ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010) 241-253
Praising Isis in Demotic
Thomas Dousa University of Illinois
Review article of Holger Kockelmann, Praising the Goddess: A Comparative and Annotated Re-Edition of Six Demotic Hymns and Praises
Addressed to Isis. Archiv ffir Papyrusforschung, Beiheft 15. Berlin
and New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008. 131 pages. ISBN 978-3-11 -021224-2.1
During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, worship of the goddess Isis
served as a major point of intersection between the religious world of Egypt
and that of Greece and Rome. It is thus unsurprising that classicists, Egyptologists, and historians of religion alike have long taken interest in examining the
continuities and discontinuities between the image of Isis in Greco-Roman
textual sources and her depiction in Egyptian materials. In tracing the Egyptian background of Greco-Roman depictions of Isis, scholars have traditionally tended to rely heavily on the formal cultic texts inscribed in hieroglyphic
script on the walls of Ptolemaic- or Roman-period temples.2 In recent years,
however, Egyptologists have begun to deploy a hitherto underutilized type of
source - texts inscribed in the Demotic script on papyrus, ostraca, or stone
- both to enrich their understanding of Isis' place in the religious life of her
Egyptian homeland during the later periods of its history and to enhance the
documentary basis for comparing her Egyptian persona with depictions of
the goddess in texts emanating from Greek and Roman milieus.3 The slender
1 Abbreviations for Egyptological reference sources cited in the following review
are: AgPN = H. Ranke, Die igyptischen Personnennamen, 2 vols. (Glickstadt 1935 -1952); DG = W. Erichsen, Demotisches Glossar (Copenhagen 1954); DNG = H. Gauthier,
Dictionnaire des noms geographiques contenus dans les texts hieroglyphiques, 7 vols.
(Cairo 1925-1931); VP = F. Daumas et al., Valeursphonetiques des signes hieroglyphiques
d'poque grico-romaine, 4 vols. (Montpellier 1988-1995); Wb = A. Erman and H.
Grapow, Wrterbuch der igyptischen Sprache, 7 vols. (Leipzig and Berlin 1926-1982).
2 See, e.g., J. Bergman, Ich bin Isis: Studien zum memphitischen Hintergrund der
griechischen Isisaretalogien (Uppsala 1968); L.V. Zabkar, Hymns to Isis in Her Temple at
Philae (Hanover and London 1988).
3 J. Ray, The Archive ofHor (London 1976) 155-158; T.M. Dousa, "Imagining Isis: On
Some Continuities and Discontinuities in the Image of Greek Isis Hymns and Demotic