The Ancient Library

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On this page: Ostium – Ostracism – Otus – Ovatio – Ovidius Naso or Ovid



and all life; he gives light and health; he causes the Nile to overflow with its ferti­ lizing waters, and all things to continue in their established order. He is always re­ presented in human shape and with a human head (see cut). His hue, as that of a god who bestows life, is green; his sacred tree is the ever-green tama­ risk. The Greeks identified him with Dionysus. Originally he ruled as king over Egypt, where he introduced agri­ culture, morality, and the worship of the gods, until his brother Ty­ phon (Set) con­ trived by deceit to shut him up in a chest and put him to death by pouring in molten lead. The murderer cast the chest into the osiris. Nile, which car­ ried it into the sea. After long search the mourning Isis found the chest on the coast tf Phoanicia at Byblus, and carefully con­ cealed it. Nevertheless Typhon discovered it in the night, and cut the corpse up into fourteen pieces, which he scattered in all directions. Isis, however, collected them again, and buried them inPhilae or Abydns, in Upper Egypt. When Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, grew up, he took ven­ geance upon Typhon when, after a most obstinate struggle, he had defeated him in battle. Although Osiris lived no longer upon the earth, he was ever regarded as the source of life. In the upper world he continues to live and work by the fresh power of his youthful son Horus, and in the lower world, of which he is king, the spirits of those who are found to be just are awakened by him to new life. His hue as ruler of the lower world is black, his robes white, his symbol an eye opened wide as a sign of his restoration to the light of day.

Osiris, by his ever-renewed incarnation in the form of the black bull Apis, the symbol of generative power, assures for the Egyptians the endurance of his favour, and the consequent continuance of their

life in this world and the next. In this incarnation he is called Osarhapi (Osiris-Apis), the origin of the Greek Serapis (q.v.) or Sarapis. The fortunes of Osiris were celebrated in magnificent annual festivals connected with mourning ceremonies, in which the Egyptians, as is observed by the ancients [e.g. Plutarch, De Iside at Osiride, 32, and jElian, De Nat. Animalium 10, 40], lamented in Osiris the subsidence of the Nile, the cessation of the cool north wind (whose place was taken for a time by the hot wind Typhon), the decay of vegetation, and the shortening of the length of the day. Ostinm. The entrance hall in the Eoman dwelling-house. (See house.)

Ostracism (Gr. ostrdkismos ; i.e. vote by potsherd). A mode of judgment by the people practised in various Greek states [Argos, Megara, Miletus], and especially at Athens, by which persons whose presence appeared dangerous to liberty were banished for a certain period, without, however, thereby suffering any loss in reputation or property. Ostracism was introduced at Athens in 509 B.C. [it was applied (amongst others) to Thgmistocles, Aristides, Cimon, and Alclblades], and was last exercised in 417 against a demagogue, one HyperbSlus, whose insignificance made the measure ridiculous, and so produced its abolition [Thuc. viii 73; Plutarch, Nidus 11, Alci-biades 13]. Every year the question was put to the people, whether the measure appeared necessary: if they so decided (and it was only exceptionally that there was occasion for it), the citizens who possessed the franchise assembled in the market­place, and each wrote upon asherd(ostr<Ifo5n) the name of the person whose banishment he deemed desirable. The man whose name was found upon not less than 6,000 sherds bad to leave the country in ten days at latest, for ten or (later) five years. He conld, however, at any time be recalled by a decree of the people; and the question, as before, was decided by not less than 6,000 votes [Aristotle, Pol. iii 13 § 15,17 § 7, v 3 § 3, Const. Athens, 22 ; Plutarch, Aristid, 7. Cp. Grote's History of Greece, chap, xxxi.l. 6tns. One of the two Aloadse (q.v.). Ovatlo. The Roman term for a minor form of triumph. (See further triumph.)

Ovldlus Naso (Publius). A Roman poet, born March 21st, 43 b.c., at Sulmo (now &>i!-mona) in the country of the P^ligni, son of a wealthy Roman of an old equestrian family. He came at an early age to Rome, to be educated as a pleader, and enjoyed

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