Bust of Serapis

In the cosmopolitan world of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, interaction among cultures was intense. Especially pronounced was the phenomenon of religious syncretism. In Egypt, the encounter of local traditions with Greek religious ideas created a new god, named Serapis, who combined elements of Egyptian Apis and Osiris with chthonic Greek deities, like Hades or Dionysus, and healing ones, like Asclepius. Serapis was a god of fertility, regeneration, and the underworld.

The cult of Serapis was supported by the Ptolemies, who built elaborate temples in Alexandria and other Egyptian cities (Serapeia, sing. Serapeion). In Roman times the cult of Serapis spread beyond Egypt.

The bust of the Canellopoulos Museum represents Serapis bearded, wearing himation on his left shoulder and modius (headdress and measure of grain) on the head. It dates to the Roman period (late 2nd – early 3rd c. AD) but it probably copies a statuary type of early Hellenistic times.


Μ. 1994. Τhe Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Museum. Guide, Αθήνα, 92-93.