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Isis, cult of

The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Richard L GordonRichard L Gordon

Isis, cult of 

A shorthand expression for the religious dimension, focused on Isis, Serapis, Osiris, Harpocrates, and Anubis, of a much wider long-term interaction between Hellenized Egypt and the rest of the Empire. The cult was always strongest in the east Mediterranean, where it often continued to form part of local practice until the late 4th century. At Rome, vota publica coin issues with Isiac motifs were struck until ad 379 and cult practice in the Iseum Campense seems to have continued until Theodosius I, but explicit evidence for worship is limited to private houses of the aristocracy. The Serapea of Menouthis and Alexandria were destroyed by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, in 389 and 391/2. Justinian I ordered the closure of the Temple of Isis at Philae, a centre of pagan practice, in 535/7. A synthetic treatment of the topic in Late Antiquity is a desideratum.

Richard L. Gordon


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            S. Takács, Isis and Sarapis in the Roman World (RGRW 124, 1995).Find this resource: