Together in the same spot
Aswan - Egypt
TEMPLE OF ISIS
We usually think of Isis as an Egyptian goddess, but she was also worshipped by the Greeks after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. When the Romans conquered both Egypt and Greece itself, the worship of Isis spread throughout the Roman Empire. She was venerated as a loving mother goddess who promoted fertility, oversaw the changing of the seasons, and healed the sick. She was also the patron of sailors. There were temples dedicated to Isis and her brother/husband Osiris throughout the Greco-Roman world. These temples were the sites of elaborate daily and annual rituals and were administered by an educated priesthood skilled in music and medicine. Isis worship was especially popular with women and with the new elite who gained wealth and prominence as the Roman empire expanded.
The Temple of Isis in Pompeii was small but ornate. It was destroyed in an earthquake in A.D. 62 but was rebuilt shortly after that. The renovation was financed by a freed slave in the name of his young son. There may have been political motivations for this since freed slaves were not allowed to hold public office, and the son who was appointed as a member of the city council was only six years old. The Temple has a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural features. This is not surprising since Roman architecture of this period was very ornate, often used bright colors, and borrowed and mixed styles from many eras. There were many statues in the Temple of Isis and the portico walls were covered with elaborate murals. To the left of the temple was a small roofless structure containing a tank that may have held the sacred water from the Nile, which was very important in many Isis ceremonies. In the rear of the sanctuary was a room containing a marble table where sacred meals were probably served.
Oh holy and blessed Lady the perpetual comfort of humankind who by thy bounty and grace nourishs the whole world and bears a great compassion to the troubles of the miserable as a loving mother would -Lucius Apuleius
The cult of Isis arose in southern Egypt more than 5000 years ago. The Egyptians believed that Isis wed her brother Osiris while they were both still in the womb of their mother, Nut, the sky goddess. After they were born, Osiris ruled Egypt as the perfect just ruler and Isis was his loving and compassionate queen. However, Osiris was slain by another brother Seth, Lord of the Desert and of Foreigners, and pieces of his dismembered body were scattered throughout the Nile Delta. Isis escaped into the swamps of Egypt with her son Horus. With the help of her loyal companion, the dog-headed god Anubis, she gathered up the pieces of Osiris' body and by her compassion resurrected him. But she could not bring him into the world of the living, instead Osiris rules over the Kingdom of the Dead. Isis remained in the living world as the "Great Lady-Mistress of the Two Lands of Egypt, Mistress of Shelter, Mistress of Heaven, Mistress of the House of Life". She was seen as the goddess who ruled the changing of the seasons, the healing of the human body, and the annual ebb and flow of the Nile. After Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 B.C., he and his successors the Ptolomies continued to support the cult of Isis, though in time, the different gods in the Isis gods were merged with Greek gods-for example, Osiris became Osirus-Serapis-Pluto, and Horus became Horus-Harpocrates-Apollo.
When the Romans conquered Egypt in the first century B.C., they in turn venerated Isis. Like other argraian peoples, the early Roman had reacted to the complexity of life by seeing hosts of different kinds of gods ruling different things. There were separate gods for different places, different aspects of nature, different stages and conditions of life, and different times of year. There were also state gods that all citizens were expected to worship as a patriotic duty. Later, when Rome started to conquer more and mor of her neighbors, foreign gods were also teolerated. But as more and more gods were added, and as Roman society got farther and farther away from its agrarian roots, there was a movement towards seeing the separate gods as different aspects of the same deity and of seeking more compassionate deities. The worship of Isis was part of this trend. She became immensely popular- first with women and freed slaves, but later with the upper classes of society as well. The priests of Isis became more powerful as well. These priests were aescetics- according to ancient sources they bathed in cold water twice each day and twice each night, shaved their entire bodies once every threee days.
In Pompeii, the temple of Isis probably began about 80 BC. It was destroyed by the earthquake of 62 AD, but was rebuilt through the financial contributions of a freed slave in the name of his six year old son (see the inscription over the door to the street). The temple was administered by disciplined and educated priests who were renowned for their knowledge of medicine.