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Ancient Man and His First Civilizations

Egyptian Mythology



Religion in ancient Egypt was very much like modern times. Today not everyone worships in the same way, or believes in the same god - Egypt was no different. Individual kings worshipped their own preferred gods, as did the workers, priests, merchants and peasants - but there was always one particular god that was considered preeminent. Pre-dynastic Egypt had formulated the concept and belief of a "greater being", this was originally expressed in pictures, some scholars suggest that "writing" was invented in order to communicate these spiritual thoughts to the masses. Egyptian gods lived, died, hunted, went into battle, gave birth, ate, drank, and had human emotions. The reigns of their gods overlapped, and in some instances merged.

The dominance of a particular god depended on the beliefs of the reigning king, and where the king wanted his capital; this because the dominance of particular gods was often regional. Likewise, the myths associated with particular gods changed with the location of the gods, as sometimes did their names. Each god had five names, and each name was associated with an element, such as air, celestial bodies, or was a descriptive statement about the god, such as strong, virile or majestic.

The creator god of all things was either Re (Ra), Amun, Ptah, Khnum or Aten, depending on which version of the myth was currently in use. The heavens were represented by Hathor, Bat, and Horus. Osiris was an earth god as was Ptah. The annual flooding of the Nile was Hapi. Storms, evil and confusion were Seth. His counterpart was Ma'at, who represented balance, justice and truth. The moon was Thoth and Khonsu. Re (Ra), the Sun god, took on many forms, and transcended most of the borders that constrained the other gods.

The actual shape of the Sun, the disk of light (or, aten), was deified into another god “Aten”, very much like the Holy Trinity of Christianity - God (the father), Jesus (the Son), and the Holy Spirit. Egyptian spirituality was very sophisticated, so it is undoubtedly erroneous to think that they worshipped the actual Sun, or Disk, Cats, Cows or whatever. It is likely that the Sun disk was used as an iconic representation of a God that cannot be seen. Be mindful of modern depictions of Jesus, with the Sun emitting rays from behind his head, (a visualization of God behind him), also Moses visualization of God as a brightly burning bush.


The Great Aten

The God and Disk of the Sun

Aten appears to have represented both the god or spirit of the sun, and the solar disk itself. The origin of this god is wholly obscure, and nearly all that is known about him during the Middle Empire is that he was a small provincial form of the Sun-god which was worshipped in one little town in the neighborhood of Heliopolis, and it is possible that a temple was built in his honor in Heliopolis itself.


There is no way to describe the attributes which were originally ascribed to him under the Middle or Early Empire, because the texts which were written before the XXIII Dynasty give us no information on the subject. Before the XVIII Dynasty, and especially during the reigns of the gods, Amen-Ra-Heru-khuti, Horus, etc., it does not follow that they originally related to him. In the Theban Recession of the Book of the Dead, which is based upon Heliopolitan belief, we find Aten mentioned by the deceased thus :--- "Thou, O Ra, shinest from the horizon of heaven, and Aten is adored when he resteth {or setteth} upon this mountain to give life to the two lands. Hunefer says Ra, Hail Aten, thou the lord of beams of light, {when} thou shinest all faces {i.e., everybody} lives. Nekht says Ra, O thou beautiful being, thou doest renew thyself and make thyself young again under the form of Aten; Ani says Ra, Thou turnest thy face towards the Underworld, and thou makest the earth to shine like fine copper. The dead rise up to thee, they breath the air and they look upon thy face when Aten shineth in the horizon;------I have come before thee that I may be with thee to behold thy Aten daily: O thou who art in thine Egg, who shinest from thy Aten," etc.

These passages show that Aten, at the time when this hymn was composed, was regarded as the material body of the sun wherein dwelt the god Ra, and that he represented merely the solar disk and was a visible emblem of the great Sun-god Ra. In later times, coming into protection afforded to him by Amenhotep III, the great warrior and hunter of the XVIII Dynasty, other views were promulgated concerning Aten, and he became the cause of one the greatest religious and social revolutions which ever convulsed Egypt.

After the expulsion of Hyksos, Amen the local god of Thebes, was the god of the victorious princess of that city, he became the head of the company of the gods of Egypt, and the early kings of the XVIII Dynasty endowed his shrine with possessions, and gave gifts to his priesthood with a lavish hand. In spite of this however, some of these kings maintained affection for the forms of the Sun-god which were worshipped at Heliopolis, and Tuthmosis IV, it will be remembered, dug out the Sphinx from the sand which had buried him and his temple, and restored the worship of Ra-Harmachis.

Tuthmosis IV is probably most famous for his Dream Stele, which can still be found today between the paws of the great Sphinx at Giza. Dreams were important in ancient Egypt and were considered to be divine predictions of the future.

In Tuthmosis IV's Dream Stele, he tells us that, while out on a hunting trip, he fell asleep in the shadow of the Sphinx (or apparently, the shadow of the Sphinx's head, for the monument was apparently buried in sand at the time). In the young prince's sleep, Re-Harakhte, the sun god embodied in the Sphinx, came to him in a dream and promised that if he would clear away the sand that engulfed the monument, Tuthmosis would become king of Egypt.

















The stele reads: Now the statue of the very great Khepri (the Great Sphix) resting in this place, great of fame, sacred of respect, the shade of Ra resting on him. Memphis and every city on its two sides came to him, their arms in adoration to his face, bearing great offerings for his ka. One of these days it happened that prince Tuthmosis came traveling at the time of midday. He rested in the shadow of the great god. (Sleep and dream took possession of me) at the moment the sun was at zenith. Then he found the majesty of this noble god speaking from his own mouth like a father speaks to his son, and saying, 'Look at me, observe me, my son Tuthmosis. I am your father, Horemakhet-Khepri-Ra-Atum. I shall give to you the kingship (upon the land before the living)... Behold, my condition is like one in illness, all my limbs being ruined. The sand of the desert, upon which I used to be, (now) confronts me; and it is in order to cause that you do what is in my heart that I have waited.

Tuthmosis IV was not the only monarch who viewed with dismay the great and growing power of the priests of Amen-Ra, the "king of the gods" at Thebes. Amenhotep III, the son of Tuthmosis IV, held the same views as his father in this respect, and he was apparently, urged to give effect to them by his wife Tiy, the daughter of Iuaa and Thuau, who was in no way connected with the royal house of Egypt. Having married this lady, he gave her as dowry the frontier city of Tcharu, and her natural ability, coupled with the favor of her husband, made her chief of all the royal wives, and a great power in the affairs of the government of the country. It has been thought by some that she was a native of the country near Heliopolis, and it is possible that she herself was a votary of Aten, but be that as it may, she appears to have supported the king in his determination to encourage the worship of the god.

















At an early period in his reign he built a temple at Thebes, quite close to the great sanctuary of Amen-Ra, the priests of which were of course, powerless to resist the will of such an active and able king. Soon after his marriage with Tiy, Amenhotep III dug, in his wife's city of Tcharu, a lake which was about 6000 feet long by 1000 feet broad. On the day of the festival when the water was allowed to flow into it, he sailed over it in a boat called "Aten-neferu, i.e. the "Beauties of Aten ;" the name of the boat is a clear proof of his devotion to the god Aten.

Amenhotep IV, the son of Amenhotep III by the foreign lady Tiy, not only held the religious views of his father, but held them very strongly. His life shows that he must have been from his youth, an adherent of the worship of Aten; it is supposed, and with much probability, that the intensity of his love for Aten and his hatred for Amen-Ra were due to his mother's influence.

Amenhotep IV succeeded his father without difficulty, even though his mother was not a member of the royal family of Egypt, and for the first few years of his reign he followed the example of the earlier kings of his dynasty, and lived at Thebes, where he no doubt ruled according to his mothers wishes. He offered up sacrifices to Amen-Ra at the appointed seasons, and was outwardly at least, a loyal servant of this god, whose name formed a part of his name as "son of the Sun."

We may note in passing, that he adopted on his accession to the throne the title "High-priest of Ra-Heru-khuti, the exalted one of the horizon, in his "name of Shu who is in Aten," which is clear proof that he was not only a worshiper of Ra-Harmachis, another of the forms of the Sun-god of Heliopolis, but also that he endorsed the views and held the opinions of the old College of Priests at Heliopolis, which assigned the disk {Aten} to him for a dwelling-place.

Amenhotep's titles as lord of the shrines of the cities of Nekhebet and Uatchet, and as the Horus of gold, also prove his devotion to the Sun-god of Heliopolis. During the early years of his reign at Thebes he built a massive Benhen, in honor of Ra-Harmachis at Thebes, and it is probable that he took the opportunity of restoring or enlarging the temple of Aten, which had been built by his father.

At the same time we find that he worshipped both Amen and Aten, the former in his official position as king, and the latter in his private capacity. It was however, impossible for the priests of Amen -Ra to tolerate the presence of the new god Aten and his worship in Thebes, and the relations between the king and that powerful body soon became strained.

On the one hand, the king asserted the superiority of Aten over every god, and on the other the priests declared that Amen-Ra was the king of the gods. As it was however, Amen-Ra was the center of the social life of Thebes, and his priests and their relatives included in their number, the best and greatest families of the capitol city. So it came to pass that the king found himself in the worship of Aten, wholly unsupported by the great mass of its population, whose sympathies were with the old religion of Thebes, and by those who gained their living in connection with the worship of Amen-Ra.

The king soon realized that residence in Thebes was becoming impossible, and in the fifth year of his reign he began to build a new capitol on the east bank of the Nile, near a place which is marked today by the Arab villages of Haggi Kandil and Tell el-Amarna; he planned that it should include a great temple to Aten, a palace for the king, and houses for those who were attached to the worship of Aten and were prepared to follow their king there.

While the new capitol was in the process of being built, the dispute between the king and the priests of Amen-Ra became more severe, and matters were much aggravated by Amenhotep IV. At length the king left Thebes and took up his abode in his new capitol, which he called "Khut-Aten," i.e., "Horizon of Aten". And as a sign of his complete severance of his connection with the traditions of his house, in respect to Amen-Ra, he discarded his name "Amenhotep" and called himself Khut-Aten i.e., "Glory of Aten," or, "Spirit of Aten." At the time he changed his Horus name of "Exalted One of the double plumes" to "Mighty Bull, beloved of Aten" {or, lover of Aten}, and he adopted as lord of the shrines of Nekhebet and Uatchet the title of "Mighty one of sovereignty in Khut-Aten (also Akhenaton)," and as the Horus of gold he styled himself, "Exalter of the name Aten."

As stated earlier, certain gods were worshipped in different areas. Local cities or villages, known as nomes, often had unique gods that were known only to that region. On occasion however, some gods attained countrywide recognition, and became the myths and legends that were passed on from century to century. Below is a listing of the main gods and their primary place of worship.


A Janus-faced genie who personified the earth in its physical reality and also ensured its cohesion. He took on the form of a double sphinx. He was charged with guarding the exits of the netherworld and could be hostile to the deceased who attempted to gain entrance to it. Because of this function, he was considered a protector of Osiris.


A female counterpart to Amon and one of the primordial gods of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad (group of eight gods). She was also worshipped at Thebes along with Amon and Mut. Amunet was depicted either as a snake or as a snake-headed woman.


Usually associated with the wind, or things hidden, and was also of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad. At Thebes he became Amon-Re, king of the gods. He was part of the Theban Triad, along with Mut and Khonsu.

Amen (Amon) and Amen-Ra

King of the Gods, and the Triad of Thebes

Among the gods who were known to the Egyptians in very early times were Amen and his consort Ament, and their names are found in the Pyramid Texts, e.g., Unas, line 558, where they are mentioned immediately after the pair of gods Nau and Nen, and in connection with the twin Lion-gods Shu and Tefnut, who are described as the two gods who made their own bodies, and with the goddess Temt, the female counterpart of Tem. It is evident that even in the remote period of the 5th Dynasty, Amen and Ament were numbered among the primeval gods, if not as chief gods, certainly as subsidiary forms of some of them.

From the fact that they are mentioned immediately after the deities of primeval matter, Nau and Nen, who we may consider to be the equivalents of the watery abyss from which all things sprang, and immediately before Temt and Shu and Tefnut, it would seem that the writers or editors of the Pyramid Texts assigned great antiquity to their existence. Of the attributes ascribed to Amen in the Ancient Empire nothing is known, but if we accept the meaning "hidden" which is usually given to his name, we must conclude that he was the personification of the hidden and unknown creative power, which was associated with the primeval abyss, and in the creation of the world, and all that is in it.

The word or root amen, certainly means "what is hidden," "what is not seen," "what cannot be seen," and the like, and this fact is proved by scores of examples which may be collected from texts of all periods. In hymns to Amen we often read that he is "hidden to his children, "and "hidden to gods and men," and it has been stated that these expressions only refer to the "hiding," i.e., "setting" of the sun each evening, and that they are only to be understood in a physical sense, and to mean nothing more than the disappearance of the god Amen from the sight of men at the close of day. Now, not only is the god himself said to be "hidden," but his name also is "hidden," and his form, or similitude, is said to be "unknown;" these statements show that "hidden," when applied to Amen, the great god, has reference to something more than the "sun which has disappeared below the horizon," and that it indicates the god who cannot be seen with the mortal eyes, and who is invisible, as well as inscrutable, to gods as well as men.

In the times approaching the Ptolemaic period the name Amen appears to have been connected with the root men, "to abide, to be permanent;" and one of the attributes which were applied to him was that of eternal. Amen is represented in five forms: 1. As a man, when he is seen seated on a throne, and holding in one hand the scepter, and in the other the symbol of "life." In this form he is one of the nine deities who compose the company of the gods of Amen-Ra, the other eight being Ament, Nu, Nut, Hehui, Hehet, Kekui, Keket, and Hathor. 2. As a man with the head of a frog, whilst his female counterpart, Ament, has the head of a uraeus. 3. As a man with the head of a uraeus, whilst his female counterpart has the head of a cat. 4. As an ape. 5. As a lion couching upon a pedestal.


An ancient god, he was originally a double god, "the two falcons", that was later joined to create one, probably that of Horus.


Was originally the goddess of the Nile River, in areas such as Elephantine Island, at the start of the Nile's journey through Egypt, and in nearby regions of Nubia. she was often depicted as a gazelle, or with a gazelle's head and sometimes having a headdress of feathers.


Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was god of the underworld, later he became responsible for embalming. In this capacity, he was charged with embalming Osiris, as well as with protecting his body both during and after he was embalmed. He was also the official guardian of cemeteries.


Giant serpent who attacks the sun-god every day at different points of his journey across the sky. Each time, the sun-god defeats him with the help of various divinities who accompany him in his bark.


Bull worshipped since the Archaic Period in the city of Memphis. Initially he was associated with the king, taking part with him every year in a ritual race intended to guarantee the fertility of the country. Later Apis was associated with Osiris and the god Ptah, becoming his “spokesman”. The oracles he delivered in this capacity were famous in the Late Period. Seen as the bull with a solar disk between its horns.


Also known as Aten, he was worshipped at Tell 'Amarna.



Creator-god worshiped at Heliopolis. He represents the primordial aspect of the creator-god, finding his ideal solar counterpart in Re. Whereas Re represents the sun at the height of his daytime force, Atum is his senescent form; but he is ready to be reborn in Kephri, the sun coming into being. Under the name of Re-Atum, he becomes a model for all the gods who wish to display their creative nature. He is represented in the form of a human and a serpent. He was the supreme god in the Heliopolitan Ennead (group of nine gods).


Cat goddess of Bubastis who incarnates as the peaceful aspects of dangerous goddesses such as Tefnut or Sakhmet. As Atum’s eye, she is associated with the moon and protects pregnancies and births.












Bes was worshipped in the later periods of dynastic history as a protector of households. While past studies identified Bes as a Middle Kingdom import from Nubia, some more recent research believes him to be an Egyptian native. Mentions of Bes can be traced to the southern lands of the Old Kingdom; however his cult did not become widespread until well into the New Kingdom.

His name appears to be connected to a Nubian word for cat, besa, which literally means protector, and indeed, his first appearances have the suggestion of a cat god. Egyptians kept cats in order to attack snakes, and creatures that might ruin crop stores, such as mice, and so Bes was naturally singled out as worthy of worship in Egypt.


God of the earth, brother of Nut, the goddess of the sky. Aker is under his authority. As god of the spaces of the netherworld, he offers a kind reception to the dead, whom he protects. Within the Heliopolitan family, he represents a model of hereditary kingship.


God of the Nile, Fertility, the North and South. Hapi was one of the Four sons of Horus depicted in funerary literature as protecting the throne of Ausare (Osiris) in the Underworld.



Was an ancient ram-god whose cult was centered in Herakleopolis. He was identifed with Ra and Osiris in Egyptian mythology, and to Heracles in Greek mythology. The identification with Heracles may be related to the fact that in later times his name was sometimes reanalyzed as "He who is over strength." One of his titles was “Ruler of the Riverbanks.” He was a creator and fertility god who was born from the primeval waters. He was pictured as a man with the head of a ram, or as a ram.



In Egyptian mythology, Hathor (Egyptian for house of Horus) was originally a personification of the Milky Way, which was seen as the milk that flowed from the udders of a heavenly cow. Hathor was an ancient goddess, worshipped as a cow-deity from at least 2700 BC, during the 2nd dynasty, and possibly even by the Scorpion King. The name Hathor refers to the encirclement by her, in the form of the Milky Way, of the night sky and consequently of the god of the sky, Horus. She was originally seen as the daughter of Ra, the creator whose own cosmic birth was formalised as the Ogdoad cosmogeny.



Heka was the deification of magic, his name being the egyptian word for magic. Heka literally means activating the Ka, which egyptians thought was how magic worked, the Ka being an aspect of the soul which embodied personality, but more significantly also power and influence, particularly in the case of the Ka of gods.







Frog-goddess, consort of Khnum; at his side, she breathes life into the beings he creates.



Is the deification of the first word, the word of creation, that Atum was said to have exclaimed upon ejaculating, in his masturbatory act of creating the Ennead.




Horus - text at the bottom of page.




The mother of Horus and sister and consort of Osiris. As a weeping widow, she carries out a long search to recover the scattered parts of her husband in order to reconstitute his body. This operation makes possible, the posthumous conception of their son Horus. While bringing up her son in difficult conditions, she ensures the protection of Osiris’s tomb and of the body that rests in it. As a result of these various activities, she gradually was credited with playing an important role in Osiris’s rebirth. She was then assimilated to a number of different divinities whose role it is to receive or regenerate the dead god, like for example, Shentayit. She was worshipped at Philae and associated with Astarte, Hathor, Nut and Sothis. She was later worshipped over the entire Roman Empire.


Incarnation of the newborn sun coming into being, Khepri is represented in the form of a scarab beetle or a man with a scarab beetle in place of his face.



Ram-headed god whose task was to fashion living beings with his potter’s wheel. In certain temples, such as Esna, in which he was an object of special veneration, he was also believed to have fashioned the primordial egg from which the sun sprang when the world began. He was worshipped in Hypselis, Esna, Antinoe and Elephantine.






This moon god was the son of Amon and Mut. He was depicted as a child with his head shaven except for the side-lock worn by Egyptian children, or as a man, wearing the disk of the new moon. The main temple at Karnak is dedicated to him.


















Was the Ancient Egyptian concept of law, morality, and justice which was deified as a goddess. As a goddess, her masculine counterpart was Djehuty (i.e. Thoth) and their attributes go hand in hand. Her primary role dealt with the weighing of words that took place in the Underworld. She was depicted in art as a woman with wings and a "curved" ostrich feather on her head or sometimes just as a feather.



Ancient fertility god. He is represented in ithyphallic form, squeezed into a tight-fitting garment that gives him a mummified appearance. The festivals during which his image was carried in procession heralded the harvest season. Lettuce was grown for his use; its whitish milk sap was thought to be an aphrodisiac. Worshipped in Koptos and Akhmim, he was also the protector of the trails that ran from the Nile-valley to the Red Sea coast.



War-god especially venerated in the region of Thebes. The conquering Pharaohs of the New Kingdom liked to compare themselves to him. It was said that, in the thick of battle, they incarnated his irresistible warlike force. He was pictured as a falcon-headed or bull-headed man who wore the sun-disc, with two plumes on his head









Worshipped at Thebes, she was a consort of Amon and part of the Theban Triad (group of three gods). Her origins are as obscure as her husbands. Her name means “mother” and is written with the hieroglyph for “vulture.” She seems to have inherited some of her traits from the vulture-goddess Nekhbet.


Goddess of the city of Sais, represented as armed with a bow and arrows. In her early form, as a goddess of war, she was said to make warriors' weapons, and guard their bodies when they died. However, her symbol also bore resemblance to a loom, and so it was that Neith additionally became goddess of weaving, and gained her name, which means weaver. As a goddess of weaving and the domestic arts, she was a protectress of women and a guardian of marriage.




Vulture goddess of the city of Elkab. She is the protectress of kingship in the South, as Wadjet is the protectress of northern kingship. She is often represented in the form of a bird hovering over the king. She is also considered to be a maternal goddess who protected childbirth.


Primordial serpent who ensured the cohesion of all the forces of life (the kas) in creation. He was believed to be immortal and to reside in the Primordial Ocean, Nun.


Official ferryman of the gods, responsible for transporting them from one riverbank to the other, he eventually came to demand a fee for his services. He could be influenced by offers of gifts and occasionally succumbed to bribery.


Sister of Isis and wife of Seth. After the death of Osiris, who was assassinated by her own husband, she joined Isis in her misfortune and helped her perform certain tasks.


The Primordial Ocean that was all that existed before the creation, which drove him back to the periphery of the created world. He offers a refuge to both the negative forces that seek to win back the space occupied by creation and the positive forces that, like the Nile inundation, are essential to the proper functioning of the world. The creator-god, who rested in his waters before the creation, inert, will return to them at the end of the world, after having reabsorbed the whole of creation in himself.


Goddess of the sky, mother of the sun, moon and heavenly bodies. She is represented in the form of a woman arching over the earth while bracing herself on her fingers and toes. She was believed to swallow the sun in the evening and give birth to him in the morning. With her brother Geb, she engendered five children Osiris, the Elder Horus, Seth, Isis and Nephthys. These “Children of Nut” are also known under the same name of “Children of Disorder” because of the disturbances their quarrels caused in the creation. Ophois, the Jackal-god whose name means “He who opens the roads” went ahead of processions to clear the way for them, so that those following him would not encounter any hostile force.


Dead god and god of the dead, he is regarded as the dead king that watches over the nether world and is rejuvenated in his son Horus. Brother and husband of Isis. He did not truly begin to exist until Seth assassinated him. Almost nothing is known about him before his death. When it is said that Osiris lives, the reference is always to his resurrection, which takes place in the hereafter, not in this world, definitively closed to him. The rites that make possible his resurrection ensure that the king, and, later, all the dead, will have a fate identical to his after death. As the symbol of eternal life he was worshipped at Abydos and Philae.



The dwarf son of Ptah, he was considered a protective god.




















Creator-god, patron of craftsmen, worshiped at Memphis. He is represented in human form, wrapped in a tight fitting garment from which only his hands are seen to emerge. He is associated with Apis, his spokesman, and with the funerary god Sokar, and finally with the primordial god Tatenen.


The quintessential sun-god, worshipped mainly at Heliopolis. The sun is nothing other than the iris of his eye. Re is imagined travelling through the sky in his bark by day and shining on the residents of the hereafter at night. He is assimilated to Atum, of whom he is the highest solar manifestation. Every god who comes to assume a universal role as a result of political circumstances borrows solar and creative functions from Re. From the fifth Dynasty onwards he become a national god.



Originally the war goddess of Upper Egypt, Lioness-goddess who incarnates the flaming eye of the sun. Her function is to annihilate the creator’s enemies with her flame. Squads of fearsome genies are under her command. The dangerous forces that she incarnates are unleashed during the last five days of the year. During this period, people seek to appease her by reciting litanies, so as to prevent her devastating anger from jeopardising the equilibrium of the world. She was also the mistress of sickness.



Goddess who patronises writings and architectural plans. She counsels and assists the king during the construction of temples.




Scorpion-goddess with a fearsome sting. She was seen as one who could cure scorpion stings, and other poisons, such as snake bites. She protects Horus the child when he take refuge in the papyrus thicket, but fails to prevent one of her sister scorpion goddesses from stinging the young god, but she is able to cure him thanks to her magical powers. Several scorpion-goddesses who are emanations of Selkis would later be considered wives of Horus.



The son of Geb and Nut in the Heliopolitan Ennead was in the form of an animal that has no zoological equivalent. He was the brother of Osiris, whom he kills in order to seize royal power, which in the normal course of things, should have been assumed by Horus. Many battles and a long court procedure were required before Seth could restore power to the legitimate heir. Seth was aggressive and pugnacious, but nevertheless rendered the sun-god an important service by defeating the Apophis. Seth’s voice was nothing other than rumbling thunder. Because he had murdered Osiris, Seth was gradually assigned responsibility for the cosmic troubles and was finally banished from the territory of Egypt in the proper sense. Never defeated, he continued to threaten the gods’ peace form time to time. This powerful god was regarded as god of the desert.


Originally a cow-goddess. He name means “the widow,” with reference to the dead Osiris. She incarnates the protective container in which Osiris is regenerated. Thanks to her special role, she is assimilated to Isis under the name Isis-Shentayit (see also Hathor)


God of the air in the Heliopolitan family, he was an ancient cosmic power and was regarded as the god of the air and the bearer of heaven. He represents more precisely the space that permits the sun’s light to be diffused. The creator-god charged him with separating heaven and earth by lifting his daughter Nut, goddess of the sky, into the heavens. He and his sister Tefnut were the first couple created by the creator-god, through a process of solitary procreation. Shu is the incarnation of the gods’ intuitive omniscience, which only the creator-god possessed in full. Along with Hu and Heka, Shu enabled the creator-god to imagine, enounce, and organise creation.


He was the crocodile god and lord of the waters, fearfully voracious, Sobek’s particular mission was to eliminate the enemies who lived in aquatic environments. He was worshipped at the Faiyum and Ombos. During the middle Kingdom he coalesced with Re, Sobek-Re, and was worshipped as primordial deity and creator-god.















Like Ptah, Sokaris was depicted with his body squeezed into a tight fitting vest. He was the funerary god of Memphis. He was usually depicted as having a falcon head. Like Ptah, he was a patron of craftsmen. It seems, however, that these two gods divided their labours. Ptah seems to have been more closely associated with stone-working, Sokaris with metalworking.


His name means “the earth that rises.” He incarnates the first solid land to have emerged at the beginning of the world. From the New Kingdom onward, he is associated with Ptah the creator under the name of Ptah-Tatenen.


Sister and wife of SHU, with whom she makes up the first couple, brought into being by the creator-god. A lioness-goddess, she also incarnates, as does Sakhmet, the solar eye. More specifically, she represents the goddess who goes into self-exile in Nubia. It is Shu who is dispatched to look for her, and Thoth is the one, with his beautiful speeches, induces her to return.


Ibis-headed moon god, he was the god of sacred writings and wisdom. His connections with the moon make him the reckoner par excellence; he is the one who establishes the various divisions of time and thus the calendar. Good at making calculations, he is also the master of writing. It is Thoth who introduces the practice of writing, records events in the annals, and transmits knowledge. He assists the creator in governing the world and functions as a messenger or intermediary for the gods. He plays a leading role in the divine tribunal; it is Thoth who settles the conflict between Horus and Seth. He was worshipped in Hermopolis.


Serpent-goddess of Buto. She is the protectress of kingship in the North as Nekhbet is the protectress of that in the South. She is often represented in the form of a cobra coiled around a papyrus stalk.



Son of Isis, conceived after the death of his father Osiris and summoned to succeed him on the throne of the gods after defeating his Uncle Seth. Under the name of HARSIESE, “son of Isis” precisely, he incarnates triumphant youth. The little, helpless child exposed to all sorts of dangers bore the name of HARPOKRATES, or “Horus the child,” from the end of the New Kingdom onward. This child represents both the divine or royal heir who ensures the continuity of the royal function and the sun who is reborn every morning.

Horus of Edfu also is a sun-god and a god of kingship. These two aspects manifest themselves in him in a fully mature form. The elder Horus, god of Letopolis, is a solar divinity whose two eyes represent the sun and the moon. When these two heavenly bodies are invisible, the god goes blind and takes the name MEKHENTY-EN-IRTY, “He who has no eyes.” When he recovers his eyesight, he becomes KHENTY-IRTY, “He who has eyes.”

A warrior god armed with a sword, he is especially dangerous during his periods of blindness. This Horus is the brother of Osiris and Isis but, under the influence of the other gods of the same name, he can also be considered the son of Isis. The great sun-gods who bear the name of Horus are often represented as falcons or falcon-headed gods and are generally married to Hathor. In an absolute sense, Horus is the prototype of the earthly king.



Cippi of Horus

In connection with the god Horus and his forms as the god of the rising sun and the symbol and personification of Light. Mention must be made, of a comparatively numerous class of small rounded stelae on convex bases, on the front of which are sculptured, in relief figures, the god Horus standing upon two crocodiles. These curious and interesting objects are made of basalt and other kinds of hard stone, they vary in height from 3 ins. to 20 ins; they were used as talismans by the Egyptians, who placed them in their houses and gardens, and even buried them in the ground to protect themselves and their property from the attacks of noxious beasts, and reptiles, and insects of every kind.

The backs, sides, and bases are usually covered with magical texts. The ideas suggested by the figures and the texts are extremely old, but the grouping and arrangement of those which are found on the stelae of the XXVIth Dynasty, is thought to not have came into general use very much earlier than the end of the Persian occupation of Egypt.


The various museums of Europe contain several examples of cippi, but the largest, and finest, and most important, is undoubtedly that which is commonly known as the "Metternich Stele, it was found in the year 1828 during the building of a cistern in a Muhammad monastery in Alexandria, and was presented by Muhammad Ali Pasha {Turkish -      (Albanian) ruler of Egypt}, to Prince Metternich (political leader of Austria). We are fortunately, able to date the stele from the inscribed name of Nectanebus I, who reigned from 378 to 360 B.C, which occurs on it. On the front of the stele we have the following figures and scenes:----

The solar disk wherein is seated the four-fold god Khnemu, who represents the gods of the four elements, between which is supported on a lake of water; on each side of it stand four apes, with their paws stretched out in adoration. No names are given to the apes here, but we may find them in a text at Edfu where they are called:

5. AP

1. The Bentet apes praised the morning sun, and the Utennu apes praised the evening sun, and the Sun-god was pleased both with their words and with their voices. On the right hand side is a figure of king Nectanebus kneeling before a lotus standard, with plumes and menats, and on the left is the figure of the god Thoth holding a palette in his left hand.


2. In this register we have (a) Ptah-Seker_Asar standing on crocodiles, the gods Amsu and Khepera standing on pedestals, Khas, a lion -headed god, Thoth, Serqet and Hathor grouped round a god who is provided with the heads of seven birds and animals, and four wings, and two horns surmounted by four uraei and four knives, and who stands upon two crocodiles. (b) Taurt holding a crocodile by a chain or rope, which a hawk-headed god is about to spear in the presence of Isis, Nephthys, and four other deities, etc.

3. Isis holding Horus in her outstretched right hand, and standing on a crocodile. Standard of Nekhebet. Horus, with a human phallus, and a lion, on a lake (?) containing two crocodiles. Seven halls or lakes, each guarded by a god. A lion treading on a crocodile, which lies on its back, four gods, a lion standing on the back of a crocodile, a vulture, a god embracing a goddess, and three goddesses.

4. Horus spearing a crocodile which is led captive by Ta-urt. The four children of Horus. Neith and the two crocodile gods. Harpocrates seated upon a crocodile under a serpent. A lion, two scorpions and an oryx, symbols of Set. Seven serpents having their tails pierced by arrows or darts. A king in a chariot drawn by the fabulous AKHEKH animal which gallops over two crocodiles. Horus standing on the back of the oryx, emblem of Set.

5. A miscellaneous group of gods, nearly all of whom are forms of the Sun-god and are gods of reproduction and regeneration.

6. A hawk god, with dwarf's legs, and holding bows and arrows. Horus standing on an oryx (Set). A cat on a pedestal. An-her spearing an animal. Uraeus on the top of a staircase. The ape of Thoth on a pylon. Two Utchats, the solar disk, and a crocodile. Ptah-Seker-Asar. The Horus of gold. Serpent with a disk on his head. A group of solar gods followed by Ta-urt and Bes.

7. In this large scene Horus stands with his feet upon the backs of two crocodiles, and he grasps in his hands the reptiles and animals which are the emblems of the foes of light and of the powers of evil. He wears the lock of youth, and above his head is the head of the old god Bes, who here symbolizes the Sun-god at eventide. The canopy under which he stands is held up by Thoth and Isis, each of whom stands upon a coiled up serpent, which has a knife stuck in his forehead. Above the canopy are the two Utchats, with human hands and arms attached, and within it by the sides of the god are:

1. Horus-Ra standing on a coiled up serpent.
2. A lotus standard, with plumes and menats.
3. A papyrus standard surmounted by a figure of a hawk wearing the crown.

On the back of the Stele we have a figure of the aged Sun-god in the form of a man-hawk, and he has above his head the heads of a number of animals, e.g., the oryx and the crocodile, and a pair of horns, and eight knives. He has four human arms, to two of which beings are attached, and in each hand he grasps two serpents, two knives, and "life," "stability," and "power," ; and numbers of figures of gods. His two other human arms are not attached to wings, and in one hand he holds the symbol of "life," and in the other a scepter.

From the head of the god proceed jets of fire, and on each side of him is an Utchat, which is provided with human hands and arms. The god stands upon an oval, within which are figures of a lion, two serpents, a jackal, a crocodile, a scorpion, a hippopotamus, and a turtle. Below this relief are five rows of figures of gods and mythological scenes, many of which are taken from the vignettes of the Book of the Dead. The gods and goddesses are for the most part solar deities who were believed to be occupied at all times in overcoming the powers of darkness, and they were sculptured on the Stele that the sight of them might terrify the fiends and prevent them from coming nigh unto the place where it was set up. There is not a god of any importance whose figure is not on it, and there is not a demon, or evil animal, or reptile who is not depicted upon it in a vanquished state.

The texts inscribed upon the Stele are as interesting as the figures of the gods, and relate to events which were believed to have taken place in the lives of Isis, Horus, etc. The first composition is called the "Chapter of the incantation of the Cat," and contains an address to Ra, who is besought to come to his daughter, for she has been bitten by a scorpion; the second composition, which is called simply "another Chapter," has contents somewhat similar to those of the first.

The third text is addressed to the "Old Man who becometh young in his season, the Aged One who maketh himself a child again." The fourth and following texts contain a narrative of the troubles of Isis which were caused by the malice of Set, and of her wanderings from city to city in the Delta, in the neighborhood of the Papyrus Swamps. The principal incident is the death of her son Horus, which took place whilst she was absent in a neighboring city, and was caused by the bite of a scorpion; in spite of all the care which Isis took in hiding her son, a scorpion managed to make its way into the presence of the boy, and it stung him until he died.

When Isis came back and found her child's dead body she was distraught and frantic with grief, and was inconsolable until Nephthys came and advised her to appeal to Thoth, the lord of words of power, She did so straightway, and Thoth stopped the Boat of Millions of Years in which Ra, the Sun-god, sailed, and came down to earth in answer to her cry; Thoth had already provided her with the words of power which enabled her to raise up Osiris from the dead, and he now bestowed upon her the means of restoring Horus to life, by supplying her with a series of incantations of irresistible might.

These Isis recited with due care, and in the proper tone of voice, and the poison was made to go forth from the body of Horus, and his strength was renewed, his heart once more occupied its throne, and all was well with him. Heaven and earth rejoiced at the sight of the restoration of the heir of Osiris, and the gods were filled with peace and content.

The whole Stele on which these texts and figures are found, is nothing but a talisman, or a gigantic amulet engraved with magical forms of gods and words of power, and it was undoubtedly, placed in some conspicuous place in a courtyard or in a house to protect the building and its inmates from the attacks of hostile beings, both visible and invisible, and its power was believed to be invincible.

The person who had been stung or bitten by a scorpion or any noxious beast or reptile was supposed to recite the incantations which Thoth had given to Isis, and which had produced such excellent results, and the Egyptians believed that because these words had on one occasion restored the dead to life, they would, whensoever they were uttered in a suitable tone of voice, and with appropriate gestures and ceremonies, never fail to produce a like effect. A knowledge of the gods and of the magical texts on the Stele was thought to make its possessor master of all the powers of heaven, and of earth, and of the Underworld.


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