The worship of Serapis was patronized by the court with the very object of affording a mixed cultus in which Greek and native might unite.
The statue of Serapis in the Serapeum of Alexandria was of purely Greek type and workmanship - a Hades or Pluto enthroned with a basket or corn measure on his head, a sceptre in his hand, Cerberus at his feet, and (apparently) a serpent.
But it was a sign of the times when Serapis and Isis, Osiris and Anubis began to take place among the popular deities in the old Greek lands.
In Egypt, the year before, the temple of Serapis at Alexandria had been captured after much bloodshed by the Christian mob and turned into a church.
There is no doubt that Serapis was before long identified with Userhapi; the identification appears clearly in a bilingual inscription of the time of Ptolemy Philopator (221-205 B.C.), and frequently later.
It is assumed above that the name Serapis (so written in later Greek and in Latin, in earlier Greek Sarapis) is derived from the Egyptian Userhapi - as it were Osiris-Apis - the name of the bull Apis, dead and, like all the blessed dead, assimilated to Osiris,.
The worship of Serapis along with Isis, Horus and Anubis spread far and wide, reached Rome, and ultimately became one of the leading cults of the west.
Later, however, as in the Commentary on this work written by Synesius to Dioscorus, priest of Serapis at Alexandria, which probably dates from the end of the 4th century, a changed attitude becomes apparent; the more practical parts of the receipts are obscured or omitted, and the processes for preparing alloys and colouring metals, described in the older treatise, are by a mystical interpretation represented as resulting in real transmutation.
The cult of Anubis must at all times have been very popular in Egypt, and, belonging to the Isis and Serapis cycle, was introduced into Greece and Rome.