Out of this mix Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Hermeticism would arise. This talk aims to evoke the amazing richness, newness, and fruitfulness of what was given birth and also considers those spiritual impulses which still perhaps await germination.

Synesius and Alexandrian Syncretism
Jay Bregman, Ph.D.

After Alexander the Great’s adventure of conquest, the Greek world became cosmopolitan and “modern”. Alexandria was the Hellenistic New York. The tolerant ruling Ptolemies promoted “syncretism”, the combination of religious ideas and practices.  “Mysteries” of many traditions were practiced – for example, Roman Emperor Severus Alexander displayed busts of Abraham, Orpheus, Jesus and Apollonius. Synesius of Cyrene (ca. 370-413 CE) studied at Alexandria under the philosophical martyr Hypatia. Primarily a Neoplatonic philosopher in outlook, he became a Christian Bishop. But only on the condition that he continue to count Greek philosophy as the real Canon of Truth!

An Alexandria Quartet:
Callimachus, Philo, Origen and Cavafy
John Dillon

We will examine through the work of four representative Alexandrians – the Hellenistic poet and scholar of the Library of Alexandria, Callimachus; the Jewish Platonist philosopher Philo; the Platonizing Christian philosopher Origen; and the modern poet Constantine Cavafy – what might be considered an ‘Alexandrian’ way of approaching the world, that is to say, allusive, multi-level, and (in the case of the poets, at least) ironic.

The Alexandrian Sciences in Baghdad
Ahmed Etman, Ph.D.

Inspired by a treasure trove of ancient Greek and Alexandrian learning and philosophy, Muslims created a society in Baghdad and elsewhere during the Middle Ages that was the scientific center of the world. The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for 500 hundred years, a golden age that served as a precursor to modern universities, algebra, and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. Europe did not match the scientific learning of the Islamic world until about 1600.

Divine Women: Cleopatra and Hypatia
Marjorie Roth, DMA, Ph.D.

Cleopatra VII was the last Ptolemaic ruler, and the one most attuned to Egypt’s spiritual roots. She felt a deep link to the goddess Isis, and doubtless took strength from this as she nearly managed to revive Egypt as a super-power of antiquity. Four centuries later, another Alexandrian, Hypatia, drew seekers both pagan and Christian from throughout the Roman Empire to learn the mysteries of the sacred eye that lies buried in the soul. Both women fell victim to the power struggles of the times, but their legacies transcend their turbulent era, and speak to ours.