Power, Politics and the Cults of Isis

Proceedings of the Vth International Conference of Isis Studies, Boulogne-sur-Mer, October 13-15, 2011


In the Hellenistic and Roman world intimate relations existed between those holding power and the cults of Isis. This book is the first to chart these various appropriations over time within a comparative perspective. Ten carefully selected case studies show that “the Egyptian gods” were no exotic outsiders to the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean, but constituted a well institutionalised and frequently used religious option. Ranging from the early Ptolemies and Seleucids to late Antiquity, the case studies illustrate how much symbolic meaning was made with the cults of Isis by kings, emperors, cities and elites. Three articles introduce the theme of Isis and the longue durée theoretically, simultaneously exploring a new approach towards concepts like ruler cult and Religionspolitik.

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Laurent Bricault holds a PhD in Egyptology from the Sorbonne and is Professor of Roman history at Universite de Toulouse Le Mirail.

Miguel John Versluys holds a PhD in Classical Archaeology from Leiden University and is associate Professor at its Faculty of Archaeology.

They are both well known for their many publications on Isis studies and cultural transferences concerning Egypt and the Hellenistic and Roman world. Their three previous volumes in this domain - Nile into Tiber. Egypt in the Roman world (RGRW 159) from 2007, Isis on the Nile. Egyptian gods in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt (RGRW 171) from 2010 and Egyptian gods in the Hellenistic and Roman Mediterranean: Image and reality between local and global (MYTHOS supplement 3) from 2012 – have reinvigorated (theoretical) debates within the field of Isis studies. It is hoped that the present volume not only continues that development, but also makes the cults of Isis part of wider discussions concerning the (religious) history and archaeology of the ancient world.

Contributors are: Julien Aliquot (Lyon), Laurent Bricault (Toulouse), Giuseppina Capriotti Vittozzi (Rome), Valentino Gasparini (Erfurt), Bernard Legras (Paris), John Ma (Oxford), Paraskevi Martzavou (Oxford), Frederick G. Naerebout (Leiden), Jean-Louis Podvin (Boulogne-sur-Mer), Christian-Georges Schwentzel (Valenciennes), Miguel John Versluys (Leiden), Richard Veymiers (Liège), Greg Woolf (St-Andrews).
'This is a highly useful collection of papers. It will be of obvious use to anyone with an interest in the history and development of Isiac cult in the Hellenistic and Roman worlds, particularly in epigraphic and artistic evidence for the cult. It will be of equal interest to those working with theories and concepts of power, especially as it relates to religion, and it should also be considered by anyone with an interest in religious identity in the ancient world. It is an engaging and thought-provoking volume.'

Juliette Harrisson, Newman University, The Classical Review 66.1 (2016).

'The volume’s geographical, chronological and thematic scope is impressive. An array of archaeological, epigraphic, literary, numismatic and papyrological evidence is deployed, illuminating many facets of Isis’ evolving cultural significance.'

Nick West, University of Reading, The Journal of Hellenic Studies 136 (2016)
All interested in the (religious) history of the Hellenistic and Roman world, symbolic constructions of (religious) power and cultural interaction.
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