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Title: The Hellenisation of Isis and the spread of the cults
Author: Naoum, Danai-Christina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3439 4739
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2008
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The current research attempts to identify the image and activity of the Egyptian goddess Isis predominantly in Greece and also in Egypt. All these areas were in receipt of major cultural, political and religious developments, from the beginning of the Classical epoch throughout the Hellenistic time, the latter being characterised as possessing a very crucial, complicated and fluid time span. In terms of epigraphic and iconographical evidence, recent studies have been occupied with Isis' cults, mainly by French scholars, such as Dunand, Bricault, Leclant and Tran Tam Tinh, who have developed geographical patterns of her cuItic activity, as well as focussing on religious subjects and art history. English scholars, like Griffiths, Lloyd, Fraser, Witt, Thompson, Walters, \Valker have produced valuable studies of Isis' representations and assimilations in portraiture, in ancient sources and provided with reliable information about the history of the Late Period. German scholars such as HOlb1 have dealt also with the Ptolemaic history, religion and iconography, finally Greek and Italian scholars, whose studies are limited but very important overall, as they have been producing exemplary catalogues of the artefacts. As I mentioned earlier, following the introduction of the goddess Isis in the Aegean, since the early Hellenistic period, she received remarkable admiration and attracted large groups of worshippers into her cult by Greeks living in Greece, Greeks overseas and most probably by Egyptian immigrants, travellers and merchants. The transformation of a pure Egyptian goddess into a Hellenistic semi-mortal figure as far as her iconographical representations reveal, and the vast spread of her appearance in the form of official texts, ex-votos or other dedications, prelude the begi~ng of a new religious regime. Although, there has been good scholarly work on individual aspects of the goddess Isis, this study explores the cults of Isis in all its aspects by highlighting certain areas where previous work has been much rare, due to an absolute lack of a proper knitting together the epigraphic, iconographical and historical material, which are discussed in the following chapters. Chapter I lays out briefly the features and the cultic activity of the goddess Isis in the pre-hellenistic period and the later religious activity that are strongly connected with the development of Isis' family myth, cuItic interaction and iconography in the Mediterannean. The Egyptian influences in Greece during the Ptolemaic period and the official amval of the most prominent Egyptian deities, Isis and Sarapis changed the religious significance in the area. Also, this study shows evidence and suggests possibilities of the goddess' early development in Greece in relation to inscriptions within a flexible chronological framework, along with sculpture monuments and small scale finds that are related to her worship in Chapter II. A number of areas, some of them previously unknown for their importance in terms of Egyptian influence, show a religious continuity since the early stages of the Hellenistic period. In Chapter III, the relations of the Ptolemaic kingship with Isis' cults are described, where further on in Chapter N, an extended analysis of Isis' representations in statuary in connection to royal Ptolemaic portraiture leads to the hypothesis for a possible distinction between the identification of representations of Isis and those of Ptolemaic queens and their identities in statuary, which have been long the subject of confusion and debate. Furthermore, in Chapter V, issues of religious matters are raised concerning Egyptian cults, indicating those of Isis alone or with deities and the rulers, in a mixed Greco-Egyptian environment and its complications in the cuitic function of the cults, which are represented in ancient texts and in the archaeological record. Finally, I believe that this research deserves a fair consideration due to its nature of assembling the most recent evidence that was possible, taking into ~ccount my effort to collect and translate an enormous corpus of foreign literature, which treats with care very delicate issues that have been long established, some of which remained either unfamiliar or have received limited attention in previous studies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available