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Egyptian Myth of Kingship. Myth Telling Origin of Pharaonic rule Basic background: Family tree & a Variant Review of some gods: Isis, Thoth, Osiris, Seth.

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Presentation on theme: "Egyptian Myth of Kingship. Myth Telling Origin of Pharaonic rule Basic background: Family tree & a Variant Review of some gods: Isis, Thoth, Osiris, Seth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Egyptian Myth of Kingship

2 Myth Telling Origin of Pharaonic rule Basic background: Family tree & a Variant Review of some gods: Isis, Thoth, Osiris, Seth Story of Kingship

3 Family Tree of Ennead (Heliopolis) from last class Ra-Atum ShuTefenet Geb Nut Osiris Isis Set(h)Nephthys

4 A Variation This variation is an account told by Plutarch. Plutarch is a Greek writer in early Roman empire (1 st century CE) Plutarch wrote this account of the origin of the Pharaoh’s rule in “On Isis and Osiris” (de Iside et Osiride), ca. 70 CE. In this account: Nut, goddess of heaven, has multiple pregnancies with different fathers

5 Variant: Nut’s Multiple Pregnancy Nut is simultaneously impregnated by multiple fathers: 1.Re (Sun god) = Nut (Sky goddess) 2.Geb (Nut’s brother the Earth god) 3.Thoth (god of language, speech, magic)

6 Variant: Nut’s Multiple Children By Re … Nut births Osiris and Horus the Elder (not Horus his future son). By Geb … Nut births Seth and Nephthys. By Thoth … Nut births Isis.

7 Variant: Birth blocked Re discovers … Nut has been having affairs with Geb & Thoth. Sun god, Re blocks her from giving birth in any month of the 360 day-year. This calendar had 12 months, but only 30 days per month. Nut then complains to Thoth that she is pregnant but has been forbidden to give birth. But Thoth, who is very clever, begins thinking of a way to help Nut.

8 Variant: Thoth’s Gambling for Time Thoth then devises a way for Nut to give birth. Thoth goes to Moon goddess and challenges her to a game. In this game, Thoth gambles for tiny slivers of moonlight. Thoth keeps winning until the slivers add up to five (5) additional days. Thoth then adds these days to the 360 day calendar making it last 365 days. Nut gives birth on these additional 5 days.

9 Variant: Nut gives birth, finally Four gods were born in proper time: Osiris, Horus the Elder (Not Osiris’ son) Nephthys & Isis The fifth, Set(h), was aggressive and violently burst out of Nut’s womb too soon.

10 Variant: Isis, her father. Isis was daughter of Thoth Thoth taught his daughter all of his magic spells; These spells can compel persons to listen and obey.

11 Review of Isis & Osiris Isis and Osiris … loved each other in the womb. After being born, they marry. As eldest male Osiris gains rule of Upper and Lower Egypt.

12 Review of Osiris’ deeds and character: But Osiris also … teaches agriculture shifts people from nomadic life. gives a body of laws so people live in peace. teaches people worship of gods (calendar) travels the world to teach these marks of civilization.

13 Seth Seth becomes jealous of the prosperous rule of his broth Osiris. Seth then plots against his brother’s rule while Osiris is gone. Isis and her father Thoth, who know his intention, block Seth’s designs. Osiris returns and Seth becomes even more determined to remove Osiris and rule Egypt.


15 Seth’s new plan While Osiris sleeps, Set takes Osiris’ measurements and fashions a beautifully crafted box that perfectly fits Osiris. Seth later holds a party, where he promises to give the box to whomever it perfectly fits. All the guests want it and try to fit into the box; Osiris tries and it fits him. Seth and his henchmen slam the lid shut and pour molten lead all over it (sealing it). Seth then casts the box (coffin) into the Nile. The coffin sinks to the bottom, killing Osiris.

16 New setting … Byblos The coffin moves … The Nile drives the coffin out to sea. It eventually arrives on the coast of Phoenicia, near the city Byblos. Meanwhile, in Egypt, Isis couldn’t find her husband Osiris. She wanders searching for him from place to place. (cf. Demeter searching for daughter Persephone) At Byblos, A tree grows to enormous size around the coffin. The King of Byblos cuts down the tree (containing the coffin) as a central pillar for his new palace hall. In Egypt, Word spreads to Isis about this unusual tree and its use; Isis travels to Byblos to see it.

17 Isis at Byblos, 1 At Byblos, Isis sits by a well and mourns for her husband [cf. Demeter] Women see her crying, and Isis gives them the smell of her perfume; These women report about the unusually fragrant “woman” at the well. The queen then sends for Isis, who is made welcome in the palace.

18 Isis at Byblos, 2 Isis then nurtures the queen’s baby son. Isis tries to make the son immortal by roasting him on a fire [cf. Demeter]. While the son roasts, Isis turns into a swallow & flies round the pillar lamenting loudly. The queen hears, enters the room and screams, interrupting the spell before its completion. (cf. Demeter) Isis reveals her identity and asks to cut into the pillar. The coffin is revealed and Isis screeches so loudly that it kills the baby.

19 Back to Egypt: Isis and the Coffin Isis then transports the coffin to Egypt. Alone in the desert, Isis unseals the coffin; Isis places her face next to Osiris’, embraces his body, weeps. Isis then assumes wings (becomes a sparrow hawk) and flaps air over Osiris’ body for him to breathe uses magic spells that Thoth had taught her. The spell gives temporary life to Osiris; and an erection. Isis gets pregnant by Osiris. Isis then seals the coffin again.

20 Isis gives birth In Egypt, Isis gives birth to Horos, son of Isis and Osiris. Horus has the animal form of a hawk, but also a human form. The hawk is a symbol of pharaoh-kingship in Egyptian art. She hopes her son would eventually avenge murder of Osiris. Thoth visits his daughter Isis and advises her: She should hide Horus from Seth until Horus is mature. Thoth teaches Isis a spell to help protect Horus

21 Isis, Horus in the Papyrus marsh Isis goes into hiding by night with seven scorpion attendants. Isis and Horus go to a marsh island. One day, Isis returns and finds Horus dead from a snake bite. This snake is called Herut. She sings a spell and Horus resurrects. Some scholars compare Horus to Jesus, Isis to Mary and their exile from Herot and Herod (threatens to kill). cf. Zeus’ hiding as an infant; Hercules, a savior, threatened by a snake sent by Hera.

22 Set(h) finds Osiris’ coffin Hunting at night, Set(h) finds Osiris’ coffin. Set opens the coffin and dismembers Osiris’ body into 14 pieces Seth then distributes pieces all over the Nile Valley. Isis and her sister Nephthys search for all the parts. They re-member – re-assemble – the parts Using wax to seal them and using ointment- soaked rags to hold them. They wrap Osiris in linen. They bury the corpse. Osiris is the first mummy.

23 Osiris and Horus Horus leads Isis and Nephthys to the underworld and to Osiris. Isis & Nephthys speak magical words and Osiris resurrects. Horus gives Osiris his eternal eye and Osiris swallows it to become more alive. Horus and Re (sun god) erect a ladder that Osiris climbs into the world of the gods. Horus becomes king of Upper and Lower Egypt.

24 Horus and Seth fight They fight first as two men; Then, as two bears Osiris and Isis and Thoth watch the three- day battle. Horus won & took Seth as prisoner Isis felt guilty and ordered with magic words that Horus put down his weapons. Horus was powerless to resist; Seth was freed, runs away. Horus was enraged at his mother Isis and cuts off Isis’ head. Thoth used his magic to produce a new cow- head for his daughter Isis (cf. Io, Greco-Roman Myth)

25 Some further elements: Seth accuses Horus of being Isis’ illegitimate son, so unworthy to inherit Osiris’ throne. Assembly of gods: Thoth uses his scale to weigh the words of Osiris and Set. Assembly decides against Seth. In the under world, Osiris now uses this scale to weight hearts versus the law.

26 Other Tales : Another Council 1. Some gods think Horus is too young to rule, debate is long; 2. Gods get weary and decide to go to an island 3. Isis is biased, so the gods try to keep her from going to the island, 4. but Isis disguises herself as an old hag to fool the ferryman 5. Isis then disguises herself as a beautiful young widow and mother of a son, whose husband had been killed by a stranger who stole their cattle. 5. Seth sympathized with the widow, so the council decided against him in his hope to rule. Horus was awarded the throne.

27 Battle of Hippopotami Horus and Seth fight in the form of Hippopotami. Isis didn’t help much: she harpoons both. She magically extracted the point from Horus and Seth. Seth always appeals to Isis’ sympathy. Horus is angry at Isis and cuts of her head.

28 Banquet of gods Council summon Horus and Seth back to them at a Banquet. (Gaulin 2005.65-66) 1. Seth sexually assaults Horus to humiliate him publicly. 2. But Horus manages to maneuver so that the semen does not enter him; it lands on his hand. 3. Horus runs to his mother (head magically restored) to show her the semen 4. Shocked, Isis cuts off her son’s hand and tosses it in a ditch, marsh or irrigation channel.

29 Banquet of the gods, continued 5. Isis restores Horus’ hand; 6. Horus then masturbates to produce his semen; 7. Isis takes this semen and places it on Seth’s favorite food – lettuce. 8. Seth eats the lettuce, swallows Horus’ semen. 9. Seth and Horus make rival claims to have penetrated the other. 10. In the Council-court, the gods then find the whereabouts of the semen: 11. They ask the semen of the two gods to speak out. 12. Seth’s semen spoke from the marshes; 13. Horus’ was inside Seth’s stomach. 14. Seth becomes pregnant and births the gold Sun Disk out of the top of his head.

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