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Since I am fascinated by monsters, mythologies and games, I decided to take a closer look at how my favorite mythology, the ancient Egyptian, is represented in the Persona games. The remake versions of P3 and P4 Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden , respectively were preferred, since they have extra content and were the last to be released. Curiously, P1 also had a later port to Microsoft Windows.

Both P3 and P4 were released for the PlayStation 2, respectively in and Below, all the Egyptian gods and goddesses featured in the Persona games are listed alphabetically a summary can be found on Table 1. My original intention was only to include personas, but I decided to also include the so-called demons, since there are only two of them.

All the information regarding the Egyptian mythology was taken from the books listed on the References section further below. In some cases, I have also included the official artwork of the Shin Megami Tensei series, if it would bring more information and material for further discussion. Table 1. List of all persona and demons in the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona series, with their names in each game. I suppose that the reader is familiar with a few things about ancient Egypt, such as: that religion played a central role in their life; that human, animal and hybrid forms are all part of their religious symbolism; that the afterlife and mortuary rites and cults were given major prominence etc.

The works listed on the References section are an excellent starting point, but a quicker way would be the English version of Wikipedia sometimes the French or German versions are also very complete , although it is a very arid reading and some information there should be taken more cautiously. Table 2. Periods of Egyptian history, with indication of the dynasties of rulers and approximate dates according to Shaw, Moreover, it is important to keep in mind the fact that Egyptian myths sometimes disagree among themselves; for instance, there are several distinct cosmogonies, stemming from different cities the solar Heliopolitan, the Memphite, the Theban etc.

The Egyptians did not mind this contradiction and could embrace all of them as complementary. Here, I tried to always indicate the period and the geographical location of cults, works of art etc. Map of ancient Egypt, with the main cities the modern Cairo is included for reference.

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Image by Jeff Dahl ; extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. The first record of Amun dates from the end of the First Intermediate Period and the very beginning of the Middle Kingdom. He was a local god from Thebes, who quickly displaced the other local god, Montu, and then rose to prominence when the Theban dynasty started to rule Egypt. Then, Amun was promoted to national god, becoming conjoined with the former national god, the sun god Re.

This version of the gods became known as Amun-Re Fig. Amun was originally a member of the Ogdoad, a group of eight gods from Hermopolis who was said to predate creation. Arranged in four pairs, they represented the concepts of the primeval waters, darkness, eternity and concealment. Amun belonged to the last category and together with his feminine counterpart, Amaunet, was the god of the hidden power of air and wind. He then took a role of demiurge, creating the world with his thoughts.

Amun was seen as a universal god, whose essence was in everything. Another conjoined form was Amun-Min or Amun kamutef , where Amun took the divine features of Min, the god of fertility, and was shown, accordingly, in an ithyphallic manner Fig. Amun was often represented in fully human form, wearing his characteristic crown with two long feathers Figs. After the Amarna Period a heretical surge in the Middle of the 18th Dynasty , Amun started to be constantly depicted with blue skin Fig. He could also be depicted as a ram Fig. In the Shin Megami Tensei official artwork, he keeps the crown and adds some other features Fig.

Firstly, he has a greenish skin, which, as seen above, should actually be blue. Secondly, he is shown in a full white jumpsuit; in Egyptian art, Amun had a very characteristic tunic Fig. Finally, he has a strange-looking scepter, with a broad circular head and two flail-like structures hanging from it.

Amun could indeed be depicted with a flail Fig. This kind of scepter has a very unique shape Figs. Screenshot from the game. He is the god of cemeteries, burial and embalming and was the most important funerary god in Egypt until the rise of Osiris his cult was later largely assimilated into that of Osiris.

Anubis was said to have wrapped the body of Osiris who was said to be his father in most myths , during the embalming of the dead god. Photo by Jon Bodsworth ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. Anubis conducts the weighing on the scale of Maat, while Thoth records the result and the monster Ammit waits to devour Hunefer in case he fails the test.

Statue of the conjoined god Hermanubis holding the caduceus on his left hand. Photo by Colin ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. The persona Anubis in the game P1. The persona Anubis as it appears in the games P3 and P4. Egyptian priests wore masks of Anubis during the mortuary rites and possible also during the embalming process.

This ceremony is known since the Old Kingdom and it used an adze-like tool, which was partly made of meteoritic iron. Anubis was though to provide this iron from the sky. Anubis is a prominent figure in yet another important ceremony: the weighing of the heart Fig. This ceremony was a form of judgement, described in the Book of the Dead, which took place in the Underworld. The god Thoth would record the result. Anubis is either depicted as a black crouching jackal Fig.

It was common in Egyptian magic to use the form of the threat as a protective symbol; thus, a jackal god would repel scavengers. In the games, the god is holding the scales Figs. In the official artwork of the Shin Megami Tensei series Fig. Hermes was a Greek god and his staff represented the domains over which he had power, such as commerce and negotiation.

During the Ptolemaic Era in Egypt, it was common to have merged representations of Anubis and Hermes as Hermanubis , since both deities shared some similarities the statue from Fig. Apep also known as Apophis was the greatest enemy of the sun god Re. It was the embodiment of darkness and chaos. Egyptian culture was all about standing your ground against chaos, so a monstrous god who symbolized primeval chaos was a big deal.

It was said Apep existed before creation and, since references to it only appears during the Middle Kingdom, scholars believe that the idea of Apep was conceived during the uncertain and turbulent times of the First Intermediate Period. It is only during the New Kingdom that the myths surrounding Apep take a more definite shape. Every night, the sun Re would travel through the Underworld on his barque.

There, the great serpent Apep some sources even give its length: over 16 meters was always ready to attack him, its terrible deafening roar echoing through the whole underworld. In some versions of the myth, the god Seth protects the barque from Apep Fig. Paintings and words were thought to hold power by ancient Egyptians. As such, since Apep was a particularly powerful and terrible enemy, it was always depicted being attacked or subdued Fig 4A.

Obviously, Egyptians did not have a cult for Apep who would worship a god bent on destruction anyway? There was a plethora of magic spells and amulets to avoid such things and even a book the so-called Book of Apep, from the New Kingdom devoted to this. In the Late Period, there were even daily rites to protect the world from the chaos serpent, in which a wax model of Apep was cut into pieces and thrown in the fire.

The reason for including wings would be sort of a mystery, because Apep is not only said to have swam in the primordial ocean but also to swim daily in the Underworld, where it attacked the solar barque. However, the mystery is quickly solved: Apep was regarded by the Greeks to be the same being as their monster Typhon, which was usually depicted as a dragon.

Apep can be thus considered the first documented dragon — and good dragons must have wings nowadays, right? The demon Apep in the game P2-IS. The demon Apep in the game P2-EP. The Bennu bird, albeit little known nowadays, is an extremely important figure in the solar myths. The first mentions of Bennu date from the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom: the bird was associated with or was one of the forms of the creator god Atum, which in turn was an aspect of the sun god Re Atum was the evening sun, Khepri the morning sun and the nominal Re the midday sun.

Later, during the Middle Kingdom, Bennu was considered the ba of the sun god Re, which originated Atum. The ba is one of the souls that make up things in Egyptian beliefs; it is roughly equivalent to our notion of personality. Bennu is said to have flown over Nun, the primordial ocean, right before creation. He finally perched on a rock and let out a loud cry in the sense of the usual animal call , which broke the primeval silence. This first cry was said to have determined what was and what was not to be in the soon-to-be-unfolded creation by the hands of Atum. Bennu is usually depicted as a heron Fig.

But where did Osiris come from in this story? Rarely, Bennu is depicted as a heron-headed man. Bennu appears as a persona only in the very first game in the series P1. Its depiction in the game is completely stylized and rather bizarre Fig.

However, the official artwork of the Bennu in the Shin Megami Tensei series is more similar to the Egyptian drawings compare Figs. Nevertheless, it has a short neck and a long and curved beak, looking more like a hybrid of a vulture and an ibis than a proper heron. In addition, it wears not the atef crown of Osiris, but the headdress of the goddess Hathor the sun disk amid cow horns , which has nothing to do with the Bennu.

Archaeological remains found in the United Arab Emirates, dating from the Umm an-Nar period — BCE , contained bird bones, some of which belonged to a large heron. This now extinct species is considered to have been the inspiration for the Bennu — for an idea of what the animal might have looked like, take a look at the grey heron Fig. However, the Bennu only started to be depicted as a heron later in Egyptian history, during the New Kingdom. Back in the Old Kingdom days, we find another bird that might have been the first inspiration for the Bennu — and it has absolutely nothing to do with a heron.

This bird is the yellow wagtail, Motacilla flava Linnaeus, Fig. A very modest bird for such an important role, perhaps? The persona Bennu in the game P1. The grey heron Ardea cinerea Linnaeus, , a living species related to the extinct Bennu heron Ardea bennuides Hoch, ; family Ardeidae , winters in the Nile Valley. Photo by Andreas Trepte ; extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. Western yellow wagtail Motacilla flava Linnaeus, ; family Motacillidae , the original Bennu bird from Old Kingdom times.

Photo by Frebeck ; extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. The persona Phoenix in the game P2-IS. The persona Phoenix in the game P2-EP. Finally, I should say something about another famous mythological bird, the phoenix. In later Greek tradition, the phoenix was often likened to an eagle, but kept the characteristics of its origin: its role as a sun-bird and a symbol of resurrection, its self-generative birth and its long life. These characteristics might have given rise to the legend that the phoenix is reborn anew in a fiery conflagration, like the sun rising at dawn.

In this depiction, the persona is clearly following the Greek eagle tradition. Some scholars believe that the goddess Hathor has its origin in the predynastic period, mainly by reference to an artifact from the reign of Narmer, the very first pharaoh Fig. On the so-called Narmer Palette, there is the representation of a cow goddess. Nevertheless, most Egyptologists now agree this depiction actually represents the goddess Bat, and Hathor likely subsumed her attributes later on and also those of Mehet-Weret, yet another cow-goddess. Hathor quickly became a very important goddess from the late Old Kingdom onwards, and was multi-faceted, appearing in many different contexts.

Hathor could also be a sky-goddess, especially linked to the night sky and the Milky Way. Besides being a goddess of motherhood, Hathor also presided over love, sex and beauty. Hathor was also the goddess of music, dance and joy. As such, music was very prominent in her cult and two musical instruments became her symbols and were used by her priestesses during the rites : the sistrum and the menat. The sistrum is a rattle-like instrument Fig. Hathor was also the goddess of foreign lands, especially of the material goods that the Egyptians explored abroad, such as timber and minerals.

She protected him from any threats — in a very violent manner, actually — and is often depicted as a lioness. In her rage, the goddess was said to have almost extinguished the human race once. Hathor was worshiped throughout all of Egypt, but her greatest cult center was Dendera. Hathor can be depicted as entirely human Figs. Other unusual representations of Hathor includes a lioness as the Eye of Re , a snake, a sycamore tree as a protective and nurturing goddess of the afterlife or a papyrus plant.

Figure 6. Bronze sistrum ca. Statue of Hathor as a cow protecting the high official Psamtik Late Period. The persona Hathor in the game P2-EP. In the Persona games, Hathor appears as cow-headed woman Fig. One of the first Egyptian deities, Horus is known since the very early Dynastic Period, but very likely already existed in the Predynastic. He was one of the most important deities in Egypt and featured in many myths, displaying many different but intermingling aspects. The right eye of this celestial falcon was the sun and the left, the moon.

From sky-god was just a small step for him to become a full solar god, often represented in art as a falcon-winged solar disk. This aspect was later fused with the Heliopolitan sun god Re, becoming Re-Horakhty. Later, Horus became known as the son of Isis and Osiris. Some scholars believe that this was a different deity from the elder Horus described above, but who just happened to have the same name. He was usually shown being suckled by his mother Isis Fig.

From the Late Period onwards, Horus was depicted on cippi a kind of stela dominating some dangerous fauna Fig. Water poured over these cippi was believed to cure poison. Perhaps more than anything else, Horus was intimately linked to Egyptian monarchy. First, he was the son of Isis and Osiris and thus the mythical heir and ruler of Egypt.

He fought for 80 years against his usurper uncle sometimes brother , Seth, for the rule of the land. After all the gods decided in his favor, Horus finally managed to unite and rule Egypt. Just a note: the kingdom was considered to be composed of two parts, Upper south and Lower north Egypt Fig. Horus was usually seen in statues protecting the pharaoh Fig. Figure 7. Inferior portion of the Metternich stela a cippi , with scene of Horus the Child center dominating dangerous animals 30th Dynasty, Late Period.

Note the Horus falcon atop the rectangular vignette. Photo by Guillaume Blanchard ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. A lanner falcon in flight. Photo by Alan Manson ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. A red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis Gmelin, family Accipitridae. Photo by Jason Crotty ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. A red-tailed hawk in flight. Photo by Brocken Inaglory ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. However, a falcon-headed man was also a very common depiction of the god Fig.

His avian form was most likely based on the lanner falcon Falco biarmicus Temminck, ; Figs. Despite the falcon depiction being so common, the Persona games managed to get it wrong, showing Horus as a hawk instead Fig. The confusion between falcons and hawks is rather common, including among Egyptologists, but the two kinds of animal are easily told apart they even belong to different orders: Falconiformes and Accipitriformes, respectively. Broadly speaking, falcons Figs. Hawks Figs. The difference of their wings is easily seen in flight compare Figs. So, if Egyptologists do not know or do not care about their Ornithology, ornithologists also do not seem to know their Egyptology.

Isis was one of the most important Egyptian goddess from as early as the Old Kingdom. Osiris, the earthly king, had been killed and mutilated by his treacherous brother Seth. Isis sets off to gather all of Osiris parts scattered through Egypt and reassemble him. She guards her dead husband as a kite with protective wings, which is also reflected in her iconography Fig. As such, Isis was the Egyptian role model of the loyal wife and mother and thus also a goddess of marriage. Figure 8. Depiction of Isis with outstretched protective wings and throne headdress. Photo by the Yorck Project ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons.

Statue of Isis suckling the baby Horus ca. The persona Isis belonging to Yukari. Official artwork from Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Isis as she appears in P4. Official artwork from the Shin Megami Tensei series. The dead-but-resurrected Osiris then became the king of the Underworld. Isis then brings up Horus in secrecy, so that one day he might avenge his father. The Pyramid Texts from the Old Kingdom say that Horus and by extension the king drinks divine milk from the breasts of Isis. This image was a favorite in Egypt Fig. This iconography was copied by Christians, who transformed it in the image of Mary and Jesus.

Every Christian artist should thus be grateful that ancient Egyptians did not count the copyright among their many inventions. She was often depicted in Roman statuary in the typical Roman style Fig. This temple amazingly survived the monotheistic cultural onslaught until the 6th century CE. The golden lines on her body were typical of Egyptian art to depict tunics and other fancy clothing see statue of Serket, Fig.

In Greek mythology, Io was a mortal priestess of Hera who was seduced by Zeus. The scorpion goddess Serket is known since the very 1st Dynasty. She is mainly a protective deity, guarding the deceased especially the deceased king together with Isis, Nephthys and Neith. Scorpions were also symbols of motherhood and so Serket was said to nurse the king; she also helped to protect Horus during his infancy. Serket is depicted as a woman with a scorpion over her head Figs.

Figure 9. The demon Serket in the game P1. He is known since the Predynastic Period. He was the god of storms and even the sea something Egyptians most certainly did not like or trust , of violence, strife and rage. However, Seth had other, more benefic, aspects. Pharaohs prayed to him in war and even the gods relied on his strength — he stood on the prow of the solar barque to fight off Apep every night in order to protect Re Fig.

His more protective character even extended to common people, who prayed for him, and to the pharaoh, who was sometimes depicted protected by him and Horus Fig. The importance of Seth decreased from the early dynastic period onwards, but, during the time when the Hyksos occupied Egypt the Second Intermediate Period , he rose to prominence again. This was because the invaders considered Seth the same being as their chief god Baal.

In the New Kingdom, he fell in importance again, but was treated as a sort of patron deity of the Ramessid pharaohs. Figure Photo by Chipdawes ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. Image reproduced from te Velde An aardvark, Orycteropus afer Pallas, family Orycteropodidae. Photo by Louise Joubert ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. The persona Seth in the game P2-IS. The persona Seth in the game P2-EP. Seth was depicted as a strange animal Fig. This animal is said to be entirely fabulous meaning invented or a hybrid of a number of real animals.

Some Egyptologists consider the Seth animal to be based on a real animal, most prominent of which is the aardvark Fig. This could indicate that in fact, it is a fabulous creature instead of a real-world one; but this claim is also very weak. This is obviously due to a long line of confusion and conjunction: Seth, in his character of enemy and bringer of chaos, was sometimes equaled to Apep, who, as seen above, was in turn equaled with the Greek Typhon.

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Finally yet importantly, the color black was an astoundingly poor choice for the dragon. Black, as seen above, was the color of the good agriculture-friendly silt of the Nile. In the P2-IS and P2-EP games, Seth appears as a part mammal, part lizard and part amphibian creature, with tiny malformed wings and a scythe stuck to its nostrils Figs. Sokar also spelled Seker is a falcon-headed god from the region of Memphis Fig. The Pharaoh Seti I making offerings to Sokar.

Sokar as Lord of the Mysterious Regions of the Netherworld. Scholars believe that he was a god of craftsmanship who eventually became associated with the regional necropolis and thus became a god of the afterlife and the Underworld. As a god of craftsmen, Sokar then became associated with Ptah, the god of artisans and a creator god according to Memphite cosmogony. As a chthonic god, he later was associated with Osiris ruler of the Underworld.

As such, already in the Middle Kingdom, these three gods were conjoined in the tripartite deity Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, who remained an important deity in Egypt thereafter and was a favorite in the depictions of New Kingdom tombs in the Valley of the Kings, in Thebes Fig. The cult center of Sokar was naturally his home region of Memphis, but by the New Kingdom his festival was an important event also in Thebes, almost rivaling the New Year Festival of Opet.

The festival served to give continuity to the royal mortuary cult. Sokar is usually depicted as a falcon-headed man Figs.

Nut, Shu and Geb

In the Persona games, however, he is shown simply as falcon Fig. Only later Thoth assimilated the aspects of knowledge and became the god of scribes and scholars. Thoth was often considered a son of Horus, being born from the forehead of Seth after the latter ate some lettuce with the semen of the former.

Thoth invented writing and was said to record everything including the result of the weighing of the heart ceremony, as seen above; Fig. Thoth had thus a pristine reputation of integrity and truth. As patron of all areas of knowledge, he also had access to magic and secrets unknown to the other gods. Finally, Thoth was also a messenger of the gods and usually conciliated quarreling deities. This led the Greeks to equate him with their messenger-god, Hermes. Thoth is most usually depicted as an ibis-headed man Figs. Here is a good place to remark that Egyptian art was very naturalistic when it came to animals Fig.

Is his ibis or hybrid form, Thoth is usually shown wearing his own brand of the atef crown Fig. Image is a courtesy of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. The sacred ibis, Threskiornis aethiopicus Latham, family Threskiornithidae. Photo by Johan Wessels ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. Statue of Thoth as a baboon ca. Photo by Steven G. Johnson ; image extracted and modified from Wikimedia Commons. A yellow baboon, Papio cynocephalus Linnaeus, family Cercopithecidae. Unfortunately, the Persona games went for the baboon look Fig.

I call it a solar disk because it is golden instead of the lunar silver. The baboons were sacred to the sun god, because these animals sit on their hinds legs at sunrise and raise their hands, which was interpreted as a sign of reverence for the sun. Finally, the book in the official artwork is of a rather modern look; it surely gives a nice effect, though.

After going through all Persona games, I am very disappointed to have only encountered 11 deities from the Egyptian mythology. As we can see on Table 3 below, the number of Egyptian personas was kept constant throughout the games. However, the total number of personas increased, resulting in increasingly smaller proportions of Egyptian personas in each new game in the series.

Table 3. Total number and proportion of Egyptian-themed personas but not demons! The Greco-Roman-themed personas are shown for comparison; the value for P3 is a little inflated, since all party members had Greek-themed personas. Also, I did not include: 1 the four prime personas from P2-IS , since they are the same gods or goddesses that appear in non-prime form; 2 Cybele, who, despite being wholly incorporated in Greco-Roman traditions, retained her foreigner character. The mythology of Ancient Egypt is astoundingly rich and its culture outright amazing — besides, they were the very first in the whole civilization business.

If we compare these numbers with the percentage of Greco-Roman-themed personas Table 3 , for instance, the difference is very clear. I agree that Greek mythology is awesome in its own right, but the Egyptian one does not lag behind. Egypt deserved better in the series, especially when faced by the ridiculous choice of including creatures from works of fiction, such as the Goetia and the tales of H.

Of course, religion is just a special case of fiction, but you get my point. Could Persona 5, to be released later this year for the PS3 and PS4 , be the game to set things right? Brill, Leiden. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology — Evans, L. Hoch, E. In: Taddei, M.

South Asian Archaeology. Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna. Jobling, J. Christopher Helm, London. Kozloff, A. Lesko, L. In: Shafer, B. Cornell University Press, Cornell. Mayr, G. Historical Biology 18 2 : 95— Scott, N. British Museum Press, London. Teeter, E. Tyberg, T. In: Turvey, S. Holocene Extinctions. Email: jmc. Collage of several images; sources: Revolution cravengames. That is, they present the past in terms of: A primary agent, the player character of the game, with one or more roles and goals, operating within a physical space, a virtual world with an environment and geography that includes any number of elements, including other agents modeled by the AI as non-player characters, that can afford and assist player actions, constrain player actions, or both depending on the situation; and so, the player crafts strategies and makes decisions to take advantage of available affordances, work within or around constraints, and achieve their goal.

Diagram of a Historical Problem Space. From what has been said in the preceding chapter it will be clear that only wealthy people could afford to bury copies of the great Book of the Dead with their deceased relatives. Whether the chapters that formed it were written on coffins or on papyrus the cost of copying the work by a competent scribe must have been relatively very great. Towards the close of the twenty-sixth dynasty a feeling spread among the Egyptians that only certain parts of the Book of the Dead were essential for the resurrection of the body and for the salvation of the soul, and men began to bury with their dead copies of the most important chapters of it in a very much abridged form.

A little later the scribes produced a number of works, in which they included only such portions of the most important chapters as were considered necessary to effect the resurrection of the body. Thou art pure, thy heart is pure. Thy fore parts are pure, thy hind parts are cleansed; thy interior is cleansed with incense and natron, and no member of thine hath any defect in it whatsoever. Kersher is washed in the waters of the Field of Offerings, that lieth to the north of the Field of the Grasshoppers. The goddesses Uatchet and Nekhebet purify thee at the eighth hour of the night and at the eighth hour of the day.

Thou enterest the Tuat Other World as one exceedingly pure. Thou art purified by the Goddesses of Truth in the Great Hall. Thou lookest upon Ra when he setteth in the form of Tem at eventide. Amen is nigh unto thee and giveth thee air, and Ptah likewise, who fashioned thy members for thee; thou enterest the horizon with Ra.

Thy soul is received in the Neshem Boat of Osiris, thy soul is made divine in the House of Keb, and thou art made to be triumphant for ever and ever. Thy name flourisheth, thy earthly body is stablished, thy spirit body germinateth, and thou art not repulsed either in heaven or on earth. Thy face shineth before Ra, thy soul liveth before Amen, and thy earthly body is renewed before Osiris. Thou breathest the breath of life for ever and ever. Thy soul maketh offerings unto thee in the course of each day…. Thy flesh is collected on thy bones, and thy form is even as it was upon earth.

Thou takest drink into thy body, thou eatest with thy mouth, and thou receivest thy rations in company with the souls of the gods. Anubis protecteth thee; he is thy protector, and thou art not turned away from the Gates of the Tuat. Then doth thy soul breathe for ever and ever, and thy form is renewed with life upon earth; thou art made divine with the souls of the gods, thy heart is the heart of Ra, and thy limbs are the limbs of the great god.

Amen is nigh unto thee to make thee to live again. Upuat openeth a prosperous road for thee. Thou seest with thine eyes, thou hearest with thine ears, thou speakest with thy mouth, thou walkest with thy legs. Thy soul hath been made divine in the Tuat, so that it may change itself into any form it pleaseth. Thou canst snuff at will the odours of the holy Acacia of Anu An, or Heliopolis. The Goddess of Truth vindicateth thee before Osiris, and her writings are upon thy tongue.

Tag: Ancient Egypt

Ra vivifieth thy soul, the Soul of Shu is in thy nostrils. Thy body liveth in Tatu Busiris , and thy soul liveth in heaven…. Thy odour is that of the holy gods in Amentet, and thy name is magnified like the names of the Spirits of heaven. The work is closed by an address to the gods, in which it is said that Kersher is sinless, that he feeds and lives upon Truth, that his deeds have satisfied the hearts of the gods, and that he has fed the hungry and given water to the thirsty and clothes to the naked.

This work describes how the soul of the deceased, when armed with the power which the Book of Traversing Eternity will give it, shall be able to travel from one end of Egypt to the other, and to visit all the holy places, and to assist at the festivals, and to enjoy communion not only with the gods and spirits who assemble there, but also with its kinsfolk and acquaintances whom it left behind alive on the earth.

Thy Ka hath acquired the divine nature of the gods. Thy spirit-body becometh glorious among the living. He floats in the air, hovers in the shadow, rises in the sky, follows the gods, travels with the stars, dekans, and planets, and moves about by night and by day on earth and in heaven at will. Of the works that were originally composed for recitation on the days of the festivals of Osiris, and were specially connected with the cult of this god, three, which became very popular in the Graeco-Roman period, may be mentioned.

The object of the recital was to commemorate the resurrection of Osiris, and if the book were recited on behalf of any deceased person it would make his spirit to be glorious, and stablish his body, and cause his Ka to rejoice, and give breath to his nostrils and air to his throat. Thine enemy [Set] hath perished. O beautiful youth, come to thy house. Look thou upon me. I am the sister who loveth thee, go not far from me. O Beautiful Boy, come to thy house, straightway, straightway. I cannot see thee, and my heart weepeth for thee; my eyes follow thee about. I am following thee about so that I may see thee.

Lo, I wait to see thee, I wait to see thee; behold, Prince, I wait to see thee. It is good to see thee, it is good to see thee; O An, it is good to see thee. Come to thy beloved one, come to thy beloved one, O Un-Nefer, whose word is truth. Come to thy wife, O thou whose heart is still. Go not thou far from me. The faces of gods and men are turned towards thee, they all weep for thee together. As soon as I saw thee I cried out to thee, weeping with a loud voice which pierced the heavens, and thou didst not hear my voice.

I am thy sister who loved thee upon earth; none other loved thee more than [thy] sister, thy sister. Let thy heart rejoice and be glad, for thine enemies have ceased to be. Thy two Sisters are nigh unto thee; they guard thy bier, they address thee with words [full of] tears as thou liest prone on thy bier. Look thou at the young women; speak to us, O our Sovereign Lord. Destroy thou all the misery that is in our hearts; the chiefs among gods and men look upon thee. Turn thou towards us thy face, O our Sovereign Lord.

At the sight of thy face life cometh to our faces; turn not thou thy face from us. The joy of our heart is in the sight of thee. O Beautiful Sovereign, our hearts would see thee. I am thy sister Nephthys who loveth thee. The fiend Seba hath fallen, he hath not being. I am with thee, and I act as the protectress of thy members for ever and ever.

According to the rubrical directions given in the British Museum papyrus, the sections were sung by both women together. The following passage will illustrate the contents of the work:. Let me see thy divine face, for I do not see thee, and make thou clear the path that we may see thee as we see Ra in heaven, when the heavens unite with the earth, and cause darkness to fall upon the earth each day. My heart burneth as with fire at thy escape from the Fiend, even as my heart burneth with fire when thou turnest thy side to me; O that thou wouldst never remove it from me!

Thou fliest like a living being, O Everlasting King; thou hast destroyed the fiend Anrekh. Thou art the King of the South and of the North, and thou goest forth from Tatchesert. May there never be a moment in thy life when I do not fill thy heart, O my divine brother, my lord who goest forth from Aqert…. My arms are raised to protect thee, O thou whom I love. I love thee, O Husband, Brother, lord of love; come thou in peace into thy house….

Thy hair is like turquoise as thou comest forth from the Fields of Turquoise, thy hair is like unto the finest lapis-lazuli, and thou thyself art more blue than thy hair. Thy skin and body are like southern alabaster, and thy bones are of silver. The perfume of thy hair is like unto new myrrh, and thy skull is of lapis-lazuli.

Come to thy house, O Beautiful Bull, lord of men and women, the beloved one, the lord of women. The hands of men and gods are lifted up and seek thee, even as the hands of a babe are stretched out to his mother. Come thou to them, for their hearts are sad, and make them to rejoice. The lands of Horus exult, the domains of Set are overthrown because of their fear of thee. Hail, Osiris Khenti Amentiu! I am thy sister Isis. No god and no goddess have done for thee what I have done. I, a woman, made a man child for thee, because of my desire to make thy name to live upon the earth.

Thy divine essence was in my body, I brought him forth on the ground. He pleaded thy case, he healed thy suffering, he decreed the destruction of him that caused it. Set fell under his knife, and the Smamiu fiends of Set followed him. The throne of the Earth-god is thine, O thou who art his beloved son…. There is health in thy members, thy wounds are healed, thy sufferings are relieved, thou shalt never groan again in pain. Come to us thy sisters, come to us; our hearts will live when thou comest. Men shall cry out to thee, and women shall weep glad tears, at thy coming to them….

The Nile appeareth at the command of thy mouth; thou makest men to live on the effluxes that proceed from thy members, and thou makest every field to flourish. When thou comest that which is dead springeth into life, and the plants in the marshes put forth blossoms. Thou art the Lord of millions of years, the sustainer of wild creatures, and the lord of cattle; every created thing hath its existence from thee.

What is in the earth is thine. What is in the heavens is thine. What is in the waters is thine. Thou art the Lord of Truth, the hater of sinners, whom thou overthrowest in their sins. The Goddesses of Truth are with thee; they never leave thee. No sinful man can approach thee in the place where thou art.

Whatsoever appertaineth to life and to death belongeth to thee, and to thee belongeth everything that concerneth man. During the period of the occupation of Egypt by the Romans, the three last-named works were still further abridged, and eventually the texts that were considered essential for salvation were written upon small sheets of papyrus from 9 to 12 inches high, and from 5 to 10 inches wide. If we consider for a moment the vast amount of thought which the Egyptian gave to the problems of the future life, and their deep-seated belief in resurrection and immortality, we cannot fail to conclude that he must have theorised deeply about the constitution of the heaven in which he hoped to live everlastingly, and about its Maker.

The translations given in the preceding pages prove that the theologians of Egypt were ready enough to describe heaven, and the life led by the blessed there, and the powers and the attributes of the gods, but they appear to have shrunk from writing down in a connected form their beliefs concerning the Creation and the origin of the Creator. The worshippers of each great god proclaimed him to be the Creator of All, and every great town had its own local belief on the subject. According to the Heliopolitans, Atem, or Tem, and at a later period Ra, was the Creator; according to Memphite theology he was Ptah; according to the Hermopolitans he was Thoth; and according to the Thebans he was Amen Ammon.

In only one native Egyptian work up to the present has there been discovered any connected account of the Creation, and the means by which it was effected, namely, the British Museum Papyrus, No. This papyrus was written about B. This work is a liturgy, which was said at certain times of the day and night in the great temple of Amen-Ra at Thebes, with the view of preventing the monster Aapep from obstructing the sunrise.

Aapep was supposed to lie in wait for the sun daily just before sunrise, with the view of doing battle with him and overthrowing him. When the Sun-god arrived at the place where Aapep was, he first of all cast a spell upon the monster, which rendered him helpless, and then he cast his fiery rays upon him, which shrivelled him up, and the fire of the god consumed him entirely.

In the temple of Amen-Ra the priests recited the spells that were supposed to help the Sun-god to burn up Aapep, and they burnt waxen figures of the monster in specially prepared fires, and, uttering curses, they trampled them under foot and defiled them. These spells and burnings were also believed to break up rain clouds, and to scatter fog and mist and to dissipate thunder-storms, and to help the sun to rise on this world in a cloudless sky.

I myself came into being under the form of the god Khepera. I came into being under the form of Pautti or, in primeval time , I formed myself out of the primeval matter, I made myself out of the substance that was in primeval time. There was no heaven, and no earth, and the god found no place on which to stand; nothing, in fact, existed except the god. Before every act of creation Nebertcher, or his visible form Khepera, thought out what form the thing to be created was to take, and when he had uttered its name the thing itself appeared in heaven or earth.

To fill the heaven, or place where he lived, the god next produced from his body and its shadow the two gods Shu and Tefnut. The tradition of the begetting of Shu and Tefnut is as old as the time of the pyramids, for it is mentioned in the text of Pepi I, l. The next act of creation resulted in the emerging of the Eye of Nebertcher later identified with Ra from the watery mass NU , and light shone upon its waters. The text then refers to some calamity which befell the Eye of Nebertcher or of Khepera, but what it was is not clear; at all events the Eye became obscured, and it ceased to give light.

The greater Eye ruled the day, and the lesser Eye the night. One of the results of the daily darkness was the descent of the Sky-goddess Nut to the Earth-god Keb each evening. Osiris married Isis, and their son was called Horus; Set married Nephthys, but their son Anpu, or Anubis, is not mentioned in our text. Osiris became the great Ancestor-god of Egypt, and was a reincarnation of his great-grandfather. The men and women, and all the other living creatures that were made at that time by Nebertcher, or Khepera, reproduced their species, each in his own way, and thus the earth became filled with their descendants as we see at the present time.

The elements of this Creation legend are very, very old, and the form in which they are grouped in our text suggests the influence of the priests of Heliopolis. It is interesting to note that only very ancient gods appear as Powers of creation, and these were certainly worshipped for many centuries before the priests of Heliopolis invented their cult of the Sun-god, and identified their god with the older gods of the country.

We may note, too, that gods like Ptah and Amen, whose reputation was so great in later times, and even when our text was copied in B. The Egyptians believed that at one time all the great gods and goddesses lived upon earth, and that they ruled Egypt in much the same way as the Pharaohs with whom they were more or less acquainted. They went about among men and took a real personal interest in their affairs, and, according to tradition, they spared no pains in promoting their wishes and well-being.

Their rule was on the whole beneficent, chiefly because in addition to their divine attributes they possessed natures, and apparently bodily constitutions that were similar to those of men. Like men also they were supposed to feel emotions and passions, and to be liable to the accidents that befell men, and to grow old, and even to die. The greatest of all the gods was Ra, and he reigned over Egypt for very many years. His reign was marked by justice and righteousness, and he was in all periods of Egyptian history regarded as the type of what a king should be.

This belief was always common in Egypt, and even Alexander the Great found it expedient to adopt it, for he made a journey to the sanctuary of Amen Ammon in the Oasis of Siwah in order to be officially acknowledged by the god. Having obtained this recognition, he became the rightful lord of Egypt. This Legend is cut in hieroglyphs on the walls of a small chamber in the tomb of Seti I about B.

His bones have turned into silver, his flesh into gold, and his hair into real lapis-lazuli. They were to come to him with all their followers secretly, so that men should not suspect the reason for their coming, and take flight, and they were to assemble in the Great House in Heliopolis, where Ra would take counsel with them. Consider the matter, invent a plan for me, and I will not slay them until I have heard what ye shall say concerning this thing. Let thine Eye Hathor attack those who blaspheme thee. On her return Ra welcomed her, and the goddess said that the work of vanquishing men was dear to her heart.

Ra then said that he would be the master of men as their king, and that he would destroy them. For three nights the goddess Hathor-Sekhmet waded about in the blood of men, the slaughter beginning at Hensu Herakleopolis Magna. Then the Majesty of Ra ordered that messengers should be sent to Abu, a town at the foot of the First Cataract, to fetch mandrakes? When the women slaves were bruising grain for making beer, the crushed mandrakes? The beer was then made, and seven thousand vessels were filled with it. When Ra saw the beer he ordered it to be taken to the scene of slaughter, and poured out on the meadows of the four quarters of heaven.

The object of putting mandrakes? When men saw that Ra was leaving the earth, they repented of their murmurings, and the next morning they went out with bows and arrows to fight the enemies of the Sun-god. As a reward for this Ra forgave those men their former blasphemies, but persisted in his intention of retiring from the earth.

He ascended into the heights of heaven, being still on the back of the Cow-goddess Nut, and he created there Sekhet-hetep and Sekhet-Aaru as abodes for the blessed, and the flowers that blossomed therein he turned into stars. He also created the millions of beings who lived there in order that they might praise him. The height to which Ra had ascended was now so great that the legs of the Cow-goddess on which he was enthroned trembled, and to give her strength he ordained that Nut should be held up in her position by the godhead and upraised arms of the god Shu. This is why we see pictures of the body of Nut being supported by Shu.

The legs of the Cow-goddess were supported by the various gods, and thus the seat of the throne of Ra became stable. When this was done Ra caused the Earth-god Keb to be summoned to his presence, and when he came he spake to him about the venomous reptiles that lived in the earth and were hostile to him. Then turning to Thoth, he bade him to prepare a series of spells and words of power, which would enable those who knew them to overcome snakes and serpents and deadly reptiles of all kinds.

Thoth did so, and the spells which he wrote under the direction of Ra served as a protection of the servants of Ra ever after, and secured for them the help of Keb, who became sole lord of all the beings that lived and moved on and in his body, the earth. Before finally relinquishing his active rule on earth, Ra summoned Thoth and told him of his desire to create a Light-soul in the Tuat and in the Land of the Caves. Over this region he appointed Thoth to rule, and he ordered him to keep a register of those who were there, and to mete out just punishments to them.

In fact, Thoth was to be ever after the representative of Ra in the Other World. This Legend is found written in the hieratic character upon a papyrus preserved in Turin, and it illustrates a portion of the preceding Legend. We have seen that Ra instructed Thoth to draw up a series of spells to be used against venomous reptiles of all kinds, and the reader will perceive from the following summary that Ra had good reason for doing this. Meanwhile Ra appeared in heaven each day upon his throne, but he had become old, and he dribbled at the mouth, and his spittle fell on the ground.

One day Isis took some of the spittle and kneaded up dust in it, and made this paste into the form of a serpent with a forked tongue, so that if it struck anyone the person struck would find it impossible to escape death. Soon after this Ra rose up, and attended by his gods he came into heaven, but as he went along the serpent drove its fangs into him. As soon as he was bitten Ra felt the living fire leaving his body, and he cried out so loudly that his voice reached the uttermost parts of heaven.

When he was able to regain a little strength, he told the gods that some deadly creature had bitten him, something the like of which he had never seen, something which his hand had never made. In spite of this something had struck him, and he knew not what it was. My heart is full of burning fire, my limbs are shivering, shooting pains are in all my members. What is this? Hath a serpent bitten thee? Hath something made by thee lifted up its head against thee?

Verily my words of power shall overthrow it; I will make it depart in the sight of thy light. All my members sweat. My body quaketh. Mine eye is unsteady. I cannot look on the sky, and my face is bedewed with water as in the time of the Inundation. I knit together the mountains and whatsoever liveth on them. I made the waters. I made Mehturit[1] to come into being. I made Kamutef. I open my eyes, and there is light; I shut my eyes, and there is darkness.

I speak the word[s], and the waters of the Nile appear. I am he whom the gods know not. I make the hours. I create the days. I open the year. I make the river [Nile]. I create the living fire whereby works in the foundries and workshops are carried out. I am Khepera in the morning, Ra at noon, and Temu in the evening.

Tell me thy name, and the poison shall come forth from thee. Eye of Horus, come out of the god, and sparkle as thou comest through his mouth. I am the worker. I make the poison to fall on the ground. The poison is conquered. Truly the name of the great god hath been taken from him. Ra liveth! The poison dieth! If the poison live Ra shall die. In late times magicians used to write the above Legend on papyrus above figures of Temu and Heru-Hekenu, who gave Ra his secret name, and over figures of Isis and Horus, and sell the rolls as charms against snake bites.

The text of this Legend is cut in hieroglyphs on the walls of the temple of Edfu, in Upper Egypt, and some of the incidents described in it are illustrated by large bas-reliefs. The form of the Legend here given dates from the Ptolemaic Period, but the subject matter is some thousands of years older. The great historical fact underlying the Legend is the Conquest of Egypt by some very early king who invaded Egypt from the south, and who succeeded in conquering every part of it, even the northern part of the Delta. The events described are supposed to have taken place whilst Ra was still reigning on the earth.

On arriving there Horus told Ra that the enemy were plotting against him, and Ra told him to go out and slay them. Horus took the form of a great winged disk, which flew up into the air and pursued the enemy, and it attacked them with such terrific force that they could neither see nor hear, and they fell upon each other, and slew each other, and in a moment not a single foe was left alive. Among the crew were the Followers of Horus of Edfu, who were skilled workers in metal, and each of these had in his hands an iron spear and a chain. After the slaughter the bodies of six hundred and fifty-one crocodiles were brought and laid out before the town of Edfu.

The Young Horus cometh in peace. On his way he hath made manifest deeds of valour, according to the Book of slaying the Hippopotamus. Then Horus of Edfu took the form of the winged disk, and set himself on the prow of the Boat of Ra. He took with him Nekhebet, goddess of the South, and Uatchet, goddess of the North, in the form of serpents, so that they might make all the enemies of the Sun-god to quake in the South and in the North.

His foes who had fled to the north doubled back towards the south, for they were in deadly fear of the god. Horus pursued and overtook them, and he and his blacksmiths had in their hands spears and chains, and they slew large numbers of them to the south-east of the town of Thebes in Upper Egypt. Many succeeded in escaping towards the north once more, but after pursuing them for a whole day Horus overtook them, and made a great slaughter among them.

Meanwhile the other foes of the god, who had heard of the defeats of their allies, fled into Lower Egypt, and took refuge among the swamps of the Delta. Horus set out after them, and came up with them, and spent four days in the water slaying his foes, who tried to escape in the forms of crocodiles and hippopotami. He captured one hundred and forty-two of the enemy and a male hippopotamus, and took them to the fore part of the Boat of Ra.

There he hacked them in pieces, and gave their inward parts to his followers, and their mutilated bodies to the gods and goddesses who were in the Boat of Ra and on the river banks in the town of Heben. Then the remnant of the enemy turned their faces towards the Lake of the North, and they attempted to sail to the Mediterranean in boats; but the terror of Horus filled their hearts, and they left their boats and fled to the district of Mertet-Ament, where they joined themselves to the worshippers of Set, the god of evil, who dwelt in the Western Delta.

Horus pursued them in his boat for one day and one night without seeing them, and he arrived at the town of Per-Rehui. At length he discovered the position of the enemy, and he and his followers fell upon them, and slew a large number of them; he captured three hundred and eighty-one of them alive, and these he took to the Boat of Ra, then, having slain them, he gave their carcases to his followers or bodyguard, who presumably devoured them.

The custom of eating the bodies of enemies is very old in Egypt, and survives in some parts of Africa to this day. Then Set, the great antagonist of Horus, came out and cursed him for the slaughter of his people, using most shameful words of abuse. Horus smashed his mouth with a blow of his mace, and having fettered him with his chain, he brought him into the presence of Ra, who ordered that he was to be handed over to Isis and her son Horus, that they might work their will on him. Here we must note that the ancient editor of the Legend has confounded Horus the ancient Sun-god with Horus, son of Isis, son of Osiris.

Then Horus, the son of Isis, cut off the heads of Set and his followers in the presence of Ra, and dragged Set by his feet round about throughout the district with his spear driven through his head and back, according to the order of Ra. The form which Horus of Edfu had at that time was that of a man of great strength, with the face and back of a hawk; on his head he wore the Double Crown, with feathers and serpents attached, and in his hands he held a metal spear and a metal chain. And Horus, the son of Isis, took upon himself a similar form, and the two Horuses slew all the enemies on the bank of the river to the west of the town of Per-Rehui.

Now, although Set in the form of a man had been slain, he reappeared in the form of a great hissing serpent, and took up his abode in a hole in the ground without being noticed by Horus. Ra, however, saw him, and gave orders that Horus, the son of Isis, in the form of a hawk-headed staff, should set himself at the mouth of the hole, so that the monster might never reappear among men. This Horus did, and Isis his mother lived there with him. Once again it became known to Ra that a remnant of the followers of Set had escaped, and that under the direction of the Smait fiends, and of Set, who had reappeared, they were hiding in the swamps of the Eastern Delta.

Horus of Edfu, the winged disk, pursued them, speared them, and finally slew them in the presence of Ra. For the moment there were no more enemies of Ra to be found in the district on land, although Horus passed six days and six nights in looking for them; but it seems that several of the followers of Set in the forms of water reptiles were lying on the ground under water, and that Horus saw them there.

At this time Horus had strict guard kept over the tomb of Osiris in Anrutef,[1] because he learned that the Smait fiends wanted to come and wreck both it and the body of the god. Shortly after these events Ra discovered that a number of his enemies were still at large, and that they had sailed in boats to the swamps that lay round about the town of Tchal, or Tchar, better known as Zoan or Tanis. Once more Horus unmoored the Boat of Ra, and set out against them; some took refuge in the waters, and others landed and escaped to the hilly land on the east.

His claws were like flints, and he pursued the enemy on the hills, and chased them hither and thither, and captured one hundred and forty-two of them. He tore out their tongues, and ripped their bodies into strips with his claws, and gave them over to his allies in the mountains, who, no doubt, ate them. This was the last fight in the north of Egypt, and Ra proposed that they should sail up the river and return to the south.

They had traversed all Egypt, and sailed over the lakes in the Delta, and down the arms of the Nile to the Mediterranean, and as no more of the enemy were to be seen the prow of the boat of Ra was turned southwards. Thoth recited the spells that produced fair weather, and said the words of power that prevented storms from rising, and in due course the Boat reached Nubia. When it arrived Horus found in the country of Uauatet men who were conspiring against him and cursing him, just as they had at one time blasphemed Ra. Horus, taking the form of the winged disk, and accompanied by the two serpent-goddesses, Nekhebet and Uatchet, attacked the rebels, but there was no fierce fighting this time, for the hearts of the enemy melted through fear of him.

His foes cast themselves before him on the ground in submission, they offered no resistance, and they died straightway. Horus then returned to the town of Behutet Edfu , and the gods acclaimed him, and praised his prowess. This is the reason why we find the winged disk, with a serpent on each side of it, above the doors of temples and religious buildings throughout the length and breadth of Egypt. In many places in the text that contains the above Legend there are short passages in which attempts are made to explain the origins of the names of certain towns and gods.

All these are interpolations in the narrative made by scribes at a late period of Egyptian history. As it would be quite useless to reproduce them without many explanatory notes, for which there is no room in this little book, they have been omitted. This Legend is cut in hieroglyphs on a large rounded block of granite, which stands on the south-east portion of Sahal, a little island in the First Cataract in Upper Egypt, two or three miles to the south of the modern town of Aswan, the ancient Syene.

The form of the Legend, and the shapes of the hieroglyphs, and the late spelling of the words, prove that the inscription is the work of the Ptolemaic Period, though it is possible that the Legend in its simplest form is as old as the period to which it is ascribed in the Sahal text, namely, the third dynasty, about B. The Legend sets forth that the Viceroy of Nubia, in the reign of Tcheser, was a nobleman called Meter, who was also the overseer of all the temple properties in the South. Grain is exceedingly scarce, there are no garden herbs and vegetables to be had at all, and everything which men use for food hath come to an end.

Every man robbeth his neighbour. The people wish to walk about, but are unable to move. The baby waileth, the young man shuffleth along on his feet through weakness. The hearts of the old men are broken down with despair, their legs give way under them, they sink down exhausted on the ground, and they lay their hands on their bellies [in pain]. The officials are powerless and have no counsel to give, and when the public granaries, which ought to contain supplies, are opened, there cometh forth from them nothing but wind.

Everything is in a state of ruin. I go back in my mind to the time when I had an adviser, to the time of the gods, to the Ibis-god [Thoth], and to the chief Kher-heb priest Imhetep Imouthis ,[2] the son of Ptah of his South Wall. What god or what goddess presideth over it? What kind of form hath the god? For it is he that maketh my revenue, and who filleth the granaries with grain. I wish to go to [consult] the Chief of Het-Sekhmet,[4] whose beneficence strengtheneth all men in their works. I wish to go into the House of Life,[5] and to take the rolls of the books in my own hands, so that I may examine them [and find out these things].

Having read the royal despatch the Viceroy Meter set out to go to the king, and when he came to him he proceeded to instruct the king in the matters about which he had asked questions. And he said to me: There is a town in the river wherefrom the Nile maketh his appearance. It reacheth to Uauatet, which is the first land [on the south].

  1. Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses.
  2. Post navigation.
  3. Categories;
  4. Post navigation.
  6. There is a long flight of steps there a nilometer? Gods with broad influence in the cosmos or who were mythologically older than others had higher positions in divine society. At the apex of this society was the king of the gods, who was usually identified with the creator deity. Horus was the most important god in the Early Dynastic Period, Ra rose to preeminence in the Old Kingdom, Amun was supreme in the New, and in the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, Isis was the divine queen and creator goddess.

    Manifestations and combinations The gods were believed to manifest themselves in many forms. The spirits of the gods were composed of many of these same elements. Any visible manifestation of a god's power could be called its ba; thus, the sun was called the ba of Ra. The cult images of gods that were the focus of temple rituals, as well as the sacred animals that represented certain deities, were believed to house divine bas in this way.

    Horus [92] connected with Min. The solar had many forms that were tied to particular places, including Horus of Nekhen, disk on his headdress is taken from Horus of Buhen, and Horus of Edfu. During the New Kingdom, one man was accused of stealing clothes by an oracle that was supposed to communicate messages from Amun of Pe-Khenty. He consulted two other local oracles of Amun hoping to receive a different judgment. Horus could be a powerful sky god or a vulnerable child, and these forms were sometimes counted as independent deities. Gods combined with each other as easily as they divided themselves.

    A god could be called the ba of another, or two or more deities could be joined into one god with a combined name and iconography. Unlike other situations for which this term is used, the Egyptian practice was not meant to fuse competing belief systems, although foreign deities could be syncretized with native ones.

    Syncretic combinations were not permanent; a god who was involved in one combination continued to appear separately and to form new combinations with other deities. During the Old Kingdom, Horus absorbed several local falcon gods, such as Khenty-irty and Khenty-khety. The Aten and possible monotheism In the reign of Akhenaten c. Akhenaten ceased to fund the temples of other deities and erased the gods' names and images on monuments, targeting Amun in particular.

    This new religious system, sometimes called Atenism, differed dramatically from the polytheistic worship of many gods in all other periods. Whereas, in earlier times, newly important gods were integrated into existing religious beliefs, Atenism insisted on a single understanding of the divine that excluded the traditional multiplicity of perspectives. There is evidence suggesting that the general populace was still allowed to worship other gods in private.

    The picture is further complicated by Atenism's apparent tolerance for some other deities, like Shu. For these reasons, the Egyptologist Dominic Montserrat suggested that Akhenaten was monolatrous, worshipping a single deity, but not necessarily monotheistic. In any case, Atenism's aberrant theology did not take root among the Egyptian populace, and Akhenaten's successors returned to traditional beliefs. Unity of the divine in traditional religion Scholars have long debated whether traditional Egyptian religion ever asserted that the multiple gods were, on a deeper level, unified.

    Reasons for this debate include the practice of syncretism, which might suggest that all the separate gods could ultimately merge into one, and the tendency of Egyptian texts to credit a particular god with power that surpasses all other deities. Another point of contention is the appearance of the word "god" in wisdom literature, where the term does not refer to a specific deity or group of deities. Wallis Budge believed that Egyptian commoners were polytheistic, but knowledge of the true monotheistic nature of the religion was reserved for the elite, who wrote the wisdom literature. His contemporary James Henry Breasted thought Egyptian religion was instead pantheistic, with the power of the sun god present in all other gods, while Hermann Junker argued that Egyptian civilization had been originally monotheistic and became polytheistic in the course of its history.

    He points out that in any given period many deities, even minor ones, were described as superior to all others. He also argues that the unspecified "god" in the wisdom texts is a generic term for whichever deity the reader chooses to revere. Henotheism, Hornung says, describes Egyptian religion better than other labels. An Egyptian could worship any deity at a particular time and credit it with supreme power in that moment, without denying the other gods or merging them all with the god that he or she focused on.

    Hornung concludes that the gods were fully unified only in myth, at the time before creation, after which the multitude of gods emerged from a uniform nonexistence. It equated the single deity with the sun and dismissed all other gods. Then, in the backlash against The god Bes with the attributes of many other deities. Images like this one represent the presence of a multitude of divine powers within a [] single being. Atenism, priestly theologians described the universal god in a different way, one that coexisted with traditional polytheism.

    The one god was believed to transcend the world and all the other deities, while at the same time, the. Ancient Egyptian deities multiple gods were aspects of the one. According to Assmann, this one god was especially equated with Amun, the dominant god in the late New Kingdom, whereas for the rest of Egyptian history the universal deity could be identified with many other gods. Allen says that coexisting notions of one god and many gods would fit well with the "multiplicity of approaches" in Egyptian thought, as well as with the henotheistic practice of ordinary worshippers.

    He says that the Egyptians may have recognized the unity of the divine by "identifying their uniform notion of 'god' with a particular god, depending on the particular situation. Descriptions and depictions Egyptian writings describe the gods' bodies in detail. They are made of precious materials; their flesh is gold, their bones are silver, and their hair is lapis lazuli.

    They give off a scent that the Egyptians likened to the incense used in rituals. Some texts give precise descriptions of particular deities, including their height and eye color. Yet these characteristics are not fixed; in myths, gods change their appearances to suit their own purposes. The Egyptians' visual representations of their gods are therefore not literal. They symbolize specific aspects of each deity's character, functioning much like the ideograms in hieroglyphic writing. His black coloring alludes to the color of mummified flesh and to the fertile black soil that Egyptians saw as a symbol of resurrection.

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    Hathor can be shown as a cow, a cobra, a lioness, or a woman with bovine horns or ears. By depicting a given god in different ways, the Egyptians expressed different aspects of its essential nature. These forms include men and women anthropomorphism , animals zoomorphism , and, more rarely, inanimate objects. Combinations of forms, such as gods with human bodies and animal heads, are common. The head of a given divine image is particularly significant. In contrast, the objects held in gods' hands tend to be generic. Many creatures that are widespread in Egypt were never used in divine iconography, whereas a few, such as falcons, cobras, and cattle, can each represent many deities.

    Animals that were absent from Egypt in the early stages of its history were not used as divine images.

    Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

    For instance, the horse, which was only introduced in the Second Intermediate Period c. Similarly, the clothes worn by anthropomorphic deities in all periods changed little from the styles used in the Old Kingdom: a kilt, false beard, and often a shirt for male gods and a long, tight-fitting. Ancient Egyptian deities The basic anthropomorphic form varies.

    Child gods are depicted nude, as are some adult gods when their procreative powers are emphasized. Interactions with humans Relationship with the pharaoh In official writings, pharaohs are said to be divine, and they are constantly depicted in the company of the deities of the pantheon. Each pharaoh and his predecessors were considered the successors of the gods who had ruled Egypt in mythic prehistory. For these reasons, scholars disagree about how genuinely most Egyptians believed the king to be a god. He may only have been considered divine when he was performing ceremonies.

    These things were provided by the cults that the king oversaw, with their priests and laborers. Presence in the human world Although the Egyptians believed their gods to be present in the world around them, contact between the human and divine realms was mostly limited to specific circumstances. In these states, it was believed, people could come close to the gods and sometimes receive messages from them. The Egyptians therefore believed that in death they would exist on the same level as their gods and fully understand their mysterious nature.

    The most important temple image was the cult statue in the inner sanctuary. These statues, generally less than life-size, were made of the same precious materials that were said to form the gods' bodies. Many temples had several sanctuaries, each with a cult statue representing one of the gods in a group such as a family triad. The gods residing in all the temples of Egypt collectively represented the entire Egyptian pantheon.

    To insulate the sacred power in the sanctuary from the impurities of the outside world, the Egyptians enclosed temple sanctuaries and greatly restricted access to them. People other than kings and high priests were thus denied contact with cult statues. The only exception was during festival processions, when the statue was carried out of the temple but still enclosed in a portable shrine.

    The more public parts of temples often incorporated small places for prayer, from doorways to freestanding chapels near the back of the temple building. Intervention in human lives Egyptian gods were involved in human lives as well as in the overarching order of nature. This divine influence applied mainly to Egypt, as foreign peoples were traditionally believed to be outside the divine order. But in the New Kingdom, when other nations were under Egyptian control, foreigners were said to be under the sun god's benign rule in the same way that Egyptians were.

    Several texts refer to gods influencing or inspiring human decisions, working through a person's "heart"the seat of emotion and intellect in Egyptian belief. Deities were also believed to give commands, instructing the king in the governance of his realm and regulating the management of their temples. Egyptian texts rarely mention direct commands given to private persons, and these. Ancient Egyptian deities commands never evolved into a set of divinely enforced moral codes.

    Because deities were the upholders of maat, morality was connected with them. For example, the gods judged humans' moral righteousness after death, and by the New Kingdom, a verdict of innocence in this judgment was believed to be necessary for admittance into the afterlife. But in general, morality was based on practical ways to uphold maat in daily life, rather than on strict rules that the gods laid out. Natural disasters and human ailments were seen as the work of angry divine bas.

    Egyptian texts take different views on whether the gods are responsible when humans suffer unjustly. Misfortune was often seen as a product of isfet, the cosmic disorder that was the opposite of maat, and therefore the gods were not guilty of causing evil events. Some deities who were closely connected with isfet, such as Set, could be blamed for disorder within the world without placing guilt on the other gods. But some writings do accuse the deities of causing human misery, while others give theodicies in the gods' defense. Because of this human misbehavior, the creator is distant from his creation, allowing suffering to exist.

    New Kingdom writings do not question the just nature of the gods as strongly as those of the Middle Kingdom. They emphasize humans' direct, personal relationships with deities and the gods' power to intervene in human events. People in this era put faith in specific gods who they hoped would help and protect them through their lives. As a result, upholding the ideals of maat grew less important than gaining the gods' favor as a way to guarantee a good life. Worship Official religious practices, which maintained maat for the benefit of all Egypt, were related to, but distinct from, the religious practices of ordinary people,[] who sought the gods' help for their personal problems.

    Some rites were performed every day, whereas others were festivals, taking place at longer intervals and often limited to a particular temple or deity. These processions served various purposes. Ancient Egyptian deities Rituals for a god were often based in that deity's mythology. Such rituals were meant to be repetitions of the events of the mythic past, renewing the beneficial effects of the original events.

    The returning greenery symbolized the renewal of the god's own life. People who wanted information or advice consulted oracles, run by temples, that were supposed to convey gods' answers to questions. Private rituals invoked the gods' power to accomplish personal goals, from healing sickness to cursing enemies. The performer of a private rite often took on the role of a god in a myth, or even threatened a deity, to involve the gods in accomplishing the goal.

    Evidence of personal piety is scant before the New Kingdom. Votive offerings and personal names, many of which are theophoric, suggest that commoners felt some connection between themselves and their gods. But firm evidence of devotion to deities became visible only in the New Kingdom, reaching a peak late in that era. They gave offerings of figurines that represented the gods they were praying to, or that symbolized the result they desired; thus a relief image of Hathor and a statuette of a woman could both represent a prayer for fertility.

    Occasionally, a person took a particular god as a patron, dedicating his or her property or labor to the god's cult. These practices continued into the latest periods of Egyptian history. The worship of some Egyptian gods spread to neighboring lands, especially to Canaan and Nubia during the New Kingdom, when those regions were under pharaonic control.

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    In Canaan, the exported deities, including Hathor, Amun, and Set, were often syncretized with native gods, who in turn spread to Egypt. After the end of Egyptian rule there, the imported gods, particularly Amun, remained part of the religion of Nubia's independent Kushite Kingdom. Taweret became a goddess in Minoan Crete,[] and Amun's oracle at Siwa Oasis was known to and consulted by people across the Mediterranean region.

    These newcomers equated the Egyptian gods with their own, as part of the Greco-Roman tradition of interpretatio graeca. But the worship of the native gods was not swallowed up by that of foreign ones. Instead, Greek and Roman gods were adopted as manifestations of Egyptian ones, and their cults sometimes incorporated Greek language and philosophy. Temples and cults in Egypt itself began to decline as the Roman economy deteriorated in the third century AD, and beginning in the fourth century, Christians suppressed all veneration of Egyptian deities.

    But many of the practices involved in their worship, such as processions and oracles, were adapted to fit Christian ideology and persisted as part of the Coptic Church. But many festivals and other traditions in Egypt, both Christian and Muslim, resemble the worship of Egypt's ancient gods. Notes and citations Notes [1] Allen , p. III, p. Ancient Egyptian deities [27] Wildung , pp. I, pp. The Egyptians avoided direct statements about inauspicious events such as the death of a beneficial deity. Nevertheless, the myth makes it clear that Osiris is murdered, and other pieces of evidence like the appearance of divine corpses in the Duat indicate that other gods die as well.

    By the Late Period c. III, pp. Ancient Egyptian deities [82] Hornung , p. The Greek-derived term ennead, which has the same meaning, is commonly used to translate it. II, pp. Gwyn, "Isis", in Redford , vol. In the New Kingdom, goddesses were depicted with the same vulture-shaped headdress used by queens in that period, UNIQ-refb0e9ec0aQINU and in Roman times, many apotropaic gods were shown in legionary armor. Ancient Egyptian deities [] Wilkinson , pp.

    Ancient Egyptian deities [] Mills, Anthony J. Recent scholarship has challenged that view and argued that the temple cult ceased to function in the late fifth century, sometime after the last dated signs of activity in or Works cited Allen, James P. Archaeology Odyssey 2 3. Allen, James P. Cambridge University Press. Assmann, Jan []. The Search for God in Ancient Egypt. Translated by David Lorton. Cornell University Press. Baines, John []. Fecundity Figures: Egyptian personification and the iconology of a genre. Griffith Institute. David, Rosalie Religion and Magic in Ancient Egypt.

    Dieleman, Jacco; Wendrich, Willeke eds. Retrieved April 4, Dunand, Franoise; Christiane Zivie-Coche []. Englund, Gertie, ed. Academiae Ubsaliensis. Frankfurter, David Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance. Princeton University Press. Hart, George Hornung, Erik [].

    Translated by John Baines. Johnston, Sarah Iles, ed. Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide. Montserrat, Dominic Akhenaten: History, Fantasy, and Ancient Egypt. Meeks, Dimitri; Christine Favard-Meeks []. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Translated by G. Morenz, Siegfried []. Ancient Egyptian Religion. Translated by Ann E. Pinch, Geraldine Oxford University Press. Ancient Egyptian deities Redford, Donald B. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Shafer, Byron E.

    Teeter, Emily Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. Tobin, Vincent Arieh Theological Principles of Egyptian Religion. Traunecker, Claude []. The Gods of Egypt. Wildung, Dietrich Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt. New York University Press. Wilkinson, Richard H. Wilkinson, Toby Early Dynastic Egypt. Further reading Leitz, Christian, ed. Lexikon der gyptischen Gtter und Gtterbezeichnungen in German. Egyptian mythology Egyptian mythology is the collection of myths from ancient Egypt, which describe the actions of the Egyptian gods as a means of understanding the world.

    The beliefs that these myths express are an important part of ancient Egyptian religion. Myths appear frequently in Egyptian writings and art, particularly in short stories and in religious material such as hymns, ritual texts, funerary texts, and temple decoration. These sources rarely contain a complete account of a myth and often describe only brief fragments. Inspired by the cycles of nature, the Egyptians saw time in the present as a series of recurring patterns, whereas the earliest periods of time were linear. Myths are set in these earliest times, and myth sets the pattern for the cycles of the present.

    Present events repeat the events of myth, and in doing so renew maat, the fundamental order of the universe. Amongst the most important episodes from the mythic past are the creation myths, in which the gods form the universe out of primordial chaos; the stories of the reign of the Nun, the embodiment of the primordial waters, lifts the barque of the sun sun god Ra upon the earth; and the Osiris myth, god Ra into the sky at the moment of creation.

    Events from the present that might be regarded as myths include Ra's daily journey through the world and its otherworldly counterpart, the Duat. Recurring themes in these mythic episodes include the conflict between the upholders of maat and the forces of disorder, the importance of the pharaoh in maintaining maat, and the continual death and regeneration of the gods. The details of these sacred events differ greatly from one text to another and often seem contradictory. Egyptian myths are primarily metaphorical, translating the essence and behavior of deities into terms that humans can understand.

    Each variant of a myth represents a different symbolic perspective, enriching the Egyptians' understanding of the gods and the world. Mythology profoundly influenced Egyptian culture. It inspired or influenced many religious rituals and provided the ideological basis for kingship. Scenes and symbols from myth appeared in art in tombs, temples, and amulets.

    In literature, myths or elements of them were used in stories that range from humor to allegory, demonstrating that the Egyptians adapted mythology to serve a wide variety of purposes. Origins The development of Egyptian myth is difficult to trace. Egyptologists must make educated guesses about its earliest phases, based on written sources that appeared much later. Each day the sun rose and set, bringing light to the land and regulating human activity; each year the Nile flooded, renewing the fertility of the soil and allowing the highly productive farming that sustained Egyptian civilization.

    Thus the Egyptians saw water and the sun as symbols of life and thought of time as a series of natural cycles. This orderly pattern was at constant risk of disruption: unusually low floods resulted in famine, and high floods destroyed crops and buildings. These themesorder, chaos, and renewalappear repeatedly in Egyptian religious thought.

    Many rituals make reference to myths and are sometimes based directly on them. In ancient Egypt, the earliest evidence of religious practices predates written myths. For these reasons, some scholars have argued that, in Egypt, rituals emerged before myths. Many of the myth-like stories that appear in the rituals' texts are not found in other sources.

    Even the widespread motif of the goddess Isis rescuing her poisoned son Horus appears only in this type of text. The Egyptologist David Frankfurter argues that these rituals adapt basic mythic traditions to fit the specific ritual, creating elaborate new stories based on myth. Borghouts says of magical texts that there is "not a shred of evidence that a specific kind of 'unorthodox' mythology was coined for this genre.

    Kingship arises among the gods at the beginning of time and later passed to the human pharaohs; warfare originates when humans begin fighting each other after the sun god's withdrawal into the sky. In a minor mythic episode, Horus becomes angry with his mother Isis and cuts off her head. Isis replaces her lost head with that of a cow.

    This event explains why Isis was sometimes depicted with the horns of a cow as part of her headdress. The unification of Egypt under the pharaohs, at the end of the Predynastic Period around BC, made the king the focus of Egyptian religion, and thus the ideology of kingship became an important part of mythology. Geraldine Pinch suggests that early myths may have formed from these relationships. Definition and scope Scholars have difficulty defining which ancient Egyptian beliefs are myth. The basic definition of myth suggested by the Egyptologist John Baines is "a sacred or culturally central narrative".

    In Egypt, the narratives that are central to culture and religion are almost entirely about events among the gods. Some Egyptologists, like Baines, argue that narratives complete enough to be called "myths" existed in all periods, but that Egyptian tradition did not favor writing them down. Others, like Jan Assmann, have said that true myths were rare in Egypt and may only have emerged partway through its history, developing out of the fragments of narration that appear in the earliest writings.

    If narration is not needed for myth, any statement that conveys an idea about the nature or actions of a god can be called "mythic". Content and meaning Like myths in many other cultures, Egyptian myths serve to justify human traditions and to address fundamental questions about the world,[22] such as the nature of disorder and the ultimate fate of the universe. The actions and interactions of the gods, the Egyptians believed, govern the behavior of all of these forces and elements.

    Instead, the relationships and interactions of the gods illustrated such processes implicitly. Therefore, if only narratives are myths, mythology is a major element in Egyptian religious understanding, but not as essential as it is in many other cultures. Mythological stories use symbolism to make the events in this realm comprehensible. Some images and incidents, even in religious texts, are meant simply as visual or dramatic embellishments of broader, more meaningful myths.

    These sources often contain nothing more than allusions to the events to The sky depicted as a cow goddess supported by which they relate, and texts that contain actual narratives tell only other deities. This image combines several portions of a larger story. Thus, for any given myth the Egyptians may coexisting visions of the sky: as a roof, as the have had only the general outlines of a story, from which fragments surface of a sea, as a cow, and as a goddess in [28] [25] human form.

    Moreover, the gods are not well-defined characters, and the motivations for their sometimes inconsistent actions are rarely given. Their importance lay in their underlying meaning, not their characteristics as stories. Instead of coalescing into lengthy, fixed narratives, they remained highly flexible and non-dogmatic. Egyptian mythology So flexible were Egyptian myths that they could seemingly conflict with each other.

    Many descriptions of the creation of the world and the movements of the sun occur in Egyptian texts, some very different from each other. Thus the creator god Atum was combined with Ra to form Ra-Atum. In the Old Kingdom c. They formed a mythical family, the Ennead, that was said to have created the world.

    It included the most important deities of the time but gave primacy to Atum and Ra. For instance, the god Ptah, whose cult was centered at Memphis, was also said to be the creator of the world. Ptah's creation myth incorporates older myths by saying that it is the Ennead who carry out Ptah's creative commands. Many scholars have seen this myth as a political attempt to assert the superiority of Memphis' god over those of Heliopolis.

    However, in the s, Henri Frankfort, realizing the symbolic nature of Egyptian mythology, argued that apparently contradictory ideas are part of the "multiplicity of approaches" that the Egyptians used to understand the divine realm. Frankfort's arguments are the basis for much of the more recent analysis of Egyptian beliefs. Multiple versions of the same myth express different aspects of the same phenomenon; different gods that behave in a similar way reflect the close connections between natural forces.

    The varying symbols of Egyptian mythology express ideas too complex to be seen through a single lens. Sources The sources that are available range from solemn hymns to entertaining stories. Without a single, canonical version of any myth, the Egyptians adapted the broad traditions of myth to fit the varied purposes of their writings. Susanne Bickel suggests that the existence of this tradition helps explain why many texts related to myth give little detail: the myths were already known to every Egyptian. Only a small proportion of these sources has survived to the present, so much of the mythological information that was once written down has been lost.

    The Egyptians began using writing more extensively in the Old Kingdom, in which appeared the first major source of Egyptian mythology: the Pyramid Texts. These texts are a collection of several hundred incantations inscribed in the interiors of pyramids beginning in the 24th century BC. They were the first Egyptian funerary texts, intended to ensure that the kings buried in the pyramid would pass safely through the afterlife. Many of the incantations allude to myths related to the afterlife, including creation myths and the myth of Osiris.

    Many of the texts are likely much older than their first known written copies, and they therefore provide clues about the early stages of Egyptian religious. Egyptian mythology belief. The New Kingdom also saw the development of another type of funerary text, containing detailed and cohesive descriptions of the nocturnal journey of the sun god.

    Many temples had a per-ankh, or temple library, storing papyri for rituals and other uses. Some of these papyri contain hymns, which, in praising a god for its actions, often refer to the myths that define those actions. Other temple papyri describe rituals, many of which are based partly on myth. It is possible that the collections included more Temple decoration at Dendera, depicting the systematic records of myths, but no evidence of such texts has goddesses Isis and Nephthys watching over the [26] survived.

    Mythological texts and illustrations, similar to those on corpse of their brother Osiris temple papyri, also appear in the decoration of the temple buildings. The elaborately decorated and well preserved temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods BCAD are an especially rich source of myth.

    These rituals are often called "magical" rather than religious, but they were believed to work on the same principles as temple ceremonies, evoking mythical events as the basis for the ritual. The murder of the god Osiris, for instance, is never explicitly described in Egyptian writings. Other sources References to myth also appear in non-religious Egyptian literature, beginning in the Middle Kingdom. Many of these references are mere allusions to mythic motifs, but several stories are based entirely on mythic narratives. These more direct renderings of myth are particularly common in the Late and Greco-Roman periods when, according to scholars such as Heike Sternberg, Egyptian myths reached their most fully developed state.

    Some stories resemble the narratives from magical texts, while others are more clearly meant as entertainment and even contain humorous episodes. Prominent among these writers is Plutarch, whose work De Iside et Osiride contains, among other things, the longest ancient account of the myth of Osiris. Cosmology Maat The Egyptian word maat refers to the fundamental order of the universe in Egyptian belief. Established at the creation of the world, maat distinguishes the world from the chaos that preceded and surrounds it.

    Maat encompasses both the proper behavior of humans and the normal functioning of the forces of nature, both of which make life and happiness possible. Because the actions of the gods govern natural forces and myths express those actions, Egyptian mythology represents the proper functioning of the world and the sustenance of life itself. In myth the pharaoh is the son of a variety of deities. As such, he is their designated representative, obligated to maintain order in human society just as they do in nature, and to continue the rituals that sustain them and their activities.

    Shape of the world In Egyptian belief, the disorder that predates the ordered world exists beyond the world as an infinite expanse of formless water, personified by the god Nun. The earth, personified by the god Geb, is a flat piece of land over which arches the sky, usually represented by the goddess Nut. The two are separated by the personification of air, Shu.

    The sun god Ra is said to travel through the sky, across the body of Nut, enlivening the world with his light. At night Ra passes beyond the western horizon into the Duat, a mysterious region that borders the formlessness of Nun. At dawn he emerges from the Duat in the eastern horizon. The nature of the sky and the location of the Duat are uncertain.

    Egyptian texts variously describe the nighttime sun as traveling beneath the earth and within the body of Nut. The Egyptologist James P. Allen believes that these explanations of the sun's movements are dissimilar but coexisting ideas.