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Egyptian Mythology

Pantheon of the gods/goddesses

Miscellaneous Myth

Creation Myth

Second Miscellaneous Myth

Destruction Myth

Explanation of ideals/characteristics

Hero Myth

Professional Criticism

Listing of ideals/characteristics

About the Author

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Pantheon of the gods/goddesses

Name of God/Goddess

Sphere of Influence

Nun

chaos

Atum

within him was the sum of all existence

Ra

'creator', lord of the sky

Osiris

first a nature-god, then god of the dead

Anubis

opened for the dead the roads of the other world

Amon

king of the gods

Khons

navigator, moon-god

Seker

vegetarian-god, then god of the dead

Sekhmet

goddess of war and battle

Khnum

god of fecundity and creation

Sati

guardian goddess of the cataracts

Tauret

goddess of childbirth

Meskhent

goddess of childbirth

Shai

'destiny', shadowed born person until death

Bes

marriage-god

Mayet

goddess of law, truth and justice

Neheh

god of eternity

The Creation of the World

 

The Egyptians seem early on to have worshipped a universal mother-goddess. The background often explains the particular form taken by myths in which these goddesses were involved. It was said that it might have been that this deity was supposed to be the creator of the entire world. Nut, or Hathor, is said to have been the mother of Ra. Ra was called 'bull of cunfusion'. Ihy was a symbol of fresh beginning. Isis was made the mother of Horus, from whom are descended all the pharoahs. Neith was primarily a warlike goddess. She was referred to as the oldest of the deities.

Khnum, an independent deity, was said to have created men from clay and to have fashioned them on a potter's wheel. This would mean that mankind had emerged from the mud of the Nile, thus by-passing the agency of the gods of the Ennead.

 

Destruction Myth

 

The sun-god Ra was warned by his father, the watery abyss, that humankind was too wicked and was on the verge of rebelling against the gods. Ra sent the goddess, Hathor, to investigate and punish the evildoers.

Hathor went to earth and slay millions of humans. The streets od Chetenuten ran like a river with blood. It poured into the Nile and the river overflowed, destroying the land. Then the sea overflowed. Hathor was bloodthirsty and drank the liquid.

Ra only wanted to punish the humans, not kill them. He called Thoth for advice. Ra sent Sektet to make a strong beer. The beer would be mixed with the blood to attract Hathor.

Ra's servants poured the mixture on the dry land. Hathor drank it all and became drunk. She fell asleep.

Then human kind repopulated the earth.

Ra was tired of dealing with earth and Hathor, so he appointed Thoth his governor on earth. Thoth taught people to write, compose poetry, and govern themselves.

 

Hero Myth

 

The basic fact of Egyptian religion was the idea that the king was a god. The later ritual stresses that the priest in front of the god's image acted only as the substitute of the king. SInce the king was the sole mediator and link between men and the gods, the concept of a hero who intrudes into the world of the gods is not known in Egyptian mythology.

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Listing of Ideals/Characteristics

 

The firsdt gods and goddesses created all the others

Many gods and goddesses were called by many different names

Many of the gods and goddesses names were associated with the heavens

Many things in the mythology were related to nature

After people died they were judged in the underworld

Magic was used to forestall and control misfortune

 

Miscellaneous Myth

 

In an episode of the Setna cycle, Siosore took his father to the underworld to show him the fates of two men after they have died and been judged before Osiris. The cruel rich man was condemned and a virtuous poor man was given the rich man's goods and has become a blessed spirit. This late text presents the judgement of the dead as central to the Egyptian religion. The soul had to overcome the dangers before it could reach paradise.

The Egyptian underworld was an elaborate landscape. The soul had to overcome the gods and demons that inhabited it. To do this, the soul had to become a hero-magician. People of rank and wealth had spells inscribed on their coffins.

After reaching the throne of Osiris, a dead person had to vow him or herself innocent of various crimes. The heart of the person was weighed against the feather heart of the goddess Maat, who was the personification of justice and truth. If you failed, you would be eaten by a monster. But you could use a spell to pass. If you passed you were pure and became a spirit with the power to move among the gods.

 

Second Miscellaneous Myth

 

The Egyptians thought of magic as valuable in this world and the next. It was a way to forestall and control misfortunes. Some spells were recited while a prescription was applied to the body of a patient. Magical hymns were addressed to the gods. One story, part of a magical spell, relates to how Isis found out the most secret of all divine names, that of the sun god, Ra. Since he was growing old he often drooled. Isis collected his spittle, mixed it with clay and made a snake.

The snake bit Ra and it disappeared. The sun god felt terrible pain as the poison spread through his body. Isis promised to heal him if he would reveal his true name. Ra told Isis that it was Khepry at dawn, Ra at midday and Atum at evening. Isis said that his true name had still not been spoken. Ra could not bear the pain any longer so he told her his secret name. Isis summoned the poison out of Ra by speaking his true name and healed the sun god.

 

Explanation of Ideals/Characteristics

 

The ideal that the first gods and goddesses created the others is explained in The Creation of the World. The Egyptians worshipped a universal mother-goddess. It was said that she was the deity thaat created the world. Isis was made the mother of Horus, from whom are descended all the pharaohs. Khnum, an independent deity, was said to have created men from clay. All af the gods and gpddesses had names, and some of them had more than one name. For example, the sun was Aten. When he rose, he was called Khepri, when he climbed to the zenith he was called Ra, and when he set he was called Atum. He was also called Horus. Later when Horus was joined with Ra, he reigned over all of Egypt as Ra-Harakhte. The moon, too, was called by different names. The most important names are Aah, Thoth and Khons. Many other gods and goddesses names are associated with the heavens. Some major deities were identified with stars and planets. The moon was Thoth, Mercury was Seth, and the constellation Orion was Osiris. Most of the Egyptian mythology was related to nature. Such as the Sky, the Earth, the Sun and the Moon. Another ideal of the Egyptian mythology was that after dying, people were judged in the underworld. To find a way through the maze of the underworld, a person had to overcome the gods and demons who lived there. After that, they were judged before Osiris. If their heart was heavy, they would be devoured by a monster. If it was light, they would become spirits. The last ideal of the mythology was that magic could be used to forestall and control misfortunes. Some magical spells were recited while a prescription was ingested or applied to the body of the patient. The true names of the gods were kept secret, because they were a source of magic power.

 

Professional Criticism

 

In the Book of the Dead a man or woman who has died is identified with and called Osiris. The book was buried with the mummy as a guide book to the perils of the difficult way, and chapters were recited at the time of burial. At one stage in the preparation of the mummy, the heart of the dead man was cut open and a basalt scarab in a gold setting, symbolic of the sun, was placed therein. As in the much later Buddhist image of the Bodhisattva within whose nimbus stand five hundred transformed Buddhas, each attended by five hundred Bodhisattvas, and each of these, in turn, by inumerable gods, so here, the soul comes to the fulness of its stature and power through assimilating the deities that formerly had been thought to be separate from and outside of it. The book concludes with addresses of praise of the gods: the "Chapter of Living Nigh unto Re," the "Chapter of Causing a Man to Come Back to See his House upon Earth," the "Chapter of Making Perfect the Soul," and the "Chapter of Sailing in the Great Sun-Boat of Re."

 

About the Author

 

Hi, my name is Katherine and I go to West Essex Junior High School. I play field hockey and lacrosse. My friends are Kristen, Kelly, Amanda, Lena, Adam, Josh S., Betty, Phuong, Andrea, Maria, Meredith, Becky and Lauren.

 

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