Survivals of Roman Religion

By Gordon J. Laing | Go to book overview

XIX. THE EGYPTIAN DEITIES: ISIS, SERAPIS, AND HARPOCRATES (HORUS)

IT WAS the Hellenized cult of Isis as organized by Ptolemy the First that the Romans knew. While retaining some of the characteristics of the Isis of the older Egyptian religion, she had, through the Ptolemaic reorganization or in the process of syncretism, acquired other functions. She was goddess of heaven, of earth, of the sea, and of the world below. The syncretism that made her in the eyes of her devotees the supreme arbitress of man's lot in life and resulted in her worship as Isis- Fortuna, manifested itself with still wider comprehensiveness in the cult of Isis Panthea, in which she seemed to have absorbed the functions of all other divinities.

With Isis in the Ptolemaic form of the cult were associated Serapis and Harpocrates. The origin of the former has been the subject of long and divergent discussion. Apparently his

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