Presenter: Amy van der Boor (Mid-candidature review)

This paper will examine how the religious assimilation of Isis and Osiris into Greco-Roman culture and society affected perceptions of their cultural origin and divine status. Although Isis and Osiris were continually represented as brother-sister spouses, their culture, ancestry and divinity were sometimes redefined as a product of Greco-Roman religion. Scholars have traditionally presented these adaptations as deliberate manipulations motivated by anti-Egyptian sentiment, Greco-Roman ideals, and a disregard for the religious antiquity of ‘barbaric’ Egypt. The aim of this paper is to present a more balanced discussion of the Hellenization of Isis and Osiris’ origin mythology. It will demonstrate that while the etymology and parentage of Isis and Osiris were Hellenized, these changes positively endorsed the Egyptian gods’ antiquity and virtue. Through their gradual assimilation into the Greco-Roman pantheon, Isis and Osiris’ re-imagined lineage reinforced both their social acceptance and new traditions of representation. This paper aims to cast changes to Isis and Osiris’ origin and status as enhancing these gods’ position and identity in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean.