Why is the Thames also known by some as the Isis?
Can anybody explain please why it has an Ancient Egyptian Goddess's name.
- ManxbikerLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Most people have heard of Old Father Thames, but you may be wondering what Isis, the Egyptian goddess of magic, has to do with a river in England.
The Thames is an ancient river and the origins of its name are lost in antiquity, but may derive from the Celtic words tam, meaning wide-spreading, and isa, meaning running water. The Celtic word for the Thames was Tamesis. However, as Peter Ackroyd suggests, the name could possibly be far older in origin, from the time of the primordial mesolithic tribes that wandered far and wide. The Sanskrit word tamasa means dark, in the sense of holy or sacred, and there are other rivers of the world with similar names, including the Tamasa, which is a tributary of the Ganges, the Temes in Hungary, the Tamese in Italy and also the Tamar in the UK.
The Thames' has a well-known deity - Old Father Thames. He has long hair and a beard and is often depicted carrying a trident. He is a classic river god.
However, the Eyptian goddess Isis has also been associated with the Thames.This is partly due to the old name for the Thames - Tamesis - and because a 14th century monk, Ranulphus Higden, described the river as being a combination of two tributaries, Thama and Ysa. Although this was probably just a version of the Celtic words mentioned earlier, historian John Leland in his Itinerary (1546) translated Ysa as Isis, and the connection with the Egyptian goddess grew from there.
So, in myth and legend, the river Thames is governed by the union of the male and female deities Thames and Isis. It seems appropriate. Isis is a mother goddess and the benefactress of rivers. She is also a goddess of fertility. Roman effigies of her have been dredged from the waters near London Bridge.
If modern pagans, who honour both male and female aspects in rituals, want to call upon the deities of London's ancient river, then Old Father Thames and Isis do seem appropriate.
- JeanneLv 44 years ago
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Origin of the name The river's name appears always to have been pronounced with a simple "t" at the beginning; the Middle English spelling was typically Temese and Latin Tamesis. The "th" lends an air of Greek to the name and was added during the Renaissance, possibly to reflect or support a belief that the name was derived from River Thyamis in the Epirus region of Greece, whence early Celtic tribes are thought to have migrated. However, most scholars now believe Temese and Tamesis come from Celtic (Brythonic) Tamesa, possibly meaning 'the dark one'. Indirect evidence for the antiquity of the name 'Thames' is provided by a Roman pot-sherd found at Oxford, bearing the inscription Tamesubugus fecit (Tamesubugus made this). It is believed that Tamesubugus's name was derived from that of the river. The name Isis, given to the part of the river running through Oxford, may have come from the Egyptian goddess of that name but is believed to be a contraction of Tamesis, the Latin (or pre-Roman Celtic) name. Richard Coates has recently suggested that the river was called the Thames upriver, where it was narrower and Plowonida down river, where it was too wide to ford. This gave the name to a settlement on its banks, which became known as Londinium, from the original root Plowonida (derived from pre-celtic Old European 'plew' and 'nejd,' meaning something like the flowing river or the wide flowing unfordable river). For merchant seamen, it has long been just 'The London River'.
- 1 decade ago
The Thames through Oxford was always called the Isis especially in victorian times from its source to Dorchester-on-Thames where the Isis met the Thame - over time by the 20th century this was shortened to Thames after being called Thame-Isis
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- TeresaLv 44 years ago
Isis was a motherly goddess figure in Egyptian mythology. She might have been the goddess of fertility, I can't quite remember. Either way, she was known for nursing her son Horus, and helping him grow. Likewise, the Thames brings life, fertility, and strength to the nearby land.
- cardimomLv 71 decade ago
That's what they call it at Oxford. J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis were known for calling it that.