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Navigium Isidis

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Title: Navigium Isidis  
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Subject: Temple of Isis (Pompeii), Apuleius
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Navigium Isidis

The Navigium Isidis or Isidis Navigium (trans. the vessel of Isis[1]) was an annual ancient Roman religious festival in honor of the goddess Isis,[2] held on March 5.[3] The festival outlived Christian persecution by Theodosius (391) and Arcadius' persecution against the Roman religion.[4]

In the Roman Empire, it was still celebrated in Italy at least until the year 416.[5] In Egypt, it was suppressed by Christian authorities in the 6th century.[5]

Modern carnival resembles the festival of the Navigium Isidis,[1] and some scholars argue that they share the same origin (via carrus navalis - meaning naval wagon, ie. float - later becoming car-nival).[6][7][8][9][10] Many elements of Carnival were in turn appropriated in the Corpus Christi festival, most prominently in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal).[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b Valantasis (2000) p.378
  2. ^ Haase and Temporini (1986) p.1931
  3. ^ Michele Renee Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (University of California Press, 1990), p. 124.
  4. ^ Alföldi (1937) p.47
  5. ^ a b Valantasis (2000) p.370
  6. ^ Rudwin (1919)
  7. ^ di Cocco (2007)
  8. ^ Alföldi (1937) pp.57-8
  9. ^ Forrest (2001) p.114
  10. ^ Griffiths (1975) p.172
  11. ^ Ruiz, Teofilo F. (2012) A King Travels: Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain, ch.8, pp.359-ff


  • Alföldi, Andreas (1937) A Festival of Isis in Rome under the Christian Emperors of the IVth Century, Budapest
  • Forrest, M. Isidora (2001) Isis magic: cultivating a relationship with the goddess of 10,000 names
  • Griffiths, J. Gwyn (1975) The Isis-book: Metamorphoses, Book 11, chapter Commentary pp. 111–346
  • di Cocco, Giampaolo (2007) Alle origini del Carnevale: Mysteria isiaci e miti cattolici (Florence: Pontecorboli)
  • Haase, Wolfgang and Temporini, Hildegard (1986) Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Volume 16, Part 3
  • Rudwin, Maximilian J. (1919) The Origin of the German Carnival Comedy in The Journal of English and Germanic Philology Vol. 18, No. 3 (Jul., 1919), pp. 402–454
  • Valantasis, Richard (2000) Religions of late antiquity in practice

Further reading

  • Brady, Thomas A. (1938) Reviewed work(s): A Festival of Isis in Rome under the Christian Emperors of the Fourth Century by Andrew Alföldi, in The Journal of Roman Studies Vol. 28, Part 1 (1938), pp. 88–90
  • Rademacher, Carl (1932) Carnival in Hastings ERE 3, pp. 225–9
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