Isis the Egyptian Goddess who conquered the Roman world. Francesco Tiradritti
(There is another lecture next week Sunday 18th at Thebes Hotel)
Francesco had been instrumental in producing an exhibition about Isis from Ancient Egyptian times till today. What happened to Egypt after Pharaonic times? Dan Brown doesn’t get everything wrong! There is evidence of Isis in the Islamic world. Studies in Egyptomania have increased as the influence of Egypt is discovered. The west thinks its origins are in the Greek and Roman world but there is more Egyptian influence than people realise.
The Pyramid texts have the first mention of Isis. Isis is part of the creation myth of Atum who created Geb and Nut separated by Shu. Geb and Nut produced Osirus, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. The iconography of Osirus shows him mummiform, wearing the white crown flanked by two ostrich feathers from his role in the judgement. Whereas Seth’s iconography is disputed and confusing. Francesco says that this reflects his role as the god of chaos, his very iconography is chaotic.
The story of Osirus is a Cinderella story but instead of a shoe we have a coffin. Seth held a big banquet and a gorgeous coffin was tried on but it fitted Osirus perfectly the lid was slammed shut and Seth deposed of the body, both by drowning and chopping it up. This is where Isis comes into the story. She appears as a powerful magician who reassembles Osirus and then conceives Horus.
Until the NK Isis was just a wife but from the Ramesside period she becomes more important. In the tomb of Horemheb you can see this. Hathor used to be the principle goddess for women but now Isis starts usurping her iconography, the cow horns and sun disk. Hathor becomes the goddess of the west representing dead women. In the Late period there are more examples of the horns and sun disk.
Once Isis was pregnant with Horus, Seth did not give up attacking her and trying to cause a miscarriage. The tyet (Egyptian tjt), sometimes called the knot of Isis or girdle of Isis, was what she used to protect the unborn child with magic. This knot then became used by women 1) as a sort of Tampex (this analogy caused a great deal of amusement at the lecture as Francesco searched for the right word) 2) to prevent miscarriage.
Magic was a bit part of Ancient Egyptian life; after Horus was born Seth sent scorpions and snakes to attack him. This story was carved on stele. Magic potions were created by pouring water on these texts and drinking the water. Thus protecting the drinker
Isis gains further magical powers when she gets Ra to reveal his secret name. She gathered his drool and made a snake of it. The snake attacked Ra and he begged Isis to cure him which she would only do if he revealed his secret name. This gave her the same power of Ra which made the most powerful goddess.
Isis was worshipped in various centres all over Egypt.
At Abydos Seti created various chapels and put his own in between Isis and Osirus in the Osirus mini complex to negate the effect his name which was based in Seth had on his legitimacy to rule.
There is a 22nd dynasty temple to Isis in front of the Queens pyramid at Giza that is identified as the burial place of Isis.
There is another location (I missed the name) that is supposed to be her birthplace used in Ptolemaic times.
In Coptos she is identified as the wife of Min
At Philae she was worshipped until 5th century AD
At Meroe (Sudan) she was shown winged for protection
Often she can be identified by the Isis knot at the top of her dress. In later times she is identified as the wife of Serapis a god created by Manetho, connected with the Apis bull. Serapis was a Graeco-Egyptian god. The cult of Serapis was introduced during the 3rd century BC on the orders of Ptolemy I of Egypt as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm. The king was associated with Serapis and his wife with Isis. This new Isis was worshipped in Alexandra and the Fayoum. The rest of Egypt still worshipped the old Isis. The religion gets VERY complicated in these times.
Another Isis is the harvest goddess connected with Renenutet and Demeter she was spread by the Roman army to Athens, Ephesus and is shown wearing Roman clothes with her Isis knot. Also associated with Sybil. Spreading to Roman
Yet another Isis Pharos from Alexandra the Pharos lighthouse and she is shown with flowing robes blown by the wind. In fact there were many variations like is Isis Pelagia, "Isis of the Sea," but there were three main versions. The Pharaonic traditional Isis, the Ptolemaic and the Roman
A book Metamorphis Apolia (not sure if I got the name right) depicted Isis but an incorrect English translations change the depiction of Isis.
The film Cleopatra shows a fairly accurate depiction of the arrival of Cleopatra in Rome. Rome and Italy has many mentions of Isis like the Plaza Isis near the Colosseum and from Rome the cult of the Roman Isis went all over the world as Serapis became the Emperor and Isis the Empress Pompeii, Hungry, Britain anywhere the Romans went she went.
There is an Isis linked to Sirus the star in fact there were so many Isis when they did the exhibition they could not find them all.
Roman Isis even went back to Luxor, at Luxor temple at the front there is a chapel to Roman Isis which was in existence at the same time as the Pharaonic Isis at Deir El Shewit.
Isis even goes into Christianity and there are depictions of the Virgin Mary with an Isis knot.