religion of ancient east: egyptian gods
Terms in this set (26)
Ancient Egyptian god of Upper Egypt. Originally known as the god of sky, he is much more commonly known as the god of chaos and trickery. You read about him fighting Horus quite a bit. Also Seth was lord of the desert, master of storms, disorder, and warfare- in general, god of trickery. His association with storms led to his being worshipped by the Hyksos. He had a human body, slanting eyes, square- tipped ears, tail, and long curved pointed snout. He looks like the cartoon character Wiley Cayote. Some say he is like a donkey. Egyptians changed his figure regularly perhaps for mythical reasons. Often rulers would associate themselves with the deity to show supreme power. In myths Seth was the brother of Osiris. He is part of the Ennead. Seth was removed from the Egyptian pantheon after the close of the New Kingdom because he was now associated with the eastern invaders of Egypt=Hyksos. He also was depicted as killing his brother Osiris after tricking him and he was seen as being promiscuous despite having a wife in his
sister Nephthys. Seth also was the brother of Isis and was said to have fought the god Horus=son of Osiris and Isis.
is the Egyptian Cat Goddess (also known as Bastet) . In the early days she was the lion Goddess of the lower Nile who protected the Pharaoh and the sun God Ra. This is why she has the title of Goddess of protection. Bast had also become the goddess of the rising sun and holder of the Utchat, the all seeing eye of Horus. As the daughter of Ra she was also known as the "Eye of Ra",
a protector who almost destroyed humankind but was tricked with red colored beer to symbolize blood, which put her to sleep and gave Bast a hangover . In the Book of the Dead, she destroys bodies of the dead with the royal flame, if they failed the judgment hall of Maat. Bast was later depicted with the head of a cat which was meant to represent her protecting aspects. Women would buy amulets of this goddess illustrated with different numbers of kittens in order to represent the number of children they wished to bear. Cats were sacred to Bast, and to harm one was considered to be a crime against her. Priests kept cats in her temple. When the cats died they were mummified and were brought to Bast as an offering. The ancient Egyptians placed great value on cats because they protected crops and slowed the spread of disease by killing rodents. Her cult was located in Bubastis. Bubastis was the capital of ancient Egypt during the late period. When her temple was explored they found the remains of over three hundred thousand cats.
Ntr is the Egyptian word for "god." It is a picture of a flag, and sort of looks like a hockey stick. The idea was that the earliest temples would look like regular houses, but the temples would put up a flag symbolizing the deity's presence. This symbol of the flag then came to be the picture for a god. In writing hieroglyphs, this flag symbol was the determinative for a deity. Thus to write any god's name, the first symbol would be this flag to show that what comes next is a deity.
Min (Greek Menes) was worshipped from Egyptian predynastic times through Roman times. He had many different titles and functions, but overall he was considered the God of Fertility, and a bestower of sexual powers. He was also a Rain God, protecting the fertility of nature, and a God of Harvest and Vegetation. Originally, he was known as a Sky God and was given the title "Chief of Heaven". As Lord of the Eastern desert, he protected travelers and traders who traveled from his cult center at Koptos to the Red Sea. As Lord of Foreign Lands he was protector of nomads and hunters. Worshipped by the miners and men who quarried stone at Hammamut, he was given the title "Min, Male of the Mountain" and he was venerated for supplying stone for the sarcophagi. During the New Kingdom he was honored in the coronation rites of the Pharaohs to ensure their sexual vigor and reproduction of a male heir. He also presided over the Sed festival, a royal jubilee marking the 30th year of a Pharaoh's reign, and every few years thereafter. During this festival, the Pharaoh had to run around a course set by priests, while carrying different objects. This had the function of symbolically rejuvenating the Pharaoh to give him a long life and the fertility of his youth.
Lettuce was his sacred plant, and it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. In Egyptian literature, lettuce symbolized the vagina. Egyptian long leaf lettuce grew tall, straight stalks which secreted a milky white liquid when cut. This milky substance, referred to as "white bull", was considered a symbol of "divine sperm" and fertility. Remember the story you read about Horus and Seth and Horus putting sperm on lettuce in Seth's garden and then the trial where Horus' sperm is summoned from Seth's body. Min was portrayed as an ithyphallic (having an erect penis) bearded man with a crown of two feathers. His legs were very close together, as if they were wrapped like a mummy. He had one arm down to his side with his fingers grasping the base of his penis, and his other arm raised wielding a flail (whip). His erect penis symbolized fertility and the embodiment of the masculine principle, but also had a punitive purpose meant to terrify and perhaps symbolically sodomise defeated
enemies. In the New Kingdom, he was often depicted as a white bull, and his temple was crowned with a pair of bull horns. The Greek historian Herodotus connected Min (Menes) with Narmer, though one is a god and one is a real person.
Ptah is the chief god of Memphis, the capital city for the Old and Middle kingdoms. He creates through thinking and speech in the story you read "Theology of Memphis." He is most recognizable from his staff with three symbols seen below. The first on the left is called the Was scepter. It is a staff with Seth's picture on the top. It represents power. The middle one is called a Djed pillar. This represented stability, and it was seen to be the backbone of Osiris. The last on the right is an Ankh. It is the sign of life. Some theorize that the Ankh is a sandle, and you put your foot in the hole and the three lines are straps. Others argue the Ankh is a picture of a women's reproductive organs. The Ankh is one of the most common symbols in ancient Egypt.
Re (also Ra)
Re was depicted as a man with the head of a falcon with a solar disk above it. However, Re was depicted in many forms depending on where he was and if it were an image of a co- deity. The Re god can be seen in the Book of the Dead. He was worshipped all though out Egypt and was a central god of the Egyptian pantheon. He was the "King of the Gods" and was therefore the patron of the pharaoh. He was the main sun god who had the role of commanding the "chariot that rode across the sky during the day." He was also considered to be self-created and the father of all other creation. Re is an aging god who was not believed to live on earth but lived in the sky where he watched over the world. Re at sunrise is Khepera, represented by a sacred scarab. Around noon, he is Re and has full power. At sunset he is growing old and is Tem. At night he entered the underworld where he was depicted as a man with a ram head. Some composite deities exist with Re such as Amun-Ra, Ra-Atum, and Ra-Horakhty.
Ra in his solar boat sailing across the sky. To the right is the goddess Nut, who represents the sky. He will sail through her body and reemerge the next morning and again sail across the sky.As Amun-Ra, he was seen as the first being and originator of the Ennead. As Re-Horakhty he was believed to rule all parts of the created world. Today, some people believe that the Egyptian religion was somewhat like a monotheistic religion with Re at its center. The pyramids are proposed to represent the light extending from the sun to the monument connecting the kings with Re. The worship of Re was at its peak during the New kingdom. The major cult center of Re was Heliopolis (called Innu, "Place of Pillars, Heliopolis is Greek for "Sun City").
Amun has many names such as Amon, Amen, Amen Ra, and Amon Re and is described as being the "King of the Gods". He is god of the air and wind and his consort was Ament (Amaunet). He is depicted as a bearded man wearing a cap surmounted by two tall plumes. A ram, a ram headed man, or a ram headed sphinx are other depictions of him. Ahmose I, 1st pharaoh of New Kingdom, promoted him to national god. The king promoted Amun to national god because the king believed that Amun had helped him drive the Hyksos from Egypt. The Hyksos were a people from West Asia. He also merged with Ra the sun god from the adoption into Ennead of Heliopolis, and became known as Amun Ra. When he merged with Ra, it is said that he became even more powerful. A large and important temple was built in Thebes to honor him. This temple is called Karnak, and it is the biggest temple in the ancient world.
Aten is the ancient Egyptian sun disc. He is the focus of the somewhat monotheistic religion Atenism which was established by Amenhotep IV (who changed his name to Akhn-aten) in worship and recognition of the God Aten. He is first referred to as a deity in the story of Sinuhe. In the story, a deceased king rises as god to the heavens and unites with the sun disc, the divine body merging with its maker. He is considered to be both masculine and feminine at the same time. All creation was thought to come from Aten and to exist within him. Aten was never depicted in human form but always as rays of sunlight radiating from the sun disc. Sometimes it is a sun disc with hands at the end of the rays like in this picture below. Notice the hands at the end of the rays.
The Ennead is actually not one god, but a group of nine gods. The term Ennead comes from a Greek word meaning "group of nine." The nine gods are Atum, Shu, Tefnit, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Atum (solar god), created himself and was considered the first god in ancient Egypt. By masturbating and spitting out of his mouth, he created the gods Shu (air) and Tefnit (moisture). Shu and Tefnit united and created Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). Geb and Nut united as well and had four children: Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys. It is believed that by these four gods came all of the pharaohs and deities in ancient Egypt. One legend says Seth wrestled Osiris in his mother's womb. The ancient Egyptian city Heliopolis was dedicated to worshiping these gods, which is why they are also known as the Heliopolis Ennead. Egyptologists think the Ennead originated between the 5th and 6th dynasty.
Here is a picture of Nut with stars in her body, Geb is on the ground, and Shu is holding her up with the help of Khnum on each side.
Atum is a creator and the father of kings and pharaohs. His name is derived from the word "tern" which means to complete or finish. As a result Atum has been interpreted as the "complete one" or the finisher of the world. Atum is also considered as the first god having created himself he was the first to emerge from the darkness that existed before creation. Atum had a composite deity at times with Ra. When in that form he symbolized the setting sun and its journey through the underworld to its rising in the east (the evening sun). Atum created the first gods Shu and Tefnut from his spittle. One thing the Egyptians believed Atum did was lift the dead king's soul from his pyramid to heaven when they passed away. The Egyptians also worshipped Atum in a cult that was centered in Heliopolis. Atum is rarely depicted as a man wearing a royal head-cloth, but he is usually depicted a dual white and red crown symbolizing Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt.
The Egyptian god of air, light, wind, atmosphere, and the space between the heaven and the earth. Shu was created when the god Atum masturbated and spat/ejaculated Shu out. He is the husband and brother of the goddess Tefnut (moisture) and the father of the goddess Nut and the god Geb (goddess of sky and god of earth). It is said that he is the "Second Divine Ruler" after Ra, and is responsible for separating his children thus holding up the sky above the earth. However, if Shu were to be removed, it is said that all chaos would break loose and life would cease as it is.
Tefnut was the goddess of moisture, moon, and sun. Sister and wife of Shu, air god. Mother of Geb and Nut. Created by Ra as the first deity after masturbating. Tefnut argued with her father and ran off to the city of Nubia. The god Thoth convinces her to return to Egypt. Upon returning to Egypt she was frequently seen wearing the head of a lioness.
Deity representing the earth. Brother and husband of Nut. Part of the Ennead, where he and Nut are the third generation.
Nut was the sky. In her were all the stars and planets. She is shown nude covered with stars often arching over her husband and brother Geb. In the picture below you can see the sun represented by a red circle. In the day the sun goes in a boat across the sky. At night Nut swallows the sun, it passes through her body at night, and in the morning she gives birth to the sun again. She is a frequent subject in tombs, with the idea that now the dead king/queen will be travelling through night.
Osiris is an Egyptian god chiefly of regeneration and rebirth, and usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. The crook is used to grab sheep by the neck. It symbolizes he is a shepherd to the people as king. The flail is a whip used to separate wheat kernels from the plant parts that is not edible (chafe). Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the Earth god Geb, and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son. Basically the live king is Horus, and at death he is Osiris. He is green because that is the color of fertility. Because of his death and resurrection, Osiris was associated with the flooding and retreating of the Nile and thus with the crops along the Nile valley.
The goddess Isis is considered the ideal wife and mother along with magic and nature. She was a well-rounded goddess that served the poor such as servants, slaves, maidens and more, but she also attended to the wealthy and well off. Her name is symbolic also, which means, "throne" and her headdress is of a throne. In the picture of her to the right you can see the throne headdress. She is nursing her son Horus. This image became copied by Christians in their art showing Mary breastfeed Jesus. Stated previously, Isis was considered an ideal mother and therefore the pharaoh is pictured as her child in some images. Her myth is very important to the social-ecological aspect of Egypt. The Nile River is flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow and pain that had fallen from the eyes of Isis as the result of the death of her brother/husband Osiris. With her magical power, she was able to restore his life which represents the aspect of resurrection.
Nepthys was the goddess of mourning, night, rivers, sleep, and nature. Nepthys cared for the dead on their journey to the after life. Nepthys has a place on the head of the coffin. Daughter of God of the earth, Geb, and goddess of the sky , Nut. Sister to Isis, Osiris, and twin to Seth. Wife of Seth. Mother of her only son Anubis. The true father of Anubis is Osiris who is the husband of Isis. Nepthys fears Seth's anger and hides the Infant in the marshes of the delta. Isis finds Anubis and adopts him. Nepthys and Isis turn into birds and morn over the dead body of Osiris.
Horus is a well-known ancient Egyptian god, and he is also one of the oldest. Horus is a rather complicated god who has many names and has numerous forms. Some people consider the name Horus as the title for all of the different falcon gods in ancient Egyptian mythology. He is mainly depicted as a man with the head of a falcon, but he has other forms such as a bull or a Winged Disk. It is believed that pharaohs are the earthy embodiment of Horus, which is why he was so important. Sometimes he is the son of Osiris and Isis. If Horus is the son of Isis, he is Osirian. If he has any other genealogy, he is considered a solar deity. The solar Horus is sometimes the son of Atum, Re, or Geb and Nut. One well-known form of Horus is Haroeris or "Horus the elder." In this form, he is considered a solar deity because he is the brother of Osiris and Seth. He was the deity of Upper Egypt who defeated the deity of Lower Egypt, Seth. This form is depicted as a falcon-headed man whose eyes were the sun and the moon. He had many wives and children. Another well-known form is Harpokrates or "Horus the Infant." In this form, he is portrayed as a baby feeding from the breast of Isis, his mother. He wears on his head the royal crown and uraeus, which is a sacred serpent emblem. He was born with a dysfunctional body from the waist down either because his father was killed before he was born or he was born prematurely. The worship of this deity spanned for about three thousand years.
Khnum is a ram-headed deity who creates humans on a pottery wheel much like a potter creates pots of clay. Egyptian god of fertility, "was worshiped from the 1st dynasty (c. 2925 - 2775 BCE) into the early centuries CE. He was depicted as having a human male body, but the head of a ram that sometimes included twisting horns. Because he was believed to create mankind from clay, he is also depicted as a potter holding a potter's wheel.
A deity with the body of a man with the head of a black jackal-like animal. God of the dead. He is rarely shown fully human. Anubis is an incredible ancient god, and was the original god of the dead before Osiris. After that point, Anubis was changed to be one of the many sons of Osiris and the conductor of souls of the underworld. Prayers to Anubis are found carved on the most ancient tombs in Egypt, and his duties apparently are many. He watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, deciding the weight of "truth" by weighing the heart against Ma'at, who was often depicted as an ostrich feather, Anubis dictated the fate of souls, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit. It is likely that Egyptians saw that jackals were attracted to dead animals and humans, and so they associated this animal with the deity of the dead.
Maat is the ancient Egyptian goddess who was the personification of truth and justice. Maat is often depicted as woman wearing crown, kneeling with her arms stretched wide and covered in feathers, and her head turned to the right. Pharoahs looked to Maat for ideas of justice and truth because she was also revered as a good source of judgment. In times when something was to be judged, Maat was said to be present so that whoever was judging would be impartial and rule correctly. In burial ceremonies, hearts were weighted against her feathers. If the heart was heavier than her feathers, the person's soul was fed to Ammit, the Ancient Egyptian god who sits beneath the scales of justice. But if the heart was balanced with her feathers, the soul was welcomed into the Blessed Land by Orisis. Maat was deferred to by all the gods and was universal in all worlds. She was considered the foundation of a universal god.
Here is a picture from part of the Book of the Dead where Maat is a feather being weighed against the heart of the deceased (notice also Anubis and Thoth the scribe recording this the heart is on the right, the feather on the left Ammit is the deity who will eat the heart if it weighs more than Maat. Ammit has a crocodile head, lion body, and hippo butt). The second one shows the goddess Maat. Notice the feather in her hair
Hathor is an ancient Egyptian Goddess who exemplified the principles of motherhood, and feminine love. It is difficult to determine when the roots of devotion to Hathor first took place because the cult of Hathor was in existence before the historic period (remember history begins with writing around 3200 BCE). She was also considered the "mistress of the West", welcoming the dead into the afterlife (remember they buried the dead on the west bank of the Nile, where they saw the sun set). She was also known as the Goddess of music, dance, foreign lands, and fertility who aided women in
childbirth. Hathor is described as a cow goddess from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the first dynasty. Hathor is sometimes considered the mother, daughter, and wife of Ra. She is also sometimes considered the mother of Horus though usually that is Isis.
Here are some images of Hathor. Sometimes she is depicted as a cow, or as a human face with cow ears.
Thoth was "depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon." He is the scribe for the deities. He's connected to the moon. The moon deity is often in charge of things like record keeping (scribe) because the lunar cycles are used to record time. He maintained the universe and stood at the side of Ra's celestial boat along with Ma'at. Later on, he became "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 is said to have witnessed 3 epic battles between good (represented by order) and evil (represented by chaos) gods that took place during different time periods. His role during these battles would be to heal the injured to prevent one from overruling the other.
Henotheism represents religious belief systems that accept the existence of many gods, but only sees one deity as supreme and worships that deity. However, the other deities may also be worshipped. Henotheism is similar to monolatry, but the difference is a monolator only worships one God and does not believe the other Gods are worthy enough to worship. An example of henotheism would be the Greeks believed in a multitude of gods, but only saw Zeus, the god of the sky and thunder, as the superior deity. Similarly, the ancient Israelites worshipped many deities, but Yahweh was the chief deity. Henotheism is also referred to as "monarchical polytheism."
Theo=god, Dicy=judging. It is the attempt to answer the question of why god(s) permits the manifestation of evil. Often, in the context of theism, theodicy is defined as an attempt to resolve the evidential problem of evil by reconciling the traditional divine characteristics of omnibenevolence, omnipotence, and omniscience, in either their absolute or relative form, with the occurrence of
evil or suffering in the world. Thus, it seeks to find out how an allegedly all powerful deity allows things we see as bad such as a baby having cancer.
Poly=many, theo=god. Polytheism is the teaching that there are many gods. In the ancient Near East most societies were polytheistic or henotheistic. Some argue Akhenaton was monotheistic in his worship of the Aten. It is very difficult to be monotheistic. To do this you have to attribute both the good and the bad to a single deity. Think about religions such as Christianity, which claims to be monotheistic. However there is the idea of the trinity and the devil and angels and other things. In the ancient Near East, they often thought of nature as a deity. Thus the sun was a deity, as was the moon, trees, wheat, wind, rain, etc.