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Isis

Family

Osiris (husband, formerly brother) Horus (son, formerly brother) Geb (father) Nut (mother) Set (brother) Nephthys (sister) Anubis (nephew, foster son)

Date of Birth

Fourth Demon day

Gender

Female

Race

God/Goddess

Age

5,000

Hair Color

Black

Eye color

Brown

Specialty:

Hieroglyphic Magic

==
Images-3

Isis==


Isis (Greek: Ἶσις, original Egyptian pronunciation more likely Aset) is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patron of nature and magic. She was the friend of slaves, sinners, artisans, and the downtrodden, and she listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats, and rulers.[1] Isis is often depicted as the mother of Horus, the hawk-headed god of war and protection (although in some traditions Horus's mother was Hathor), and she is depicted suckling him in an attitude similar to that of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.[2] Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children.

The name Isis means "Throne". Her headdress is a throne. As the personification of the throne, she was an important representation of the pharaoh's power. The pharaoh was depicted as her child, who sat on the throne she provided. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but the most important sanctuaries were at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta, and, beginning in the reign with Nectanebo I (380–362 BCE), on the island of Philae in Upper Egypt.

In the typical form of her myth, Isis was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, goddess of the Sky, and she was born on the fourth intercalary day. She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus by him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Seth. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Seth.[3]

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris's death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era.[4]


EtymologyEdit

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OR{| class="mw-hiero-table mw-hiero-outer" dir="ltr"

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|- !Isis in hieroglyphs |} The name Isis is the Greek version of her name, with a final -s added to the original Egyptian form because of the grammatical requirements of the Greek language (-s often being a marker of the nominative case in ancient Greek).

The Egyptian name was recorded as ỉs.t or ȝs.t and meant "(She of the) Throne". The true Egyptian pronunciation remains uncertain, however, because hieroglyphs do not indicate vowels. Based on recent studies which present us with approximations based on contemporary languages (specifically, Greek) andCoptic evidence, the reconstructed pronunciation of her name is *Usat [*ˈʔyːsəʔ]. Osiris's name, *Usir also starts with the throne glyph ʔs.[5]

For convenience, Egyptologists arbitrarily choose to pronounce her name as "ee-set". Sometimes they may also say "ee-sa" because the final "t" in her name was a feminine suffix, which is known to have been dropped in speech during the last stages of the Egyptian language.

[edit]Principal features of the cultEdit

[edit]OriginsEdit

[1][2]The Goddess Isis, wall painting, c. 1360 BCE.Most Egyptian deities first were first worshipped by very local cults, and they retained those local centres of worship even as their popularity spread, so that most major cities and towns in Egypt were known as the home of a particular deity. The origins of the cult of Isis are uncertain, but it is believed that she was originally an independent and popular deity in predynastic times, prior to 3100 BCE, atSebennytos in the Nile delta.[3]

The first written references to Isis date back to the Fifth dynasty of Egypt. Based on the association of her name with the throne, some early Egyptologists believed that Isis's original function was that of throne-mother.[citation needed] However, more recent scholarship suggests that aspects of that role came later by association. In many African tribes, the throne is known as the mother of the king, and that concept fits well with either theory, possibly giving insight into the thinking of ancient Egyptians.

[edit]Classical Egyptian periodEdit

During the Old Kingdom period, Isis was represented as the wife or assistant to the deceased pharaoh. Thus she had a funerary association, her name appearing over eighty times in the pharaoh's funeral texts (the Pyramid Texts). This association with the pharaoh's wife is consistent with the role of Isis as the spouse of Horus, the god associated with the pharaoh as his protector, and then later as the deification of the pharaoh himself.

But in addition, Isis was also represented as the mother of the "four suns of Horus", the four deities who protected the canopic jars containing the pharaoh's internal organs. More specifically, Isis was viewed as the protector of the liver-jar-deity, Imsety.[6] By the Middle Kingdom period, as the funeral texts began to be used by members of Egyptian society other than the royal family, the role of Isis as protector also grew, to include the protection of nobles and even commoners.[citation needed] [3][4]Isis nursing Horus (Louvre)By the New Kingdom period, the role of Isis as a mother deity had displaced that of the spouse. She was seen as the mother of the pharaoh, and was often depicted breastfeeding the pharaoh. It is theorized that this displacement happened through the merging of cults from the various cult centers as Egyptian religion became more standardized.[citation needed] When the cult of Ra rose to prominence, with its cult center at Heliopolis, Ra was identified with the similar deity, Horus. But Hathor had been paired with Ra in some regions, as the mother of the god. Since Isis was paired with Horus, and Horus was identified with Ra, Isis began to be merged with Hathor as Isis-Hathor. By merging with Hathor, Isis became the mother of Horus, as well as his wife. Eventually the mother role displaced the role of spouse. Thus, the role of spouse to Isis was open and in the Heliopolis pantheon, Isis became the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus/Ra. This reconciliation of themes led to the evolution of the myth of Isis and Osiris.[6]

[edit]Late antiquityEdit

The cult of Isis became very prominent in late antiquity, when it began to absorb the cults of many other goddesses with strong cult centers. Like otherEgyptian deities, the cult of Isis spread outside Egypt, and became the focus of a centralized cult in the Hellenistic period. This is when the cult of Osiris became widespread as well. Temples to Isis began to be built outside of Egypt. In many locations, devotees of Isis considered the local goddess to be Isis, but under a different name. Thus other Mediterranean goddesses, such as Demeter, Astarte, and Aphrodite, were identified with her.[7] Throughout the Greco-Roman world, the cult of Isis became one of the most significant of the mystery religions, and many classical writers refer to her temples, cults, andrites.

Due to her attributes as a protector and mother, as well as a lusty aspect gained when she absorbed some aspects of Hathor, she became the patron goddess of sailors, who spread her worship with the trading ships circulating the Mediterranean Sea.

During the formative centuries of Christianity, the religion of Isis drew converts from every corner of the Roman Empire. In Italy itself, Egyptian religion was an important force. At Pompeii, archaeological evidence reveals that the cult of Isis was prominent. In Rome, temples were built and obelisks erected in her honour. In Greece, traditional centres of worship in Delos, Delphi, Eleusis and Athens were taken over by followers of Isis, and this occurred in northern Greece as well. Harbours of Isis were to be found on the Arabian Sea and the Black Sea. Inscriptions show followers in Gaul, Spain, Pannonia, Germany, Arabia, Asia Minor, Portugal and many shrines even in Britain.[8]

[edit]Temples and priesthoodEdit

[5][6]Temple of Isis (Pompeii)Temples to Isis were built in Iraq, Greece and Rome, with a well preserved example discovered in Pompeii. On the Greek island of Delosa Doric Temple of Isis was built on a high over-looking hill at the beginning of the Roman period to venerate the familiar trinity of Isis, the Alexandrian Serapis and Harpocrates. The creation of this temple is significant as Delos is particularly known as the birthplace of the Greek gods Artemis and Apollo who had temples of their own on the island long before the temple to Isis was built.

The cult of Isis and Osiris continued up until the 6th century CE on the island of Philae in Upper Nile. The Theodosian decree (in about 380 CE) to destroy all pagan temples was not enforced there until the time of Justinian. This toleration was due to an old treaty made between the Blemyes-Nobadae and Diocletian. Every year they visited Elephantine and at certain intervals took the image of Isis up river to the land of the Blemyes for oracular purposes before returning it. Justinian sent Narses to destroy the sanctuaries, with the priests being arrested and the divine images taken to Constantinople.[9] Philae was the last of the ancient Egyptian temples to be closed.

Little information on Egyptian rituals for Isis survives; however, it is clear there were both priests and priestesses officiating at her cult throughout its history. By the Greco-Roman era, many of them were considered healers, and were said to have other special powers, including dream interpretation and the ability to control the weather, which they did by braiding or not combing their hair.[citation needed] The latter was believed because the Egyptians considered knots to have magical powers.

[edit]IconographyEdit

[edit]AssociationsEdit

"tyet"Knot of Isis

in hieroglyphs

Due to the association between knots and magical power, a symbol of Isis was the tiet or tyet (meaning welfare/life), also called the Knot of Isis, Buckle of Isis, or theBlood of Isis, which is shown to the right. In many respects the tyet resembles an ankh, except that its arms point downward, and when used as such, seems to represent the idea of eternal life or resurrection. The meaning of Blood of Isis is more obscure, but the tyet often was used as a funerary amulet made of red wood,stone, or glass, so this may simply have been a description of the appearance of the materials used.

The star Sopdet (Sirius) is associated with Isis. The appearance of the star signified the advent of a new year and Isis was likewise considered the goddess of rebirth and reincarnation, and as a protector of the dead. The Book of the Dead outlines a particular ritual that would protect the dead, enabling travel anywhere in the underworld, and most of the titles Isis holds signify her as the goddess of protection of the dead.

Probably due to assimilation with the goddesses Aphrodite (Venus), during the Roman period, the rose was used in her worship. The demand for roses throughout the empire turned rose production into an important industry.

[edit]DepictionsEdit

[7][8]Isis nursing Horus, wearing the headdress ofHathor.In art, originally Isis was pictured as a woman wearing a long sheath dress and crowned with the hieroglyphic sign for a throne. Sometimes she was depicted as holding a lotus, or, as a Sycamore tree. One pharaoh, Thutmose III, was depicted in his tomb as nursing from a sycamore tree that had a breast.

After she assimilated many of the roles of Hathor, Isis's headdress is replaced with that of Hathor: the horns of a cow on her head, with the solar disk between them. Sometimes she also was represented as a cow, or a cow's head. Usually, however, she was depicted with her young child, Horus (the pharaoh), with acrown, and a vulture. Occasionally she was represented as a kite flying above the body of Osiris or with the dead Osiris across her lap as she worked her magic to bring him back to life.

Most often Isis is seen holding only the generic ankh sign and a simple staff, but in late images she is seen sometimes with items usually associated only with Hathor, the sacred sistrum rattle and the fertility-bearing menat necklace. In The Book of Coming Forth By Day Isis is depicted standing on the prow of the Solar Bark with her arms outstretched.[1]

[edit]MythologyEdit

[edit]Sister-wife to OsirisEdit

During the Old Kingdom period, the pantheons of individual Egyptian cities varied by region. During the 5th dynasty, Isis entered the pantheon of the city ofHeliopolis. She was represented as a daughter of Nut and Geb, and sister to Osiris, Nephthys, and Set. The two sisters, Isis and Nephthys, often were depicted on coffins, with wings outstretched, as protectors against evil. As a funerary deity, she was associated with Osiris, lord of the underworld, and was considered his wife. [9][10]Rare terracotta image of Isis lamenting the loss of Osiris (eighteenth dynasty)Musée du Louvre, Paris.A later myth, when the cult of Osiris gained more authority, tells the story of Anubis, the god of the underworld. The tale describes how Nephthys was denied a child by Set and disguised herself as the much more attractive Isis to seduce him. The plot failed, but Osiris now found Nephthys very attractive, as he thought she was Isis. They had sex, resulting in the birth of Anubis. Alternatively, Nephthys intentionally assumed the form of Isis in order to trick Osiris into fathering her son.

In fear of Set's retribution, Nephthys persuaded Isis to adopt Anubis, so that Set would not find out and kill the child. The tale describes both why Anubis is seen as an underworld deity (he becomes a son of Osiris), and why he could not inherit Osiris's position (he was not a legitimate heir in this new birth scenario), neatly preserving Osiris's position as lord of the underworld. It should be remembered, however, that this new myth was only a later creation of the Osirian cult who wanted to depict Set in an evil position, as the enemy of Osiris.

The most extensive account of the Isis-Osiris story known today is Plutarch's Greek description written in the 1st century CE, usually known under its Latin title De Iside et Osiride.[10]

In that version, Set held a banquet for Osiris in which he brought in a beautiful box and said that whoever could fit in the box perfectly would get to keep it. Set had measured Osiris in his sleep and made sure that he was the only one who could fit the box. Several tried to see whether they fit. Once it was Osiris's turn to see if he could fit in the box, Set closed the lid on him so that the box was now a coffin for Osiris. Set flung the box in the Nile so that it would drift far away. Isis went looking for the box so that Osiris could have a proper burial. She found the box in a tree in Byblos, a city along the Phoenician coast, and brought it back to Egypt, hiding it in a swamp. But Set went hunting that night and found the box. Enraged, Set chopped Osiris's body into fourteen pieces and scattered them all over Egypt to ensure that Isis could never find Osiris again for a proper burial.[11][12]

Isis and her sister Nephthys went looking for these pieces, but could only find thirteen of the fourteen. Fish had swallowed the last piece, hisphallus, so Isis made him a new one with magic, putting his body back together after which they conceived Horus. The number of pieces is described on temple walls variously as fourteen and sixteen, and occasionally forty-two, one for each nome or district.[12]

[edit]Mother of HorusEdit

Yet another set of late myths detail the adventures of Isis after the birth of Osiris's posthumous son, Horus. Isis was said to have given birth to Horus at Khemmis, thought to be located on the Nile Delta.[13] Many dangers faced Horus after birth, and Isis fled with the newborn to escape the wrath of Set, the murderer of her husband. In one instance, Isis heals Horus from a lethal scorpion sting; she also performs other miracles in relation to the cippi, or the plaques of Horus. Isis protected and raised Horus until he was old enough to face Set, and subsequently, became the pharaoh of Egypt.

[edit]MagicEdit

It was said that Isis tricked Ra (i.e. Amun-Ra/Atum-Ra) into telling her his "secret name," by causing a snake to bite him, for which only Isis had the cure. Knowing the secret name of a deity enabled one to have power of the deity. The use of secret names became central in late Egyptian magic spells, and Isis often is implored to "use the true name of Ra" in the performance of rituals. By the late Egyptian historical period, after the occupations by the Greeks and the Romans, Isis became the most important and most powerful deity of the Egyptian pantheon because of her magical skills. Magic is central to the entire mythology of Isis, arguably more so than any other Egyptian deity.

Prior to this late change in the nature of Egyptian religion, the rule of Ma'at had governed the correct actions for most of the thousands of years of Egyptian religion, with little need for magic. Thoth had been the deity who resorted to magic when it was needed. The goddess who held the quadruple roles of healer, protector of the canopic jars, protector of marriage, and goddess of magic previously had been Serket. She then became considered an aspect of Isis. Thus it is not surprising that Isis had a central role in Egyptian magic spells and ritual, especially those of protection and healing. In many spells, she also is completely merged even with Horus, where invocations of Isis are supposed to involve Horus's powers automatically as well. In Egyptian history the image of a wounded Horus became a standard feature of Isis's healing spells, which typically invoked the curative powers of the milk of Isis.[14]

[edit]Isis in Greco-Roman literatureEdit

Plutarch, a Greek scholar who lived from 46 CE to 120 CE, wrote Isis and Osiris,[15] which is considered a main source about the very late myths about Isis.[10] In it he writes of Isis, describing her as: "a goddess exceptionally wise and a lover of wisdom, to whom, as her name at least seems to indicate, knowledge and understanding are in the highest degree appropriate..." and that the statue of Athena (Plutarch says "whom they believe to be Isis") in Sais carried the inscription "I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and my robe no mortal has yet uncovered."[16] At Sais, however, the patron goddess of the ancient cult was Neith, many of whose traits had begun to be attributed to Isis during the Greek occupation.

The Roman writer Apuleius recorded aspects of the cult of Isis in the 2nd century CE in his book The Golden Ass. He describes the Navigium Isidis festival. The following paragraph is particularly significant: You see me here, Lucius, in answer to your prayer. I am nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen of the ocean, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are, my nod governs the shining heights of Heavens, the wholesome sea breezes. Though I am worshipped in many aspects, known by countless names ... some know me as Juno, some as Bellona ... the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning and worship call me by my true name...Queen Isis.==[edit]By nation==

[edit]In EgyptEdit

Isis was venerated first in Egypt. Isis was the only goddess worshiped by all Egyptians alike,[17] and whose influence was so widespread that she had become completely syncretic with the Greek goddess Demeter.[18] After the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and the Hellenization of the Egyptian culture initiated by Ptolemy I Soter, Isis eventually became known as Queen of Heaven.[19]

[edit]Greco-Roman worldEdit

[11][12]A priestess of Isis, Roman statue, 2nd century, BCEFollowing the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great the worship of Isis spread throughout the Greco-Roman world.[20] Tacituswrites that after Julius Caesar's assassination, a temple in honour of Isis had been decreed; Augustus suspended this, and tried to turn Romans back to the Roman deities who were closely associated with the state. Eventually the Roman emperor Caligula abandoned the Augustan wariness toward what was described as oriental cults, and it was in his reign that the Isiac festival of the Navigium Isidis was established in Rome.[21]

According to Josephus, Caligula donned female garb and took part in the mysteries he instituted, and in the Hellenistic age Isis acquired a "new rank as a leading goddess of the Mediterranean world." Vespasian, along with Titus, practised incubation in the RomanIseum. Domitian built another Iseum along with a Serapeum. Trajan appears before Isis and Horus, presenting them with votive offerings of wine, in a bas-relief on his triumphal arch in Rome.[22] Hadrian decorated his villa at Tibur with Isiac scenes. Galeriusregarded Isis as his protector.[23]

Roman perspectives on cults were syncretic, seeing in new deities, merely local aspects of a familiar one. For many Romans, Egyptian Isis was an aspect of Phrygian Cybele, whose orgiastic rites were long-naturalized at Rome, indeed, she was known as Isis of Ten Thousand Names.

Among these names of Roman Isis, Queen of Heaven is outstanding for its long and continuous history. Herodotus identified Isis with the Greek and Roman goddesses of agriculture, Demeter and Ceres.

In later years, Isis also had temples throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. An alabaster statue of Isis from the 3rd century BCE, found inOhrid, in the Republic of Macedonia, is depicted on the obverse of the Macedonian 10 denars banknote, issued in 1996.[24]

The male first name "Isidore", means in Greek "gift of Isis" (similar to "Theodore", "God's gift"). The name, which became common in Roman times, survived the suppression of the Isis worship and remains popular up to the present – being among others the name of several Christian saints.

The Isis cult in Rome was a template for the Christian Madonna Cult.[25