The Ancient Library

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On this page: Iphitus – Irene – Iris – Isaeus – Isidorus – Isis



to have brought the image of the Tauric Artemis to the Attic deme of Brauron, and to have died and been buried there as its priestess. She was even introduced into Attic legend as daughter of Theseus and Helen. In other places also, such as Sparta, the image was shown, and she was regarded as a priestess who had brought it to Greece from among the Scythians. In all probability Iphigenia was originally a designation of Artemis herself, and out of this epithet of the goddess the personality of the priestess was in time evolved. Her grave was also shown at Megara. According to another legend, she is said to have been made immortal by Artemis, and to have lived on in the island of Leuce as the wife of Achilles under the name of Orsilochia.

jphltus. Son of Eurytus of CEchalia, and a friend of Heracles, who, in a fit of madness, hurled him down headlong from the battlement of his castle at Tiryns. (See heracles.)

Irene. See eirene.

Iris. The daughter of Thaumas and of Electra, and a sister of the Harpies. She is the personification of the rainbow which unites heaven and earth. As a virgin god­dess, swift as the breeze and with wings of gold, she is the messenger of the gods, especially of Zeus and Hera, and, according to later writers, exclusively of the latter. She bears their behests from the ends of the earth even to the river Styx, and into the depths of the sea. As a messenger of the gods she resembles Hermes, and therefore carries the herald's staff of that divinity.

Isffius. The fifth of the Ten Attic Orators, a pupil of Isocr&tes ; born before b.c. 400 at Chalcis in Eubcea. He lived to the middle of the 4th century at Athens, prob­ably as a resident alien (mltoikSs), writing forensic speeches for other people and giving instruction in rhetoric. Demosthenes was for several years his pupil. Of the sixty-four speeches attributed to him by anti­quity, we have (besides some not unimpor­tant fragments) eleven speeches dealing with matters relating to inheritance, and therefore of great importance as throwing light upon Attic private law. In his style he most closely resembles Lysias, to whom he is inferior in natural elegance, while he surpasses him in oratorical skill.

Isldorus. A Spaniard who, from the beginning of the 7th century, was bishop of Seville (in Latin Hispfilis, whence he is called Hispalensis). He died about 636

a.d. He possessed a width of reading which was remarkable for his time, and an extraordinary faculty for collecting infor­mation. Next to Boethius and Cassiodorus, he exercised the most important influence upon the general culture and literature of the Middle Ages. Besides works on grammar, theology, and history (including a Chronicle of the World to his own day, and histories of the Goths, Vandals, and Suevi), he composed in the last years of his life his greatest and most important work, an immense but imperfect encyclo­paedic survey of all knowledge, in twenty volumes, entitled the EtymdldgiCR or Orlglnes, from its often very capricious and marvellous explanations of the various subjects of which it treats. Though it is only a vast congeries of collected excerpts, devoid of a single original idea, it is never­theless important owing to the variety of its contents and its citations from writings now lost, such as those of Suetonius. Another work, which is similarly a compilation, but was greatly used in the Middle Ages, is his dc Ndturd Serum, a handbook of natural his_tory.

IsIs. The divinity most extensively worshipped, with her brother and husband Osiris, by the Egyptians, among whom she represented the feminine, receptive, and producing principle in nature. As the goddess of procreation and birth her symbol was the cow. On monuments she is mostly represented as of youthful appearance with a cow's horns on her head, between the horns the orb of the moon, and with a sceptre of flowers and the emblem of life in her hands (fig. 1). Her greatest temple stood at Buslris (i.e. Pe-Osiri, or Abode of Osiris) in the midst of the Delta of the Nile, where, amidst the fruitful fields, the inhabitants worshipped the mightiest god and goddess with ceremonies which typified the search and discovery of Osiris by his mourning wife after his murder by Typhon. Like Osiris she was a divinity who ruled over the world below. In the course of the fusion of religions which took place under the Ptolemies, Isis and Osiris were con­founded with all manner of Asiatic and Greek gods. In process of time she became in her power the most universal of all goddesses, ruling in heaven, on earth, and on the sea, and in the world below, decreeing life and death, deciding the fate of men, and dispensing rewards and punishments. Her worship spread over Greece, and after the second Punic War

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