The Gods of the Egyptians Vol 1

Studies in Egyptian Mythology

by E. A. Wallis Budge | 1904 | 170,388 words

Volume 1-16 chapters including The Gods of Egypt, Primitive Gods and Nome-Gods, Hell and the Damned, Ra the Sun-God and His Forms, Hathor and the Hathor-Goddesses, The Horus Gods, and more. Includes 49 plates, 38 illustrations....

Chapter I - The Gods Of Egypt

The Greek historian Herodotus affirms[1] that the Egyptians were “beyond measure scrupulous in all matters appertaining to religion,” and he made this statement after personal observation of the care which they displayed in the performance of religious ceremonies, the aim and object of which was to do honour to the gods, and of the obedience which they showed to the behests of the priests who transmitted to them commands which they declared to be, and which were accepted as, authentic revelations of the will of the gods. From the manner in which this writer speaks it is clear that he had no doubt about what he was saying, and that he was recording a conviction which had become settled in his mind.

He was fully conscious that the Egyptians worshipped a large number of animals, and birds, and reptiles, with a seriousness and earnestness which must have filled the cultured Greek with astonishment, yet he was not moved to give expression to words of scorn as was Juvenal,[2] for Herodotus perceived that beneath the acts of apparently foolish and infatuated worship there existed a sincerity which betokened a firm and implicit belief which merited the respect of thinking men.


Antiquity Of Religious Observances

It would be wrong to imagine that the Egyptians were the only people of antiquity who were scrupulous beyond measure in religious matters, for we know that the Babylonians, both Sumerian and Semitic, were devoted worshippers of their gods, and that they possessed a very old and complicated system of religion ; but there is good reason for thinking that the Egyptians were more scrupulous than their neighbours in religious matters, and that they always bore the character of being an extremely religious nation.

The evidence of the monuments of the Egyptians proves that from the earliest to the latest period of their history the observance of religious festivals and the performance of religious duties in connexion with the worship of the gods absorbed a very large part of the time and energies of the nation, and if we take into consideration the funeral ceremonies and services commemorative of the dead which were performed by them at the tombs, a casual visitor to Egypt who did not know how to look below the surface might be pardoned for declaring that the Egyptians were a nation of men who were wholly given up to the worship of beasts and the cult of the dead.


Divine Origin Of Kings

The Egyptians, however, acted in a perfectly logical manner, for they believed that they were a divine nation, and that they were ruled by kings who were themselves gods incarnate; their earliest kings, they asserted, were actually gods, who did not disdain to live upon earth, and to go about and up and down through it, and to mingle with men. Other ancient nations were content to believe that they had been brought into being by the power of their gods operating upon matter, but the Egyptians believed that they were the issue of the great God who created the universe, and that they were of directly divine origin.

When the gods ceased to reign in their proper persons upon earth, they were succeeded by a series of demi-gods, who were in turn succeeded by the Manes, and these were duly followed by kings in whom was enshrined a divine nature with characteristic attributes. When the physical or natural body of a king died, the divine portion of his being, i.e., the spiritual body, returned to its original abode with the gods, and it was duly worshipped by men upon earth as a god and with the gods.

This happy result was partly brought about by the performance of certain ceremonies, which were at first wholly magical, but later partly magical and partly religious, and by the recital of appropriate words uttered in the duly prescribed tone and manner, and by the keeping of festivals at the tombs at stated seasons when the appointed offerings were made, and the prayers for the welfare of the dead were said. From the earliest times the worship of the gods went hand in hand with the deification of dead kings and other royal personages, and the worship of departed monarchs from some aspects may be regarded as meritorious as the worship of the gods.

From one point of view Egypt was as much a land of gods as of men, and the inhabitants of the country wherein the gods lived and moved naturally devoted a considerable portion of their time upon earth to the worship of divine beings and of their ancestors who had departed to the land of the gods. In the matter of religion, and all that appertains thereto, the Egyptians were a “peculiar people,” and in all ages they have exhibited a tenacity of belief and a conservatism which distinguish them from all the other great nations of antiquity.


Number And Valliety Of Gods

But the Egyptians were not only renowned for their devotion to religious observances, they were famous as much for the variety as for the number of their gods. Animals, birds, fishes, and reptiles were worshipped by them in all ages, but in addition to these they adored the great powers of nature as well as a large number of beings with which they peopled the heavens, the air, the earth, the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the water. In the earliest times the predynastic Egyptians, in common with every half-savage people, believed that all the various operations of nature were the result of the actions of beings which were for the most part unfriendly to man.

The inundation which rose too high and flooded the primitive village, and drowned their cattle, and destroyed their stock of grain, was regarded as the result of the working of an unfriendly and unseen power; and when the river rose just high enough to irrigate the land which had been prepared, they either thought that a friendly power, which was stronger than that which caused the destroying flood, had kept the hostile power in check, or that the spirit of the river was on that occasion pleased with them. They believed in the existence of spirits of the air, and in spirits of mountain, and stream, and tree, and all these had to be propitiated with gifts, or cajoled and wheedled into bestowing their favour and protection upon their suppliants.


God And "gods" And Angels

It is very unfortunate that the animals, and the spirits of natural objects, as well as the powers of nature, were all grouped together by the Egyptians and were described by the word neteru, which, with considerable inexactness, we are obliged to translate by “gods.” There is no doubt that at a very early period in their predynastic history the Egyptians distinguished between great gods and little gods, just as they-did between friendly gods and Hostile gods, but either their poverty of expression, or the inflexibility of their language, prevented them from making a distinction apparent in writing, and thus it happens that in dynastic times, when a lofty conception of monotheism prevailed among the priesthood, the scribe found himself obliged to call both God and the lowest of the beings that were supposed to possess some attribute of divinity by one and the same name, i.e., neter.


Muḥammadan And Syrian Angels

Other nations of antiquity found a way out of the difficulty of grouping all classes of divine beings by one name by inventing series of orders of angels, to each of which they gave names and assigned various duties in connexion with the service of the Deity. Thus in the Ḳurʻan (Sura xxxv.) it is said that God maketh the angels His messengers and that they are furnished with two, or three, or four pairs of wings, according to their rank and importance ; the archangel Gabriel is said to have been seen by Muhammad the Prophet with six hundred pairs of wings!

The duties of the angels, according to the Muhammadans, were of various kinds.

Thus nineteen angels are appointed to take charge of hell fire (Sura, lxxiv.);

eight are set apart to support God’s throne on the Day of Judgment (Sura lxix.);

several tear the souls of the wicked from their bodies with violence, and several take the souls of the righteous from their bodies with gentleness and kindness (Sura lxxix.);

two angels are ordered to accompany every man on earth, the one to write down his good actions and the other his evil deeds, and these will appear with him at the Day of Judgment, the one to lead him before the Judge, and the other to bear witness either for or against him (Sura 1.).

Muhammadan theologians declare that the angels are created of a simple substance of light, and that they are endowed with life, and speech, and reason; they are incapable of sin, they have no carnal desire, they do not propagate their species, and they are not moved by the passions of wrath and anger; their obedience is absolute. Their meat is the celebrating of the glory of God, their drink is the proclaiming of His holiness, their conversation is the commemorating of God, and their pleasure is His worship. Curiously enough, some are said to have the form of animals.

Four of the angels are Archangels, viz.

  1. Michael,
  2. Gabriel,
  3. Azrael,
  4. and Israfel,

and they possess special powers, and special duties are assigned to them. These four are superior to all the human race, with the exception of the Prophets and Apostles, but the angelic nature is held to be inferior to human nature because all the angels were commanded to worship Adam (Sura ii.).

The above and many other characteristics might be cited in proof that the angels of the Muḥammadans possess much in common with the inferior gods of the Egyptians, and though many of the conceptions of the Arabs on this point were undoubtedly borrowed from the Hebrews and their writings, a great many must have descended to them from their own early ancestors.

Closely connected with these Muḥammadan theories, though much older, is the system of angels which was invented by the Syrians. In this we find the angels divided into nine classes and three orders, upper, middle, and lower. The upper order is composed of Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones ; the middle order of Lords, Powers, and Rulers; and the lower order of Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. The middle order receives revelations from those above them, and the lower order are the ministers who wait upon created things.

The highest and foremost among the angels is Gabriel, who is the mediator between God and His creation. The Archangels in this system are described as a “swift operative motion,” which has dominion over every living thing except man; and the Angels are a motion which has spiritual knowledge of everything that is on earth and in heaven.[3]

The Syrians, like the Muḥammadans, borrowed largely from the writings of the Hebrews, in whose theological system angels played a very prominent part. In the Syrian system also the angels possess much in common with the inferior gods of the Egyptians.


Hebrew Angels Or "gods"

The inferior gods of the Egyptians were supposed to suffer from many of the defects of mortal beings, and they were even thought to grow old and to die, and the same ideas about the angels were held by Muḥammadans and Hebrews. According to the former, the angels will perish when heaven, their abode, is made to pass away at the Day of Judgment.

According to the latter, one of the two great classes of angels, i.e., those which were created on the fifth day of creation, is mortal; on the other hand, the angels which were created on the second day of creation endure for ever, and these may be fitly compared with the unfailing and unvarying powers of nature which were personified and worshipped by the Egyptians ; of the angels which perish, some spring from fire, some from water, and some from wind.

The angels are grouped into ten classes, i.e.,

  1. the Erêlîm,
  2. the Îshîm,
  3. the Bĕnê Elôhîm,
  4. the Malachîm,
  5. the Ḥaslimalîm,
  6. the Tarshîshîm,
  7. the Shislianîm,
  8. the Cherûbîm,
  9. the Ophannîm,
  10. and the Serâphim ;[4]

among these were divided all the duties connected with the ordering of the heavens and the earth, and they, according to their position and importance, became the interpreters of the Will of the Deity. A comparison of the passages in Rabbinic literature which describe these and similar matters connected with the angels, spirits, etc., of ancient Hebrew mythology with Egyptian texts shows that both the Egyptians and Jews possessed many ideas in common, and all the evidence goes to prove that the latter borrowed from the former in the earliest period.

In comparatively late historical times the Egyptians introduced into their company of gods a few deities from Western Asia, but these had no effect in modifying the general character either of their religion or of their worship. The subject of comparative Egyptian and Semitic mythology is one which has yet to be worked thoroughly, not because it would supply us with the original forms of Egyptian myths and legends, but because it would show what modifications such things underwent when adopted by Semitic peoples, or at least by peoples who had Semitic blood in their veins.

Some would compare Egyptian and Semitic mythologies on the ground that the Egyptians and Semites were kinsfolk, but it must be quite clearly understood that this is pure assumption, and is only based on the statements of those who declare that the Egyptian and Semitic languages are akin. Others again have sought to explain the mythology of the Egyptians by appeals to Aryan mythology, and to illustrate the meanings of important Egyptian words in religious texts by means of Aryan etymologies, but the results are wholly unsatisfactory, and they only serve to show the futility of comparing the mythologies of two peoples of different race occupying quite different grades in the ladder of civilization.


The Oldest Gods Of Egypt

It cannot be too strongly insisted on that all the oldest gods of Egypt are of Egyptian origin, and that the fundamental religious beliefs of the Egyptians also are of Egyptian origin, and that both the gods and the beliefs date from predynastic times, and have nothing whatever to do with the Semites or Aryans of history.

Of the origin of the Egyptian of the Palaeolithic and early Neolithic Periods, we, of course, know nothing, but it is tolerably certain that the Egyptian of the latter part of the Neolithic Period was indigenous to North-East Africa, and that a very large number of the great gods worshipped by the dynastic Egyptian were worshipped also by his predecessor in predynastic times. The conquerors of the Egyptians of the Neolithic Period who, with good reason, have been assumed to come from the East and to have been more or less akin to the Proto-Semites, no doubt brought about certain modifications in the worship of those whom they had vanquished, but they could not have succeeded in abolishing the various gods in animal and other forms which were worshipped throughout the length and breadth of the country, for these continued to be venerated until the time of the Ptolemies.


Indigenous Beliefs

We have at present no means of knowing how far the religious beliefs of the conquerors influenced the conquered peoples of Egypt, but viewed in the light of well-ascertained facts it seems tolerably certain that no great change took place in the views which the indigenous peoples held concerning their gods as the result of the invasion of foreigners, and that if any foreign gods were introduced into the company of indigenous, predynastic gods, they were either quickly assimilated to or wholly absorbed by them.

Speaking generally, the gods of the Egyptians remained unchanged throughout all the various periods of the history of Egypt, and the minds of the people seem always to have had a tendency towards the maintenance of old forms of worship, and to the preservation of the ancient texts in which such forms were prescribed and old beliefs were enshrined. The Egyptians never forgot the ancient gods of the country, and it is typical of the spirit of conservatism which they displayed in most things that even in the Roman Period pious folk among them were buried with the same prayers and with the same ceremonies that had been employed at the burial of Egyptians nearly five thousand years before. The Egyptian of the Roman Period, like the Egyptian of the Early Empire, was content to think that his body would be received in the tomb by the jackal-headed Anubis ; that the organs of his corruptible body would be presided over and guarded by animalheaded gods : that the reading of the pointer of the Great Scales, wherein his heart was weighed, would be made known by an ape to the ibis-headed scribe of the gods, whom we know by the name of Thoth ; and that the beatified dead would be introduced to the god Osiris by a hawk-headed god called Horus, son of Isis, who in many respects was the counterpart of the god Ḥeru-ur, the oldest of all the gods of Egypt, whose type and symbol was the hawk.

From first to last the indigenous Egyptian paid little heed to the events which happened outside his own country, and neither conquest nor invasion by foreign nations had any effect upon his personal belief. He continued to cultivate his land diligently, he worshipped the gods of his ancestors blindly, like them he spared no pains in making preparations for the preservation of his mummified body, and the heaven which he hoped to attain was fashioned according to old ideas of a fertile homestead, well stocked with cattle, where he would enjoy the company of his parents, and be able to worship the local gods whom he had adored upon earth.

The priestly and upper classes certainly held views on these subjects which differed from those of the husbandman, but it is a significant fact that it was not the religion and mythology of the dynastic Egyptian, but that of the indigenous, predynastic Egyptian, with his animal gods and fantastic and half-savage beliefs, which strongly coloured the religion of the country in all periods of her history, and gave to her the characteristics which were regarded with astonishment and wonder by all the peoples who came in contact with the Egyptians.


Belief In Spirits

The predynastic Egyptians in the earliest stages of their existence, like most savage and semi-savage peoples, believed that the sea, the earth, the air, and the sky were filled to overflowing with spirits, some of whom were engaged in carrying on the works of nature, and others in aiding or obstructing man in the course of his existence upon earth. Whatsoever happened in nature was attributed by them to the operations of a large number of spiritual beings, the life of whom was identical with the life of the great natural elements, and the existence of whom terminated with the destruction of the objects which they were supposed to animate.

Such spirits, although invisible to mental eyes, were very real creatures in their minds, and to them they attributed all the passions which belong to man, and all his faculties and powers also. Everything in nature was inhabited by a spirit, and it was thought possible to endow a representation, or model, or figure of any object with a spirit or soul, provided a name was given to it; this spirit or soul lived in the drawing or figure until the object which it animated was broken or destroyed. The objects, both natural and artificial, which we consider to be inanimate were regarded by the predynastic Egyptians as animate, and in many respects they were thought to resemble man himself.

The spirits who infested every part of the visible world were countless in forms, and they differed from each other in respect of power; the spirit that caused the Inundation of the Nile was greater than the one that lived in a canal, the spirit that made the sun to shine was more powerful than the one that governed the moon, and the spirit of a great tree was mightier than the one that animated an ear of corn or a blade of grass.

The difference between the supposed powers of such spirits must have been distinguished at a very early period, and the half-savage inhabitants of Egypt must at the same time have made a sharp distinction between those whose operations were beneficial to them, and those whose actions brought upon them injury, loss, or death. It is easy to see how they might imagine that certain great natural objects were under the dominion of spirits who were capable of feeling wrath, or displeasure, and of making it manifest to man.

Thus the spirit of the Nile would be regarded as beneficent and friendly when the waters of the river rose sufficiently during the period of the Inundation to ensure an abundant crop throughout the land ; but when their rise was excessive, and they drowned the cattle and washed away the houses of the people, whether made of wattles or mud, or when they rose insufficiently and caused want and famine, the spirit of the Nile would be considered unfriendly and evil to man.

An ample and sufficient Inundation was regarded as a sign that the spirit of the Nile was not displeased with man, but a destructive flood was a sure token of displeasure. The same feeling exists to this day in Egypt among the peasant-farmers, for several natives told me in 1899, the year of the lowest rise of the Nile of the XIXth century,[5] that “Allah was angry with them, and would not let the water come”; and one man added that in all his life he had never before known Allah to be so angry with them.


Animals And Reptiles

The spirits which were always hostile or unfriendly towards man, and were regarded by the Egyptians as evil spirits, were identified with certain animals and reptiles, and traditions of some of these seem to have been preserved until the latest period of dynastic history. Āpep, the serpent-devil of mist, darkness, storm, and night, of whom more will be said later on, and his fiends, the “children of rebellion,” were not the result of the imagination of the Egyptians in historic times, but their existence dates from the period when Egypt was overrun by mighty beasts, huge serpents, and noxious reptiles of all kinds.

The great serpent of Egyptian mythology, which was indeed a formidable opponent of the Sun-god, had its prototype in some monster serpent on earth, of which tradition had preserved a record ; and that this is no mere theory is proved by the fact that the remains of a serpent, which must have been of enormous size, have recently been found in the Fayyûm. The vertebræ are said to indicate that the creature to which they belonged was longer than the largest python known.[6]

The allies of the great serpent-devil Āpep were as hostile to man as was their master to the Sun-god, and they were regarded with terror by the minds of those who had evolved them. On the other hand, there were numbers of spirits whose actions were friendlyand beneficial to man, and some of these were supposed to do battle on his behalf against the evil spirits.

Thus at a very early period the predynastic Egyptian must have conceived the existence of a great company of spirits whose goodwill, or at all events whose inaction, could only be obtained by bribes, i.e., offerings, and cajolery and flattery ; and of a second large company whose beneficent deeds to man he was wont to acknowledge and whose powerful help he was anxious to draw towards himself; and of a third company who were supposed to be occupied solely with making the sun, moon, and stars to shine, and the rivers and streams to flow, and the clouds to form and the rain to fall, and who, in fact, were always engaged in carrying out diligently the workings and evolutions of all natural things, both small and great.


Heaven And Hell

The spirits to whom in predynastic times the Egyptians ascribed a nature malicious or unfriendly towards man, and who were regarded much as modern nations have regarded goblins, hobgoblins, gnomes, trolls, elves, etc., developed in dynastic times into a corporate society, with aims, and intentions, and acts wholly evil, and with a government which was devised by the greatest and most evil of their number. To these, in process of time, were joined the spirits of evil men and women, and the prototype of hell was formed by assuming the existence of a place where evil spirits and their still more evil chiefs lived together. By the same process of imagination beneficent and friendly spirits were grouped together in one abode under the direction of rulers who were well disposed towards man, and this idea became the nucleus of the later conception of the heaven to which the souls of good men and women were supposed by the Egyptian to depart, after he had developed sufficiently to conceive the doctrine of immortality.

The chiefs of the company of evil spirits subsequently became the powerful devils of historic times, and the rulers of the company of beneficent and good spirits became the gods ; the spirits of the third company, i.e., the spirits of the powers of Nature, became the great cosmic gods of the dynastic Egyptians.

The cult of this last class of spirits, or gods, differed in many ways from that of the spirits or gods who were supposed to be concerned entirely with the welfare of man, and in dynastic times there are abundant proofs of this in religious texts and compositions. In the hymns to the Sun-god, under whatsoever name he is worshipped, we find that the greatest wonder is expressed at his majesty and glory, and that he is apostrophised in terms which show forth the awe and fear of his devout adorer.

His triumphant passage across the sky is described, the unfailing regularity of his rising and setting is mentioned, reference is made to the vast distance over which he passes in a moment of time, glory is duly ascribed to him for the great works which he performs in nature, and full recognition is given to him as the creator of men and animals, of birds and fish, of trees and plants, of reptiles, and of all created things; the praise of the god is full and sufficient, yet it is always that of a finite being -who appears to be overwhelmed at the thought of the power and might of an apparently infinite being.

The petitions lack the personal appeal which we find in the Egyptian’s prayers to the man-god Osiris, and show that he regarded the two gods from entirely different points of view. It is impossible to say how early this distinction between the functions of the two gods was made, but it is certain that it is coeval with the beginnings of dynastic history, and that it was observed until very late times.


Antiquity Of Egyptian Magic

The element of magic, which is the oldest and most persistent characteristic of the worship of the gods and of the Egyptian religion, generally belongs to the period before this distinction was arrived at, and it is clear that it dates from the time when man thought that the good and evil spirits were beings who were not greatly different from himself, and who could be propitiated with gifts, and controlled by means of words of power and by the performance of ceremonies, and moved to action by hymns and addresses.


Evil Spirits

This belief was present in the minds of the Egyptians in all ages of their history, and it exists in a modified form among the Muhammadan Egyptians and Sûdânî men to this day. It is true that they proclaim vehemently that there is no god but God, and that Muḥammad is His Prophet, and that God’s power is infinite and absolute, but they take care to guard the persons of themselves and their children from the Evil Eye and from the assaults of malicious and evil spirits, by means of amulets of all kinds as zealously now as their ancestors did in the days before the existence of God Who is One was conceived.

The caravan men protect their camels from the Evil Eye of the spirits of the desert by fastening bright-coloured beads between the eyes of their beasts, and by means of long fringes which hang from their mahlûfas, or saddles, and in spite of their firm belief in the infinite power of God, they select an auspicious day on which to set out on a journey, and they never attempt to pass certain isolated caves, or ravines, or mountains, in the night time.

All the members of the great family of the Jinn are to them as real to-day as their equivalents were to the ancient Egyptians, and, from the descriptions of desert spirits which are given by those who have been fortunate enough to see them, it is clear that traditions of the form and appearance of ancient Egyptian fiends and evil spirits have been unconsciously preserved until the present day. The modern Egyptians call them by Arabic names, but the descriptions of them agree well with those which might be made of certain genii that appear in ancient Egyptian mythological works treating of the Underworld and its inhabitants.


Modern Sudani Superstitions

The peoples of the Eastern Sûdân, who are also Muḥammadans, have inherited many ideas and beliefs from the ancient Egyptians, and this is not to be wondered at when we remember that the civilization of Nubia from the beginning of the XVIIIth Dynasty to the end of the XXVIth, i.e., from about B.C. 1550 to about B.C. 550, was nothing but a slavish copy of that of Egypt. A stay of some months in the village at the foot of Jebel Barkal, which marks the site of a part of the old Nubian city of Napata, convinced me of this fact, and visits to other places in the Eastern Sûdân proved that these ideas and beliefs were widespread.

The hills and deserts are, according to native belief, peopled with spirits, which are chiefly of a disposition unfriendly to man, and they are supposed to have the power of entering both human beings and animals almost at pleasure. Palm-trees die or become unfruitful, and cattle fall sick through the operations of evil spirits, and any misfortune which comes upon the community or upon the individual is referred to the same cause.

The pyramids, which they call tarabîl, on the hill, are viewed with almost childish fear by the natives who, curiously enough, speak of the royal personages buried therein as illâhầt, or “gods,” and none of them, if it can possibly be avoided, will go up after sundown into “the mountain,” as they call the sandstone ridge on which they are built. Tombs and cemeteries are carefully avoided at night as a matter of course, but to approach the pyramids at night is regarded as a wilful act which is sure to bring down upon the visitor the wrath of the spirits of the kings, who have by some means acquired a divine character in the eyes of the natives.

When I was opening one of the pyramids at Jebel Barkal in 1897, Muḥammad wad Ibrahîm, the shêkh of the village, tried to keep the workmen at work as long as daylight lasted, but after this had been done for two or three evenings, several of the wives of the men appeared and carried off their husbands, fearing they should either be bewitched, or suffer some penalty for intrusion in that place at the time when, in popular opinion, the spirits of the dead came forth to enjoy the cool of the evening. The same idea prevailed further south among the people who lived on the river near the pyramids of Baḳrawîyeh, which mark the site of the royal necropolis of the ancient city of Berua, or Marua, i.e., Meroë.

The local shekh was appointed to go with me and to help in taking measurements of some of the pyramids at this place, but when we were about half a mile from them he dismounted, and said he could go no further because he was afraid of the spirits of the gods, Illâhât, who Avere buried there.

After much persuasion he consented to accompany me, but nothing would induce him to let the donkeys go to the pyramids ; having hobbled them and tied them to a large stone he came on, but seated himself on the ground at the northern end of the main group of pyramids, and nothing would persuade him to move about among the ruins. The natives of Jebel Barkal viewed the work of excavation with great disfavour from the very first, and their hostile opinion was confirmed by the appearance at the pyramids of great numbers of wasps, which, they declared, were larger than any which they had seen before ; they were convinced that they were evil spirits who had taken the form of wasps, and that evil was coming upon their village.

It was useless to explain to them that the wasps only came there to drink from the waterskins, which were kept full and hung there on pegs driven into the masonry for the use of the workmen ; and when a harmless snake, about eight feet long, which had also crawled there to drink, was killed one morning by the men, their fears of impending evil were confirmed, for they were certain that the spirit of a king had been killed, and they expected that vengeance would be taken upon them by the divine spirits of his companions.

About halfway up Jebel Barkal there lived four large hawks which always seemed to be following any person who ascended the mountain, but yet never came very near; these were always regarded by the natives as the embodied spirits of the gods whose figures still remain sculptured and painted on the walls of the rock-hewn sanctuary at the foot of the hill, and I never heard of any attempt being made to shoot or snare them by the people of the villages of Barkal, Shibba, or Marâwi. The inhabitants could not know that the hawk was probably the first living creature which was worshipped in the Nile Valley, and therefore the respect which they paid to the hawks must have been due to a tradition which had been handed down to them through countless generations from a past age. Their connecting the hawks with the figures of the gods sculptured in the sanctuary of Ȧmen-Râ is worthy of note, for it seems to show that on such matters they thought along the same lines as their ancestors.

Concerning amulets, the Sudânî man is as superstitious as were his ancestors thousands of years ago, and he still believes that stones of certain colours possess magical properties, especially when inscribed with certain symbols, of the meaning of which, however, he has no knowledge, but which are due, he says, to the presence of spirits in them. Women and children, especially female children, protect many parts of their bodies with strings of beads made of magical stones, and sometimes with plaques of metal or stone, which are cut into various shapes and ornamented with signs of magical power ; the positions of such plaques on the body are frequently identical with those whereon the dynastic Egyptians laid amulets on the dead, and, if we could learn from the Sudânî folk the reasons which prompt them to make use of such things, we should probably find that the beliefs which underlie the customs are also identical.

The above facts concerning the Sûdíinî belief in spirits might be greatly multiplied, and they are not so remotely connected with the beliefs of the dynastic, and even predynastic, Egyptians, as may appear to be the case at first sight, and the writer believes that a large amount of information of a similar kind awaits the investigator, who will devote the necessary time to living in some of the out-of-the-way villages of the black (not negro) peoples who dwell on the eastern bank of the Nile and of the Blue Nile.


Ideas About The Beetle

In many isolated places in Southern Nubia and the Eastern Sûdân are trees which men regard with reverence, but this may be the result of contact with the natives of Central Africa, where people pray to trees on certain occasions,[7] believing that the spirits which are supposed to dwell in them can bestowgifts upon those whom they regard with favour, and ensure safety both to themselves and their animals when travelling. Still further to the south certain animals, e.g., the cynocephalus ape, which plays such a prominent part in dynastic Egyptian mythology, are supposed to be inhabited by divine spirits and to possess extraordinary powers of intelligence in consequence, and the various kinds of scarabaei, or beetles, are thought to be animated by spirits, which the natives connect with the sun.

The dead bodies of these insects were, in former days, often eaten by women who wished to become mothers of large families, and to this day parts of them are cooked, and treated with oil, and made into medicines[8] for the cure of sore eyes, etc. The dynastic Egyptians believed that the scarab was connected with the Sun-god Rā, and in religious texts of all periods it is said that the beetle occupied a place in the boat of this god.


Forms Of Evil Spirits

We have already seen that the dynastic Egyptians, and their predecessors, conceived the existence of spirits hostile towards man, of spirits beneficent towards man, and of spirits which were wholly occupied with carrying oat the various operations of Nature, and we must now consider the manner and forms in which they became visible to man. The commonest form in which a spirit was believed to make itself visible to man was that of some beast, or bird, or fish, or reptile, and at a very early period adoration, in one form or another, of the so-called inferior animals was well-nigh universal in Egypt.

At the time when this worship began animals, as well as inanimate objects, were not considered by the inhabitants of the Nile Valley to be greatly removed from themselves in intelligence. Primitive man saw nothing ridiculous in attributing speech to inanimate objects and animals, which were supposed to think, and reason, and act like human beings ; and the religious literature of many of the most ancient nations contains numerous proofs of this fact.

Among the baked clay tablets found in the ruins of the Royal Library of Nineveh, which contained copies of hundreds of documents preserved in the temples of the most ancient cities of Babylonia, were fragments of a dialogue between a horse and an ox, which is now known as the “Fable of the Horse and the Ox,”[9] and it is tolerably certain that this dialogue did not originate in the reign of Ashur-bani-pal (b.c. 668-626), although the tablet on which it was written is not older than his time.

Again, in the Creation Legend the dragon-monster Tiamat, the representative of the powers of evil and darkness, is made to conspire against the gods, and to create a serpent brood[10] in order to do effective battle with them ; and other instances might be quoted to show that the Babylonians and Assyrians attributed to the animals reason, passions, and language.

From the Bible we learn that the Hebrews held the same views as their kinsmen on this matter, and we are told that the serpent beguiled and seduced Eve by his speech, and made her break the command of the Lord (Genesis iii. 1ff.), and that the she-ass of Balaam remonstrated with her master and asked him why he had smitten her three times (Numbers xxii. 28). We may note in passing that this animal is said to have been able to see the Angel of the Lord standing in the way, whilst her master could not, and we are forcibly reminded of the belief which was current among Jews and Muhammadans to the effect that dogs howled before a death because they were able to see the Angel of Death going about on his mission, to say nothing of our own superstition to the same effect, which, however, we seem to have derived not from the East, but from cognate northern European nations.

We see also from the Book of Judges (ix. 8 ff.) that speech and reason 'were sometimes attributed to objects which we regard as inanimate, for we read that the trees

“went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.”

When the olive tree refused, they went to the fig tree with the same request, and when the fig tree refused, they went to the vine, which refused to leave its wine which cheereth God and man”; on this they applied to the bramble, which placed before them the choice of coming and putting their trust in its shadow, or of being burnt by the fire which should come forth from out of itself. In connexion with this idea may, perhaps, be mentioned the incident recorded in Numbers xxi. 17, wherein we are told that the princes and nobles digged a well “with their staves” by the direction of the lawgiver, and that the Children of Israel sang this song, “Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.”

Many other examples might be quoted from Hebrew literature to show that animals and inanimate objects were on certain occasions regarded as beings which possessed thinking and reasoning powers similar to those of men.


Talking Animals, Trees, Etc.

Among the Egyptians animals thought, and reasoned, and spoke as a matter of course, and their literature is full of indications that they believed them to be moved by motives and passions similar to those of human beings. As a typical example may be quoted the instance of the cow, in the Tale of the Two Brothers, who tells her herd that his elder brother is standing behind the door of the byre with his dagger in his hand waiting to slay him ; the young man having seen the feet of his brother under the door took to flight, and so saved his life.

Here we have another proof that animals were sometimes credited with superhuman intelligence and discernment, since but for the warning of the cow, who had perceived what her master had failed to notice, the herd would have been slain as soon as he entered the byre. Here, too, must be noted the very important part which is played in the Judgment Scene in the Booh of the Dead by animals. In the Story of the Shipwreck also we are told concerning a huge serpent thirty cubits long, with a beard two cubits long, which made a long speech to the unfortunate man who was wrecked on the island wherein it lived.


The Dog-headed Ape

In the papyri of the XVIIIth Dynasty we have representations of the weighing of the heart of the deceased in the Great Balance, which takes place in the presence of the Great Company of the gods, who act as judges, and who pass the sentence of doom, that must be ratified by Osiris, according to the report of the god Thoth, who acts as scribe and secretary to the gods. The Egyptian hoped that his heart would exactly counterbalance the feather, symbolic of Maāt or the Law, and neither wished nor expected it to outweigh it, for he detested performing works of supererogation.

The act of weighing was carefully watched by Anubis the god of the dead, whose duty was to cast to the Eater of the Dead the hearts which failed to balance the feather exactly; and by the guardian angel of the deceased, on behalf of the deceased ; and by a dog-headed ape, who was seated on the top of the pillar, and who supported himself upon the bracket on which was balanced the beam of the Great Scales.

This ape was the associate and companion of the god Thoth, and he was supposed to be skilled in the art of computation, and in the science of numbers, and in the measurement of time ; his duty at the weighing of the heart was to scrutinize the pointer of the scales, and, having made sure that the beam of the scales was exactly level, i.e., that the heart and the feather exactly counterbalanced each other, to report the fact to Thoth, so that he in turn might make his report to the gods on the case under consideration.

The ape seated on the pillar of the Scales belongs to a species which is now only found in the Sudan, but which in late predynastic or in early dynastic times might have been found all over Egypt. The dog-headed ape is very clever, and even in modern times is regarded with much respect by the natives, who believe that its intelligence is of the highest order, and that its cunning is far superior to that of man ; the high esteem in which it was held by the ancient Egyptians is proved by the fact that the god Thoth was held to be incarnate in him, and by the important functions which he performed in their mythology.

It will also be remembered that in the vignette which represents the sunrise in the Book of the Dead a company of six or seven dog-headed apes is depicted in the act of adoring the god of day, as he rises on the eastern horizon of heaven ; they stand on their hind legs and their forepaws are raised in adoration, and they are supposed to be singing hymns to the Sun-god. In a text which describes this scene these apes are said to be the spirits of the dawn who sing hymns of praise to the Sun-god whilst he is rising, and who transform themselves into apes as soon as he has risen.

It is a well known fact in natural history that the apes and the monkeys in the forests of Africa and other countries chatter noisily at dawn, and it is clear that it was the matutinal cries of these animals which suggested their connection with the spirits of the dawn. It is not stated in the text whether the spirits of the dawn were created afresh each day or not, or whether the monkeys transformed themselves into spirits daily, and so were able to greet the rising sun each morning.

We may, however, connect the idea concerning them with that which is met with in an ancient Hebrew description[11] of the angels of Hebrew mythology, for one group of “angels of service” from the river of fire were supposed to be created daily in order to sing one hymn to God Almighty and then to come to an end.

Passing now to the consideration of the worship of animals by the Egyptians of the predynastic and dynastic periods, we have to endeavour to find the reasons which induced the early inhabitants of the Nile Valley to pay adoration to birds, beasts, fishes, and other creatures of the animal kingdom. A careful examination of the facts now available shows that in Egypt primitive man must have worshipped animals in the first instance because they possessed strength, and power, and cunning greater than his own, or because they were endowed with some quality which enabled them to do him bodily harm or to cause his death.


Fear The Motive Of Worship

The fundamental motive in man for worshipping animals was probably fear. When man first took up his abode in Egypt the physical conditions of the country must have resembled those of some parts of Central Africa at the present time, and the whole country was probably covered with forests and the ground obscured by dense undergrowth.

In the forests great numbers of elephants and other large beasts must have lived, and the undergrowth formed a home for huge serpents of various species and for hosts of deadly reptiles of different kinds, and the river was filled with great crocodiles similar in length and bulk to those which have been seen in recent years in the Blue Nile and in the rivers further to the south. We have no means of knowing at what period the elephant was exterminated in Egypt, but it was probably long before dynastic times, because he finds no place in Egyptian mythology.

The ivory objects which have been found in predynastic graves prove that this substance was prized by the primitive Egyptians, and that it was, comparatively, largely used by them for making personal ornaments and other small objects, but whether they imported elephants’ tusks from the Sûdân, or obtained them from animals which they hunted and killed in some part of Egypt cannot be said. On the top of one of the standards[12] which are painted on predynastic vases we find the figure of an elephant, a fact which seems to show that this animal was the symbol of the family of the man for whom was made the vase on which it is found, or of his country, or of the tutelary deity, i.e., the god of his town or tribe.


Antiquity Of Serpent Worship

On the other hand, it is quite clear from several passages in the texts with which the walls of the chambers and corridors of the pyramid tombs of Unȧs and Tetȧ, and other kings of the Early Empire at Ṣaḳḳâra are inscribed that Egypt was infested with venomous snakes and noxious reptiles of various kinds when the original forms of those passages were written, and that they were sufficiently formidable and numerous to cause the living grave anxiety about the safety of the bodies of their dead.

Thus in the text of Unȧs,[13] a king of the Vth Dynasty, we find a series of short magical formulae, many of which are directed against serpents and fierce animals, and all are couched in terms which prove that they must have been composed long before they were inscribed on the walls inside this king’s pyramid, and M. Maspero is undoubtedly correct in thinking that they must have presented serious difficulties to the king’s literati.

In these formulae are mentioned the serpents

  • Ufȧ, ,
  • Nāi, ,
  • Hekȧ, ,
  • Hekret, ,
  • Setcheh, ,
  • Ȧkeneh, ,
  • Ȧmen, ,
  • Ḥȧu,,
  • Ȧnṭāf, ,
  • Tcheser-ṭep, ,
  • Thethu, ,
  • Hemth, ,
  • Senenȧhemthet, ,
  • and allusion is made to a most “terrible serpent,” .

At the time when these formulae were composed each of these serpents was probably the type of a class of venomous snakes, and their names no doubt described their physical characteristics and their methods of attack. The abject fear of the Egyptians for the serpent seems to have been constant in all generations, and the texts of the latest as well as those of the earliest period contain numerous prayers intended to deliver the deceased from the

“serpents which are in the Underworld, which live upon the bodies of men and women, and consume their blood.”[14]

Long after Egypt was cleared of snakes and when the country was in the condition in which we now know it, the tradition remained that a mighty serpent, some thirty cubits, i.e., about fifty feet long, lived on the top of Baldiau, , the Mountain of the Sunrise, and his name was Ȧmi-Hemf, i.e., “Dweller in his flame,” ,[15]


Worship Of Uraeus And Vulture

The worship of the serpent in Egypt is of great antiquity, and shrines to certain members of the species must have existed at a very early date. In predynastic times the uraeus was held in great veneration, and the great centre of its worship was in the Delta, at a place which the Egyptians in dynastic times called “Per-Uatchet,” and the Greeks “Buto.”

At the period when the uraeus was being worshipped in Lower Egypt, the vulture was the chief object of adoration in Upper Egypt, its principal sanctuary being situated in the city which the Egyptians called “Nekhebet,” and the Greeks “Eileithyiaspolis.”

The uraeus goddess was called “Uatchet,” or “Uatchit,”
and the vulture goddess “Nekhebet,” or “Nekhebit,”
and the cities which were the centres of their worship became so important, probably in consequence of this worship, that in the early dyŋastic period we find it customary for kings when they wished to proclaim their sovereignty over all Egypt to give themselves the title, which may be freely rendered by “Lord of the shrines of the Vulture and Uraeus.”

The equivalents of these signs are found on the now famous plaque inscribed with the name and titles of Āḥa, a king who is often, but without sufficient reason, assumed to be identical with Menȧ or Menes, and thus it is clear that the cities of Nekhebet and Per-Uatchet were important religious and administrative centres in predynastic times.


Worship Of The Bull

image right: Usertsen II. receiving “life” from the god Sept. Behind him is his serekh inscribed with his Horus name.

Other wild animals which were worshipped by the Egyptians about the same period were the lion, and the lynx, which they called 'mafṭet,, and the hippopotamus, and the quadruped which became the symbol of the god Set; among amphibious creatures the crocodile and the turtle were the most important. Among domestic animals the bull and the cow were the principal objects of worship, and proof is forthcoming that they were regarded as deities in predynastic times.

The great strength of the bull, and his almost irresistible attack in fighting and headlong rush, excited the fear and admiration of primitive man, and his fecundating powers made him at a very early period the type of the generative principle in nature. For thousands of years the kings of Egypt delighted to call themselves “mighty bull,” and the importance which they attached to this title is evinced by the fact that many of them inscribed it upon their sekh,, or cognizance, which displayed their name as the descendant of Horus ; in fact, it formed their Horus name.

Image right: Serekh of Rameses II., on which is inscribed the Horus name of this king, i.e., Ka-Nekht-Meri-Maāt. The canopy of the serekh is in the form of the sky, and from the standard on which it rests spring two human arms and Lands. The right grasps a standard surmounted by the head of the king, which hererepresents the “royalka”and the left the symbol ofMaāt.

The figure of a bull is found sculptured upon some of the green slate objects which date from the predynastic period, and which have been erroneously called palettes, and a flint model of the head and horns of the cow, which in later times became the animal symbolic of the goddess Hathor, was found in a predynastic grave ; all these objects are in the British Museum (Nos. 20,790, 20,792, and 32,124).

The warrior kings of the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties were pleased when the court scribes related in commemorative inscriptions how their lords raged and roared like lions as they mounted their chariots and set out to crush the foolish enemy who had the temerity to defy them, but they preferred to be likened to the “mighty bull,” who trampled opposition beneath his hoofs, and gored and destroyed with his horns that which his hoofs had failed to annihilate. Out of the reverence which was paid to the bull in predynastic times grew the worship of two special bulls, Hāp and Mer-ur, which names the Greeks modified into Apis and Mnevis, the sacred animals of the ancient cities of Memphis and Heliopolis respectively.

The worship of Apis is at least as old as the beginning of the dynastic period, and we know that the cult of this bull continued in Memphis until the close of the rule of the Ptolemies. In some way the beliefs concerning Apis were connected with those which the Egyptians held concerning Osiris, the god and judge of the dead, who is called in the Book of the Dead[16] the “Bull of Ȧmentet,” i.e., the “Bull of the Underworld,”; and in the Ptolemaïc period the two gods were merged into one and formed the god Sarapis, to whom were ascribed the attributes of the Egyptian and Greek gods of the Underworld.

It now seems to be generally admitted by ethnologists that there are three main causes which have induced men to worship animals, i.e., they have worshipped them as animals, or as the dwelling-places of gods, or as representatives of tribal ancestors.

There is no reason whatsoever for doubting that in neolithic times the primitive Egyptians worshipped animals as animals and as nothing more ; the belief that animals Avere the abodes of spirits or deities grew up in their minds later, and it was this which induced them to mummify the dead bodies of birds, and beasts, and fishes, etc., in which they thought deities to have been incarnate.


Apis Bull And Ram Of Mendes

We have no means of knowing exactly when this belief arose, but it is certainly as old as the time when the Apis Bull began to be worshipped, and when the Egyptians began to keep the ram and other animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fishes in sanctuaries, and to worship them as deities incarnate. In connection with it we must notice that, in the case of the Apis Bull and the Ram of Mendes, the god Apis did not take up his abode in every bull, and that the soul of Osiris, which was supposed to dwell in the Ram of Mendes, did not make his habitation in every ram. The Apis Bull, like the Ram of Mendes, had to be sought for diligently, and no bull or ram was made the object of veneration in the sanctuaries of Memphis or Mendes unless he possessed the characteristic marks by which the priests recognized him.

The ordinary bulls and rams of the species to which the Apis Bull and the Ram of Mendes belonged were not regarded in the same light as the animals which by the marks upon them proclaimed themselves to be the creatures to which worship should be offered, and they were, of course, sacrificed in the performance of funeral ceremonies and killed and eaten as food by the people, even though somewhat of the deity may have been incarnate in them. When the Apis Bull or the Ram of Mendes died the deity who had been incarnate in it transferred himself to another animal, and therefore did not leave the earth.


Nome Gods

The question as to whether the Egyptians worshipped animals as representations of tribal ancestors, or “totems,” is one which has given rise to much discussion, and this is not to be wondered at, for the subject is one of difficulty. We know that many of the standards which represent the nomes of Egypt are distinguished by figures of birds and animals, e.g., the hawk, the bull, the hare, etc., but it is not clear whether these are intended to represent “totems” or not. It is pretty certain that the nome-standard of dynastic times was derived from the standards which the predynastic

Egyptians set up in their boats, or caused to be carried in ceremonial processions, or during the performance of public functions, and there is no reason for doubting that, substantially, the same ideas and beliefs underlie the use of both classes of standards. The animal or bird standing on the top of a nome-perch or standard is not intended for a fetish or a representation of a tribal ancestor, but for a creature which was regarded as the deity under whose protection the people of a certain tract of territory were placed, and we may assume that within the limits of that territory it was unlawful to injure or kill such animal or bird.

Thus in the Nome of the Black Bull a black bull of a certain kind would be regarded as a sacred animal, and it is certain that in predynastic times worship would be offered to it as a god ; similarly in the Nome of the Hare the hare would be worshipped ; and in the Nome of the Hawk the hawk would be worshipped.

Outside these nomes, however, the bull and the hare and the hawk might be, and probably were, killed and eaten for food, and from this point of view the sacred creatures of the Egyptians may be thought to have something in common with the totems, or deified representatives of tribal ancestors, and with the fetishes of the tribes of nations which are on the lowest levels of civilization. In connexion with this matter it is customary to quote the statements of Greek and Roman writers, many of whom scoff at the religion of the Egyptians because it included the worship of animals, and charge the nation with fatuity because the animals, etc., which were worshipped and preserved with all care in some places were killed and eaten in others.


Animal Worship Not Totemism

The evidence of such writers cannot be regarded as wholly trustworthy, first, because they did not take the trouble to understand the views which the Egyptians held about sacred animals, and secondly, because they were not in a position to obtain trustworthy information. In the passage from one of Juvenal’s Satires already quoted, he declares that the Egyptians ate human flesh, and it is possible that he believed what he wrote ; still the fact remains that there is not a particle of evidence in the Egyptian inscriptions to show that they ever did so, and we have every reason for believing that they were not cannibals.

His other statements about the religion of the Egyptians are, probably, as untrustworthy. There is not enough ancient Egyptian religious literature extant to enable us to trace the history of religion in all periods of dynastic history, still less are we able to follow it back in the predynastic period, because of that time we have no literature at all; such monuments and texts as we have, however, serve to show that the Egyptians first worshipped animals as animals, and nothing more, and later as the habitations of divine spirits or gods, but there is no reason for thinking that the animal worship of the Egyptians was descended from a system of totems or fetishes, as Mr. J. F, M’Lennan believed.[17]It has been assumed by some ethnologists that many primitive peoples have been accustomed to name individuals after animals, and that such animal names have in certain cases become tribe names.

These may have become family surnames, and at length the myths may have grown up about them in which it is declared that the families concerned were actually descended

“from the animals in question as ancestors, whence might arise many other legends of strange adventures and heroic deeds of ancestors, to be attributed to the quasi-human animals whose names they bore ; at the same time, popular mystification between the great ancestor and the creature whose name he held and handed down to his race, might lead to veneration for the creature itself, and thence to full animal-worship.”[18]

This theory may explain certain facts connected with the animal-worship of numbers of savage or half-savage tribes in some parts of the world, but it cannot, in the writer’s opinion, be regarded as affording an explanation of the animal-worship of the Egyptians. In dynastic times kings were, it is true, worshipped as gods, and divine honours were paid to their statues, but the reason for this was that the king was believed to be of the seed of the god Horus, the oldest of all the gods of Egypt. There is reason for believing that to certain men who were famous for their knowledge or for some great works which they had accomplished divine honours were paid, but neither these nor the kings were held to be gods who were worshipped throughout the land as were the well-known or natural gods of the country.

In short, the worship which was paid to kings after their death, or to ordinary men, who were sometimes deified, was quite different from that paid to the gods of the country, whether they were in animal or human form or whether they represented the spirits which concerned themselves with the welfare of men or those which occupied themselves with the direction of the operations of Nature.


Nome Standards

We see, moreover, from the nome-standards that several objects besides animals were worshipped and regarded as gods, or that they, at all events, became the symbols of the deities which were worshipped in them.

In predynastic times we know that some standards were surmounted by representations of

two, three, four, or five hills,[19] ,
another by two arrows (?),
another by a fish,,
another by two arrows and a shield,, etc.

With the predynastic is probably to be compared the dynastic sign ,
and with the predynastic the dynastic sign.

It is not easy at present to find a dynastic equivalent for the two arrows (?) , or to find the reason why the three hills were connected with a god, but we shall probably be correct if we connect the two arrows (?) with some aboriginal god of war, and the three hills with the abode of some, at present, unknown god. The shield and the crossed arrows can, we think, be explained with more certainty.

We know from the Nome-Lists that the fifth nome of Lower Egypt, , which was called Sapi by the Egyptians and Saïtes by the Greeks, had for its capital the city Saut or Saïs, and that the great deity of this city was the goddess Nit or Neith.The dynastic pictures of this goddess represent her in the form of a goddess who holds in her hands two arrows and a bow ; she sometimes wears upon her head the crown of the north, or, which is the sign for her name, or two crossed arrows, in fact, such pictures prove beyond a doubt that Nit, the goddess of Saïs, was the goddess of the chase par excellence.  That this goddess was worshipped in the earliest dynastic period is certain, for we find that her name forms part of the name of Nit-hetep, who seems to have been tlie daughter of king Sma, and who was probably the wife of Āha, and also part of that of the early dynastic king Mer-Nit.

That the dynastic sign is the equivalent of the predynastic signthere is no reason to doubt, and, as the former is known to represent the crossed arrows and shield of the hunting goddess of Saïs, we are justified in believing that its predynastic equivalent was intended to be a picture of the same objects, and to be symbolic of the same goddess.

We have already mentioned the predynastic standard surmounted by the figure of an elephant, which was, undoubtedly, intended to represent a god, and thus it is clear that both in predynastic and dynastic times the Egyptians symbolized gods both by means of animals and by objects connected with their worship or with their supposed occupations. In dynastic Nome-Lists we have for the name of Mȧtenu a knife, for the nome of Ten a pair of horns surmounted by a plumed disk, for the nome of Uas, or Us, a sceptre, for the nome of Sesheshet a sistrum, etc. The first, third, and fourth of this group of examples arc clearly objects which were connected with the worship of the gods whom they symbolize, and the second is probably intended to be the headdress of the god of the nome which it symbolizes.

At this period of the world’s history it is impossible to fathom the reasons which led men to select such objects as the symbols of their gods, and we can only accept the view that they were the product of some indigenous, dominant people who succeeded in establishing their religious customs so strongly in Egypt that they survived all political commotions, and changes, and foreign invasions, and flourished in the country until the third century of our era at least.


The Goddess Nit

The cult of Nit, or Neith, must have been very general in Egypt, although in dynastic times the chief seat thereof was at Saïs in the Delta, and we know that devotees of the goddess lived as far south as Naḳâda, a few miles to the north of Thebes, for several objects inscribed with the name of queen Nit-hetep have been found in a grave at that place. Of the early worship of the goddess nothing is known, but it is most probable that she was adored as a great hunting spirit as were adored spirits of like character by primitive peoples in other parts of the world. The crossed arrows and shield indicate that she was a hunting spirit in the earliest times, but a picture of the dynastic period represents her with two crocodiles[20] sucking one at each breast, and thus she appears in later times to have had ascribed to her power over the river.

It has already been said that the primitive Egyptians, though believing that their gods possessed powers superior to their own, regarded them as beings who were liable to grow old and die, and who were moved to love and to hate, and to take pleasure in meat and drink like man ; they were even supposed to intermarry with human beings and to have the power of begetting offspring like the “sons of God,” as recorded in the Book of Genesis (vi. 2, 4). These ideas were common in all periods of Egyptian history, and it is clear that the Egyptians never wholly freed themselves from them ; there is, in fact, abundant proof that even in the times when monotheism had developed in a remarkable degree they clung to them with a tenacity which is surprising.

The religious texts contain numerous references to them, and beliefs which were conceived by the Egyptians in their lowest states of civilization are mingled with those which reveal the existence of high spiritual conceptions. The great storehouse of religious thought is the Book of the Dead, and in one of the earliest Recensions of that remarkable work we may examine its various layers with good result. In these are preserved many passages which throw light upon the views which were held concerning the gods, and the powers which they possessed, and the place where they dwelt in company with the beatified dead.


King Unȧs as a God

One of the most instructive of these passages for our purpose forms one of the texts which are inscribed on the walls and corridors of the chambers in the pyramid tombs of Unȧs, a king of the Vth Dynasty, and of Tetȧ, a king of the VIth Dynasty.

The paragraphs in general of the great Heliopolitan Recension deal, as we should expect, with the offerings which were to be made at stated intervals in the little chapels attached to the pyramids, and many were devoted to the object of removing enemies of every kind from the paths of the king in the Underworld ; others contain hymns, and short prayers for his welfare, and magical formulae, and incantations. A few describe the great power which the beatified king enjoys in the world beyond the grave, and, of course, declare that the king is as great a lord in heaven as he was upon earth.

The passage in question from the pyramid of Unȧs is of such interest and importance that it[21] is given in the Appendix to this Chapter, with interlinear translation and transliteration, and with the variant readings from the pyramid of Tetȧ, but the following general rendering of its contents may be useful.

“The sky poureth down rain, the stars tremble, the bow-bearers run about with hasty steps, the bones of Aker tremble, and those who are ministrants unto them betake themselves to flight when they see Unȧs rising [in the heavens] like a god who liveth upon his fathers and feedeth upon his mothers.

Unȧs is the lord of wisdom whose name his mother knoweth not. The noble estate of Unȧs is in heaven, and his strength in the horizon is like unto that of the god Tem his father, indeed, he is stronger than his father who gave him birth. The doubles (kau) of Unȧs are behind him, and those whom he hath conquered are beneath his feet.

His gods are upon him, his uraei are upon his brow, his serpent-guide is before him, and his soul looketh upon the spirit of flame ; the powers of Unȧs protect him.”

From this paragraph we see that Unȧs is declared to be the son of Tem, and has made himself stronger than his father, and that when the king, who lives upon his fathers and mothers, enters the sky as a god. all creation is smitten with terror. The sky dissolves in rain, the stars shake in their places, and even the bones of the great double lion-headed earth-god Aker,, quake, and all the lesser powers of heaven flee in fear.

He is considered to have been a mighty conqueror upon earth, for those whom he has vanquished are beneath his feet; there is no reason why this statement should not be taken literally, and not as referring to the mere pictures of enemies which were sometimes painted on the cartonnage coverings of mummies under the feet, and upon the sandals of mummies, and upon the outside of the feet of coffins.

An ordinary man possessed one ka or “double,” but a king or a god was believed to possess many kau or “doubles.” Thus in one text[22] the god Rā is said to possess seven souls (bau) and fourteen doubles (kau), and prayers were addressed to each soul and double of Rā as well as to the god himself; elsewhere[23] we are told that the fourteen kau of Rā, , were given to him by Thoth.

Unȧs appears in heaven with his “gods” upon him, the serpents are on his brow, he is led by a serpent-guide, and is endowed with his powers. It is difficult to say what the “gods” here referred to really are, for it is unlikely that the allusion is to the small figures of gods which, in later times, were laid upon the bodies of the dead, and it seems that we are to understand that he, Unȧs, was accompanied by a number of divine beings who had laid their protecting strength upon him. The uraei on his brow and his serpent-guide were the emblems of similar beings whose help he had bespoken—in other words, they represented spirits of serpents which were made friendly towards man.

The passage in the text of Unȧs continues,

“Unȧs is the Bull of heaven which overcometh by his will, and which feedeth upon that which cometh into being from every god, and he eateth of the provender of those who fill themselves with words of power and come from the Lake of Flame.

Unȧs is provided with power sufficient to resist his spirits (khu), and he riseth [in heaven] like a mighty god who is the lord of the seat of the hand (i.e., power) [of the gods].

He taketh his seat and his back is towards Seb. Unȧs weigheth his speech with the god whose name is hidden on the day of slaughtering the oldest [gods].

Unȧs is the master of the offering and he tieth the knot, and provideth meals for himself; he eateth men and he liveth upon gods, he is the lord of offerings, and he keepeth count of the lists of the same.”

The dead king; is next likened to a young and vigorous bull which feeds upon what is produced by every god and upon those that come from the Fiery Lake to eat words of power. Here we have a survival of the old worship of the bull, which began in the earliest times in Egypt, and lasted until the Roman period. His food is that which is produced by every god, and when we remember that the Egyptians believed that every object, animate and inanimate, was the habitation of a spirit or god, it is easy to see that the allusion in these words is to the green herbage which the bull ordinarily eats, for from this point of view, every blade of grass was the abode of a god.

In connexion with this may be quoted the words of Sankhôn-yâthân, the Sanchoniatho of the Greeks, as given by Eusebius, who says,

“But these first men consecrated the productions of the earth, and judged them gods, and worshipped those things, upon which they themselves lived, and all their posterity, and all before them; to these they made libations and sacrifices.” [24]

Now the food of this bull Unȧs is also said to be those who came from the Lake of Fire, or the city of She-Sȧsȧ, and who are these? From Chapter cviii. of the Book of the Dead we learn that She-Sȧsȧ was situated in Sekhet-Sȧsȧ,[25] i.e., a district in heaven, and it is clear from the text of the Chapter that it was one of the abodes wherein the beatified dead obtained food.

The deceased is made to say,

“I have not lain down in death ; I have stood over thee, [26] and I have risen like a god. I have cackled like a goose, and I have alighted like the hawk by the divine clouds and by the great dew .... I have come from She-Sȧsȧ, which is in Sekhet-Sȧsȧ, i.e., the Lake of Fire, which is in the Field of Fire”

Towards the end of the Chapter (line 10) mention is made of herbage or crops, and it seems as if these grew in the Field of Fire, or in the neighbourhood of it, and it is clear that it must be these which are referred to as the provender of those who come from the Lake of Fire. We are next told that Unȧs hath power sufficient to oppose 0r resist his spirits (khu), but it is not certain whether these are beings in the Underworld which are hostile to him, or spirits which belong to himself; in any case the meaning of the passage is not clear.

Having risen in heaven Unȧs takes his seat with his back towards Seb, the great earth-god who was represented by the mythological goose which was supposed to have laid the great cosmic egg. In the latter part of the section of the text of Unȧs quoted above we have some remarkable ideas enunciated. It is asserted first of all that he “weigheth his speech with the god whose name is hidden,” which indicates that Unȧs was supposed to be of equal rank and power with the god of judgment. From the Theban Recensions of the Book of the Dead[27] we know that the expression “weighing of words,”, means also the “weighing of actions,” and that it is applied to the examination of the deceased which is held on the day wherein his heart is weighed in the Great Scales. The examination was conducted by Thoth on behalf of Osiris, but the words in the text of Unȧs show that the dead king considers himself able to judge his own actions, and to award himself happiness.

The god of the hidden name is probably Osiris. Finally it is said that Unȧs eats men and feeds upon the gods. We have already referred to the passage in Juvenal’s Fifteenth Satire in which he declares that the Egyptians ate human flesh, and it has been already said that the dynastic inscriptions afford no proof whatsoever that the Egyptians were cannibals.

The statement here that Unȧs ate men is definite enough, and it is not easy to give any other than a literal meaning to the words ; we can only assume then that this portion of the text has reference to some acts of cannibalism of which a tradition had come down from predynastic to dynastic times.

We gather from other passages in the texts of Unȧs and Tetȧ what manner of treatment was meted out to the vanquished in battle by the victors, and it seems to find a parallel in the atrocious acts which were, and in some places still are, perpetrated by conquering tribes of Central Africa after a battle. In predynastic times all the property of those who were defeated in war was seized upon by the successful warriors, and all the women fell into their hands, and at times nameless abominations were committed upon the unfortunate male captives.

The dead king in the texts of Unȧs and Tetȧ is, naturally, described as the lord of heaven and of all the beings and things which are therein; as such he is master of all the women, and it is said plainly of him that he is the

“fecundator, and that he carries off the women from their husbands to whatsoever place he pleaseth whensoever he pleaseth.”[28]

Thus one of his attributes was that of the bull, which, because of his fecundity and strength, became the object of worship by the early Egyptians, and he exercised the rights of a victorious tribal chief.

Upon the conquered men who were allowed to live terrible indignities were perpetrated, and in the text of Tetȧ the dead king is exhorted to rise up,

“for Horus hath caused Thoth to bring unto thee thine enemy, and he (i.e., Horus) hath put thee behind him in order that he may not do thee an injury, and that thou mayest make thy place upon him, so that when [thou] goest forth thou mayest take thy place upon him, and he may not have union with thee.”[29]

It is possible then that in predynastic times in addition to the wanton destruction which the Egyptians brought about after a victorious fight with their enemies, and the slaughter, and rapine, and nameless abominations which followed, they sometimes imitated the example of wild and savage beasts and ate the foes they had conquered.

The accounts of the battles of clynastic times show that the Egyptians looted and destroyed the cities and towns of the vanquished, and that they cut down orchards and gardens, and carried off all the flocks and herds which they could find ; and there is abundant proof that they mutilated the bodies of their dead foes after a fight, but that they either ate them or behaved towards them in a! manner contrary to nature there is absolutely no evidence to show.


Unȧs Eats The Gods, Absorbs Their Powers

We have now to consider the remaining paragraphs of the extract from the text of Unȧs. The gods upon whose bodies Unȧs fed were snared by Am-kehuu, and they were examined as to their fitness and condition by Tcheser-ṭep-f, a divine being who was in later times one of the Forty-Two Judges in the Hall of Maāti, and is mentioned in the “Negative Confession” of the Book of the Dead. The gods were next bound by Her-thertu, and the god Khensu cut their throats and took out their intestines; a being called Shesemu acted as butcher and cut them up and cooked the pieces thereof in his fiery cauldrons. Thereupon Unås ate them, and in eating them he also ate their words of power and their spirits.

The largest and finest of the gods he ate at daybreak, and the smaller sized ones for meals at sunset, and the smallest for his meals in the night; the old and worn-out gods he rejected entirely and used them up as fuel in his furnace. The cauldrons in which the bodies of the gods were cooked were heated by the “Great One in heaven,” who shot flame under those which contained the thighs of the oldest of the gods : and the “Perer, who is in heaven,” of Unȧs cast also into cauldrons the thighs of their women. Unȧs is then said to make a journey about every part of the double sky, or double heaven,, i.e., the night sky and the day sky, and also to travel about, presumably from one end to the other, through the two ȧṭebu,, of Egypt, i.e., the land which lies between the mountains and the Nile on each side of the river. As a result of eating of the bodies of the gods Unȧs becomes the Great Sekhem, the Sekhem of the Sekhemu ; he also becomes the Āshem of Āshem, the Great Āshem of the Āshemu.

The power which protects Unȧs and which he possesses is greater than that of all the sāḥu in the heavens, and he becomes the eldest of all the firstborn gods and he goes before thousands and makes offerings to hundreds [of them] ; indeed, the power which has been given to him as the Great Sekhem makes him to become as the star Sahu, i.e., Orion, with the gods.

“Unȧs can repeat his rising in the sky, for he is the Seben crown as lord of the heavens. He taketh count of the knots (or, sinews) and of livers, and he hath taken possession of the hearts of the gods. He hath eaten the Red Crown, he hath eaten the White Crown, and he feedeth upon fat entrails ; the offerings made to him are those in whose hearts live words of power.

What the Red Crown emitteth that he hath eaten, and he flourisheth ; the words of power are in his belly, and his sāhu is not turned away from him. He hath eaten the knowledge of every god, and his existence and the duration of his life are eternal and everlasting in any Sāḥu which he is pleased to make.

Whatsoever he hateth he shall never do within the limits, or, inside the borders of heaven. Behold their soul, i.e., the soul of the gods, is in Unȧs, and their spirits are with him ; his food is more abundant than that of the gods, in whose bones is the flame of Unȧs. Behold their soul is with Unȧs, and their Shadows are with their Forms, or Attributes.

Unȧs is in, or with, the doubly hidden Khā gods (?) [as] a Sekhem, and having performed [all] the ordinances of the (ceremony of) ploughing the seat of the heart of Unȧs shall be among the living upon this earth for ever and ever.”

The last portion of the extract is of peculiar interest because it affords some insight into the beliefs which the Egyptians held about the constituent parts of the economy of the gods. We have already seen that a ba, or soul, has been assigned to Unȧs, and kau, or “doubles,” and khu, or spirits, and a Sāḥu, and a sekhem ; the last two words are difficult to translate, but they are rendered with approximate correctness by “spiritual body,” and “power.”

The soul was intimately connected with the heart, and was supposed to be gratified by offerings, which it was able to consume ; the “double” was an integral part of a man, and was connected with his shadow, and came into being when he was born, and lived in the tomb with the body after death ; the spirit was the seat of the spiritual part of man, and gods and divine personages were credited with the possession of several spirits; the Sāḥu, or spiritual body, was the ethereal, intangible, transparent and translucent body, which was supposed, in dynastic times at all events, to grow from the dead body, the form of which it preserved ; the sekhem was the “power” which seems to have animated the Sāḥu and to have made it irresistible.


Unȧs, The Āshem Of The Āshemu

From the extract given above from the text of Unȧs we learn that the gods were composed of all these various parts, and that in fact their economy resembled that of man ; in other words, the Egyptians made their gods in their own image, only they attributed to them superhuman powers. The gods, however, preserved their existence by means of a magical protection which they enjoyed, meket,, and also by ḥekau,, which is commonly translated “words of power” ; the aim of every Egyptian was to obtain possession of both the magical protection and the words of power, for they thought that if they once were masters of these they would be able to live like the gods.

In the earliest times in Egypt men thought that the only way to obtain the strength and immortality of the gods was to eat the gods themselves, and so we read that Unȧs, having eaten parts of the boiled bodies of the gods,

“hath eaten their words of power ḥeka), and swallowed their spirits (khu).”

As a result of this he becomes the “Great Power,” the “Power of Powers,” i.e., the greatest Power in heaven. He becomes also the Āshem of Ashem, the great Āshem of the Āshemu, that is to say, the very essence of Āshem, and the greatest powers of the Āshemu beings are enshrined within him because he has within him the spirits and the words of power of the gods.

But what is the meaning of Āshem? In the text of Tetȧ the word has for its determinative a hawk perched upon a standard, , which shows that it has some meaning connected with deity or divinity, but it cannot be the name of one divine being only, for we find it in the plural form Āshemu,. The determinative, however, does not help us very much, for it proves little more than that some attribute of the Hawk-god Ḥeru was ascribed to the Āshemu; the hawk was undoubtedly the first creature worshipped by the predynastic Egyptians, andbecame in consequence the common determinative of all words implying the idea of deity or divinity, and of the proper names of the gods in a very large number of passages in the hieroglyphic texts inscribed on the walls of the chambers and corridors in the pyramids at Ṣaḳḳâra.

The common name for “god,” as we have already seen, is “neter,”, or, with the plural “neteru,”, or, or, or, but we find that the male gods are some times called “hawks,”, even when the female gods are called “netert,”,[30] In the Book of the Dead[31] the word Āshemu is written, which may be translated by “divine Āshemu,” and as the first determinative is a squatting hawk, we may assume that the word āshemu means “hawks.”[32]

If this assumption be correct,

“Āshem of Āshem, Great Āshem of the Āshemu,”


“Hawk of Hawk, the Great Hawk of the Hawks,”

and since the hawk was not only a god to the predynastic Egyptians, but their oldest and greatest god, being in fact the spirit of that which is above, i.e., heaven, the passage

“Āshem of Āshem, Great Āshem of the Āshemu,”

may very well be rendered

“god of god, great god of the gods.”

Thus with the words of power and the spirits of the gods in him Unȧs becomes the habitation of the power of God, and the firstborn of the gods. He is now able to go round about heaven at pleasure, and as the Great Sekhem, or Power, his visible emblem is Saḥ or Orion, and he is able to repeat his rising [daily] in heaven like this constellation. It is not improbable that the identification of Orion with kings who had eaten the gods filtered down in tradition to the Semitic people who lived in the Delta in dynastic times, and so became the base of the legends about Orion which are found among the Arabs and Hebrews.


Power Over The Heart

Modern travellers have put on record the fact that certain savage and semi-savage peoples were, even in recent times, in the habit of eating pieces of flesh of mighty wild animals or of strong men, and of drinking their blood with the view of absorbing their nature, and life, and strength into their own bodies.[33] This idea also existed among the Egyptians, both predynastic and dynastic, and we find an allusion to it in the extract from Unȧs under consideration, for he is said to take possession of the hearts of the gods, and to reckon up the thesu and beqesu, and to feed upon fat smau.

The importance which the Egyptians attached to the possession of the physical heart, or of having power over it, is proved by many texts, and especially by several Chapters of the Book of the Dead, wherein we find many prayers which were specially written for the protection of the heart.

Thus in Chapter xxvi. the deceased prays,

“may my heart be to me in the house of hearts, may my ḥāti[34] be to me in the house of ḥātu”;

Chapters xxvii., xxviii., and xxix. were written to prevent the heart being carried away by those who steal hearts and destroy them,; Chapter xxix.a was composed to prevent its death in the Underworld; and Chapters xxx.A and xxx.b were intended to prevent a man's heart from being driven away from him there, especially at the time of the Judgment, when it was weighed in the Great Scales.

For the words thesu, beqesu, and smau it is not easy to find equivalents. From the connexion in which it occurs thesu must mean either the vertebra or some internal organ of the body which resembles a tied or knotted cord, whilst of beqesu the determinative proves that it also is an internal organ.

In Chapter xxx.a the deceased says,

“Homage to thee, O my heart (ȧb)!
Homage to thee, O my ḥāti (pericardium ?)!
Homage to thee, O my besek,”

which is probably a variant form of beqes, but curiously enough the determinative of besek, , is a heart.

In spite of this, however, it seems as if the word actually means “liver.” Mr. Frazer lias quoted in his work[35] instances which prove that savage tribes look upon the liver as the seat of the soul or life of man, and that portions of it are eaten by them with the view of acquiring the qualities of the former possessor of the liver.


The Heart And Words Of Power

The words of the text of Unȧs do not say definitely that the king ate the thesu and livers of the gods who had been killed for him, but it is evident from the context that they were supposed to form part of his food. On the other hand, it is said definitely that he did eat their smau saau, or “fat entrails,”, and their hearts,, or those portions of them which were the seats of the ḥekau, , or words of magical power, which were the source of their life.

Now besides the spirits, and the words of power, and the internal organs of the gods, Unȧs, it is said, hath eaten the “knowledge,”Sȧa, of every god, and the period of his life and his existence are merged into eternity and everlastingness, which he may pass in any way that pleaseth his spiritual body (Sāḥ), and during this existence he has no need whatsoever to do anything [which is distasteful to him. Moreover, the soul[s] and spirits of the gods are in and with Unȧs, and their souls, and their shadows, and their divine forms are with him. Thus we see that Unȧs has absorbed within his spiritual body all the life and power of the gods, and his portion is everlasting life, and he can do anything and everything he pleases.


The Double Life Of Unas

Here we should naturally expect the section to come to an end, but the last sentence goes on to say that Unȧs is with the double Khā god, who is invisible, or unknown, and that being a Power (sekhem) who hath performed [the ceremony] of ploughing,

“the seat of the heart[36] of Unȧs shall be among those who live upon this earth for ever and for ever.”

In this sentence we have an illustration of the difficulty of understanding and explaining the Egyptian religion and the doctrine of the gods. In the early portion of the passage from the text of Unȧs already translated and analyzed we are told how the dead king became the god of god, immortal and invisible, with supreme power in heaven, etc., but at the end of it we read that the seat of the heart of Unȧs shall be among those who live upon this earth for ever and ever, i.e., Unȧs shall enjoy after death a continuation of the life which he began in this world ; in fact, shall have a doable existence, the one heavenly and the other earthly.


Appendix to Chapter I

Unȧs, the slayer and eater of the Gods


Poureth down water



the stars,


go about


the bow-bearers





the bones


of Aker,

ḳer - er - sen

those beneath them

take to flight

ma en sen
[when] they see




[as] a soul


neter ānkh
a god [who] liveth


ȧt - ƒ
his fathers

[and] feedeth


em mut - f
upon his mothers.


this [is]

the lord

of wisdom,

khem en
knoweth not


mut - ƒ
his mother

ren - ƒ
his name.

ȧu shepsu
Is the noble rank


of Unȧs





ȧu user-f
is his strength




the horizon






his father;

ȧu mes
- nef
he (i.e., Tem) begot him

su useru eref

[and] he became stronger than he.

ȧu kau
Are the doubles
Unȧs of Unȧs
ḥa - f
behind him,

ȧu ḥemu set-f (?)
the conquered [are]

reṭui - ƒ
his two feet.

ȧu neteru - ƒ
His gods are
ṭep - f
on him.
ȧu ȧārt - ƒ
His uraei are

ȧpt - ƒ
his brow.


semtu Unȧs
serpent guide of Unȧs is

em ḥāt - f
before him.



the spirit



ȧu useru Unȧs
The powers of Unȧs

ḥer meket - f
protect him.

Unȧs pȧ
Unȧs this [is]

ka pet
the bull of heaven

en heṭ
that thrusteth


ȧb -f

his will,


what cometh into being





and eating


semu - sen
their food

who come
to fill

khat - sen
their belly

words of power



the lake





this [is]
507. [58]
āper-ā er ȧāb
provided with power against

khu - ƒ
his spirits.

ȧu Unȧs khā
Unȧs riseth

ur pu
a mighty one,


the lore

the seat of the hand [of the gods].

ḥems - ƒ
He is seated

sa -f
[with] his back




his word

Ȧmen ren - ƒ
Hidden of Name
on day



the eldest [gods]


this [is]

the lord

of the offering,

the knot,

āut - f
his meals

for himself.



[and] liveth


the gods,

the lord
of the offerings,

who examineth

the lists of offerings.

ȧkhem ȧpt
he who maketh to bow foreheads,

sepeḥ - sen
hath snared them


hath known them

khesef - nef sen
[and] he hath driven them [to him].

Ḥer - thertu

qas - nef sen
hath bound them.


the slaughterer
of lords
tchaṭ - ƒ sen
hath cut the throats of them



he hath torn out

what is in

khat - sen
their belly,
ȧpt pu
[for] he is the messenger
habu - ƒ
[whom] he sent


drive [them].


rekhes - f sen
hath cut them up


feses - nef
he hath boiled

ȧkhet ȧm - sen pieces of them

ketȧt - ƒ
his cauldrons


hath eaten
ḥeka - sen
their words of power,

[he] hath eaten

khu - sen
their spirits.

ȧu uru - sen
Their great ones are

his meal
of the morning,

ȧu ḥer-ȧbu - sen
their middle ones are

meshert - f
his sunset meal,
ȧu shereru - sen
their little ones are

his meal

of the night,
513. [88]
ȧu ȧa - sen
their old ones (male)
ȧatu - sen
their old ones (female) are


kapt - f
his furnace.


the great one



hath shot



the cauldrons

beneath them


khepeshu the thighs

semsu - sen
the eldest ones.

Perer - ȧmu - pet



shesert - nef
hath thrown [into]
the cauldrons



ḥemt - sen
their women.

ȧu ṭeben - nef
He hath gone round about

the double heaven,

all of it,

ȧu perer - nef
he hath gone round about

the two halves of Egypt.


this [isj

the sekhem

the sekhem
the sekhemu.

pȧ āshem
this [is] the āshem,

āshem the āshem

of the āshemu

qemi - f
[What] he findeth

uat - f
his way

ȧm - f nef su
he eateth it

em umu

ȧu mehet Unȧs
The protection of Unȧs [is]

em ḥāt
516. [99]
[that of] the sāḥu



the horizon.



is the eldest

the old ones.
ȧu perer - nef
He hath gone round


ȧu uṭen - nef
he hath offered


ȧu erṭā - nef
Hath been given to him

the hand


the sekhem


the gods.

ȧu nem en Unȧs
Hath repeated Unȧs
[his] rising

em pet
in heaven.
[106] [107]
.... seben
He is the seben crown


of the horizon.

ȧu ḥeseb - nef
He hath counted up

ṭesu beqesu
knots [and] livers.
ȧu thet - nef
He hath taken possession of

the hearts

of the gods.
ȧu ām - nef
He hath eaten
the Red Crown,

ȧu am - nef
he hath eaten
the White Crown.





his offering [is that]



[their] hearts
519. [114]
ḥekau - sen
their words of power.

ȧsht-f ȧu Unȧs
Behold, Unȧs
nesb - ƒ

what is cast out


ṭeshert ȧf
the Red Crown,

uakhḥa - f
he flourisheth,

ȧu ḥeka - sen
their words of power

are in
his belly,
ȧn ḥem em
not is turned back

the sāḥu
of Unȧs

from him.

ȧu ām - nej
He hath eaten
the intelligence



[his] period of life

pȧ neḥeḥ
[is] eternity,

his existence
pȧ tchetta
is everlastingness

sāḥ - f
his sāh,



merer - ƒ
he is pleased [to do]

ȧr - f
he doeth,

mestchetck - ƒ
[what] he hateth

ȧn ȧr-nef
not doeth he

the limits

of the horizon

tchetta er neḥeḥ
for ever and ever.


ba - sen
their soul
[is] in


khu - sen hher
spirits their [are] with


ḥa khet - f
abundant [is] his food

[that of]
the gods.

The flame




qesu - sen
their bones,

their soul

is with


their shadows

are with
ȧru - sen
their forms.


em enen
is with these,

khā khā
rising, rising,

a sekhem

having performed
ȧritu . . .
the ordinances
khebes ȧst-ȧb
ploughing, the seat of the heart

of Unȧs [is]

the living




tchetta er neḥeḥ
for ever and for ever.

Footnotes and references:


ii. 64.


“Quis nescit, Volusi Bithynice, qualia demens
Aegyptus portenta colat ? crocodilon adorat
Pars haec, ilia pavet saturam serpentibus ibin.
Effigies sacri nitet aurea cercopitbeci,
Dimidio magicae resonant ubi Memnone chordae
Atque vetus Thebe centum jacet obruta portis.
Illic aeluros, hie piscem fluminis, illic
Oppida tota canem venerantur, nemo Dianam.
Porrum efc caepe nefas violare et frangere inorsu :
O sanctas gentes, quibus haec nascuntur in hortis
Numina ! Lanatis animalibus abstinet omnis
Mensa, nefas illic fetum ingulare capellae :
Carnibus humanis vesci licet.”

—Satire, xv. 1—13.

That the crocodile, ibis, dog-headed ape, and fish of various kinds were venerated in Egypt is true enough ; they were not, however, venerated in dynastic times as animals, but as the abodes of gods. ' In certain localities peculiar sanctity was attributed to the leek and onion, as Juvenal suggests, but neither vegetable was an object of worship in the country generally ; and there is no monumental evidence to show that the eating of human flesh was practised, for it is now known that oven the predynastic Egyptians did not eat the flesh of the dead and gnaw their bones, as was once rashly asserted. Juvenal’s statements are only partly true, and some of them are on a par with that of a learned Indian who visited England, and wrote a book on this country after his return to Bombay. Speaking of the religion of the English he declared that they were all idolators, and to prove this assertion he gave a list of churches in which he had seen a figure of a lamb in the sculpture work over and about the altar, and in prominent places elsewhere in the churches. The Indian, like Juvenal, and Cicero also, seems not to have understood that many nations have regarded animals as symbols of gods and divine powers, and still do so.


See my edition of the Book of the Bee, by Solomon of Al-Baṣra. Oxford, 1886, pp. 9-11.


See the chapter “Was die Judeu von den guten Engeln lehren” in Eisenmenger, Entdeckten Judenthums, vol. ii. p. 370 ff.


In October, 1899, the level of the water of Lake Victoria was 2 ft. below the normal, and in December the level at Aswftn was 5 ft. 8 ins. below the average ofprevious years.


“If the proportions of this snake were the same as in the existing Python seboe it probably reached a length of thirty feet.” C. W. Andrews, Ɗ.Sc., in Geological Mag., vol. viii., 1901, p. 438.


“Under the wide-spreading brauches of an enormous heglik-tree, and on a spot beautifully clean and sprinkled with fine sand, the Bedeyat beseech an unknown god to direct them in their undertakings and to protect them from danger.” Slatin Pasha, Fire-and Sword in the Sudan, London, 1896, p. 114.


Ibrahîm Rûshdî, Clerk of Telegraphs at Benha, in Lower Egypt, told me in January, 1895, that in many districts the beetles were boiled, and the grease extracted from them ; as they are being boiled the shells come off. The bodies are next roasted in olive oil, and then steeped in myrrh, and after this they are macerated in that liquid, and strained through muslin; the liquid which runs through is believed to cure the itching which is caused by a certain internal ailment. Some men drink a few drops of it in each cup of coffee, and women drink it to make them fat. The old women have a prescription for sore eyes, which is as follows: — Stick a splinter of wood through a series of beetles for twelve hours when a child is about to be born ; when the child is born, pull the splinter out of the last beetle, and dip it in kohil, and rab the eyes of the child with it. If this be done in the proper way the child will never suữer from sore eyes.


See Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities, London, 1900, p. 48 ; the fragments are exhibited in the British Museum, Nineveh Gallery, Table-case C.


Ibid, p. 36. For the cuneiform tablets in the British Museum see Nineveh Galler , Table-case A. See also L. W. King, Seven Tablets of Creation, vol. i., p. 1 ff.


Compare Eisenmenger, op. cit., vol. ii., p. 371.

כל יומא ויומא נבראין
מלאכי השרת מנהר דינור ואמרי שירה ובטלין


See J. de Morgan, Ethnographie Prehistorique, p. 93.


Ed. Maspero, 1. 533


Book of the Dead, Chapter ib., 1. 4.


Book of the Dead, Chapter eviii., l. 5.


Chapter i., l. 4.


See the Fortnightly Review, 1869-1870.


See Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii., p. 236.


See my “History of Egypt” (Egypt in the Predynastic and Archaic Periods), vol. i., p. 78.


In the text of Unȧs (1, G27) the crocodile-god Sebek is called the son of Neith


The hieroglyphic texts are given by Maspero, Les Inscriptions des Pyramides de Saqqarah, Paris, 1894, p. 67, 1. 496, and p. 134, 1. 319.


Dümichen, Tempelinschriſten, vol. i., pi. 29.


Lepsius, Denkmäler, iii., Bl. 194.


Eusebius, Praep. Evan., lib. i., c. 10 (in Cory, Ancient Fragments, London, 1832, p. 5).


. See my Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, Text,


p. 203.


See my Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, Text, p. 18,1. 12 ; p. 19, 1. 5 ; etc.


 Unȧs line 629.


 Tetȧ, line 286


See the text of Unȧs, line 209 ; in the text of Tetȧ, line 197, the gods are described as “male and female,”.


See my Chapters of Coming Forth by Day, Text, p. 128, 1. 14.


A variant form of the word is ȧkhem , and Brugsch (Wörterbuch, Suppl., p. 279) renders it by “the symbol, or visible form of a god.”


See Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites, p. 295.


, the pericardium (?). In the ancient texts the ḥāt, or ḥāti of a god was the seat of the words of power by means of which lie maintained his life.


The Golden Bough, vol. ii., p. 357 (2nd edition).


The word here used is ȧb.


The text here given is from the Pyramid of Unȧs (Maspero, Recueil, tom. iv., p. 59); the variants are from the Pyramid of Tetȧ (Recueil, tom. v., p. 48, 1. 319).

































































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