Unit II: Egypt World Mythology: The Illustrated Guide pg. 36 Disclaimer • These are the common held myths of Egyptian Mythology. • Some may vary from what is in your textbook and some may not be in your textbook at all. • You are still responsible for knowing this!!! Mythical Milestones • BCE = Before Common Era 5000-4001 BCE: The Egyptian Calendar is devised, regulated by the moon; 360 days; divided into twelve 30-day months. 3200 BCE: Earliest Hieroglyphic script appears. 2650 BCE: Beginning of pyramid building. 2575 BCE: Great Pyramid of Giza completed. 2500 – 2001 BCE: Division of day into 24 units; First use of mummification. 1279 – 1213 BCE: Rule of Ramses II (widely believed to be the pharaoh during the biblical Exodus). 670 BCE: Introduction of iron working. 30 BCE: Deaths of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra ; annexation of Egypt by Rome. Introduction • Ancient Egypt was a theocracy - a place where religion and government were inseparably linked in the minds of the rules, priests, and people. • Egypt’s royalty, pharaohs, were actually thought to be gods themselves. • Myths were less significant than the cult of the gods, an essential state activity conducted in temples accessible only to the kings and priests. • Myths developed by elaborating on the relationships between regional gods. • Many deities were important only in particular regions or were local variants of national gods. • Egypt was divided into two separate sections, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. • This created a strong sense of duality which found its way into several myths. • Two great forces shaped Egypt: the desert and the river, a perfect duality of life and death. How Do We Know What We Know… • Remarkably well preserved scrolls, thousands of years old, show Egypt as a highly literate society. • Columns of hieroglyphics called the Pyramid Texts, considered the world’s oldest known religious writings found on the tomb of King Unas more that 4,000 years ago. • The Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead were intricate and elaborate spells/scrolls that documented the procedure for preparing a body for the afterlife. Creation Story • Found on pg. 38. • There are at least four distinct Egyptian creation stories, each one coinciding with a specific region or city. We will focus on the most prominent. • All Egyptian creation myths share a central belief that the sun, or rather a sun god, was at the center of creation. • In the beginning there was a primeval watery chaos known as Nun, an endless, formless deep that was the source for the Nile River. • Nun contained all the potential for life, awaiting only for the emergence of a creator. • Atum existed within Nun and created the world simply through thought and word alone. • Simply by speaking a stream of names, Atum produced all of Egypt. What’s His Name? • Atum would go by several names such as Ra, Amon-Ra, Ra-Atum, and others just to name a few. • They are all basically the same name so don’t get confused. Creation How? • A god of totality and complete power, Atum immediately began to create other gods. • There are several variations but the most common held belief is that the god Atum um…pleasures himself, and by doing so, gives spontaneous birth to his children Shu and Tefnut. • Shu is the goddess of the air and Tefnut the god of moisture. With their creation, their now exists the sun, water, and the atmosphere. Egypt’s First Family • Egypt’s Great Ennead - The first family of the gods. • Shu and Tefnut become the first divine couple. They next produced another pair of twins, Geb and Nut. • Geb was the male earth god and Nut was the female goddess of the sky and heavens. Love in the Womb • Geb and Nut were locked together in an embrace at birth. • These two embraced so close that there was no room for anything to exist between them. • So Atum ordered his son Shu to separate his children, thus separating the earth and the heavens. Love after Separation • Even though they were now separated Nut and Shu conceive two pairs of twins. • Osiris and Isis were born first, followed closely by Seth and Nephthys. • Since the Egyptians had no heroes only the gods played a part in their myths and the rivalry between Seth and Osiris would form the basis for several myths that would follow. • Since Osiris was born first, he was destined to rule over Egypt. Osiris • First born of Nut and Shu. Destined to rule Egypt. • God of Agriculture; taught humanity the secrets of farming and civilization. • His rule is threatened by the forces of chaos which include his brother Seth. Isis • Twin sister andWife of Osiris. • Goddess of Marriage and healer goddess who could cure all illness. • Also credited with teaching humanity how to grind flour as well as how to spin and weave cloth. • Mother of Horus. Seth/Set • Brother of Osiris. • Regarded as the incarnation of evil and chaos. • God of Storms and the Desert. • An ill-tempered god, Seth is often personified as rage, anger, and violence. Nephthys • Sister and Wife of Seth. • Also believed to have an affair with her brother Osiris. • Goddess of funeral rites. • Protective goddess. • Mother of Anubis Brotherly Love/Hate • Seth is extremely jealous of his brother Osiris for several reason but the main two are: 1.) Seth believed that Osiris had really fathered his son, Anubis. 2.) Seth wanted to rule Egypt in Osiris’ place. • Seth then sets in motion a very complex scheme for the death of Osiris. Death of Osiris • The death of Osiris is a central myth in Egyptian mythology, the duality or life and death as well as the concept of an afterlife had a lasting appeal to the Egyptians. • There are differing myths about the death of Osiris, and they vary from him being killed by a mosquito bite to being torn to pieces by a crocodile. • The most prevalent however is not in your textbook. Party/Coffin for Osiris • Seth plans a scheme and throws a party with 73 conspirators and invites Osiris for the party in his favor. • At the party there was much spirited eating, Seth suggests that they play a game. • Seth brings out a beautifully crafted cedar chest laced with gold and silver. • Seth explained that the one who could fit inside the chest easiest was the winner of the chest. • Once Osiris entered the chest/coffin, Seth slams the lid shut and sealed it with molten lead. Isis’ Mourning • Isis was inconsolable and her tears were said to cause the Nile River. • Isis eventually found Osiris’ coffin, and used her wings to blow the breath of life into Osiris and immediately made love with him, but Osiris died shortly after. • The result of this union was the hawk-headed god, Horus. • Isis continued to watch over the coffin of Osiris. Death of Osiris…again. • Seth becomes the pharaoh of Egypt following Osiris death. • Seth was not content with his brother merely laying in the coffin, and decided to dismember his brother. • Seth divided Osiris into 14 pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. • Isis then set out to find her husband/brother and bring him back once again. Important Missing Piece. • Isis was able to find 13 of the 14 pieces, but was unable to find Osiris’ phallus (it was eaten by a fish, which is why most Egyptians did not eat the fish from the Nile river). • Osiris was brought back to life, but because he was infertile, he was not allowed to be pharaoh. • Osiris becomes the lord of the dead and another significant god in the Egyptian Pantheon. Osiris Significance • With Osiris as god of the dead and afterlife, preservation of the body was thought to be essential for survival after death (mummification). • Although Osiris did not supplant Ra-Atum in terms of power, he became Egypt’s most popular deity, with a cult following that lasted over 2,000 years. New Key Player. • Isis fled from Seth knowing that he would kill any usurper to his throne. • Isis gave birth to Horus, who would be destined to become pharaoh of Egypt. • Isis and Horus would appeal to the great god, Ra-Atum (Ra simply means associated with the sun) to lobby for Horus’ rightful place on the throne of Egypt. Horus • God of the Sky, which would later include the moon and sun. • Said that his right eye was the sun and his left eye was the moon. • Would challenge Seth as the rightful pharaoh of Egypt. Family Feud • The quarrels between Horus and Seth would become another central myth in Egypt’s mythology. • Horus appealed to Ra-Atum that he, and not Seth, was the rightful heir to the throne of Egypt. • Eventually Seth challenges Horus to feats of strength to determine the rightful ruler. The Contest • Seth and Horus both agreed to turn into hippopotamuses and stay underwater for three months. • However, Isis intervenes and the contest is called off. • Horus again appeals to the other gods and with the final vote being cast by Osiris, Horus achieved the throne of Egypt. Horus Significant • With his victory, Horus became the king and guide of the dead souls, and ultimately, the protector of the pharaohs. • Horus would turn the souls over to Osiris. The Egyptians believed that if Osiris could triumph over death then so could mortal humans. Other Gods: Ammut • Goddess known as the “eater (devourer) of the dead. • Incorporates three of the most feared animals to the Egyptians: head of a crocodile, body of a lion, hind legs of a hippopotamus. Other Gods: Anubis • God of embalming and cemeteries. • Jackal-headed son of Nepthys and Osiris. • Connection between Jackal and death. • Presides over the weighing of the heart in the afterlife. Other Gods: Bast/Bastet • The daughter of RaAtum. • Catlike goddess of love, sexuality and childbirth. • In her worship, cats were prized and even mummified with their masters. Other Gods: Hathor • A powerful complex goddess. • Depicted as a cowheaded goddess. • Very significant to Egyptians • Protector off lovers and women (especially during childbirth). • See the cow symbolism? Other Gods: Thoth • Ibis-headed god, because he curved beak was thought to represent the crescent moon. • Originally god of the moon, but his job later changes. • Invents writing and is the divine scribe that presides at the weighing of the heart. Forces of Chaos: Apep • Apep was a giant serpent and was thought to threaten Atum as he made his daily travels through the land of the dead. • Worthy souls were even charged with defending Atum’s boat against Apep. Afterlife: Weighing of the Heart • Possibly the most important myth, at least in regards to the average person, was the weighing of the heart. • When you died your heart was placed on a scale against a feather, if you lived a good life your heart was lighter than a feather. • If you failed your heart was devoured by Ammut. Weighing of the Heart. • • • • Osiris presided over the weighing. Anubis weighted the heart. Thoth recorded the results. Ammut devoured the heart if you were unworthy to enter the afterlife…although there is no record of this ever happening. Weighing of the Heart Questions?