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Episode 26: In which Minerva, Mars, and Roma meet the Egyptian goddess Isis, and struggle to distinguish Tennessee from Egypt.
ROMA, GODDESS OF ROME: Hail! I heard that the mortals have recovered yet another ancient Egyptian sculpture from the place they call “America.”
ROMA: Not in the least. But I have brought you someone who might. The best defense is a good offense in the battle against boredom.
MINERVA: Who is that and why is she carrying an armful of penises?
MINERVA: That answers only my first question.
ISIS, GODDESS OF FERTILITY AND OSIRIS’ SISTER-WIFE-QUEEN (you read that right): Hi, you must be Minerva, it’s great to meet you. The penises are votive offerings to me that the mortals were digging up in Italy. At least, I think they’re to me. I don’t read Latin, but I had this whole thing with searching the landscape for my brother-lover’s lost penis, so I assume they’re for me.
MINERVA: (stunned blinking)
ISIS: But then some mortals were trying to take them back the other day and I haven’t had a chance to put them down, I’m running a little ragged here…
ROMA: I just found her wandering around an artifact farm in Tuscany.
ROMA: She was muttering about some jar lid she had to get from America, so I thought you two would get along. Here. She’s your problem now. (Leaves)
ISIS: The mortals found a lid to one of our canopic jars in Memphis. I have to go get it back. I’d really like to stop by Thebes and put these down first, though, I guess it’s a long trip? It’s not like they’re heavy, I’m a goddess, I can carry some ceramic penises, but they’re a little awkward…
MINERVA: I don’t understand. If it’s in Memphis already, isn’t that where it’s supposed to be?
ISIS: No, apparently this is a different Memphis, in a place across the ocean called Ten-ah-see. Since when was there land across the ocean, by the way? It’s not like I’m complaining exactly, I love all my followers, it’s just I’m a little stretched thin on the ground as it is…
MINERVA: Are you trying to say Tennessee? I have a temple there.
MARS: What’s a canopic jar?
ISIS: Oh, it’s a little container that holds the dead mortal’s organs after mummification. They have these cute little tops! We Egyptian gods collect them as knick-knacks. Horus has a huge set with hawks on them.
MARS: Wow. And mortals think I’m hardcore.
MINERVA: Look, if what I think is happening is happening, you don’t have to go get the artifact yourself. The American mortal authorities will return the artifact to you in Egypt. You just have to be patient.
MARS: You do realize you’re talking to a woman with crazy-eyes and a bouquet of penises.
ISIS: Really? That would be great, honestly, I mean, I never shy away from a good side-quest wander, but I am totally swamped at the moment. At every moment, actually. While we’re on the subject, I have this whole priesthood thing going on in Northern Greece during the Roman Period, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to run point on that for me for a little bit? I heard that the mortals were concerned about that recently too, but I haven’t had a chance to get over there and check it out.
MINERVA: Why would the mortals care about your outdated cult?
ISIS: It’s not outdated! In fact, that’s what they were concerned about, someone being an Isis member.
MINERVA (putting on helmet, reaching for her spear): Wrong ISIS. C’mon Mars, let’s go to Macedonia and teach some artifact traffickers a lesson.
To explore the politics of returning artifacts across international borders, look for CLAS-A 301 Classical Archaeology, coming in Fall 2024, no pre-reqs or previous experience required. Or to learn more about the Cult of Isis and other foreign gods in the Roman Empire, enroll in CLAS-C 387 Roman History in Fall 2023, also with no pre-reqs. While you’re waiting, be sure to check in on the continued repatriation adventures of Minerva, Mars, and Roma. Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!