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Images of Isis and her cultic shrines reconsidered. Towards an egyptian understanding of the Interpretatio Graeca

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines three shrines, dated to the second century AD, which are located at Ras el-Soda and Luxor in Egypt and at Gortyn on Crete, with regard to their architectural plans and sculptural programs together with aspects of the Iseum at Pompeii and passages from Apuleius. Its objectives are (1) to suggest the possible origins of their architectural plans, (2) to describe the function of the cult praxis in terms of those plans, and (3) to test the validity of the hypothesis positing the existence of an archetypal cult statue of Isis with an inquiry into the nature of her cork screw or so-called “Libyan locks” and her knotted costume. The discussion ends with an analysis of the “Reception of Io” from the Iseum at Pompeii in order to consider whether an interpretatio graeca is warranted when regarding images modernly identified as depictions of Isis with demonstrable pharaonic antecedents.

Keywords: cultic shrines; Egypt; interpretatio graeca; Isis; Pompeii; Ras el-Soda



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