The Ancient Library
 

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Ismarus – Ismen E

ISIS.

god of the Nile, taught the people the use of the plough, so Isis invented the cultivation of wheat and barley, which were carried about in the processions at her festival. (Diod. i. 14, 27, v. 69, &c.) She was the goddess of the earth, which the Egyptians called their mother (Diod. i. 12 ; Serv. ad Aen. viii. 696 ; Isid. Orig. viii. 11), whence she and Osiris were the only divinities that were worshipped by all the Egyptians. (Herod, ii. 42.) Being married to Osiris, Isis is the land fertilised by the Nile. (Plut. de Is. et Osir. 32.) This simple and primitive notion of the Egyptians was modified at an early period through the influence of the East, with which Egypt came into contact, and at a later time through the influence of the Greeks. Thus Osiris and Isis came gradually to be considered as divinities of the sun and the moon ; and while some of the Greeks fabled that the worship of Isis had been introduced into Egypt by Ogyges and his wife Thebe (Schol. ad Aristid. Symb. iii. 128), the Egyptian priests described the principal religious institutions of Greece as derived from Egypt; and after the time of Herodotus, this belief became firmly established in Greece. Hence Isis was identified with Demeter, and Osiris with Dionysus, and the sufferings of Isis were accordingly modified to harmonise with the mythus of the unfortunate Demeter. Diodorus, Plutarch, and others, treat the stories about Isis according to the principles of Euhemerus, and represent her, as well as Osiris, as rulers of Egypt: but in these, as well as the mys­tical accounts of other writers, the original charac­ter of Isis may yet be discerned. We cannot enter here into an examination of the development which the worship of Isis underwent in Egypt in the course of centuries, but must confine ourselves to some remarks respecting her worship in Greece, at Rome, and other European parts of the ancient world. Her worship in all parts of Greece is amply attested by express statements of ancient writers and numerous inscriptions. Under the names of Pelagia (the ruler of the sea) and Aegyptia, she had two sanctuaries on the road to Acrocorinthus (Paus. ii. 4. § 7), and others at Megara (i. 41. § 4), Phlius (ii. 13. § 7), Tithorea in Phocis (x. 32. § 9), Methana and Troezene (ii. 32. § 6, 34. § 1), Hermione (ii. 34. § 10), and Andros (see the hymn to Isis, lately discovered there, in the Class. Mus. vol. i. p. 34, &c.). In the western parts of Europe the worship of Isis became likewise established, and many places in Sicily, Italy, and Gaul, are known to have been the seats of it. According to Appuleius {Met. xi. p. 262), it was introduced at Rome in the time of Sulla: at a later time her statue was removed from the capitol by a decree of the senate (Tertull. ad Nation, i. 10, Apolog. 6 ; Arnob. adv. Gent. ii. 73) ; but the populace and the consuls Piso and Gabinius, in b.c. 58, resisted the decree. A further decree of b. c. 53 forbade the private wor­ship of Isis, and ordered the chapels dedicated to her to be destroyed. Subsequently, when the worship was restored, her sanctuaries were to be found only outside the pomoerium. (Dion Cass. xl. 47.) This interference on the part of the go­vernment was thought necessary on account of the licentious orgies with which the festivals of the goddess were celebrated. In B. c. 50, the consul, L. Aemilius Paulus himself, wag the first to begin the destruction of her temples, as no one else ven­tured to do so. (VaL Max* i. 3. § 3.) But these

631

ISMENE.

decrees do not appear to have quite succeeded in destroying the worship of Isis, for in B. c. 47 a new-decree was issued to destroy the temple of Isis and Serapis. By a mistake, the adjoining temple of Bellona was likewise pulled down, and in "it were found pots filled with human flesh. (Dion Cass. xlii. 26.) As it had thus become evident that the people were extremely partial to the worship of those foreign divinities, the triumvirs in b.c. 43 courted the popular favour by building a new temple of Isis and Serapis in the third region, and sanctioning their worship. (Dion Cass. xlvii. 15.) It would appear that after this attempts were made to erect sanctuaries of Isis in the city itself, for Augustus forbade her worship in the city, while outside of it there seem to have been several tem­ples, which were subjected to government inspec­tion. (Dion Cass. liii. 2; comp. liv. 6.) The interference of the government was afterwards re­peatedly required (Tac. Ann. ii. 85; Suet. Tib. 36 ; 'Joseph. Ant. Jitd. xviii. 3. § 4 ; Hegesipp. ii. 4); but from the time of Vespasian the worship of Isis and Serapis became firmly established, and re­mained in a flourishing condition until the general introduction of Christianity. The most important temple of Isis at Rome stood in the Campus Martius, whence she was called Isis Campensis. (Juven. vi. 329; Appul. Met. xi. p. 259.) An Isium Metellinum is mentioned by Trebellius Pollio (Trig. Tyr. 25); and other temples and chapels of Isis occur in many Latin inscriptions. The priests and servants of the goddess wore linen garments (oOdvcu), whence she herself is called Linigera. (Ov. Ep. ex Pont. i. 1, 51, Amor. ii. 2, 25; comp. Tac. Hist. iii. 74 ; Martial, xii. 29, 19 ; Juven. vi. 533.) Those initiated in her mysteries wore in the public processions masks representing the heads of dogs. (Appian, B. C. iv. 47 ; Suet. Domit. 1.) As a specimen of the manner in which the festival of Isis was celebrated in Greece, the reader may be referred to that of Tithorea, which is described by Pausanias (x. 32), and the naval sacrifice offered to her at Corinth, as described by Appuleius in his Golden Ass. Isis was frequently represented in works of art (Tibull. i. 3, 27; Juven. xii. 28); and in those still extant she usually ap­pears in figure and countenance resembling Hera: she wears a long tunic, and her upper garment is fastened on her breast by a knot: her head is crowned with a lotus flower, and her right hand holds the sistrum. Her son Horus is often repre­sented with her as a fine naked boy, holding the fore-finger on his mouth, with a lotus flower on his head, and a cornucopia in his left hand.

It should be remarked that Tacitus (Germ. 9) speaks of the worship of Isis among the ancient Germans, but he there applies the name Isis only on account of the analogy existing between the German divinity and the Isis of his own country­ men; and the German goddess whom he had in view was probably no other than Hertha. (Comp. c. 39.) [L. S.J

ISMARUS fltr/^apos), a son of Eumolpus, is said to have fled with his father from Aethiopia to Thrace, and from thence to Eleusis. (Apollod. iii. 15. § 4.) There is one other personage of the same name. (Apollod. iii. 6. § 8 ; astacus.) [L. S.]

ISMEN E ('IrfAwfr??). 1. A daughter of Asopus and Metope, and wife of Argus, by whom she be­came the mother of lasus and lo. (Apollod. ii. 1 §3.)

ss 4

Pages
About | First

630

631

632
letter/word  
volume
page #  
Search this site
Google


ancientlibrary.com
WWW
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of Isidore-of-Seville.com.