|The combined Isis-Sothis standing in the barque in which she|
crossed the heavens. Roman Period.
Mythology of Sothis
The goddess who personified the bright, first magnitude star Sirius (the 'dog star') was called Sopdet by the ancient Egyptians and Sothis by the Greeks. Her husband was Sah, god of the neighboring constellation Orion, and her son Soped or Sopdu, another astral deity. The importance of Sirius for the ancient Egyptians lay in the fact that the star's annual appearance on the eastern horizon at dawn heralded the approximate beginning of the Nile's annual inundation which marked the beginning of the agricultural year. Thus the goddess was called 'bringer of the New Year and the Nile flood' and became associated at an early date with Osiris who symbolized this annual resurgence of the Nile and who was also personified in the night sky by the neighboring constellation Orion. Even as early as the Pyramid Texts Sothis was described as having united with the king/Osiris to give birth to the morning star, Venus, and through her association with the netherworld god she was naturally identified with Isis - eventually appearing at times as the combined goddess Isis-Sothis.
Iconography of Sothis
|The goddess Sothis with her|
characteristic crown surmounted
by a five-pointed star. Late Period
bronze statuette. British Museum.
Worship of Sothis
The star Sirius may have been worshipped as a cow-goddess in predynastic times, but eventually became identified with Isis and with Sothis. While Sothis was clearly a goddess of some importance in her own right, her increasing identification with Isis led to a lessening of her individual identity in later times. In the Old Kingdom she was important as a deity of the inundation and as an afterlife guide to the deceased king, yet by the Middle Kingdom she is identified as a 'mother' and 'nurse', and during the Graeco-Roman Period her assimilation with Isis was almost complete.