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SERAPIS: A Hybrid Cult During the Early Christian Period in Rome

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Abstract

The 1st - 3rd centuries were a critical time for developing many religiosities, including the Serapis Cult. Serapis was known and practiced from the Far East through the Levant, Asia, Greece and Rome. Sarapis, originating in Egypt, found its way to Rome and became one of the largest cults in the ancient world. This research explores the presence of the Hellenistic-Egyptian Sarapis cult in Rome. It seeks to present an interpretive historical analysis of the influence of Egypt within the expanding Roman Empire, by: First, exploring the origins of Sarapis. Second, examining the use of Sarapis within trade; Third, documenting the re-emergence of Sarapis by Roman Imperials; Finally, by demonstrating the influence of the Egyptian East on the Roman West showcases the utilization of Serapis for the political prowess of Roman Imperials.
SERAPIS: A HYBRID CULT
DURING THE EARLY CHRISTIAN PERIOD IN ROME
By: Vivian A. Laughlin
Andrews University
ABSTRACT
The 1st through 3rd centuries were a significant time for developing many religions,
including the Serapis Cult. Serapis was known and practiced from Egypt through the Levant,
Asia, Greece, and Rome. Sarapis, originating in Egypt, found its way to Rome and became one
of the largest cults in the ancient world. This research explores the presence of the Hellenistic-
Egyptian Sarapis cult in Rome. It seeks to present an interpretive historical analysis of the
influence of Egypt within the expanding Roman Empire, by: first, briefly exploring the origins of
Sarapis; Second, examining the use of Sarapis within trade; Third, documenting the re-
emergence of Sarapis by Roman Emperors; and Finally, by demonstrating the influence of the
Egyptian East on the Roman West, which will showcase the utilization of Serapis within the
political prowess of Roman Emperors.
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