Navigium Isidis

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Fresco with the Navigium Isidis (Naples National Archaeological Museum)
Procession in Honor of Isis (depiction of the Navigium Isidis festival) by Frederick Arthur Bridgman, 1902

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 (395).[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, i.e. 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[edit]


  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 (2012). "8". A King Travels: Festive Traditions in Late Medieval and Early Modern Spain. p. 359-ff. 


Further reading[edit]

  • 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