L. Isis. R. Serapis
1st c BCE-1st c CE Roman Roman Republican Sculpture
ROMAN REPUBLICAN Anonymous
(c. 510 BCE - 27 BCE)
100 BCE- 70 CE
1st c BCE-1st c CE
Stone two types
Naples. Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
A less bloody and even more popular mystery cult was introduced from Egypt during the reign of Caligula, the cult of ISIS and SERAPIS. A magnificent figure of Isis from Pompeii is shown on the left. The cult became so popular that Julia Domna, wife of the Emperor Septimus Severus, had herself represented as a priestess of Isis.
The new cult was a mixture of the ancient creed of the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Greek mystery religions. Instead of Osiris, her husband in the new cult was Serapis, who is shown on the right. This figure is an ancient copy of the cult statue made of precious metals by an Athenian contemporary of Scopas for the Serapeum at Alexandria. Like the ancient Osiris, Serapis ruled the dead and he shared his immortality with them. Parts of the murdered and dismembered Osiris had been reassembled and reanimated by his faithful wife Isis.
The fate of Osiris became the prototype of the fate of every human being that observed the funeral rites. The mysteries of Isis and Serapis, the new Osiris, promised eternal life to the initiates who followed its rituals.
The believer would have full possession of his physical body as well as of his soul. The adherents of the cult inscribed the following wish on their tombs: 'May Osiris give you fresh water." This water was the ancient water of life, which would give immortality to the thirsty souls.
ROMAN REPUBLIC | L. Isis. R. Serapis | 100 BCE- 70 CE | Roman | Roman Republican
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