Isis - Isis as Goddess of Wisdom and Truth

An Excerpt from Book V of the Moralia written by Plutarch, First Essay, titled “Isis and Osiris”

Addressed to Clea, a priestess at Delphi


2. Therefore the effort to arrive at the Truth, and especially the truth about the gods, is a longing for the divine. For the search for truth requires for its study and investigation the consideration of sacred subjects, and it is a work more hallowed than any form of holy living or temple service; and not least of all, it is well-pleasing to that goddess whom you worship, a goddess exceptionally wise and a lover of wisdom, to whom, as her name at least seems to indicate, knowledge and understanding are in the highest degree appropriate … The name of her shrine also clearly promises knowledge and comprehension of reality; for it is named Iseion, to indicate that we shall comprehend reality if in a reasonable and devout frame of mind we pass within the portals of her shrines.

3. Moreover, many writers have held her to be the daughter of Hermes, and many others the daughter of Prometheus, because of the belief that Prometheus is the discoverer of wisdom and forethought, and Hermes the inventor of grammar and music. For this reason they call the first of the Muses at Hermopolis Isis as well as Justice; for she is wise, as I have said, and discloses the divine mysteries to those who truly and justly have the name of “bearers of the sacred vessels” and “wearers of the sacred robes.” These are they who within their own soul, as though within a casket, bear the sacred writings about the gods clear of all superstition and pedantry; and they cloak them with secrecy, thus giving intimations, some dark and shadowy, some clear and bright, of their concepts about the gods, intimations of the same sort as are clearly evidenced in the wearing of the sacred garb. For this reason, too, the fact that the deceased votaries of Isis are decked with these garments is a sign that these sacred writings accompany them, and that they pass to the other world possessed of these and of naught else. It is a fact, Clea, that having a beard and wearing a coarse cloak does not make philosophers, nor does dressing in linen and shaving the hair make votaries of Isis; but the true votary of Isis is he who, when he has legitimately received what is set forth in the ceremonies connected with these gods, uses reason in investigating and in studying the truth contained therein.



Moralia, Book V, “Isis and Osiris”, (De Iside Et Osiride), Plutarch, translated by F. C. Babbitt, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., and London, UK, first published 1936, reprinted 1993


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