Commodus AE32 of Philippopolis, Thrace.Isis sailing r., holding billowing sail with both hands .EF

Ancient Coins - Commodus AE32 of Philippopolis, Thrace.Isis sailing r., holding billowing sail with both hands .EF
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Commodus AE32 of Philippopolis, Thrace. AY K AI AYP KOMODOC, laureate head right /
Isis sailing r., holding billowing sail with both hands. R6. EF with very BEAUTIFUL APPLE GREEN PATINA. very rare and interesting coin !!Varbanov 927

Genesis in the Land of the Pharaohs
Isis ("Aset" in the native language) had her start as a comparatively minor deity of Egypt. She was a protector of the throne of Egypt, perhaps in some ways the personification of Royal Power. But she had been subordinate in the official Egyptian pantheon to deities more intimately connected with the great king, like Ra and Horus.

The collapse of the Old Kingdom brought about several sweeping changes in Egyptian religion. Eternal life, which had once been viewed as the sole province of the King, came to be seen as the reward for all those willing to submit to the proper cults. In this new paradigm Isis took center stage and became the central goddess in the popular religion of the Egyptian people.

The Un-Roman Roman cult
The Cult of Isis was, thanks to Ptolemy, Hellenized to a degree that the Roman mind could understand it, and yet still foreign enough to be exotic and alien.


Unlike most religious structures in the Roman world, the Iseum did not open to the streets or forum where public spectators could view the proceedings inside. The Iseum was walled off from the surrounding world, suggesting a space of inner sanctity. Even within its walls, there was a "sanctuary" much like modern monasteries where only clergy and the initiated could enter. In there rituals involving fire, water and incense were conducted in front of a sacred statuary of the deities concerned. This secret religious life that was set apart from the community and the State is what helped arouse the suspicions of the conservatives back in the days of the Republic.

Not much is known about the details of the inner workings of the mysteries, as they were by definition secret. Prospective initiates were called to the goddess by dreams and visions. Intense preparations of purification and meditation (and abstinence) were followed by exotic rites designed to recreate the myth of Isis and the resurrection of Osiris. By enduring these rituals, the adherent was reconciled to the magic of Isis and effectively granted a favorable afterlife. He or she was in a sense spiritually reborn in a manner common to Greco-Oriental savior religions.

But there were more public festivals too that didn't require initiation. The first was conducted on March 5th. In honor of Isis sailing the seas to find pieces of her lost husband, a colorful procession of costumed people, including especially sailors, marched to port and ritually blessed a boat. The second festival was held October 28th to November 3rd. This was an ancient passion play Again, costumed enactors took to the streets, this time to reenact the death and resurrection of Serapis. Roman conservatives complained the festival was too loud and colorful.

People also had private shrines to Isis and Serapis in their homes.

The subject of the ethics of the cult is a complicated one. We know that Egyptian culture as a whole was free with sexuality compared to Roman culture. Isis was in fact rather popular with courtesans and other such professions, and there are speculations that Isiac cults may have promoted a kind of "positive sexuality" among a more conservative Roman population. Augustus and Tiberius took this as proof of a "pornographic" cult. Yet the Isiac cult also demanded regular periods of sexual abstinence from its adherents for purposes of ritual purification, and even apparently courtesans readily submitted to these observances. Curiously enough, the early Christians who were quick to complain about the degeneracy of pagan cults could not offer as much criticism about Isis as they could about some other cults in the Empire.
Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius and was made co-emperor in 177 AD. He was a megalomaniac who fancied himself the reincarnation of Hercules, and was killed in 192 AD

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