Tuesday, November 10, 2015
But Seth the Evil One, their brother, envied Osiris and hated Isis. The more the people loved and praised Osiris, the more Seth hated him; and the more good he did and the happier mankind became, the stronger grew Seth's desire to kill his brother and rule in his place. Isis, however, was so full of wisdom and so watchful that Seth made no attempt to seize the throne while she was watching over the land of Egypt. And when Osiris returned from his travels Seth was among the first to welcome him back and kneel in reverence before "the good god Pharaoh Osiris".
Yet he had made his plans, aided by seventy-two of his wicked friends and Aso the evil queen of Ethiopia. Secretly Seth obtained the exact measurements of the body of Osiris, and caused beautiful chest to be made that would fit only him. It was fashioned of the rarest and most costly woods: cedar brought from Lebanon, and ebony from Punt at the south end of the Red Sea for no wood grows in Egypt except the soft and useless palm.
Then Seth gave a great feast in honour of Osiris; but the other guests were the two-and-seventy conspirators. It was the greatest feast that had yet been seen in Egypt, and the foods were choicer, the wines stronger and the dancing girls more beautiful than ever before. When the heart of Osiris had been made glad with feasting and song the chest was brought in, and all were amazed at its beauty.
Osiris marveled at the rare cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory, with less rare gold and silver, and painted inside with figures of gods and birds and animals, and he desired it greatly.
"I will give this chest to whosoever fits it most exactly!" cried Seth. And at once the conspirators began in turn to see if they could win it. But one was too tall and another too short; one was too fat and another too thin - and all tried in vain.
"Let me see if I will fit into this marvelous piece of work," said Osiris, and he laid himself down in the chest while all gathered round breathlessly.
"I fit exactly, and the chest is mine!" cried Osiris.
"It is yours indeed, and shall be so forever!" hissed Seth as he banged down the lid. Then in desperate haste he and the conspirators nailed it shut and sealed every crack with molten lead, so that Osiris the man died in the chest and his spirit went west across the Nile into Duat the Place of Testing; but, beyond it to Amenti, where those live for ever who have lived well on earth and passed the judgments of Duat, he could not pass as yet. Seth and his companions took the chest which held the body of Osiris and cast it into the Nile; and Hapi the Nile-god carried it out into the Great Green Sea where it was tossed for many days until it came to the shore of Phoenicia near the city of Byblos. Here the waves cast it into a tamarisk tree that grew on the shore; and the tree shot out branches and grew leaves and flowers to make a fit resting place for the body of the good god Osiris and very soon that tree became famous throughout the land.
Thoth, was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma'at.
Thoth's chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks' interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Shmounein in the Coptic rendering. In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.
Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.
He was considered the heart and tongue of Ra as well as the means by which Ra's will was translated into speech. He has also been likened to the Logos of Plato and the mind of God (The All).
Thoth, like many Egyptian gods and nobility, held many titles. Among these were "Scribe of Ma'at in the Company of the Gods," "Lord of Ma'at," "Lord of Divine Words," "Judge of the Two Combatant Gods," "Judge of the Rekhekhui, the pacifier of the Gods, who Dwelleth in Unnu, the Great God in the Temple of Abtiti," "Twice Great," "Thrice Great,"" and "Three Times Great, Great."
Thoth has been involved in arbitration, magic, writing, science and the judging of the dead.
In the Egyptian mythology, he has played many vital and prominent roles, including being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, A'an, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased's heart against the feather, representing the principle of Ma'at, was exactly even.
Thoth has played a prominent role in many of the Egyptian myths. Displaying his role as arbitrator, he had overseen the three epic battles between good and evil. All three battles are fundamentally the same and belong to different periods. The first battle took place between Ra and Apep, the second between Heru-Bekhutet and Set, and the third between Horus and Set . In each instance, the former god represented order while the latter represented chaos. If one god was seriously injured, Thoth would heal them to prevent either from overtaking the other.
Thoth was also prominent in the Asarian myth, being of great aid to Isis. After Isis/Aset gathered together the pieces of Asar's dismembered body, he gave her the words to resurrect him so she could be impregnated and bring forth Horus. After a battle between Horus and Set in which the latter plucked out Horus' eye, Thoth's counsel provided him the wisdom he needed to recover it. Thoth was the god who always speaks the words that fulfill the wishes of Ra.
This mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365 day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with the Moon for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut gave birth to Kheru-ur (Horus the Elder, Face of Heaven), Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.
Set or Seth (also spelled Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty) is a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Ancient Greek, the god's name is given as Sēth. Set is not, however, a god to be ignored or avoided; he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus' role as lord of the black (soil) land.
During the Second Intermediate Period (1650–1550 BC), a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs known as the Hyksos (literally, "rulers of foreign lands") gained the rulership of Egypt, and ruled the Nile Delta, from Avaris. They chose Set, originally Upper Egypt's chief god, the god of foreigners and the god they found most similar to their own chief god, as their patron, and then Set became worshiped as the chief god once again.
Jan Assmann argues that because the Ancient Egyptians could never conceive of a "lonely" god lacking personality, Seth the desert god, who was worshiped exclusively, represented a manifestation of evil.
When Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and expelled them from Egypt (c. 1522 BC), Egyptian attitudes towards Asiatic foreigners became xenophobic, and royal propaganda discredited the period of Hyksos rule. Nonetheless, the Set cult at Avaris flourished, and the Egyptian garrison of Ahmose stationed there became part of the priesthood of Set.
The founder of the Nineteenth Dynasty, Ramesses I came from a military family from Avaris with strong ties to the priesthood of Set. Several of the Ramesside kings were named for Set, most notably Seti I (literally, "man of Set") and Setnakht (literally, "Set is strong"). In addition, one of the garrisons of Ramesses II held Set as its patron deity, and Ramesses II erected the so-called Four Hundred Years' Stele at Pi-Ramesses, commemorating the 400 year anniversary of the Set cult in the Delta.
Set also became associated with foreign gods during the New Kingdom, particularly in the Delta. Set was also identified by the Egyptians with the Hittite deity Teshub, who was a storm god like Set.
According to Herman te Velde, the demonization of Set took place after Egypt's conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires. It was during this time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated.
Set's negative aspects were emphasized during this period. Set was the killer of Osiris, having hacked Osiris' body into pieces and dispersed it so that he could not be resurrected. The Greeks later linked Set with Typhon because both were evil forces, storm deities, and sons of the Earth that attacked the main gods.
Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.
Set has also been classed as a Trickster deity who, as a god of disorder, resorts to deception to achieve bad ends.
Thus he became a symbol of majesty and power as well as the model of the pharaohs. The Pharaohs were said to be Horus in human form.
Furthermore, Nemty, another war god, was later identified as Horus.
Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon, flew across it. Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the The Contendings of Horus and Seth. In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had battled for Egypt brutally, with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with Horus.
As Horus was the ultimate victor he became known as Harsiesis, Heru-ur or Har-Wer (ḥr.w wr 'Horus the Great'), but more usually translated as Horus the Elder. In the struggle Set had lost a testicle, explaining why the desert, which Set represented, is infertile. Horus' left eye had also been gouged out, then a new eye was created by part of Khonsu, the moon god, and was replaced.
Horus was occasionally shown in art as a naked boy with a finger in his mouth sitting on a lotus with his mother. In the form of a youth, Horus was referred to as Neferhor. This is also spelled Nefer Hor, Nephoros or Nopheros (nfr ḥr.w) meaning 'The Good Horus'.
Wedjat, Eye of Horus
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra. The symbol is seen on images of Horus' mother, Isis, and on other deities associated with her.
In the Egyptian language, the word for this symbol was "Wedjat". It was the eye of one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, Wadjet, who later became associated with Bast, Mut, and Hathor as well. Wedjat was a solar deity and this symbol began as her eye, an all seeing eye. In early artwork, Hathor is also depicted with this eye. Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or Eye of Horus is "the central element" of seven "gold, faience, carnelian and lapis lazuli" bracelets found on the mummy of Shoshenq II. The Wedjat "was intended to protect the king [here] in the afterlife" and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.
Bastet first appears in the 3rd millennium BC, where she is depicted as either a fierce lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness. Images of Bast were often created from a local stone, named alabaster today. The lioness was the fiercest hunter among the animals in Africa, hunting in co-operative groups of related females.
Originally she was viewed as the protector goddess of Lower Egypt. As protector, she was seen as defender of the pharaoh, and consequently of the later chief male deity, Ra, who was also a solar deity, gaining her the titles Lady of Flame and Eye of Ra.
Her role in the Egyptian pantheon became diminished as Sekhmet, a similar lioness war deity, became more dominant in the unified culture of Lower and Upper Egypt known as the Two Lands.
In the first millennium BC, when domesticated cats were popularly kept as pets, Bastet began to be represented as a woman with the head of a cat. In the 2nd millennium, domestic cats appeared as Bastet's sacred animal. After the 11th century BCE, Bast was commonly depicted as a woman with the head of a cat or lioness, often carrying a sistrum (sacred rattle) and an aegis. When the Greeks started to settle in Egypt, around the 5th century BCE, Bastet started to gain some of the characteristics of Artemis, such as transitioning from a sun goddess to a moon goddess.