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A statue of Serapis in the Library of Alexandria

Serapis was a Greco-Egyptian god worshipped in ancient Egypt.

Serapis was introduced to Egypt by Ptolemy I Soter, the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, who sought to accommodate the beliefs of both Greek and Egyptian culture in order to avoid potential conflict, highlighting their similarities. To this end, he amalgamated the names of Osiris and Apis, forming the name "Serapis".[1]

Influence and legacy

By the 1st century BCE, the cult of Serapis was widespread across Egypt, with various towns and cities containing a temple or shrine dedicated to him, the most notable being the Serapeum of Alexandria.[2]

At some point before 48 BCE, the Saisian blacksmith Sokar crafted a fine spear he named The Serpent of Serapis out of meteorite metal, wrapping its shaft with water-hardened leather, for one of Apollodorus's captains at his villa. The captain was killed and the spear stolen by one of Sefetu's men, however, and Sokar fled Sais fearing for his own life.[3] In 48 BCE, Sokar met the Medjay Bayek of Siwa, who heard the tale of the spear, and offered to find the thief and take back the spear. Appreciating his offer, Sokar let him have the spear.[3]

Around 48 BCE, the Cult of Serqet used a shrine dedicated to Serapis in northern Kanopos Nome to perform one of their gruesome ceremonies, guided by their 'mission statement' that deemed they should gather "facets of the four gods -- Sekhmet, mistress of the desert, Serapis, lord of transition, Sobek, lord of the Nile, and Horus, lord of the sky. Their followers will be initiated into our order in their holy places."[4]

Behind the scenes

While the name Serapis was an amalgam of Egyptian deities Osiris and Apis, in full he was a syncretism of them and some Greek deities as well, namely Hades and Dionysos. According to Plutarch the first statue of Serapis erected in Alexandria by Ptolemy I Soter was similar to that of Hades even including Cerberus because the Greek ruling class had little respect for animal-headed deities. That said, the statue of Serapis most commonly used in Assassin's Creed: Origins was also used in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, albeit for Hades. It is based on a statue of Hades and Cerberus.




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