Religion and the Temple of Isis

Religion and the Temple of Isis

  • Submitted By: MRBUBBLES
  • Date Submitted: 11/17/2008 10:49 PM
  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 458
  • Page: 2
  • Views: 573

Religion in Pompeii, as in all ancient societies, encompassed a multiplicity of deities with different characters and different spheres of competence, and people could cultivate now one, now another, depending upon their personal preferences or upon the needs of the moment.

Evidence for religious belief and practice comes primarily from the remains of temples and altars. At the top of the scale were the grand public temples of ‘official’ deities, mostly set in monumental precincts; below these were slightly more modest temples associated with other Greco-Roman and imported gods, as well as the newly emerging cults associated with the imperial house; and at the bottom of the scale were small streetside shrines, or indeed shrines within the home, dedicated to various deities, but all designed for personal prayers and offerings…

Alongside the old Greco-Roman deities a relative newcomer was the Egyptian goddess Isis, whose cult spread across the Mediterranean during the third and second centuries BC after the Greek conquest of Egypt. Giver of life, protector of the family, a goddess of healing and deliverance, she tended to absorb other deities and came close to being a universal goddess. Her control over destiny and the demands that she placed upon the worshipper made her cult particularly attractive as a personal religion, and she enjoyed favour not only among the well-to-do classes but also among ordinary people, including women and slaves. Her temple in Pompeii probably dates to Augustan or early Julio-Claudian times,’ but, as the inscription of N. Popidius Celsinus demonstrates, it was restored after the earthquake of 62. Situated in an enclosure above the theatre, it consisted not only of the temple proper, constructed on a high podium with a frontal stairway, but also of a little purificatory shrine (purgatorium) where worshippers were cleansed with sacred water from the Nile. At the rear of the precinct was the ekklesiasterion, a large room which may...

Similar Essays