Isis and Serapis
|Mosaic of Sarapis and Isis; Roman early-3rd century.|
I like chronologies, for how they tie people to events and delineate what was possible (and impossible) at a particular time. So here are the last Ptolemaic queen, the first Roman emperor, and two Chrestians, both of whom are imperial:
- Cleopatra VII Philopator (69 – August 12, 30 BCE)
- Octavian/Augustus (23 September 63 BCE – 19 August 14 CE)
- Drusus (husband of Antonia, below) (January 14, 38 – Summer of 9 BCE)
- Antonia Minor (31 January 36 BCE - September/October 37 CE)
Antonia Minor...was the younger of two daughters of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor. She was a niece of the Emperor Augustus, sister-in-law of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal grandmother of the Emperor Caligula and Empress Agrippina the Younger, mother of the Emperor Claudius, and both maternal great-grandmother and paternal great-aunt of the Emperor Nero. She was additionally the maternal great-aunt of the Empress Valeria Messalina and Faustus Cornelius Sulla Felix, and paternal grandmother of Claudia Antonia, Claudia Octavia, and Britannicus.
Antonia is one of the most prominent Roman women.
Maybe studying the influences of Cleopatra and her Polemaic Egypt on Octavian/Augustus would be helpful in understanding how Chrestianity came to his imperial court (and then, into the royalty of the Levantine provinces).
Scholars have often discussed the importance of Egypt and its imagery in the early days of the empire, particularly when considering the actions of Augustus. Many monuments built in the time of the first emperor exhibit varying degrees of Egyptian influence, yet the Iseum Campensis has only recently been placed within this context, and its significance has not yet been fully explored. (A Monument of Egyptian Triumph: The Iseum Campensis and the Reign of Augustus)
The Vatican Nile, a monumental marble sculpture once displayed in Rome's Iseum Campense with a companion Tiber.
Archaeologists and others are gradually getting to grips with imperial interest in the Ptolemaic gods Isis and Serapis/Sarapis:
The same source has this for Pompeii (of special interest to me, through this subject page: Chrestians of Pompeii):
No doubt this is all common knowledge, though in archaeology there is the matter of context; in this regard, everyone ignored our chronology: Isis, Isis Chreste, Chrestians, IS Chrest, Jesus Christ; this identifies people with the developing theology.
High Clerk in the Cult of Serapis, Altes Museum, Berlin
...some Egyptologists allege that the Sinope in the tale is really the hill of Sinopeion, a name given to the site of the already existing Serapeum at Memphis. Also, according to Tacitus, Serapis (i.e., Apis explicitly identified as Osiris in full) had been the god of the village of Rhakotis before it expanded into the great capital of Alexandria.
With his (i.e. Osiris's) wife Isis, and their son Horus (in the form of Harpocrates), Serapis won an important place in the Greek world. In his Description of Greece, Pausanias notes two Serapeia on the slopes of Acrocorinth, above the rebuilt Roman city of Corinth and one at Copae in Boeotia.
Serapis was among the international deities whose cult was received and disseminated throughout the Roman Empire, with Anubis sometimes identified with Cerberus. At Rome, Serapis was worshiped in the Iseum Campense, the sanctuary of Isis built during the Second Triumvirate in the Campus Martius. The Roman cults of Isis and Serapis gained in popularity late in the 1st century when Vespasian experienced events he attributed to their miraculous agency while he was in Alexandria, where he stayed before returning to Rome as emperor in 70. From the Flavian Dynasty on, Serapis was one of the deities who might appear on imperial coinage with the reigning emperor.
Base of the Column of Antoninus Pius from the Campus Martius ( Vatican Museums Garden)
The tying of Isis to Serapis, then the Roman Sarapis, in the imperial temples, followed by the strong connection between this Sarapis and the Severans, suggests some significance to me. I regard the Severan dynasty and its women of Emesa as the next, big step after Hadrian, leading directly to that new genre of literature I keep mentioning: wandering philosophers (miracle workers), twins (one Earthly and one a deity), and travels to 'India' where they convert kings. So, as the North African emperor Septimius Severus embaces Sarapis, his wife, Julia Domna (hereditary high priestess of the now-solar Baal in Emesa) commissions Travels of Apollonius of Tyana.
To me, it is clear that the history of imperial Rome has hardly been penetrated.