Every country has its own culture, tradition, and mythology that they believe and follow. So is the case with Egypt. Like other mythologies, Egypt, too, has its creation of myths that offers several versions of how the world unfolded. Egyptian mythology is formed by the collection of so many myths from ancient Egypt.
The main belief shared by Egyptian mythology is that the basic principles of life, nature, and society were determined by the Gods when the world was created. The Egyptian Mythology is recounted in the sacred hieroglyphic writings found in temples, tombs, pyramids, and papyrus sheets. All these sacred texts discuss Egyptian Mythology and discuss the creation of this world by the Gods.
Other sources by which we get a glimpse of Egyptian Mythology are the works of Roman and Greek writers. It was in the work of Herodotus where we can find the fact that Egyptians were the most religious people on the earth. Other works that give us insight into Egyptian Mythology include the essays of Plutarch, Iris, and Osiris and the writings of Apuleius and others that are about the Isis cult as it spread in the Greco-Roman World.
OVERVIEW OF EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY
It is very difficult to trace the development or origin of Egyptian Mythology. As per the educated guess of Egyptologists and the written sources available, one of the major influences that can be seen in Egyptian Mythology is the river Nile and the natural surroundings. According to Egyptian Mythology, water and the sun are the symbols of life, and the thought of time is a series of natural cycles. According to Egyptian Mythology, the fundamental governing principle was the abstract concept of maat, often translated as truth, justice, and cosmic order. According to Egyptian mythology, the origination of life and the world’s creation is because of Gods and Goddesses.
The Egyptian Pantheon was composed of so many gods and goddesses arranged in three family groups, consisting of a mother, father, and child. Every God and Goddesses are linked to one and more places where the monuments and temples have been built to house their images. Every Egyptian God and Goddess took so many different forms. Many of the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses are portrayed with both human and animal figures. Also, in Egyptian Mythology, the Pharaoh was occupied by the Pharaoh, who was believed to be the semi-divine and was credited with mediating between humans and gods.
GODS OF EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGY
Egyptian Mythology is vast mythology that lasted for about 3,500 years. There are hundreds of deities of Gods and Goddesses that combine to form the vast Egyptian Mythology. A god has so many different shapes, and names like Ra has dozens of names. Some of the prominent Egyptian Gods are-
- Ra- Ra is the great Sun-god of Heliopolis and a child in the early morning, a man in the noon, and an old man in the evening.
- SHU AND TEFNUT- They are the children of Ra. Shu is the Egyptian God of Sky, and his sister and wife Tefnut is the Goddess of dew and rain.
- GEB AND NUT-The offspring of Shu and Tefnut are Geb and Nut. Geb is considered as the Egyptian God of earth and Nut as the Goddess of Sky.
- OSIRIS- The first child of Geb and Nut, Osiris is the Egyptian God of vegetation and nature. Moreover, he is the judge of the underworld as per Egyptian Mythology.
- ISIS- Isis, the daughter of Geb and Nut, was the faithful wife of Osiris and a sorceress.
- SETH- Seth, in Egyptian Mythology, is the evil brother of Osiris and is the incarnation of wickedness and sterility.
- NEPHTHYS- Nephthys is the sister of Set and consort and loved Osiris.
- HORUS- Horus is the son of Osiris and Isis.
- ANUBIS- Anubis is the jackal-headed son of Nephthys and Osiris.
- THOTH- In Egyptian Mythology, Thoth is the God of learning and a benefactor to men and gods.
- HATHOR- Hathor, in Egyptian Mythology, is the Goddess of love, joy, and protected women.
- AMON- Amon, according to Egyptian Mythology, is the King of Gods, the patron of Pharaoh, and the God of fertility.
- MAAT- In Egyptian Mythology, Maat is the Goddess of Truth and Justice.
- PHARAOH is the King of Gods and is believed to have descendent from gods.
- FAMOUS EGYPTIAN MYTHOLOGICAL TALES
There are so many interesting tales in Egyptian Mythology, and some of them are listed below-
CREATION MYTH- THE STORY OF Ra
The story of Ra revolves around an egg that named mankind and all other living beings. Once the creation was all done and everyone was named, it turned into a man that served as the first Pharaoh of Egypt. He served as the King for years, and when he started getting old, people started making fun of him. But when Isis intervened, things cooled down.
MURDER AND REVENGE: ISIS AND OSIRIS
The story of revenge is one of the most interesting tales of Egyptian Mythology. Isis and Osiris are the two children of Ra, the four who were loved a lot. Isis and Osiris got married, and hence Osiris being the eldest child, became the King and ascended the throne. Everybody loved him except his brother Set. Set sought revenge and killed his brother Osiris into pieces. After cutting him into pieces, he dispersed all his pieces all over Egypt.
However, Isis had some magical powers, so upon hearing this news, she traveled the whole of Egypt and collected all the pieces of his husband. After collecting the pieces, she assembled them and breathed life back to them. After this, they even conceived a child named Horus, but Osiris couldn’t return to the living world and hence continued to rule the underworld. It was from this incident that embalming the dead became an Egyptian tradition for the years.
A MYTHICAL MURDER PLOT
Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris when he became a man, immediately challenged Set for the throne. This leads to a series of battles, and as usual, Set didn’t fight fair and hence came out as a victor. But Isis seeing his son in trouble, stepped into the battle and helped Horus. She set a trap for Set, but he begged for his life, and then she let him go. But the incident infuriated Horus and in the final battle. A boat rave appeared to be that Horus will come out as a victor but Set turned into Hippopotamus and attacked the boat of Horus. The fellow God ended the battle as a tie.
In the end, all the Gods went to Osiris for the final result that who should be the King? The Osiris declared that none should be the King by adopting the murderous ways as Set had. So, finally, Horus ascended the throne and became the King. Whereas his father Osiris continued to rule the underworld.
THE UNDERWORLD AND ANUBIS
Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys, was the Lord of the dead but Osiris became popular. She was the caretaker of souls and carried all the souls to witness the ceremony known as Weighing of the heart. The entailed heart is weighed on the Scale of Truth feather of the Goddess of Truth, Maat. If the heart weighs heavier than the feather, it would be devoured by a demon, and the person would die again. And if the heart weighs less than the feather, it was allowed to the underworld.
THE BOOK OF THOTH
There is a belief in Egyptian Mythology that a book is completely packed with the profound wisdom and knowledge that all the Egyptian Gods and Goddesses had. It is believed that the book is tucked at the bottom of the river Nile, that too in the set of boxes that are guided by the serpents. So many Pharaohs tried to access these books but failed every time. It is believed that the knowledge contained in the book can’t be accessed by the mortals.
A MYTH ABOUT LOVE
As there is the famous story of Cinderella, similarly there is a tale in Egyptian Mythology. The tale is of a Greek girl named Rhodopis who was sold in slavery to Egypt. But by chance, she met a man who bought her and showered her with so many gifts and a house. On a day, an eagle swooped down and stole one of her slippers and dropped that slippers to the Pharaoh Amasis. Amasis asked to meet the owner of the slippers. Eventually, they both fell in love, and their love was too deep that both of them even died on the same date.
There are so many more tales that Egyptian Mythology speaks and are so interesting to read!