Part of an old map illustrated with figures, including Isis rising from a river Show image info

Part of the map of Somerset and Wiltshire engraved by William Hole to illustrate ‘Poly-Olbion’ the epic poem by Michael Drayton, 1612 [ref. 0596]

Isis

Written in 2019 by a member of a creative writing class, through a collaboration between Bath Record Office and the St. John’s Foundation.

A piece of writing inspired by the 1612 map of Somerset and Wiltshire engraved by William Hole to illustrate ‘Poly-Olbion’ the epic poem by Michael Drayton.

Isis, a goddess in Egyptian mythology emerging naked but adorned with a crown, from the river. Somehow she has become part of the Poly-Olbion, a topographical poem written by Michael Drayton, an English poet of the 16/17th century and illustrated by William Hole. The poem consists of 15,000 lines about the nation’s counties, accompanied by thirty county maps.

So how is it that Isis makes an appearance on this Somerset and Wiltshire map of 1612. Her crown now takes on a different form from the hieroglyphic sign of the throne and cow’s horns. She was a caring goddess, associated with fertility and motherhood, a friend of slaves, sinners, artisans and the downtrodden, protecting children, healing the sick, a goddess of life and magic, an original feminist icon. Evidence has been found of her in Pompeii and other parts of Europe.

It has been said that images of Isis nursing her baby, Horus may have influenced early Christian artists in depicting the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

It is interesting to see that many characters cross the world and appear in altered formats, contributing to myths and beliefs.

So we can see the ongoing need of man to believe in the existence of powers outside of his or herself from early times to the present day.

Polly Milner, February – March 2019