Season: 3-4 & 6, Episodes: 6, Faction: Freighter
George Minkowski was the communications officer aboard the freighter. He was responsible for maintaining contact via satellite phone with his colleagues on the Island and with the outside world, until he began to experience disorientation caused by the transportation of his consciousness through time and his resultant death.
In the flash-sideways, George was the limo driver for Desmond Hume. He had not remembered his previous life or moved on yet.
Before the Freighter
4×05 – The Constant
Minkowski’s consciousness traveled back and forth from the future on the Freighter to his past after his and Brandon’s attempt to get to the Island. At one point, he was on a Ferris wheel. (“The Constant”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
Sometime later, George went to Fiji to join up with the freighter team. There he introduced himself to a deckhand named Kevin Johnson, who, unknown to him, was Michael Dawson undercover. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
On the Freighter
4×05 – The Constant
As communications officer, Minkowski manned the radio room aboard the freighter. All communications to and from the freighter came through him, but he was under strict orders never to answer the incoming calls from Penelope Widmore, a wealthy heiress who was attempting to locate her lost love and Island castaway Desmond Hume. (“The Constant”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
After some time on the freighter, George found Michael in his room and told him about a phone call from Walt.
George escorted Michael to the communications room and allowed him his privacy when Michael asked to be alone. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
4×05 – The Constant
On December 22, 2004 (freighter time), following Naomi’s dispatch from the freighter by helicopter in an attempt to locate the Island, the communications equipment in Minkowski’s radio room was sabotaged by Michael. (“The Constant”)
3×22 – Through the Looking Glass
Minkowski answered his satellite phone aboard the freighter to find Jack on the other end, speaking from Naomi’s cell phone. From the cell phone signal, Minkowski was able to give the freighter a fix on the Island’s location. (“Through the Looking Glass, Part 2”)
4×01 – The Beginning of the End
A short time later, Minkowski called back and asked for Naomi, looking to reconfigure the satellite phone. Jack told him that she was getting firewood, while in fact she had recently been the victim of a knife attack by Locke. Minkowski called back again, this time hailing Kate, who had stolen the satellite phone from Jack. Kate told him they were still looking for Naomi and quickly closed the connection.
Minkowski next received a call from Naomi, who, mortally wounded, recovered her satellite phone from Kate, after Kate had tracked Naomi’s trail of blood through the jungle. Naomi adjusted the satellite phone accordingly so that a signal on the Island could be fixed, and then Naomi asked Minkowski to “tell my sister I love her”, a freighter team code phrase indicating she had met with hostility. (“The Beginning of the End”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
After dispatching four other members of the freighter team to the Island by helicopter, Minkoswki later received a call from Daniel Faraday on Naomi’s satellite phone. Minkowski abruptly asked, “Am I on speaker?” Faraday adjusted the phone and spoke to him privately. (“Confirmed Dead”)
4×05 – The Constant
With the freighter anchored and no orders, Minkowski and fellow crew member Brandon decided to tour the Island and set out aboard the ship’s tender. Before reaching the Island, Brandon started “acting crazy”, forcing Minkowski to return to the freighter. Brandon subsequently died, and Minkowski too began to suffer the effects of time-transported consciousness, leading to his being strapped down in a bed in the freighter’s sickbay. (“The Constant”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
Thereafter, the satellite phone was answered by Regina, who told callers that Minkowski was unavailable to come to the phone. (“Confirmed Dead”)
4×05 – The Constant
At midday on December 24, 2004 (freighter time), Sayid and Desmond landed on the freighter with Lapidus. Desmond, who by then was also exhibiting the disorienting symptoms of temporal displacement, was taken by freighter crew members and locked in the sickbay along with Minkowski.
Recognizing Desmond’s symptoms, Minkowski offered to assist Desmond in going to the disabled radio room to try to restore contact with the outside world and call Penelope Widmore, the “constant” Desmond needed to end his flashes between past and present. Desmond and Sayid unstrapped Minkowski, whose nose had begun to bleed, and they proceeded out of sickbay to the radio room. Once there, Minkowski began to experience convulsions and finally, uttering “I can’t get back”, Minkowski died in Desmond’s arms. (“The Constant”)
6×11 – Happily Ever After
In the flash sideways timeline, George Minkowski worked for Charles Widmore as a limo driver, assigned to chauffeur Desmond Hume. He was first seen picking Desmond up at LAX. Noticing Desmond doesn’t have a wedding ring, he asked Desmond whether he would like him to arrange some female companionship. When Desmond said he was there to work, George said that that was why Desmond was the boss’s right hand man and he was the driver.
He later alerted Desmond to the risk of confronting Eloise Widmore. After taking Desmond to meet Penelope Milton, he again offered to help Desmond in whatever way he could. Desmond asked him to get a copy of the passenger manifest from Oceanic Flight 815. (“Happily Ever After”)
Related Character Images
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 & 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
A deity whose incarnation was a sacred bull living at Memphis, the worship of whom apparently goes back as far as the First Dynasty. When this bull died, his successor was chosen based upon a series of criteria. The bull had to be black, with a white triangle on his forehead and wing-like markings on his back, a mark like a scarab under his tongue and the hair of his tail divided into two strands. Once chosen, the bull was housed in special quarters, complete with his own harem of cows, to be adored by worshipers, with oracular pronouncements being derived through interpreting his behavior. At his death, the Apis bull was embalmed and entombed in extravagant fashion alongside his predecessors. The Apis bull had a special association with the king, and participated in the Sed festival, at which the king periodically renewed his powers. The Apis bull was conceived from a virgin cow and the God Ptah, and was thus regarded as Ptah’s living representative on earth. The cow from whom he was born was known as the Isis cow, and was also venerated while alive and buried with elaborate ceremony. Apis also had a divine child called Kem or Gem (Dieter Kessler, ‘Bull Gods’, in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt p. 212). When the Apis bull died, it became ‘Osiris-Apis’, just as the deceased human is ‘Osiris-N.’ in the personalized afterlife texts; Osiris-Apis, however, also manifests a unity contrasting with the succession of historical Apis bulls. It is frequently asserted with great confidence that the Graeco-Egyptian deity Serapis is ‘Osiris-Apis’, but this remains problematic. It was, however, a common identification in antiquity, whether or not it came about in retrospect as an attempt to derive an indigenous pedigree for Serapis.
In one of the ‘ascension’ spells of the Pyramid Texts (utterance 539), the king says “My phallus is Apis; I will ascend and rise up to the sky.” Funerary stelae show the Apis bull carrying the mummy of the deceased on his back. In spell 31 of the Coffin Texts, the deceased is granted the boon of seeing the birth of the Apis bull “in the byres of the dappled cattle,” (Faulkner 1973 p. 20). Identification with Apis in the netherworld seems to express the idea of flourishing. Thus in spell 162, the east wind opens a path for the deceased into a field where s/he flourishes “like the condition of Apis and Seth,” (ibid. p. 140), Seth being associated with vigor; in spell 203 (spell 189 in the Book of the Dead), which is concerned with providing appropriate nourishment in the spirit world, Seth and Apis apparently reap and thresh grain for the deceased’s consumption; and in spell 204, similarly concerned with spiritual nourishment, the deceased affirms “I am Apis who is in the sky, long of horns … far-sighted, far-striding,” (ibid. p. 166), alluding to the bull’s oracular prescience. The milk which is imbibed by Apis from his mother is a purifying substance in CT 21/BD 169. The Apis bull is mentioned, along with Mnevis, another sacred bull, in the twenty-fifth instruction of the Demotic Papyrus Insinger, a text of ethical instruction, in a chapter against retaliation. The author says that “Apis and Mnevis abide at the window of Pharaoh forever. They will do good to him who will listen to these words,” i.e. they will reward the person who knows better than to seek retaliation (Lichtheim vol. 3, p. 213).
According to Manetho, his worship was instituted by Kaiechos of the Second Dynasty. Hape (Apis) is named on very early monuments, but little is known of the divine animal before the New Kingdom. Ceremonial burials of bulls indicate that ritual sacrifice was part of the worship of the early cow deities and a bull might represent a king who became a deity after death. He was entitled “the renewal of the life” of the Memphite god Ptah: but after death he became Osorapis, i.e. the Osiris Apis, just as dead humans were assimilated to Osiris, the king of the underworld. This Osorapis was identified with the Hellenistic Serapis, and may well be identical with him. Greek writers make the Apis an incarnation of Osiris, ignoring the connection with Ptah.
Apis was the most important of all the sacred animals in Egypt, and, as with the others, its importance increased as time went on. Greek and Roman authors have much to say about Apis, the marks by which the black bull-calf was recognized, the manner of his conception by a ray from heaven, his house at Memphis with court for disporting himself, the mode of prognostication from his actions, the mourning at his death, his costly burial, and the rejoicings throughout the country when a new Apis was found. Mariette’s excavation of the Serapeum at Memphis revealed the tombs of over sixty animals, ranging from the time of Amenophis III to that of Ptolemy Alexander. At first each animal was buried in a separate tomb with a chapel built above it. Khamuis, the priestly son of Ramesses II (c. 1300 B.C.), excavated a great gallery to be lined with the tomb chambers; another similar gallery was added by Psammetichus I. The careful statement of the ages of the animals in the later instances, with the regnal dates for their birth, enthronization, and death have thrown much light on the chronology from the Twenty-second dynasty onwards. The name of the mother-cow and the place of birth often are recorded. The sarcophagi are of immense size, and the burial must have entailed enormous expense. It is therefore remarkable that the priests contrived to bury one of the animals in the fourth year of Cambyses.
The Herald of Ptah
The cult of the Apis bull started at the very beginning of Egyptian history, probably as a fertility god connected to grain and the herds. In a funerary context, the Apis was a protector of the deceased, and linked to the pharaoh. This animal was chosen because it symbolized the king’s courageous heart, great strength, virility, and fighting spirit. The Apis bull was considered to be a manifestation of the pharaoh, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities which are closely linked with kingship (“strong bull of his mother Hathor” was a common title for gods and pharaohs).
Occasionally, the Apis bull was pictured with her sun-disk between his horns, being one of few deities associated with her symbol. When the disk was depicted on his head with his horns below and the triangle on his forehead, an ankh was suggested. It also is a symbol closely associated with his mother. The Apis bull is unique as he is the only Egyptian deity represented solely as an animal, and never as a human with an animal’s head—perhaps, because from the earliest of Egyptian religious practices, they were animals sacrificed to the cow goddess and represented the resurrected, renewal of life (Hapy and later Osiris).
Apis was originally the Herald (wHm) of Ptah, the chief god in the area around Memphis. As a manifestation of Ptah, Apis also was considered to be a symbol of the pharaoh, embodying the qualities of kingship.
The bovines in the region in which Ptah was worshipped exhibited white patterning on their mainly black bodies, and so a belief grew up that the Apis bull had to have a certain set of markings suitable to its role. It was required to have a white triangle upon its forehead, a white vulture wing outline on its back, a scarab mark under its tongue, a white crescent moon shape on its right flank, and double hairs on its tail.
The bull which matched these markings was selected from the herd, brought to a temple, given a harem of cows, and worshipped as an aspect of Ptah. His mother was believed to have been conceived by a flash of lightning from the heavens, or from moonbeams, and also was treated specially. At the temple, Apis was used as an oracle, his movements being interpreted as prophecies. His breath was believed to cure disease, and his presence to bless those around with virility. He was given a window in the temple through which he could be seen, and on certain holidays was led through the streets of the city, bedecked with jewelry and flowers.
Ka of Osiris
When Osiris absorbed the identity of Ptah, becoming Ptah-Seker-Osiris, the Apis bull became considered an aspect of Osiris rather than Ptah. Since Osiris was lord of the dead, the Apis then became known as the living deceased one. As he now represented Osiris, when the Apis bull reached the age of twenty-eight, the age when Osiris was said to have been killed by Set, symbolic of the lunar month, and the new moon, the bull was put to death with a great sacrificial ceremony.
There is evidence that parts of the body of the Apis bull were eaten by the pharaoh and the priests to absorb the Apis’s great strength. Sometimes the body of the bull was mummified and fixed in a standing position on a foundation made of wooden planks. Bulls’ horns embellish some of the tombs of ancient pharaohs, and the Apis bull was often depicted on private coffins as a powerful protector. As a form of Osiris, lord of the dead, it was believed that to be under the protection of the Apis bull would give the person control over the four winds in the afterlife.
By the New Kingdom, the remains of the Apis bulls were interred at the cemetery of Saqqara. The earliest known burial in Saqqara was performed in the reign of Amenhotep III by his son Thutmosis; afterwards, seven more bulls were buried nearby. Ramesses II initiated Apis burials in what is now known as the Serapeum, an underground complex of burial chambers at Saqqara for the sacred bulls, a site used through the rest of Egyptian history into the reign of Cleopatra VII.
The Apis was a god to be venerated for his excellent kindness and for his mercy towards all strangers. Apis was the most popular of the three great bull cults of ancient Egypt (the others being the bulls Mnewer and Bakha.) Unlike the cults of most of the other Egyptian deities, the worship of the Apis bull was continued by the Greeks and after them by the Romans, and lasted until almost 400 A.D.
From bull to man
Under Ptolemy Soter, efforts were made to integrate Egyptian religion with that of their Hellenic rulers. Ptolemy’s policy was to find a deity that should win the reverence alike of both groups, despite the curses of the Egyptian priests against the gods of the previous foreign rulers (i.e. Set who was lauded by the Hyksos). Alexander had attempted to use Amun for this purpose, but he was more prominent in Upper Egypt, which was not so popular with those in Lower Egypt, where the Greeks had stronger influence. Nevertheless, the Greeks had little respect for animal-headed figures, and so a Greek statue was chosen as the idol, and proclaimed as anthropomorphic equivalent of the highly popular Apis. It was named Aser-hapi (i.e. Osiris-Apis), which became Serapis, and was said to be Osiris in full, rather than just his Ka.
The earliest mention of a Serapis is in the authentic death scene of Alexander, from the royal diaries (Arrian, Anabasis, VII. 26). Here, Serapis has a temple at Babylon, and is of such importance that he alone is named as being consulted on behalf of the dying king. His presence in Babylon would radically alter perceptions of the mythologies of this era, though fortunately, it has been discovered that the unconnected Bablyonian god Ea was titled Serapsi, meaning king of the deep, and it is this Serapsi which is referred to in the diaries. The significance of this Serapsi in the Hellenic psyche, due to its involvement in Alexander’s death, may have also contributed to the choice of Osiris-Apis as the chief Ptolemaic god.
According to Plutarch, Ptolemy stole the statue from Sinope, having been instructed in a dream by the unknown god, to bring the statue to Alexandria, where the statue was pronounced to be Serapis by two religious experts. One of the experts was the one of the Eumolpidae, the ancient family from whose members the hierophant of the Eleusinian Mysteries had been chosen since before history, and the other was the scholarly Egyptian priest Manetho, which gave weight to the judgement both for the Egyptians and the Greeks.
Plutarch may not however be correct, as some Egyptologists allege that the Sinope in the tale is really the hill of Sinopeion, a name given to the site of the already existing Serapeum at Memphis. Also, according to Tacitus, Serapis (i.e. Apis explicitly identified as Osiris in full) had been the god of the village of Rhacotis, before it suddenly expanded into the great capital of Alexandria.
The statue suitably depicted a figure resembling Hades or Pluto, both being kings of the Greek underworld, and was shown enthroned with the modius, which is a basket/grain-measure, on his head, since it was a Greek symbol for the land of the dead. He also held a sceptre in his hand indicating his rulership, with Cerberus, gatekeeper of the underworld, resting at his feet, and it also had what appeared to be a serpent at its base, fitting the Egyptian symbol of rulership, the uraeus.
With his (i.e., Osiris’) wife, Isis, and their son (at this point in history) Horus (in the form of Harpocrates), Serapis won an important place in the Greek world, reaching Ancient Rome, with Anubis being identified as Cerberus. The cult survived until 385 AD, when Christians destroyed the Serapeum of Alexandria, and subsequently the cult was forbidden by the Theodosian decree.