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Isis (part 7)


'Moses the Egyptian - The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism'  Jan Assman

 

"Lucius...awakens on the shores of the Mediterranean as the full moon rises from the sea...a new hope arises with the moon, which Lucius addresses as follows:

 

     O Queen of Heaven-whether thou art Ceres, the primal and beautiful mother

     of crops...;or whether thou art heavenly Venus who...art worshipped in the

     shrine of Paphos; or the sister of Phoebus who...art now adored in the tem-

     ples of Ephesus; or whether as Proserpine...thou art propitiated with differ-

     ing rites - whoever  thou art..., by whatever name or ceremony or face thou

     art rightly called, help me now in the depth of my  trouble.

 

...The goddess answers him in a dream, presenting herself in a similar way.  She, too, ends her self-presentation with a catalogue of names;

 

     Lo, I am with you Lucius, moved by your prayers, I who am the mother of the

     universe, the mistress of all the elements, the first offspring of time, the high-

     est of deities, the queen of the dead, foremost of heavenly beings,the single

     form that fuses all gods and goddesses; I who order by my will the starry heights

     of heaven, the health giving breezes of the sea, and the awful silences of those

     in the underworld: my single godhead is adored by the whole world in various

     forms, in differing rites and with many diverse names.

 

     Thus the Phrygians...call me Pessinuntia..;the Athenians...call me Minerva; the

     Cyprians...call me Venus, the Sicilians Proserpine; to the Eleusinians I am Ceres,

     to others Juno...But the Ethiopians...together with the Africans and the Egypt-

     ians who excel by having the original doctrine honor me with my distinctive

     rites and give me my true name of Queen Isis.

 

{source - original quote from: John Gwyn Griffifths, 'Apuleius of Madauros: The Isis-Book

(Metamorphoses, Book XI), Etudes Preliminaires des Religions Orientales 39)]

 

...There are several Isis-texts from Egypt that address the goddess in this way.  The ear-

liest is a hymn which Isidorus of Narmuthis  had engraved on pillars in the temple of

Thermuthis at Medinet Madi (first century B.C.E.)

 

       All mortals who live on the boundless earth,

       Thracians, Greeks, and Barbarians,

        Express your fair name, a name greatly honored among all,

        [But] each speaks in his own language, in his own land.

        The Syrians call you: Astarte...

        The Thracians also name you as Mother of the Gods,

        And the Greeks [call you] Hera of the Great Throne, Aphrodite...

        But the Egyptians call you [Isis] because they know that

          you, being one, are all other goddesses invoked by the races of men.

 

{source - original qoute from: Vera F. Vanderlip, ' The Four Great Hymns of Isodorus

 and the Cult of Isis' - Inscriptions Metriques de L'Egypte Greco-Romaine}

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