Amon, Amun, Ammon, Amoun



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(Amon, Amun, Ammon, Amoun)

Amen's name means "The Hidden One." Amen was the patron deity of the city of Thebes from earliest times, and was viewed (along with his consort Amenet) as a primordial creation-deity by the priests of Hermopolis. His sacred animals were the goose and the ram.

Up to the Middle Kingdom Amen was merely a local god in Thebes; but when the Thebans had established their sovereignty in Egypt, Amen became a prominent deity, and by Dynasty XVIII was termed the King of the Gods. His famous temple, Karnak, is the largest religious structure ever built by man. According to Budge, Amen by Dynasty XIX-XX was thought of as "an invisible creative power which was the source of all life in heaven, and on the earth, and in the great deep, and in the Underworld, and which made itself manifest under the form of Ra." Additionally, Amen appears to have been the protector of any pious devotee in need.

Amen was self-created, according to later traditions; according to the older Theban traditions, Amen was created by Thoth as one of the eight primordial deities of creation (Amen, Amenet, Heq, Heqet, Nun, Naunet, Kau, Kauket).

During the New Kingdom, Amen's consort was Mut, "Mother," who seems to have been the Egyptian equivalent of the "Great Mother" archetype. The two thus formed a pair reminiscent of the God and Goddess of other traditions such as Wicca. Their child was the moon god Khons.

Anubis


(Anpu)

Egyptian god of the dead, represented as a black jackal or dog, or as a man with the head of a dog or jackal. His parents were usually given as Re in combination with either Nephthys or Isis. After the early period of the Old Kingdom, he was superseded by Osiris as god of the dead, being relegated to a supporting role as a god of the funeral cult and of the care of the dead. The black colour represented the colour of human corpses after they had undergone the embalming process. In the Book of the Dead, he was depicted as presiding over the weighing of the heart of the deceased in the Hall of the Two Truths. In his role as psychopomp he was referred to as the "conductor of souls". The Greeks later identified him with their god Hermes, resulting in the composite deity Hermanubis. His principal sanctuary was at the necropolis in Memphis and in other cities. Anubis was also known as Khenty- Imentiu - "chief of the westerners" - a reference to the Egyptian belief that the realm of the dead lay to the west in association with the setting sun, and to their custom of building cemeteries on the west bank of the Nile.


Bast


(Bastet, Ubasti)

Egyptian cat goddess. A goddess of the home and of the domestic cat, although she sometimes took on the war-like aspect of a lioness. Daughter of the sun god Re, although sometimes regarded as the daughter of Amun. Wife of Ptah and mother of the lion-god Mihos. Her cult was centered on her sanctuary at Bubastis in the delta region, where a necropolis has been found containing mummified cats. Bast was also associated with the 'eye of Re', acting as the instrument of the sun god's vengeance. She was depicted as a cat or in human form with the head of a cat, often holding the sacred rattle known as the sistrum.


Bes


(Bisu)

Egyptian dwarf god believed to guard against evil spirits and misfortune. In contrast to the other Egyptian deities, who were usually depicted in profile, Bes was depicted full face. He was shown to be ugly and grotesque in appearance, with a large head, protruding tongue, bow legs and a bushy tail. He bore a plumed crown and wore the skin of a lion or panther. Despite his appearance, he was a beneficent deity and his appearance was meant to scare off evil spirits. He bore swords and knives to ward off evil spirits, as well as musical instruments which he used to create a din which would frighten them off. Bes aided the hippopotamus goddess Taweret in childbirth. He was originally the protective deity of the royal house of Egypt, but came to be a popular household deity throughout Egypt.


Chons


(Khons)

The third member (with his parents Amen and Mut) of the great triad of Thebes. Khons was the god of the moon. The best-known story about him tells of him playing the ancient game senet ("passage") against Thoth, and wagering a portion of his light. Thoth won, and because of losing some of his light, Khons cannot show his whole glory for the entire month, but must wax and wane. The main temple in the enclosure at Karnak is dedicated to him.


Dua


(Duamutef, Tuamutef; Golden Dawn, Thmoomathph)

One of the Four Sons of Horus, Duamutef was represented as a mummified man with the head of a jackal. He was the protector of the stomach of the deceased, and was protected by the goddess Neith.


Geb


(Keb, Seb)

Egyptian earth god. Son of Shu and Tefnut. Brother and consort of the sky god Nut. Father of Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. Geb was generally depicted lying on his back, often wearing the crown of Lower Egypt, with the naked body of Nut arched above him. In this context, he was often shown with an erect penis pointing upward toward Nut. Sometimes, however, the air god Shu was shown standing on the body of Geb, supporting Nut and perhaps separating her from Geb. His skin was often green, indicative of his role as a god of fertility and vegetation. The goose was his sacred animal and his symbol in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Geb was also said to imprison the souls of the dead, preventing them from passing on to the afterlife. The laughter of Geb was said to cause earthquakes.


Hathor


(Athyr)

Egyptian cow goddess. Daughter of Nut and Re. In early Egyptian mythology she was the mother of the sky god Horus, but was later replaced in this capacity by Isis. Hathor then became a protectress of Horus. She was depicted either as a cow or in human form wearing a crown consisting of a sun disk held between the horns of a cow.

Her name appears to mean "house of Horus", referring to her role as a sky goddess, the "house" denoting the heavens depicted as a great cow. Hathor was often regarded as the mother of the Egyptian pharaoh, who styled himself the "son of Hathor". Since the pharaoh was also considered to be Horus as the son of Isis, it might be surmised that this had its origin when Horus was considered to be the son of Hathor.

Hathor took on an uncharacteristically destructive aspect in the legend of the Eye of Re. According to this legend, Re sent the Eye of Re in the form of Hathor to destroy humanity, believing that they were plotting aganist him. However, Re changed his mind and flooded the fields with beer, dyed red to look like blood. Hathor stopped to drink the beer, and, having become intoxicated, never carried out her deadly mission.

Hathor was often symbolized by the papyrus reed, the snake, and the Egyptian rattle known as the sistrum. Her image could also be used to form the capitals of columns in Egyptian architecture. Her principal sanctuary was at Dandarah, where her cult had its early focus, and where it may have had its origin. At Dandarah, she was particularly worshipped in her role as a goddess of fertility, of women, and of childbirth. At Thebes she was regarded as a goddess of the dead under the title of the "Lady of the West", associated with the sun god Re on his descent below the western horizon. The Greeks identified Hathor with Aphrodite.

Isis


(Aset, Eset)

"Throne". Egyptian mother goddess. Daughter of Geb and Nut according to the Heliopolitan genealogy. Sister and wife of Osiris. Mother of Horus. She was depicted in human form, crowned either by a throne or by cow horns enclosing a sun disk. A vulture was also sometimes incorporated in her crown. She is sometimes depicted as a kite above the mummified body of Osiris. As the personification of the throne, she was an important source of the pharaoh's power. Her cult was popular throughout Egypt, but the most important sanctuaries were at Giza and at Behbeit El-Hagar in the Nile delta. Isis later had an importan cult in the Greco-Roman world, with sanctuaries at Delos and Pompeii. Her Latin epithet was Stella Maris, or "star of the sea".

It was Isis who retrieved and reassembled the body of Osiris after his murder and dismemberment by Seth. In this connection she took on the role of a goddess of the dead and of funeral rites. Isis impregnated herself from the corpse and subsequently gave birth to Horus. She gave birth in secrecy at Khemmis in the Nile delta and hid the child from Seth in the papyrus swamps. Horus later defeated Seth and became the first ruler of a united Egypt. Isis, as mother of Horus, was by extension regarded as the mother and protectress of the pharaohs. The relationship between Isis and Horus may also have influenced the Christian conception of the relationship between Mary and the infant Jesus Christ. The depiction of the seated holding or suckling the child Horus is certainly reminiscent of the iconography of Mary and Jesus.

Maat


"Straight": i.e. law and order. Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She was associated with Thoth, Ptah and Khnemu in the Egyptian Creation. She was a goddess of the underworld, sitting in judgment over the souls of the dead in the Judgment Hall of Osiris.

Min


(Minu, Egyptian Menu)

Egyptian fertility god. Sometimes given as either the son or consort of Isis. He was depicted in human form with an erect penis. He generally held a flail in his raised right hand and wore a crown surmounted by two tall plumes. Min was preeminently a god of male sexuality, and in the New Kingdom (1567-1085 BC) he was honoured in the coronation rites of the pharaohs to ensure their sexual vigour and the production of a male heir. The "White Bull" appears to have been sacred to him, as was a type of lettuce which bore a resemblance to an erect penis and had a white sap that resembled semen. His most important sanctuaries were at Koptos (Qift) and Akhmim (Panoplis). Min was also worshipped as a god of desert roads and of travellers. In addition to his role in coronation rites, Min was honoured in harvest festivals during which offerings of lettuce and sheaves of wheat.


Mut


(Golden Dawn, Auramooth)

The wife of Amen in Theban tradition; the word mut in Egyptian means "mother", and she was the mother of Khons, the moon god.


Nephthys


(Greek form; Egyptian Neb-hut, Nebthet)

"Mistress of the House". Egyptian goddess of the dead. Daughter of Geb and Nut. Sister of Isis, Osiris and Seth. According to one tradition, she was also the mother of Anubis by Osiris. Her principal sanctuary was at Heliopolis. Along with Isis, she was one of the guardians of the corpse of Osiris. Depicted in human form wearing a crown in the form of the hieroglyph for house. Sometimes depicted as a kite guarding funeral bier of Osiris.


Nut


(Neuth, Nuit)

Egyptian goddess of the sky and of the heavens. Daughter of the air god Shu and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture, in the Heliopolitan genealogy. She was typically depicted as a woman with her elongated and naked body arching above Shu and the earth god Geb to form the heavens. Sometimes she appeared in the form of a cow whose body froms the sky and heavens. Nut was the barrier separating the forces of chaos from the ordered cosmos in this world. Her fingers and toes were believed to touch the four cardinal points or directions. The sun god Re was said to enter her mouth after setting in the evening and travel through her body during the night to be reborn from her vagina each morning. Nut was also a goddess of the dead, and the pharaoh was said to enter her body after death, from which he would later be resurrected. Her principal sanctuary was at Heliopolis.


Osiris


(Usire)

Egyptian god of the underworld and of vegetation. Son of Nut and Geb. His birthplace was said to be Rosetau in the necropolis west of Memphis. Brother of Nephthys and Seth, and the brother and husband of Isis. Isis gave birth to Horus after his death, having impregnated herself with semen from his corpse. Osiris was depicted in human form wrapped up as a mummy, holding the crook and flail. He was often depicted with green skin, alluding to his role as a god of vegetation. He wore a crown known as the 'atef', composed of the tall conical white crown of Upper Egypt with red plumes on each side. Osiris had many cult centers, but the most important were at Abydos (Ibdju) in Upper Egypt, where the god's legend was reenacted in an annual festival, and at Busiris (Djedu) in the Nile delta.

One of the so-called "dying gods", he was the focus of a famous legend in which he was killed by the rival god Seth. At a banquet of the gods, Seth fooled Osiris into stepping into a coffin, which he promptly slammed shut and cast into the Nile. The coffin was born by the Nile to the delta town of Byblos, where it became enclosed in a tamarisk tree. Isis, the wife of Osiris, discovered the coffin and brought it back. (The story to this point is attested only by the Greek writer Plutarch, although Seth was identified as his murderer as early as the Pyramid era of the Old Kingdom.)

Seth took advantage of Isis's temporary absence on one occasion, cut the body to pieces, and cast them into the Nile. (In the Egyptian texts this incident alone accounts for the murder of Osiris.) Isis searched the land for the body parts of Osiris, and was eventually able to piece together his body, whole save for the penis, which had been swallowed by a crocodile (according to Plutarch) or a fish (according to Egyptian texts). In some Egyptian texts, the penis is buried at Memphis. Isis replaced the penis with a reasonable facsimile, and she was often portrayed in the form of a kite being impregnated by the ithyphallic corpse of Osiris. In some Egyptian texts, the scattering of the body parts is likened to the scattering of grain in the fields, a reference to Osiris's role as a vegetation god. 'Osiris gardens' - wood-framed barley seedbeds in the shape of the god, were sometimes placed in tombs - and the plants which sprouted from these beds symbolized the resurrection of life after death.

It was this legend that accounted for Osiris's role as a god of the dead and ruler of the Egyptian underworld. He was associated with funerary rituals, at first only with those of the Egyptian monarch, later with those of the populace in general. The pharaoh was believed to become Osiris after his death. Although he was regarded as a guarantor of continued existence in the afterlife, Osiris also had a darker, demonic aspect associated with the physiological processes of death and decay, and reflecting the fear Egyptians had of death in spite of their belief in an afterlife. Osiris was also a judge of the dead, referred to as the 'lord of Maat' (i.e. of divine law).

Legendary ruler of predynastic Egypt and god of the underworld. Osiris symbolized the creative forces of nature and the imperishability of life. Called the great benefactor of humanity, he brought to the people knowledge of agriculture and civilization. The worship of Osiris, one of the great cults of ancient Egypt, gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean world and, with that of Isis and Horus, was especially vital during the Roman Empire.


Qetesh


Originally believed to be a Syrian deity, Qetesh was a goddess of love and beauty. Qetesh was depicted as a beautiful nude woman, standing or riding upon a lion, holding flowers, a mirror, or serpents. She is generally shown full-face (unusual in Egyptian artistic convention). She was considered to be one of the forms of Hathor. She was also considered the consort of the god Min, the god of virility.

Re


(Ra)

Egyptian sun god and creator god. He was usually depicted in human form with a falcon head, crowned with the sun disc encircled by the uraeus (a stylized representation of the sacred cobra). The sun itself was taken to be either his body or his eye. He was said to traverse the sky each day in a solar barque and pass through the underworld each night on another solar barque to reappear in the east each morning. His principal cult centre was at Heliopolis ("sun city"), near modern Cairo. Re was also considered to be an underworld god, closely associated in this respect with Osiris. In this capacity he was depicted as a ram-headed figure.

By the third millennium B.C. Re's prominence had already become such that the pharaohs took to styling themselves "sons of Re". After death, the Egyptian monarch was said to ascend into the sky to join the entourage of the sun god. According to the Heliopolitan cosmology, Re was said to have created himself, either out of a primordial lotus blossom, or on the mound that emerged from the primeval waters. He then created Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture), who in turn engendered the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut. Re was said to have created humankind from his own tears and the gods Hu (authority) and Sia (mind) from blood drawn from his own penis. Re was often combined with other deities to enhance the prestige of the latter, as in Re-Atum, Amun-Re, or in the formula "Re in Osiris, Osiris in Re".

Selket


(Serqet, Serket)

A scorpion-goddess, shown as a beautiful woman with a scorpion poised on her head; her creature struck death to the wicked, but she was also petitioned to save the lives of innocent people stung by scorpions; she was also viewed as a helper of women in childbirth. She is depicted as binding up demons that would otherwise threaten Ra, and she sent seven of her scorpions to protect Isis from Set.

She was the protectress of Qebehsenuf, the son of Horus who guarded the intestines of the deceased. She was made famous by her statue from Tutankhamen's tomb, which was part of the collection which toured America in the 1970's.

Set


(Seth, Setekh, Setesh, Seti, Sutekh, Setech, Sutech)

Egyptian god of chaos who embodied the principle of hostility if not of outright evil. He was associated with foreign lands and was the adversary of the god Osiris. Seth was usually depicted in human form with a head of indeterminate origin, though said to resemble that of an aardvark. He had a curved snout, erect square- tipped ears and a long forked tail. Sometimes he was represented in entirely animal form with a body similar to that of a greyhound. He was said to be the son either of Nut and Geb or of Nut and Ra, and the brother of Isis, Osiris and Nephthys. Nephthys was sometimes given as his consort, although he is more commonly associated with the foreign, Semitic goddesses Astarte and Anat. Despite his reputation, he had an important sanctuary at Ombos in Upper Egypt, his reputed birthplace, and had his cult was also prominent in the north-eastern region of the Nile delta.

For a time during the third millenium BC, Seth replaced Horus as the tutelary deity of the pharaohs. However, the story of Seth's murder of Osiris and subsequent war with Horus gained currency and Horus was restored to his original status. The war with Horus lasted eighty years, during which Seth tore out the left eye his adversary and Horus tore out Seth's foreleg and testicles. Horus eventually emerged victorious, or was deemed the victor by a council of the gods, and thus became the rightful ruler of the kingdoms of both Upper and Lower Egypt. Seth was forced to return the eye of Horus and was himself either castrated or, in some versions, killed. In some versions Seth then went to live with the sun god Re, where he became the voice of the thunder. In the Book of the Dead Seth was referred to as the "lord of the northern sky" and held responsible for storms and cloudy weather. Seth protected Re during his night voyage through the underworld against the Apophis-snake. On the other hand, Seth was a peril for ordinary Egyptians in the underworld, where he was said seize the souls of the unwary. Among the animals sacred to Seth were the desert oryx, crocodile, boar, and the hippopotamus in its aspect as a destroyer of boats and of planted fields. The pig was a taboo in Seth's cult. The Greeks later equated Seth with their demon-god Typhon.

Shu


(Su; Greek Sos)

Primordial Egyptian god of the air and supporter of the sky. In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Shu was, with his sister Tefnut, one of the first deities created by the sun god Atum, either from his semen or from the mucus of his nostrils. Tefnut then became his consort, giving birth to the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb. Shu separated Geb and Nut (heaven and earth) by interposing himself between them. Depicted in human form wearing an ostrich feather (the hieroglyph for his name), with his arms raised to support the goddess Nut above the supine form of Geb.


Sobek


(Greek Suchos)

Egyptian crocodile god. Sobek symbolized the might of the Egyptian pharaohs. Son of Neith. Depicted as a crocodile or in human form with the head of a crocodile, crowned either by a pair of plumes or sometimes by a combination of the solar disk and the uraeus (cobra). Sobek was worshipped to appease him and his animals. According to some evidence, Sobek was considered a fourfold deity who represented the four elemental gods (Ra of fire, Shu of air, Geb of earth, and Osiris of water). In the Book of the Dead, Sobek assists in the birth of Horus; he fetches Isis and Nephthys to protect the deceased; and he aids in the destruction of Set.

His cult was widespread, although the Faiyum was particularly noted as a center of his worship, where one of the towns, Arsinoe, came to be called 'Crocodilopolis' by the Greeks. Kom Ombo (north of modern Aswan) and Thebes in Upper Egypt later became centers of his cult as well.

Taweret


(Taueret, Taurt, Apet, Opet; Greek Thoueris, Thoeris, Toeris)

"The Great One". Egyptian hippopotamus goddess and protective deity of childbirth. She was depicted with the head of a hippopotamus, the legs and arms of a lion, the tail of a crocodile, human breasts, and a swollen belly. This appearance was meant to frighten off any spirits that might be harmful to the child. She was often depicted holding the Sa amulet symbolizing protection. As a protective deity of childbirth she was often depicted in the company of the dwarf god Bes, who had a similar function. Taweret was most popular among ordinary Egyptians as a protectress. Pregnant women commonly wore amulets bearing the goddess's image.


Thoth


(Thot, Thout; Egyptian Djhowtey, Djehuti, Tehuti, Zehuti)

Egyptian moon god. Over time, he developed as a god of wisdom, and came to be associated with magic, music, medicine, astronomy, geometry, surveying, drawing and writing. Thoth was generally depicted in human form with the head of an ibis, wearing a crown consisting of a crescent moon topped by a moon disk. He could also be depicted wholly as an ibis or a baboon. Both the ibis and the baboon were sacred to him. His principal sanctuary was at Hermopolis (Khmunu) in the Nile delta region.



Thoth served as an arbiter among the gods. In the Osirian legend, he protected Isis during her pregnancy and healed her son Horus when Seth tore out his left eye. Thoth was later identified with the Greek god Hermes in the form of Hermes Trismegistos ("Hermes the thrice great"), in which form he remained popular in medieval magic and alchemy. Thoth was also a god of the underworld, where he served as a clerk who recorded the judgments on the souls of the dead. Alternatively, it was Thoth himself who weighed the hearts of the dead against the feather of Truth in the Hall of the Two Truths.

Wepwawet


(Upuaut; Greek Ophois)

"Opener of the Ways". Egyptian jackal god. Wepwawet had a dual role as a god of war and of the funerary cult, and could be said to "open the way" both for the armies of the pharaoh and for the spirits of the dead. He originated as a god of Upper Egypt, but his cult had spread throughout Egypt by the time of the Old Kingdom. Depicted as a jackal or in human form with the head of a jackal, often holding the 'shedshed', a standard which led the pharaoh to victory in war and on which the pharaoh was said to ascend into the sky after death. Despite his origin in Upper Egypt, one inscription said that he was born in the sanctuary of the goddess Wadjet at Buto in the Nile delta. Another inscription identified him with Horus and thus by extension with the pharaoh. Wepwawet also symbolized the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. In his capacity as a funerary deity he used his adze to break open the mouth of the deceased in the "opening of the mouth' ceremony which ensured that the person would have the enjoyment of all his faculties in the afterlife. At Abydos the 'procession of Wepwawet' initiated the mysteries of Osiris as a god of the dead.


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