Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 74

[FN#259] She is said to have been a priestess of Isis and of Apollo

II. To desire, therefore, and covet after truth, those truths more especially which concern the divine nature, is to aspire to be partakers of that nature itself, and to profess that all our studies and inquiries are devoted to the acquisition of holiness. This occupation is surely more truly religious than any external purifications or mere service of the temple can be. But more especially must such a disposition of mind be highly acceptable to that goddess to whose service you are dedicated, for her especial characteristics are wisdom and foresight, and her very name seems to express the peculiar relation which she bears to knowledge. For "Isis"[FN#260] is a Greek word, and means "knowledge," and "Typhon,"[FN#261] the name of her professed adversary, is also a Greek word, and means "pride and insolence." This latter name is well adapted to one who, full of ignorance and error, tears in pieces and conceals that holy doctrine which the goddess collects, compiles, and delivers to those who aspire after the most perfect participation in the divine nature. This doctrine inculcates a steady perseverance in one uniform and temperate course of life, and an abstinence from particular kinds of foods, as well as from all indulgence of the carnal appetite, and it restrains the intemperate and voluptuous part within due bounds, and at the same time habituates her votaries to undergo those austere and rigid ceremonies which their religion obliges them to observe. The end and aim of all these toils and labours is the attainment of the knowledge of the First and Chief Being, who alone is the object of the understanding of the mind; and this knowledge the goddess invites us to seek after, as being near and dwelling continually with her. And this also is what the very name of her temple promiseth to us, that is to say, the knowledge and understanding of the eternal and self-existent Being (tou ontas)-now, it is called "Iseion," which suggests that if we approach the temple of the goddess rightly, and with purity, we shall obtain the knowledge of that eternal and self-existent Being (to on).

[FN#260] The Egyptian form of the name is As-T, ####, ####, or ####.
Plutarch wishes to derive the name from some form of {greek oida}.

[FN#261] In Egyptian, Tebh.

III. The goddess Isis is said by some authors to be the daughter[FN#262] of Hermes, [FN#263] and by others of Prometheus, both of them famous for their philosophic turn of mind. The latter is supposed to have first taught mankind wisdom and foresight, as the former is reputed to have invented letters and music.

[FN#262] According to the Egyptian Heliopolitan doctrine, Isis was the daughter of Keb, the Earth-god, and Nut, the Sky-goddess; she was the wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, and sister of Set and Nephthys.

[FN#263] The Egyptian. Tehuti, or Thoth, who invented letters, mathematics, &c. He was the "heart of Ra," the scribe of the gods, and he uttered the words which created the world; he composed the "words of power," or magical formulae which were beneficial for the dead, and the religious works which were used by souls in their journey from this world to the next.