flood of the river Nile.
Isis’ title ὁf
of infinite names
, clearly shows that she was adored by all people of the world: Isidor says that the Syrians calls Isis Astarte or Artemis Nanaia, the Lycians Leto, the Thracians Mother of the Gods, the Greeks Hera, Aphrodite, Hestia, Rhea, the Egyptians Renenet, goddess of abundance.
But, above all these various names, Isis is the saviour who bestows her grace on any man and woman who suffers or is in danger, such as the sailors who sail the boundless sea, of whom she is the patron.
She also gave mankind the corpus of laws, in order to raise it from the natural state of permanent conflict to the civilized condition
Finally, we can have a look at the aretalogy composed by the Latin writer Apuleius of Madaura, which is contained in his novel The Metamorphoses. Apuleius also regards Isis as the saviour of the man afflicted by sorrow; she is for him the caring mother who is not deaf to
heὄ sὁὀs’ eὀtὄeaties
. In particular, Isis protects man from the adverse consequences of
unsettled will as well as from the evil influence of stars. Isis is mistress of heaven and hell, the ruler of the cosmos, which she keeps in a state of constant equilibrium. Isis is the goddess whom is worth contemplating.
As far as Osiris is concerned, in the ancient Egyptian religion he was identified with the sun which visits the citizens of the netherworld during its nocturnal journey and brings them light and food. This was the solar aspect of Osiris, who had a chthonic nature as well, constituted by his role of king of the netherworld and judge of the deceased.
Osiris, as Isis, was considered as the discoverer of agriculture and he who taught it to mankind.
ηsiὄis’ ὄelatiὁὀ with
the vegetal kingdom is even stronger than his connection with agriculture, because, as vegetation is ruled by the cyclical law of death and rebirth, so Osiris is the god who dies and is then resuscitated by his wife Isis.
The accὁuὀt ὁf ηsiὄis’
death and rebirth varies according to the sources consulted. Apart from the Egyptian sources, Plutarch of
account of the myth of Osiris represents one of the most important for the precision of the information it gives on this topic. In his masterpiece entitled On Isis and Osiris Plutarch reports that Typhon (called Seth by the Egyptians), Osiris
’ evil bὄὁtheὄ
, probably in order to avenge his wife Nephth
ys’ adulteὄὁus ὄelatiὁὀ
ship with Osiris (who had erroneously mistaken Nephthys for his wife and sister Isis), confined Osiris in a sarcophagus that he then threw into the sea. When Isis knew what had happened to her husband, she started searching for the sarcophagus, finally found it in the Phoenician city of Byblos and brought it back to Egypt. When Isis uncovered it, she found his husband Osiris trapped in it. She was still unable to free Osiris from the sarcophagus in which he was confined, but this fact did not prevent her from going in search of her son Horus, in order to rejoice with him over the discovery of her husband. However Typhon, who was hunting in the wilderness, found, with the help of the light of the moon, the place where Osiris
sarcophagus was located. Typhon then dismembered
ηsiὄis’ bὁdy iὀtὁ 1ζ pieces aὀd scatteὄ
ed them all over the world.
Wheὀ Isis weὀt back tὁ the place wheὄe ηsiὄis’ saὄcὁphagus s
hould have been and knew what Typh
ὁὀ had dὁὀe tὁ heὄ husbaὀd’s bὁdy
, she again went in search of it and finally managed to find all the pieces
iὀ which ηsiὄis’s bὁdy was dismembeὄed
phallus, which she replaced with an artificial one. With the help of her magic art Isis
Isidor, Hymn 1. 1-14, in: V.F. Vanderlip, The four Greek Hymns of Isidorus and the Cult of Isis, American studies in papyrology 12 (Toronto, 1972).
Ibid., 1. 15-25.
Apuleius, Metamorphoses, XI, 2; 25, in: Le religioni dei misteri (2004), 227-229.
Witt, Isis (1997), 38.
Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, ed. K.T. Fischer
F. Vogel (post I. Bekker
L. Dindorf), 5 vols., 3rd edn. (Leipzig, 1888-1964), I. 14. 1.