Produced by John B. Hare and Carrie R. Lorenz
LEGENDS OF THE GODS
The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations
by E. A. Wallis Budge
[Editorial note: Throughout the text “####” represents images which cannot be transcribed.]
The welcome which has been accorded to the volumes of this Series, and the fact that some of them have passed into second and third editions, suggest that these little books have been found useful by beginners in Egyptology and others. Hitherto the object of them has been to supply information about the Religion, Magic, Language, and History of the ancient Egyptians, and to provide editions of the original texts from which such information was derived. There are, however, many branches of Egyptology which need treatment in a similar manner in this Series, and it has been suggested in many quarters that the time has now arrived when the publication of a series of groups of texts illustrating Egyptian Literature in general might well be begun. Seeing that nothing is known about the authors of Egyptian works, not even their names, it is impossible to write a History of Egyptian Literature in the ordinary sense of the word. The only thing to be done is to print the actual works in the best and most complete form possible, with translations, and then to put them in the hands of the reader and leave them to his judgment.
With this object in view, it has been decided to publish in the Series several volumes which shall be devoted to the reproduction in hieroglyphic type of the best and most typical examples of the various kinds of Egyptian Literature, with English translations, on a much larger scale than was possible in my “First Steps in Egyptian” or in my “Egyptian Reading Book.” These volumes are intended to serve a double purpose, i.e., to supply the beginner in Egyptian with new material and a series of reading books, and to provide the general reader with translations of Egyptian works in a handy form.
The Egyptian texts, whether the originals be written in hieroglyphic or hieratic characters, are here printed in hieroglyphic type, and are arranged with English translations, page for page. They are printed as they are written in the original documents, i.e., the words are not divided. The beginner will find the practice of dividing the words for himself most useful in acquiring facility of reading and understanding the language. The translations are as literal as can reasonably be expected, and, as a whole, I believe that they mean what the original writers intended to say. In the case of passages where the text is corrupt, and readings are mixed, or where very rare words occur, or where words are omitted, the renderings given claim to be nothing more than suggestions as to their meanings. It must be remembered that the exact meanings of many Egyptian words have still to be ascertained, and that the ancient Egyptian scribes were as much puzzled as we are by some of the texts which they copied, and that owing to carelessness, ignorance, or weariness, or all three, they made blunders which the modern student is unable to correct. In the Introduction will be found brief descriptions of the contents of the Egyptian texts, in which their general bearing and importance are indicated, and references given to authoritative editions of texts and translations.
E. A. WALLIS BUDGE.
I. THE LEGEND OF THE CREATION
II. THE LEGEND OF THE DESTRUCTION OF MANKIND
III. THE LEGEND OF RA AND THE SNAKE-BITE
IV. THE LEGEND OF HORUS OF EDFU AND THE WINGED DISK
V. THE LEGEND OF THE ORIGIN OF HORUS
VI. A LEGEND OF KHENSU NEFER-HETEP AND THE PRINCESS OF BEKHTEN
VII. THE LEGEND OF KHNEMU AND A SEVEN YEARS’ FAMINE
VIII. THE LEGEND OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF HORUS
IX. THE LEGEND OF ISIS AND OSIRIS ACCORDING TO CLASSICAL WRITERS
LIST OF PLATES AND ILLUSTRATIONS ON OR FOLLOWING PAGE:
The History of Creation
I. Horus holding the Hippopotamus-fiend with chain and spear
II. Horus spearing the Hippopotamus-fiend
III. Horus spearing the Hippopotamus-fiend
IV. Horus and Isis capturing the Hippopotamus fiend
V. Horus on the back of the Hippopotamus-fiend
VI. The slaughter of the Hippopotamus-fiend
VII. Horus of Behutet and Ra-Harmakhis in a shrine
VIII. Horus of Behutet and Ra-Harmakhis in a shrine
IX. Ashthertet in her chariot
X. Horus holding captive foes and spearing Typhonic animals
XI. Horus spearing human foes
XII. Horus spearing the crocodile
XIII. Horus in the form of a lion
XIV. The Procreation of Horus, son of Isis.
XV. The Resurrection of Osiris.
XVI. The Bekhten Stele
XVII. The Metternich Stele–Obverse
XVIII. The Metternich Stele–Reverse
THE LEGEND OF THE GOD NEB-ER-TCHER, AND THE HISTORY OF CREATION.
The text of the remarkable Legend of the Creation which forms the first section of this volume is preserved in a well-written papyrus in the British Museum, where it bears the number 10,188. This papyrus was acquired by the late Mr. A. H. Rhind in 1861 or 1862, when he was excavating some tombs on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. He did not himself find it in a tomb, but he received it from the British Consul at Luxor, Mustafa Agha, during an interchange of gifts when Mr. Rhind was leaving the country. Mustafa Agha obtained the papyrus from the famous hiding-place of the Royal Mummies at Der-al-Bahari, with the situation of which he was well acquainted for many years before it became known to the Egyptian Service of Antiquities. When Mr. Rhind came to England, the results of his excavations were examined by Dr. Birch, who, recognising the great value of the papyrus, arranged to publish it in a companion volume to Facsimiles of Two Papyri, but the death of Mr. Rhind in 1865 caused the project to fall through. Mr. Rhind’s collection passed into the hands of Mr. David Bremner, and the papyrus, together with many other antiquities, was purchased by the Trustees of the British Museum. In 1880 Dr. Birch suggested the publication of the papyrus to Dr. Pleyte, the Director of the Egyptian Museum at Leyden. This savant transcribed and translated some passages from the Festival Songs of Isis and Nephthys, which is the first text in it, and these he published in Recueil de Travaux, Paris, tom. iii., pp. 57-64. In 1886 by Dr. Birch’s kindness I was allowed to work at the papyrus, and I published transcripts of some important passages and the account of the Creation in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 1886-7, pp. 11-26. The Legend of the Creation was considered by Dr. H. Brugsch to be of considerable value for the study of the Egyptian Religion, and encouraged by him[FN#1] I made a full transcript of the papyrus, which was published in Archaeologia, (vol. lii., London, 1891), with transliterations and translations. In 1910 I edited for the Trustees of the British Museum the complete hieratic text with a revised translation.[FN#2]
[FN#1] Ein in moglichst wortgetreuer Uebersetzung vorglegter Papyrus- text soll den Schlussstein meines Werkes bilden. Er wird den Beweis fur die Richtigkeit meiner eigenen Untersuchungen vollenden, indem er das wichtigste Zeugniss altagyptischen Ursprungs den zahlreichen, von mir angezogenen Stellen aus den Inschriften hinzufugt. Trotz mancher Schwierigkeit im Einzelnen ist der Gesammtinhalt des Textes, den zuerst ein englischer Gelehrter der Wissenschaft zuganglich gemacht hat, such nicht im geringsten misszuverstehen (Brugsch, Religion, p. 740). He gives a German translation of the Creation Legend on pp. 740, 741, and a transliteration on p. 756.
[FN#2] Egyptian Hieratic Papyri in the British Museum, London, 1910, folio.
The papyrus is about 16 ft. 8 in. in length, and is 9 1/4 in. in width. It contains 21 columns of hieratic text which are written in short lines and are poetical in character, and 12 columns or pages of text written in long lines; the total number of lines is between 930 and 940. The text is written in a small, very black, but neat hand, and may be assigned to a time between the XXVIth Dynasty and the Ptolemaic Period. The titles, catch-words, rubrics, names of Apep and his fiends, and a few other words, are written in red ink. There are two colophons; in the one we have a date, namely, the “first day of the fourth month of the twelfth year of Pharaoh Alexander, the son of Alexander,” i.e., B.C. 311, and in the other the name of the priest who either had the papyrus written, or appropriated it, namely, Nes-Menu, or Nes-Amsu.
The Legend of the Creation is found in the third work which is given in the papyrus, and which is called the “Book of overthrowing Apep, the Enemy of Ra, the Enemy of Un-Nefer” (i.e., Osiris). This work contained a series of spells which were recited during the performance of certain prescribed ceremonies, with the object of preventing storms, and dispersing rain-clouds, and removing any obstacle, animate or inanimate, which could prevent the rising of the sun in the morning, or obscure his light during the day. The Leader-in Chief of the hosts of darkness was a fiend called Apep who appeared in the sky in the form of a monster serpent, and, marshalling all the fiends of the Tuat, attempted to keep the Sun-god imprisoned in the kingdom of darkness. Right in the midst of the spells which were directed against Apep we find inserted the legend of the Creation, which occurs in no other known Egyptian document (Col. XXVI., l. 21, to Col. XXVII., l. 6). Curiously enough a longer version of the legend is given a little farther on (Col. XXVIII., l. 20, to Col. XXIX., l. 6). Whether the scribe had two copies to work from, and simply inserted both, or whether he copied the short version and added to it as he went along, cannot be said. The legend is entitled: Book of knowing the evolutions of Ra [and of] overthrowing Apep.
This curious “Book” describes the origin not only of heaven, and earth, and all therein, but also of God Himself. In it the name of Apep is not even mentioned, and it is impossible to explain its appearance in the Apep Ritual unless we assume that the whole “Book” was regarded as a spell of the most potent character, the mere recital of which was fraught with deadly effect for Apep and his friends.
The story of the Creation is supposed to be told by the god Neb-er- tcher. This name means the “Lord to the uttermost limit,” and the character of the god suggests that the word “limit” refers to time and space, and that he was, in fact, the Everlasting God of the Universe. This god’s name occurs in Coptic texts, and then he appears as one who possesses all the attributes which are associated by modern nations with God Almighty. Where and how Neb-er-tcher existed is not said, but it seems as if he was believed to have been an almighty and invisible power which filled all space. It seems also that a desire arose in him to create the world, and in order to do this he took upon himself the form of the god Khepera, who from first to last was regarded as the Creator, par excellence, among all the gods known to the Egyptians. When this transformation of Neb-er-tcher into Khepera took place the heavens and the earth had not been created, but there seems to have existed a vast mass of water, or world-ocean, called Nu, and it must have been in this that the transformation took place. In this celestial ocean were the germs of all the living things which afterwards took form in heaven and on earth, but they existed in a state of inertness and helplessness. Out of this ocean Khepera raised himself, and so passed from a state of passiveness and inertness into one of activity. When Khepera raised himself out of the ocean Nu, he found himself in vast empty space, wherein was nothing on which he could stand. The second version of the legend says that Khepera gave being to himself by uttering his own name, and the first version states that he made use of words in providing himself with a place on which to stand. In other words, when Khepera was still a portion of the being of Neb-er-tcher, he spake the word “Khepera,” and Khepera came into being. Similarly, when he needed a place whereon to stand, he uttered the name of the thing, or place, on which he wanted to stand, and that thing, or place, came into being. This spell he seems to have addressed to his heart, or as we should say, will, so that Khepera willed this standing-place to appear, and it did so forthwith. The first version only mentions a heart, but the second also speaks of a heart-soul as assisting Khepera in his first creative acts; and we may assume that he thought out in his heart what manner of thing be wished to create, and then by uttering its name caused his thought to take concrete form. This process of thinking out the existence of things is expressed in Egyptian by words which mean “laying the foundation in the heart.”
In arranging his thoughts and their visible forms Khepera was assisted by the goddess Maat, who is usually regarded as the goddess of law, order, and truth, and in late times was held to be the female counterpart of Thoth, “the heart of the god Ra.” In this legend, however, she seems to play the part of Wisdom, as described in the Book of Proverbs,[FN#3] for it was by Maat that he “laid the foundation.”
[FN#3] “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths I was brought forth . . . . . . . Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, . . . . . . when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him. . . . . . .” Proverbs, viii. 22 ff.}
Having described the coming into being of Khepera and the place on which he stood, the legend goes on to tell of the means by which the first Egyptian triad, or trinity, came into existence. Khepera had, in some form, union with his own shadow, and so begot offspring, who proceeded from his body under the forms of the gods Shu and Tefnut. According to a tradition preserved in the Pyramid Texts[FN#4] this event took place at On (Heliopolis), and the old form of the legend ascribes the production of Shu and Tefnut to an act of masturbation. Originally these gods were the personifications of air and dryness, and liquids respectively; thus with their creation the materials for the construction of the atmosphere and sky came into being. Shu and Tefnut were united, and their offspring were Keb, the Earth-god, and Nut, the Sky-goddess. We have now five gods in existence; Khepera, the creative principle, Shu, the atmosphere, Tefnut, the waters above the heavens, Nut, the Sky-goddess, and Keb, the Earth-god. Presumably about this time the sun first rose out of the watery abyss of Nu, and shone upon the world and produced day. In early times the sun, or his light, was regarded as a form of Shu. The gods Keb and Nut were united in an embrace, and the effect of the coming of light was to separate them. As long as the sun shone, i.e., as long as it was day, Nut, the Sky- goddess, remained in her place above the earth, being supported by Shu; but as soon as the sun set she left the sky and gradually descended until she rested on the body of the Earth-god, Keb.
[FN#4] Pepi I., l. 466.
The embraces of Keb caused Nut to bring forth five gods at a birth, namely, Osiris, Horus, Set, Isis, and Nephthys. Osiris and Isis married before their birth, and Isis brought forth a son called Horus; Set and Nephthys also married before their birth, and Nephthys brought forth a son named Anpu (Anubis), though he is not mentioned in the legend. Of these gods Osiris is singled out for special mention in the legend, in which Khepera, speaking as Neb-er-tcher, says that his name is Ausares, who is the essence of the primeval matter of which he himself is formed. Thus Osiris was of the same substance as the Great God who created the world according to the Egyptians, and was a reincarnation of his great-grandfather. This portion of the legend helps to explain the views held about Osiris as the great ancestral spirit, who when on earth was a benefactor of mankind, and who when in heaven was the saviour of souls.
The legend speaks of the sun as the Eye of Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, and refers to some calamity which befell it and extinguished its light. This calamity may have been simply the coming of night, or eclipses, or storms; but in any case the god made a second Eye, i.e., the Moon, to which he gave some of the splendour of the other Eye, i.e., the Sun, and he gave it a place in his Face, and henceforth it ruled throughout the earth, and had special powers in respect of the production of trees, plants, vegetables, herbs, etc. Thus from the earliest times the moon was associated with the fertility of the earth, especially in connection with the production of abundant crops and successful harvests.
According to the legend, men and women sprang not from the earth, but directly from the body of the god Khepera, or Neb-er-tcher, who placed his members together and then wept tears upon them, and men and women, came into being from the tears which had fallen from his eyes. No special mention is made of the creation of beasts in the legend, but the god says that he created creeping things of all kinds, and among these are probably included the larger quadrupeds. The men and women, and all the other living creatures which were made at that time, reproduced their species, each in his own way, and so the earth became filled with their descendants which we see at the present time.
Such is the Legend of Creation as it is found in the Papyrus of Nes- Menu. The text of both versions is full of difficult passages, and some readings are corrupt; unfortunately variant versions by which they might be corrected are lacking. The general meaning of the legend in both versions is quite clear, and it throws considerable light on the Egyptian religion. The Egyptians believed in the existence of God, the Creator and Maintainer of all things, but they thought that the concerns of this world were committed by Him to the superintendence of a series of subordinate spirits or beings called “gods,” over whom they believed magical spells and ceremonies to have the greatest influence. The Deity was a Being so remote, and of such an exalted nature, that it was idle to expect Him to interfere in the affairs of mortals, or to change any decree or command which He had once uttered. The spirits or “gods,” on the other hand, possessing natures not far removed from those of men, were thought to be amenable to supplications and flattery, and to wheedling and cajolery, especially when accompanied by gifts. It is of great interest to find a legend in which the power of God as the Creator of the world and the sun and moon is so clearly set forth, embedded in a book of magical spells devoted to the destruction of the mythological monster who existed solely to prevent the sun from rising and shining.
THE LEGEND OF THE DESTRUCTION OF MANKIND.
The text containing the Legend of the Destruction of Mankind is written in hieroglyphs, and is found on the four walls of a small chamber which is entered from the “hall of columns” in the tomb of Seti I., which is situated on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. On the wall facing the door of this chamber is painted in red the figure of the large “Cow of Heaven.” The lower part of her belly is decorated with a series of thirteen stars, and immediately beneath it are the two Boats of Ra, called Semketet and Mantchet, or Sektet and Matet. Each of her four legs is held in position by two gods, and the god Shu, with outstretched uplifted arms, supports her body. The Cow was published by Champollion,[FN#5] without the text. This most important mythological text was first published and translated by Professor E. Naville in 1874.[FN#6] It was republished by Bergmann[FN#7] and Brugsch,[FN#8] who gave a transcription of the text, with a German translation. Other German versions by Lauth,[FN#9] Brugsch,[FN#10] and Wiedemann[FN#11] have appeared, and a part of the text was translated into French by Lefebure.[FN#12] The latest edition of the text was published by Lefebure,[FN#13] and text of a second copy, very much mutilated, was published by Professor Naville, with a French translation in 1885.[FN#14] The text printed in this volume is that of M. Lefebure.
[FN#5] Monuments, tom. iii., p. 245.
[FN#6] Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. iv., p. 1 ff.
[FN#7] Hieroglyphische Inschriften, Bl. 85 fl.
[FN#8] Die neue Weltordnung nach Vernichtung des sundigen Menschengeschlechtes, Berlin, 1881.
[FN#9] Aus Aegyptens Vorzeit, p. 71.
[FN#10] Religion der alten Aegypter, p. 436.
[FN#11] Die Religion, p. 32.
[FN#12] A. Z., 1883, p. 32.
[FN#13] Tombeau de Seti I., Part IV., plates 15-18.
[FN#14] Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. viii., p. 412 ft.
The legend takes us back to the time when the gods of Egypt went about in the country, and mingled with men and were thoroughly acquainted with their desires and needs. The king who reigned over Egypt was Ra, the Sun-god, who was not, however, the first of the Dynasty of Gods who ruled the land. His predecessor on the throne was Hephaistos, who, according to Manetho, reigned 9000 years, whilst Ra reigned only 992 years; Panodorus makes his reign to have lasted less than 100 years. Be this as it may, it seems that the “self-created and self-begotten” god Ra had been ruling over mankind for a very long time, for his subjects were murmuring against him, and they were complaining that he was old, that his bones were like silver, his body like gold, and his hair like lapis-lazuli. When Ra heard these murmurings he ordered his bodyguard to summon all the gods who had been with him in the primeval World-ocean, and to bid them privately to assemble in the Great House, which can be no other than the famous temple of Heliopolis. This statement is interesting, for it proves that the legend is of Heliopolitan origin, like the cult of Ra itself, and that it does not belong, at least in so far as it applies to Ra, to the Predynastic Period.
When Ra entered the Great Temple, the gods made obeisance to him, and took up their positions on each side of him, and informed him that they awaited his words. Addressing Nu, the personification of the World- ocean, Ra bade them to take notice of the fact that the men and women whom his Eye had created were murmuring against him. He then asked them to consider the matter and to devise a plan of action for him, for he was unwilling to slay the rebels without hearing what his gods had to say. In reply the gods advised Ra to send forth his Eye to destroy the blasphemers, for there was no eye on earth that could resist it, especially when it took the form of the goddess Hathor. Ra accepted their advice and sent forth his Eye in the form of Hathor to destroy them, and, though the rebels had fled to the mountains in fear, the Eye pursued them and overtook them and destroyed them. Hathor rejoiced in her work of destruction, and on her return was praised by Ra, for what she had done. The slaughter of men began at Suten-henen (Herakleopolis), and during the night Hathor waded about in the blood of men. Ra asserted his intention of being master of the rebels, and this is probably referred to in the Book of the Dead, Chapter XVII., in which it is said that Ra rose as king for the first time in Suten- henen. Osiris also was crowned at Suten-henen, and in this city lived the great Bennu bird, or Phoenix, and the “Crusher of Bones” mentioned in the Negative Confession.
The legend now goes on to describe an act of Ra, the significance of which it is difficult to explain. The god ordered messengers to be brought to him, and when they arrived, he commanded them to run like the wind to Abu, or the city of Elephantine, and to bring him large quantities of the fruit called tataat. What kind of fruit this was is not clear, but Brugsch thought they were “mandrakes,” the so-called “love-apples,” and this translation of tataat may be used provisionally. The mandrakes were given to Sekti, a goddess of Heliopolis, to crush and grind up, and when this was done they were mixed with human blood, and put in a large brewing of beer which the women slaves had made from wheat. In all they made 7,000 vessels of beer. When Ra saw the beer he approved of it, and ordered it to be carried up the river to where the goddess Hathor was still, it seems, engaged in slaughtering men. During the night he caused this beer to be poured out into the meadows of the Four Heavens, and when Hathor came she saw the beer with human blood and mandrakes in it, and drank of it and became drunk, and paid no further attention to men and women. In welcoming the goddess, Ra, called her “Amit,” i.e., “beautiful one,” and from this time onward “beautiful women were found in the city of Amit,” which was situated in the Western Delta, near Lake Mareotis.[FN#15] Ra also ordered that in future at every one of his festivals vessels of “sleep-producing beer” should be made, and that their number should be the same as the number of the handmaidens of Ra. Those who took part in these festivals of Hathor and Ra drank beer in very large quantities, and under the influence of the “beautiful women,” i.e., the priestesses, who were supposed to resemble Hathor in their physical attractions, the festal celebrations degenerated into drunken and licentious orgies.
[FN#15] It was also called the “City of Apis,” (Brugsch, Dict. Geog., p. 491), and is the Apis city of classical writers. It is, perhaps, represented by the modern Kom al-Hisn.
Soon after this Ra complained that he was smitten with pain, and that he was weary of the, children of men. He thought them a worthless remnant, and wished that more of them had been slain. The gods about him begged him to endure, and reminded him that his power was in proportion to his will. Ra was, however, unconsoled, and he complained that his limbs were weak for the first time in his life. Thereupon the god Nu told Shu to help Ra, and he ordered Nut to take the great god Ra on her back. Nut changed herself into a cow, and with the help of Shu Ra got on her back. As soon as men saw that Ra was on the back of the Cow of Heaven, and was about to leave them, they became filled with fear and repentance, and cried out to Ra to remain with them and to slay all those who had blasphemed against him. But the Cow moved on her way, and carried Ra to Het-Ahet, a town of the nome of Mareotis, where in later days the right leg of Osiris was said to be preserved. Meanwhile darkness covered the land. When day broke the men who had repented of their blasphemies appeared with their bows, and slew the enemies of Ra. At this result Ra was pleased, and he forgave those who had repented because of their righteous slaughter of his enemies. From this time onwards human sacrifices were offered up at the festivals of Ra celebrated in this place, and at Heliopolis and in other parts of Egypt.
After these things Ra declared to Nut that he intended to leave this world, and to ascend into heaven, and that all those who would see his face must follow him thither. Then he went up into heaven and prepared a place to which all might come. Then he said, “Hetep sekhet aa,” i.e., “Let a great field be produced,” and straightway “Sekhet-hetep,” or the “Field of peace,” came into being. He next said, “Let there be reeds (aaru) in it,” and straightway “Sekhet Aaru,” or the “Field of Reeds,” came into being. Sekhet-hetep was the Elysian Fields of the Egyptians, and the Field of Reeds was a well-known section of it. Another command of the god Ra resulted in the creation of the stars, which the legend compares to flowers. Then the goddess Nut trembled in all her body, and Ra, fearing that she might fall, caused to come into being the Four Pillars on which the heavens are supported. Turning to Shu, Ra entreated him to protect these supports, and to place himself under Nut, and to hold her up in position with his hands. Thus Shu became the new Sun-god in the place of Ra, and the heavens in which Ra lived were supported and placed beyond the risk of falling, and mankind would live and rejoice in the light of the new sun.
At this place in the legend a text is inserted called the “Chapter of the Cow.” It describes how the Cow of Heaven and the two Boats of the Sun shall be painted, and gives the positions of the gods who stand by the legs of the Cow, and a number of short magical names, or formulae, which are inexplicable. The general meaning of the picture of the Cow is quite clear. The Cow represents the sky in which the Boats of Ra, sail, and her four legs are the four cardinal points which cannot be changed. The region above her back is the heaven in which Ra reigns over the beings who pass thereto from this earth when they die, and here was situated the home of the gods and the celestial spirits who govern this world.
When Ra had made a heaven for himself, and had arranged for a continuance of life on the earth, and the welfare of human beings, he remembered that at one time when reigning on earth he had been bitten by a serpent, and had nearly lost his life through the bite. Fearing that the same calamity might befall his successor, he determined to take steps to destroy the power of all noxious reptiles that dwelt on the earth. With this object in view he told Thoth to summon Keb, the Earth-god, to his presence, and this god having arrived, Ra told him that war must be made against the serpents that dwelt in his dominions. He further commanded him to go to the god Nu, and to tell him to set a watch over all the reptiles that were in the earth and in water, and to draw up a writing for every place in which serpents are known to be, containing strict orders that they are to bite, no one. Though these serpents knew that Ra was retiring from the earth, they were never to forget that his rays would fall upon them. In his place their father Keb was to keep watch over them, and he was their father for ever.
As a further protection against them Ra promised to impart to magicians and snake-charmers the particular word of power, hekau, with which he guarded himself against the attacks of serpents, and also to transmit it to his son Osiris. Thus those who are ready to listen to the formulae of the snake-charmers shall always be immune from the bites of serpents, and their children also. From this we may gather that the profession of the snake-charmer is very ancient, and that this class of magicians were supposed to owe the foundation of their craft to a decree of Ra himself.
Ra next sent for the god Thoth, and when he came into the presence of Ra, he invited him to go with him to a distance, to a place called “Tuat,” i.e., hell, or the Other World, in which region he had determined to make his light to shine. When they arrived there he told Thoth, the Scribe of Truth, to write down on his tablets the names of all who were therein, and to punish those among them who had sinned against him, and he deputed to Thoth the power to deal absolutely as he pleased with all the beings in the Tuat. Ra loathed the wicked, and wished them to be kept at a distance from him. Thoth was to be his vicar, to fill his place, and “Place of Ra,” was to be his name. He gave him power to send out a messenger (hab), so the Ibis (habi) came into being. All that Thoth would do would be good (khen), therefore the Tekni bird of Thoth came into being. He gave Thoth power to embrace (anh) the heavens, therefore the Moon-god (Aah) came into being. He gave Thoth power to turn back (anan) the Northern peoples, therefore the dog-headed ape of Thoth came into being. Finally Ra told Thoth that he would take his place in the sight of all those who were wont to worship Ra, and that all should praise him as God. Thus the abdication of Ra was complete.
In the fragmentary texts which follow we are told how a man may benefit by the recital of this legend. He must proclaim that the soul which animated Ra was the soul of the Aged One, and that of Shu, Khnemu (?), Heh, &c., and then he must proclaim that he is Ra himself, and his word of power Heka. If he recites the Chapter correctly he shall have life in the Other World, and he will be held in greater fear there than here. A rubric adds that he must be dressed in new linen garments, and be well washed with Nile water; he must wear white sandals, and his body must be anointed with holy oil. He must burn incense in a censer, and a figure of Maat (Truth) must be painted on his tongue with green paint. These regulations applied to the laity as well as to the clergy.
THE LEGEND OF RA AND ISIS.
The original text of this very interesting legend is written in the hieratic character on a papyrus preserved at Turin, and was published by Pleyte and Rossi in their Corpus of Turin Papyri.[FN#16] French and German translations of it were published by Lefebure,[FN#17] and Wiedemann[FN#18] respectively, and summaries of its contents were given by Erman[FN#19] and Maspero.[FN#20] A transcript of the hieratic text into hieroglyphics, with transliteration and translation, was published by me in 1895.[FN#21]
[FN#16] Papyrus de Turin, pll. 31, 77, 131-138.
[FN#17] A. Z., 1883, p. 27 ff.
[FN#18] Die Religion, p. 29.
[FN#19] Aegypten, p. 359 ff.
[FN#20] Les Origines, V. 162-4.
[FN#21] First Steps in Egyptian, p. 241 ff.
It has already been seen that the god Ra, when retiring from the government of this world, took steps through Thoth to supply mankind with words of power and spells with which to protect themselves against the bites of serpents and other noxious reptiles. The legend of the Destruction of Mankind affords no explanation of this remarkable fact, but when we read the following legend of Ra and Isis we understand why Ra, though king of the gods, was afraid of the reptiles which lived in the kingdom of Keb. The legend, or “Chapter of the Divine God,” begins by enumerating the mighty attributes of Ra as the creator of the universe, and describes the god of “many names” as unknowable, even by the gods. At this time Isis lived in the form of a woman who possessed the knowledge of spells and incantations, that is to say, she was regarded much in the same way as modern African peoples regard their “medicine-women,” or “witch-women.” She had used her spells on men, and was tired of exercising her powers on them, and she craved the opportunity of making herself mistress of gods and spirits as well as of men. She meditated how she could make herself mistress both of heaven and earth, and finally she decided that she could only obtain the power she wanted if she possessed the knowledge of the secret name of Ra, in which his very existence was bound up. Ra guarded this name most jealously, for he knew that if he revealed it to any being he would henceforth be at that being’s mercy. Isis saw that it was impossible to make Ra declare his name to her by ordinary methods, and she therefore thought out the following plan. It was well known in Egypt and the Sudan at a very early period that if a magician obtained some portion of a person’s body, e.g., a hair, a paring of a nail, a fragment of skin, or a portion of some efflux from the body, spells could be used upon them which would have the effect of causing grievous harm to that person. Isis noted that Ra had become old and feeble, and that as he went about he dribbled at the mouth, and that his saliva fell upon the ground. Watching her opportunity she caught some of the saliva of the and mixing it with dust, she moulded it into the form of a large serpent, with poison-fangs, and having uttered her spells over it, she left the serpent lying on the path, by which Ra travelled day by day as he went about inspecting Egypt, so that it might strike at him as he passed along. We may note in passing that the Banyoro in the Sudan employ serpents in killing buffaloes at the present day. They catch a puff-adder in a noose, and then nail it alive by the tip of its tail to the round in the middle of a buffalo track, so that when an animal passes the reptile may strike at it. Presently a buffalo comes along, does what it is expected to do, and then the puff-adder strikes at it, injects its poison, and the animal dies soon after. As many as ten buffaloes have been killed in a day by one puff-adder. The body of the first buffalo is not eaten, for it is regarded as poisoned meat, but all the others are used as food.[FN#22]
[FN#22] Johnston, Uganda, vol. ii., p. 584. The authority for this statement is Mr. George Wilson, formerly Collector in Unyoro.
Soon after Isis had placed the serpent on the Path, Ra passed by, and the reptile bit him, thus injecting poison into his body. Its effect was terrible, and Ra cried out in agony. His jaws chattered, his lips trembled, and he became speechless for a time; never before had be suffered such pain. The gods hearing his cry rushed to him, and when he could speak he told them that he had been bitten by a deadly serpent. In spite of all the words of power which were known to him, and his secret name which had been hidden in his body at his birth, a serpent had bitten him, and he was being consumed with a fiery pain. He then commanded that all the gods who had any knowledge of magical spells should come to him, and when they came, Isis, the great lady of spells, the destroyer of diseases, and the revivifier of the dead, came with them. Turning to Ra she said, “What hath happened, O divine Father?” and in answer the god told her that a serpent had bitten him, that he was hotter than fire and colder than water, that his limbs quaked, and that he was losing the power of sight. Then Isis said to him with guile, “Divine Father, tell me thy name, for he who uttereth his own name shall live.” Thereupon Ra proceeded to enumerate the various things that he had done, and to describe his creative acts, and ended his speech to Isis by saying, that he was Khepera in the morning, Ra at noon, and Temu in the evening. Apparently he thought that the naming of these three great names would satisfy Isis, and that she would immediately pronounce a word of power and stop the pain in his body, which, during his speech, had become more acute. Isis, however, was not deceived, and she knew well that Ra had not declared to her his hidden name; this she told him, and she begged him once again to tell her his name. For a time the god refused to utter the name, but as the pain in his body became more violent, and the poison passed through his veins like fire, he said, “Isis shall search in me, and my name shall pass from my body into hers.” At that moment Ra removed himself from the sight of the gods in his Boat, and the Throne in the Boat of Millions of Years had no occupant. The great name of Ra was, it seems, hidden in his heart, and Isis, having some doubt as to whether Ra would keep his word or not, agreed with Horus that Ra must be made to take an oath to part with his two Eyes, that is, the Sun and the Moon. At length Ra allowed his heart to be taken from his body, and his great and secret name, whereby he lived, passed into the possession of Isis. Ra thus became to all intents and purposes a dead god. Then Isis, strong in the power of her spells, said: “Flow, poison, come out of Ra. Eye of Horus, come out of Ra, and shine outside his mouth. It is I, Isis, who work, and I have made the poison to fall on the ground. Verily the name of the great god is taken from him, Ra shall live and the poison shall die; if the poison live Ra shall die.”
This was the infallible spell which was to be used in cases of poisoning, for it rendered the bite or sting of every venomous reptile harmless. It drove the poison out of Ra, and since it was composed by Isis after she obtained the knowledge of his secret name it was irresistible. If the words were written on papyrus or linen over a figure of Temu or Heru-hekenu, or Isis, or Horus, they became a mighty charm. If the papyrus or linen were steeped in water and the water drunk, the words were equally efficacious as a charm against snake- bites. To this day water in which the written words of a text from the Kur’an have been dissolved, or water drunk from a bowl on the inside of which religious texts have been written, is still regarded as a never- failing charm in Egypt and the Sudan. Thus we see that the modern custom of drinking magical water was derived from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that it conveyed into their bodies the actual power of their gods.
THE LEGEND OF HERU-BEHUTET AND THE WINGED DISK.
The text of this legend is cut in hieroglyphics on the walls of the temple of Edfu in Upper Egypt, and certain portions of it are illustrated by large bas-reliefs. Both text and reliefs were published by Professor Naville in his volume entitled Mythe d’Horus, fol., plates 12-19, Geneva, 1870. A German translation by Brugsch appeared in the Ahandlungen der Gottinger Akademie, Band xiv., pp. 173-236, and another by Wiedemann in his Die Religion, p. 38 ff. (see the English translation p. 69 ff.). The legend, in the form in which it is here given, dates from the Ptolemaic Period, but the matter which it contains is far older, and it is probable that the facts recorded in it are fragments of actual history, which the Egyptians of the late period tried to piece together in chronological order. We shall see as we read that the writer of the legend as we have it was not well acquainted with Egyptian history, and that in his account of the conquest of Egypt he has confounded one god with another, and mixed up historical facts with mythological legends to such a degree that his meaning is frequently uncertain. The great fact which he wished to describe is the conquest of Egypt by an early king, who, having subdued the peoples in the South, advanced northwards, and made all the people whom he conquered submit to his yoke. Now the King of Egypt was always called Horus, and the priests of Edfu wishing to magnify their local god, Horus of Behutet, or Horus of Edfu, attributed to him the conquests of this human, and probably predynastic, king. We must remember that the legend assumes that Ra, was still reigning on earth, though he was old and feeble, and had probably deputed his power to his successor, whom the legend regards as his son.
Horus holding the Hippopotamus-fiend with chain and spear. Behind stand Isis and Heru Khenti-Khatti.
Horus driving his spear into the Hippopotamus-fiend; behind him stands one of his “Blacksmiths”.
Horus driving his spear into the belly of the Hippopotamus-fiend as he lies on his back; behind stands on of his “Blacksmiths”.
Horus and Isis capturing the Hippopotamus-fiend.
In the 363rd year of his reign Ra-Harmakhis[FN#23] was in Nubia with his army with the intention of destroying those who had conspired against him; because of their conspiracy (auu) Nubia is called “Uaua” to this day. From Nubia Ra-Harmakhis sailed down the river to Edfu, where Heru-Behutet entered his boat, and told him that his foes were conspiring against him. Ra-Harmakhis in answer addressed Heru-Behutet as his son, and commanded him to set out without delay and slay the wicked rebels. Then Heru-Behutet took the form of a great winged Disk, and at once flew up into the sky, where he took the place of Ra, the old Sun-god. Looking down from the height of heaven he was able to discover the whereabouts of the rebels, and he pursued them in the form of a winged disk. Then he attacked them with such violence that they became dazed, and could neither see where they were going, nor hear, the result of this being that they slew each other, and in a very short time they were all dead. Thoth, seeing this, told Ra that because Horus had appeared as a great winged disk he must be called “Heru- Behutet,” and by this name Horus was known ever after at Edfu. Ra embraced Horus, and referred with pleasure to the blood which he had shed, and Horus invited his father to come and look upon the slain. Ra set out with the goddess Ashthertet (`Ashtoreth) to do this, and they saw the enemies lying fettered on the ground. The legend here introduces a number of curious derivations of the names of Edfu, &c., which are valueless, and which remind us of the derivations of place- names propounded by ancient Semitic scribes.
[FN#23] i.e., Ra on the horizon.
Horus standing on the back of the Hippopotamus-fiend, and spearing him in the presence of Isis.
The “Butcher-priest” slicing open the Hippopotamus-fiend.
In gladness of heart Ra proposed a sail on the Nile, but as soon as his enemies heard that he was coming, they changed themselves into crocodiles and hippopotami, so that they might be able to wreck his boat and devour him. As the boat of the god approached them they opened their jaws to crush it, but Horus and his followers came quickly on the scene, and defeated their purpose. The followers of Horus here mentioned are called in the text “Mesniu,” i.e., “blacksmiths,” or “workers in metal,” and they represent the primitive conquerors of the Egyptians, who were armed with metal weapons, and so were able to overcome with tolerable ease the indigenous Egyptians, whose weapons were made of flint and wood. Horus and his “blacksmiths” were provided with iron lances and chains, and, baying cast the chains over the monsters in the river, they drove their lances into their snouts, and slew 651 of them. Because Horus gained his victory by means of metal weapons, Ra decreed that a metal statue of Horus should be placed at Edfu, and remain there for ever, and a name was given to the town to commemorate the great battle that had taken place there. Ra applauded Horus for the mighty deeds which be had been able to perform by means of the spells contained in the “Book of Slaying the Hippopotamus.” Horus then associated with himself the goddesses Uatchet and Nekhebet, who were in the form of serpents, and, taking his place as the winged Disk on the front of the Boat of Ra, destroyed all the enemies of Ra wheresoever he found them. When the remnant of the enemies of Ra, saw that they were likely to be slain, they doubled back to the South, but Horus pursued them, and drove them down the river before him as far as Thebes. One battle took place at Tchetmet, and another at Denderah, and Horus was always victorious; the enemies were caught by chains thrown over them, and the deadly spears of the Blacksmiths drank their blood.
After this the enemy fled to the North, and took refuge in the swamps of the Delta, and in the shallows of the Mediterranean Sea, and Horus pursued them thither. After searching for them for four days and four nights he found them, and they were speedily slain. One hundred and forty-two of them and a male hippopotamus were dragged on to the Boat of Ra, and there Horus dug out their entrails, and hacked their carcases in pieces, which he gave to his Blacksmiths and the gods who formed the crew of the Boat of Ra. Before despatching the hippopotamus, Horus leaped on to the back of the monster as a mark of his triumph, and to commemorate this event the priest of Heben, the town wherein these things happened, was called “He who standeth on the back ever after.”
The end of the great fight, however, was not yet. Another army of enemies appeared by the North Lake, and they were marching towards the sea; but terror of Horus smote their hearts, and they fled and took refuge in Mertet-Ament, where they allied themselves with the followers of Set, the Arch-fiend and great Enemy of Ra. Thither Horus and his well-armed Blacksmiths pursued them, and came up with them at the town called Per-Rerehu, which derived its name from the “Two Combatants,” or “Two Men,” Horus and Set. A great fight took place, the enemies of Ra were defeated with great slaughter, and Horus dragged 381 prisoners on to the Boat of Ra, where he slew them, and gave their bodies to his followers.
Horus of Behutet and Ra-Harmakhis in a shrine.
Horus of Behutet and Harmakhis in a shrine.
Ashthertet (‘Ashtoreth’) driving her chariot over the prostrate foe.
Left: Horus of Behutet spearing a Typhonic animal, and holding his prisoners with rope.
Right: Horus of Behutet, accompanied by Ra-Harmakhis and Menu, spearing the Hippopotamus-fiend.
Then Set rose up and cursed Horus because he had slain his allies, and he used such foul language that Thoth called him “Nehaha-her,” i.e., “Stinking Face,” and this name clung to him ever after. After this Horus and Set engaged in a fight which lasted a very long time, but at length Horus drove his spear into the neck of Set with such violence that the Fiend fell headlong to the ground. Then Horus smote with his club the mouth which had uttered such blasphemies, and fettered him with his chain. In this state Horus dragged Set into the presence of Ra, who ascribed great praise to Horus, and special names were given to the palace of Horus and the high priest of the temple in commemoration of the event. When the question of the disposal of Set was being discussed by the gods, Ra ordered that he and his fiends should be given over to Isis and her son Horus, who were to do what they pleased with them. Horus promptly cut off the heads of Set and his fiends in the presence of Ra and Isis, and be dragged Set by his feet through the country with his spear sticking in his head and neck. After this Isis appointed Horus of Behutet to be the protecting deity of her son Horus.
The fight between the Sun-god and Set was a very favourite subject with Egyptian writers, and there are many forms of it. Thus there is the fight between Heru-ur and Set, the fight between Ra and Set, the fight between Heru-Behutet and Set, the fight between Osiris and Set, and the fight between Horus, son of Isis, and Set. In the oldest times the combat was merely the natural opposition of light to darkness, but later the Sun-god became the symbol of right and truth as well as of light, and Set the symbol of sin and wickedness as well as of darkness, and ultimately the nature myth was forgotten, and the fight between the two gods became the type of the everlasting war which good men wage against sin. In Coptic literature we have the well-known legend of the slaughter of the dragon by St. George, and this is nothing but a Christian adaptation of the legend of Horus and Set.
After these things Horus, son of Ra, and Horus, son of Isis, each took the form of a mighty man, with the face and body of a hawk, and each wore the Red and White Crowns, and each carried a spear and chain. In these forms the two gods slew the remnant of the enemies. Now by some means or other Set came to life again, and he took the form of a mighty hissing or “roaring” serpent, and hid himself in the ground, in a place which was ever after called the “place of the roarer.” In front of his hiding-place Horus, son of Isis, stationed himself in the form of a hawk-headed staff to prevent him from coming out. In spite of this, however, Set managed to escape, and he gathered about him the Smai and Seba fiends at the Lake of Meh, and waged war once more against Horus; the enemies of Ra were again defeated, and Horus slew them in the presence of his father.
Horus of Behutet and Thoth spearing human victims with the assistance of Isis.
Horus of Behutet and Thoth spearing Set in the form of a crocodile.
Horus, it seems, now ceased to fight for some time, and devoted himself to keeping guard over the “Great God” who was in An-rut-f, a district in or near Herakleopolis. This Great God was no other than Osiris, and the duty of Horus was to prevent the Smai fiends from coming by night to the place. In spite of the power of Horus, it was found necessary to summon the aid of Isis to keep away the fiends, and it was only by her words of power that the fiend Ba was kept out of the sanctuary. As a reward for what he had already done, Thoth decreed that Horus should be called the “Master-Fighter.” Passing over the derivations of place- names which occur here in the text, we find that Horus and his Blacksmiths were again obliged to fight bodies of the enemy who had managed to escape, and that on one occasion they killed one hundred and six foes. In every fight the Blacksmiths performed mighty deeds of valour, and in reward for their services a special district was allotted to them to dwell in.
The last great fight in the North took place at Tanis, in the eastern part of the Delta. When the position of the enemy had been located, Horus took the form of a lion with the face of a man, and he put on his head the Triple Crown. His claws were like flints, and with them he dragged away one hundred and forty-two of the enemy, and tore them in pieces, and dug out their tongues, which he carried off as symbols of his victory.
Meanwhile rebellion had again broken out in Nubia, where about one- third of the enemy had taken refuge in the river in the forms of crocodiles and hippopotami. Ra counselled Horus to sail up the Nile with his Blacksmiths, and when Thoth had recited the “Chapters of protecting the Boat of Ra” over the boats, the expedition set sail for the South. The object of reciting these spells was to prevent the monsters which were in the river from making the waves to rise and from stirring up storms which might engulf the boats of Ra and Horus and the Blacksmiths. When the rebels and fiends who had been uttering, treason against Horus saw the boat of Ra, with the winged Disk of Horus accompanied by the goddesses Uatchet and Nekhebet in the form of serpents, they were smitten with fear, and their hearts quaked, and all power of resistance left them, and they died of fright straightway. When Horus returned in triumph to Edfu, Ra ordered that an image of the winged Disk should be placed in each of his sanctuaries, and that in every place wherein a winged Disk was set, that sanctuary should be a sanctuary of Horus of Behutet. The winged disks which are seen above the doorways of the temples still standing in Egypt show that the command of Ra, was faithfully carried out by the priests.
Horus of Behutet in the form of a lion slaying his foes.
LEGEND OF THE BIRTH OF HORUS, SON OF ISIS AND OSIRIS.
The Procreation of Horus, son of Isis.
The text which contains this legend is found cut in hieroglyphics upon a stele which is now preserved in Paris. Attention was first called to it by Chabas, who in 1857 gave a translation of it in the Revue Archeologique, p. 65 ff., and pointed out the importance of its contents with his characteristic ability. The hieroglyphic text was first published by Ledrain in his work on the monuments of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris,[FN#24] and I gave a transcript of the text, with transliteration and translation, in 1895.[FN#25]
[FN#24] Les Monuments Egyptiens (Cabinet des Medailles et Antiques), In the Bibliotheque de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, Paris, 1879-1882, plate xxii. ff.
[FN#25] First Steps in Egyptian, pp. 179-188.
The greater part of the text consists of a hymn to Osiris, which was probably composed under the XVIIIth Dynasty, when an extraordinary development of the cult of that god took place, and when he was placed by Egyptian theologians at the head of all the gods. Though unseen in the temples, his presence filled all Egypt, and his body formed the very substance of the country. He was the God of all gods and the Governor of the Two Companies of the gods, he formed the soul and body of Ra, he was the beneficent Spirit of all spirits, he was himself the celestial food on which the Doubles in the Other World lived. He was the greatest of the gods in On (Heliopolis), Memphis, Herakleopolis, Hermopolis, Abydos, and the region of the First Cataract, and so. He embodied in his own person the might of Ra-Tem, Apis and Ptah, the Horus-gods, Thoth and Khnemu, and his rule over Busiris and Abydos continued to be supreme, as it had been for many, many hundreds of years. He was the source of the Nile, the north wind sprang from him, his seats were the stars of heaven which never set, and the imperishable stars were his ministers. All heaven was his dominion, and the doors of the sky opened before him of their own accord when he appeared. He inherited the earth from his father Keb, and the sovereignty of heaven from his mother Nut. In his person he united endless time in the past and endless time in the future. Like Ra he had fought Seba, or Set, the monster of evil, and had defeated him, and his victory assured to him lasting authority over the gods and the dead. He exercised his creative power in making land and water, trees and herbs, cattle and other four-footed beasts, birds of all kinds, and fish and creeping things; even the waste spaces of the desert owed allegiance to him as the creator. And he rolled out the sky, and set the light above the darkness.
The last paragraph of the text contains an allusion to Isis, the sister and wife of Osiris, and mentions the legend of the birth of Horus, which even under the XVIIIth Dynasty was very ancient, Isis, we are told, was the constant protectress of her brother, she drove away the fiends that wanted to attack him, and kept them out of his shrine and tomb, and she guarded him from all accidents. All these things she did by means of spells and incantations, large numbers of which were known to her, and by her power as the “witch-goddess.” Her “mouth was trained to perfection, and she made no mistake in pronouncing her spells, and her tongue was skilled and halted not.” At length came the unlucky day when Set succeeded in killing Osiris during the war which the “good god” was waging against him and his fiends. Details of the engagement are wanting, but the Pyramid Texts state that the body of Osiris was hurled to the ground by Set at a place called Netat, which seems to have been near Abydos.[FN#26] The news of the death of Osiris was brought to Isis, and she at once set out to find his body. All legends agree in saying that she took the form of a bird, and that she flew about unceasingly, going hither and thither, and uttering wailing cries of grief. At length she found the body, and with a piercing cry she alighted on the ground. The Pyramid Texts say that Nephthys was with her that “Isis came, Nephthys came, the one on the right side, the other on the left side, one in the form of a Hat bird, the other in the form of a Tchert bird, and they found Osiris thrown on the ground in Netat by his brother Set.” The late form of the legend goes on to say that Isis fanned the body with her feathers, and produced air, and that at length she caused the inert members of Osiris to move, and drew from him his essence, wherefrom she produced her child Horus.
[FN#26] Pepi I., line 475; Pepi II., line 1263.
This bare statement of the dogma of the conception of Horus does not represent all that is known about it, and it may well be supplemented by a passage from the Pyramid Texts,[FN#27] which reads, “Adoration to thee, O Osiris.[FN#28] Rise thou up on thy left side, place thyself on thy right side. This water which I give unto thee is the water of youth (or rejuvenation). Adoration to thee, O Osiris! Rise thou up on thy left side, place thyself on thy right side. This bread which I have made for thee is warmth. Adoration to thee, O Osiris! The doors of heaven are opened to thee, the doors of the streams are thrown wide open to thee. The gods in the city of Pe come [to thee], Osiris, at the sound (or voice) of the supplication of Isis and Nephthys. . . . . Thy elder sister took thy body in her arms, she chafed thy hands, she clasped thee to her breast [when] she found thee [lying] on thy side on the plain of Netat.” And in another place we read:[FN#29] “Thy two sisters, Isis and Nephthys, came to thee, Kam-urt, in thy name of Kam-ur, Uatchet-urt, in thy name of Uatch-ur . . . . . . . Isis and Nephthys weave magical protection for thee in the city of Saut, for thee their lord, in thy name of ‘Lord of Saut,’ for their god, in thy name of ‘God.’ They praise thee; go not thou far from them in thy name of ‘Tua.’ They present offerings to thee; be not wroth in thy name of ‘Tchentru.’ Thy sister Isis cometh to thee rejoicing in her love for thee.[FN#30] Thou hast union with her, thy seed entereth her. She conceiveth in the form of the star Septet (Sothis). Horus-Sept issueth from thee in the form of Horus, dweller in the star Septet. Thou makest a spirit to be in him in his name ‘Spirit dwelling in the god Tchentru.’ He avengeth thee in his name of ‘Horus, the son who avenged his father.’ Hail, Osiris, Keb hath brought to thee Horus, he hath avenged thee, he hath brought to thee the hearts of the gods, Horus hath given thee his Eye, thou hast taken possession of the Urert Crown thereby at the head of the gods. Horus hath presented to thee thy members, he hath collected them completely, there is no disorder in thee. Thoth hath seized thy enemy and hath slain him and those who were with him.” The above words are addressed to dead kings in the Pyramid Texts, and what the gods were supposed to do for them was believed by the Egyptians to have been actually done for Osiris. These extracts are peculiarly valuable, for they prove that the legend of Osiris which was current under the XVIIIth Dynasty was based upon traditions which were universally accepted in Egypt under the Vth and VIth Dynasties.
[FN#27] Mer-en-Ra, line 336; Pepi II., line 862.
[FN#28] I omit the king’s names.
[FN#29] Teta, line 274; Pepi I., line 27; Mer-en-Ra, line 37; and Pepi II., line 67.
[FN#30] Pyramid Text, Teta, l. 276.
The Stele recording the casting out of a devil from the Princess of Bekhten.
The hymn concludes with a reference to the accession of Horus, son of Isis, the flesh and bone of Osiris, to the throne of his grandfather Keb, and to the welcome which he received from the Tchatcha, or Administrators of heaven, and the Company of the Gods, and the Lords of Truth, who assembled in the Great House of Heliopolis to acknowledge his sovereignty. His succession also received the approval of Neb-er- tcher, who, as we saw from the first legend in this book, was the Creator of the Universe.
A LEGEND OF KHENSU NEFER-HETEP[FN#31] AND THE PRINCESS OF BEKHTEN.
[FN#31] In the headlines of this section, p. 106 ff., for Ptah Nefer-hetep read Khensu Nefer-hetep.
The text of this legend is cut in hieroglyphics upon a sandstone stele, with a rounded top, which was found in the temple of Khensu at Thebes, and is now preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris; it was discovered by Champollion, and removed to Paris by Prisse d’Avennes in 1846. The text was first published by Prisse d’Avennes,[FN#32] and it was first translated by Birch[FN#33] in 1853. The text was republished and translated into French by E. de Rouge in 1858,[FN#34] and several other renderings have been given in German and in English since that date.[FN#35] When the text was first published, and for some years afterwards, it was generally thought that the legend referred to events which were said to have taken place under a king who was identified as Rameses XIII., but this misconception was corrected by Erman, who showed[FN#36] that the king was in reality Rameses II. By a careful examination of the construction of the text he proved that the narrative on the stele was drawn up several hundreds of years after the events described in it took place, and that its author was but imperfectly acquainted with the form of the Egyptian language in use in the reign of Rameses II. In fact, the legend was written in the interests of the priests of the temple of Khensu, who wished to magnify their god and his power to cast out devils and to exorcise evil spirits; it was probably composed between B.C. 650 and B.C. 250.[FN#37]
[FN#32] Choix de Monuments Egyptiens, Paris, 1847, plate xxiv.
[FN#33] Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, New Series, vol. iv., p. 217 ff.
[FN#34] Journal Asiatique (Etude sur une Stele Egyptienne), August, 1856, August, 1857, and August-Sept., 1858, Paris, 8vo, with plate.
[FN#35] Brugsch, Geschichte Aegyptens, 1877, p. 627 ff.; Birch, Records of the Past, Old Series, vol. iv., p. 53 ff.; Budge, Egyptian Reading Book, text and transliteration, p. 40 ff.; translation, p. xxviii. ff.
[FN#36] Aeg. Zeit., 1883, pp. 54-60.
[FN#37] Maspero, Les Contes Populaires, 3rd edit., p. 166.
The legend, after enumerating the great names of Rameses II., goes on to state that the king was in the “country of the two rivers,” by which we are to understand some portion of Mesopotamia, the rivers being the Tigris and Euphrates, and that the local chiefs were bringing to him tribute consisting of gold, lapis-lazuli, turquoise, and logs of wood from the Land of the God. It is difficult to understand how gold and logs of wood from Southern Arabia and East Africa came to be produced as tribute by chiefs who lived so far to the north. Among those who sent gifts was the Prince of Bekhten, and at the head of all his tribute he sent his eldest daughter, bearing his message of homage and duty. Now the maiden was beautiful, and the King of Egypt thought her so lovely that be took her to wife, and bestowed upon her the name “Ra- neferu,” which means something like the “beauties of Ra.” He took her back with him to Egypt, where she was installed as Queen.
During the summer of the fifteenth year of his reign, whilst Rameses II. was celebrating a festival of Amen-Ra in the Temple of Luxor, one came to him and reported that an envoy had arrived from the Prince of Bekhten, bearing with him many gifts for the Royal Wife Ra-neferu. When the envoy had been brought into the presence, he addressed words of homage to the king, and, having presented the gifts from his lord, he said that he had come to beg His Majesty to send a “learned man,” i.e., a magician, to Bekhten to attend Bent-enth-resh, His Majesty’s sister-in-law, who was stricken with some disease. Thereupon the king summoned the learned men of the House of Life, i.e., the members of the great College of Magic at Thebes, and the qenbetu officials, and when they had entered his presence, he commanded them to select a man of “wise heart and deft fingers” to go to Bekhten. The choice fell upon one Tehuti-em-heb, and His Majesty sent him to Bekhten with the envoy. When they arrived in Bekhten, Tehuti-em-heb found that the Princess Bent-enth-resh was possessed by an evil spirit which refused to be exorcised by him, and he was unable to cast out the devil. The Prince of Bekhten, seeing that the healing of his daughter was beyond the power of the Egyptian, sent a second envoy to Rameses II., and besought him to send a god to drive out the devil. This envoy arrived in Egypt in the summer of the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Rameses II., and found the king celebrating a festival in Thebes. When he heard the petition of the envoy, he went to the Temple of Khensu Nefer-hetep “a second time,”[FN#38] and presented himself before the god and besought his help on behalf of his sister-in-law.
[FN#38] Thus the king must have invoked the help of Khensu on the occasion of the visit of the first envoy.
Then the priests of Khensu Nefer-hetep carried the statue of this god to the place where was the statue of Khensu surnamed “Pa-ari-sekher,” i.e., the “Worker of destinies,” who was able to repel the attacks of evil spirits and to drive them out. When the statues of the two gods were facing each other, Rameses II. entreated Khensu Nefer-hetep to “turn his face towards,” i.e., to look favourably upon Khensu. Pa-ari- sekher, and to let him go to Bekhten to drive the devil out of the Princess of Bekhten. The text affords no explanation of the fact that Khensu Nefer-hetep was regarded as a greater god than Khensu Pa-ari- sekher, or why his permission had to be obtained before the latter could leave the country. It is probable that the demands made upon Khensu Nefer-hetep by the Egyptians who lived in Thebes and its neighbourhood were so numerous that it was impossible to let his statue go into outlying districts or foreign lands, and that a deputy-god was appointed to perform miracles outside Thebes. This arrangement would benefit the people, and would, moreover, bring much money to the priests. The appointment of a deputy-god is not so strange as it may seem, and modern African peoples are familiar with the expedient. About one hundred years ago the priests of the god Bobowissi of Winnebah, in the Tshi region of West Africa, found their business so large that it was absolutely necessary for them to appoint a deputy. The priests therefore selected Brahfo, i.e., “deputy,” and gave out that Bobowissi had deputed all minor matters to him, and that his utterances were to be regarded as those of Bobowissi. Delegates were ordered to be sent to Winnebah in Ashanti, where they would be shown the “deputy” god by the priests, and afterwards he would be taken to Mankassim, where he would reside, and do for the people all that Bobowissi had done hitherto.[FN#39]
[FN#39] Ellis, Tshi-speaking Peoples, p. 55.
When Rameses II. had made his petition to Khensu Nefer-hetep, the statue of the god bowed its head twice, in token of assent. Here it is clear that we have an example of the use of statues with movable limbs, which were worked, when occasion required, by the priests. The king then made a second petition to the god to transfer his sa, or magical power, to Khensu Pa-ari-sekher so that when he had arrived in Bekhten he would be able to heal the Princess. Again the statue of Khensu Nefer-hetep bowed its head twice, and the petition of the king was granted. The text goes on to say that the magical power of the greater god was transferred to the lesser god four times, or in a fourfold measure, but we are not told how this was effected. We know from many passages in the texts that every god was believed to possess this magical power, which is called the “sa of life,” or the “sa of the god,”.[FN#40] This sa could be transferred by a god or goddess to a human being, either by an embrace or through some offering which was eaten. Thus Temu transferred the magical power of his life to Shu and Tefnut by embracing them,[FN#41] and in the Ritual of the Divine Cult[FN#42] the priest says, The two vessels of milk of Temu are the “sa of my limbs.” The man who possessed this sa could transfer it to his friend by embracing him and then “making passes” with his hands along his back. The sa could be received by a man from a god and then transmitted by him to a statue by taking it in his arms, and this ceremony was actually performed by the king in the Ritual of the Divine Cult.[FN#43] The primary source of this sa was Ra, who bestowed it without measure on the blessed dead,[FN#44] and caused them to live for ever thereby. These, facts make it tolerably certain that the magical power of Khensu Nefer-hetep was transferred to Khensu Pa-ari-sekher in one of two ways: either the statue of the latter was brought near to that of the former and it received the sa by contact, or the high priest first received the sa from the greater god and then transmitted it to the lesser god by embraces and “passes” with his hands. Be this as it may, Khensu Pa-ari-sekher received the magical power, and having been placed in his boat, he set out for Bekhten, accompanied by five smaller boats, and chariots and horses which marched on each side of him.
[FN#40] Text of Unas, line 562.
[FN#41] Pyramid Texts, Pepi I., l. 466.
[FN#42] Ed. Moret, p. 21.
[FN#43] Ibid., p. 99.
[FN#44] Pepi I., line 666.
When after a journey of seventeen months Khensu Pa-ari-sekher arrived in Bekhten, he was cordially welcomed by the Prince, and, having gone to the place where the Princess who was possessed of a devil lived, he exercised his power to such purpose that she was healed immediately. Moreover, the devil which had been cast out admitted that Khensu Pa- ari-sekher was his master, and promised that he would depart to the place whence he came, provided that the Prince of Bekhten would celebrate a festival in his honour before his departure. Meanwhile the Prince and his soldiers stood by listening to the conversation between the god and the devil, and they were very much afraid. Following the instructions of Khensu Pa-ari-sekher the Prince made a great feast in honour of the supernatural visitors, and then the devil departed to the “place which he loved,” and there was general rejoicing in the land. The Prince of Bekhten was so pleased with the Egyptian god that he determined not to allow him to return to Egypt. When the statue of Khensu Pa-ari-sekher had been in Bekhten for three years and nine months, the Prince in a vision saw the god, in the form of a golden hawk, come forth from his shrine, and fly up into the air and direct his course to Egypt. Realizing that the statue of the god was useless without its indwelling spirit, the Prince of Bekhten permitted the priests of Khensu Pa-ari-sekher to depart with it to Egypt, and dismissed them with gifts of all kinds. In due course they arrived in Egypt and the priests took their statue to the temple of Khensu Nefer-hetep, and handed over to that god all the gifts which the Prince of Bekhten had given them, keeping back nothing for their own god. After this Khensu Pa-ari-sekher returned to his temple in peace, in the thirty-third year of the reign of Rameses II., having been absent from it about eight years.
A LEGEND OF KHNEMU AND OF A SEVEN YEARS’ FAMINE.
The text of this most interesting legend is found in hieroglyphics on one side of a large rounded block of granite some eight or nine feet high, which stands on the south-east portion of Sahal, a little island lying in the First Cataract, two or three miles to the south of Elephantine Island and the modern town of Aswan. The inscription is not cut into the rock in the ordinary way, but was “stunned” on it with a blunted chisel, and is, in some lights, quite invisible to anyone standing near the rock, unless he is aware of its existence. It is in full view of the river-path which leads from Mahallah to Philae, and yet it escaped the notice of scores of travellers who have searched the rocks and islands in the Cataract for graffiti and inscriptions. The inscription, which covers a space six feet by five feet, was discovered accidentally on February 6th, 1889, by the late Mr. C. E. Wilbour, a distinguished American gentleman who spent many years in research in Egypt. He first copied the text, discovering in the course of his work the remarkable nature of its contents and then his friend Mr. Maudslay photographed it. The following year he sent prints from Mr. Maudslay’s negatives to Dr. Brugsch, who in the course of 1891 published a transcript of the text with a German translation and notes in a work entitled Die biblischen sieben Jahre der Hungersnoth, Leipzig, 8vo.
The legend contained in this remarkable text describes a terrible famine which took place in the reign of Tcheser, a king of the IIIrd Dynasty, and lasted for seven years. Insufficient Nile-floods were, of course, the physical cause of the famine, but the legend shows that the “low Niles” were brought about by the neglect of the Egyptians in respect of the worship of the god of the First Cataract, the great god Khnemu. When, according to the legend, king Tcheser had been made to believe that the famine took place because men had ceased to worship Khnemu in a manner appropriate to his greatness, and when he had taken steps to remove the ground of complaint, the Nile rose to its accustomed height, the crops became abundant once more, and all misery caused by scarcity of provisions ceased. In other words, when Tcheser restored the offerings of Khnemu, and re-endowed his sanctuary and his priesthood, the god allowed Hapi to pour forth his streams from the caverns in the Cataract, and to flood the land with abundance. The general character of the legend, as we have it here, makes it quite certain that it belongs to a late period, and the forms of the hieroglyphics and the spellings of the words indicate that the text was “stunned” on the rock in the reign of one of the Ptolemies, probably at a time when it was to the interest of some men to restore the worship of Khnemu, god of the First Cataract. These interested people could only have been the priests of Khnemu, and the probability that this was so becomes almost a certainty when we read in the latter part of the text the list of the tolls and taxes which they were empowered to levy on the merchants, farmers, miners, etc., whose goods passed down the Cataract into Egypt. Why, if this be the case, they should have chosen to connect the famine with the reign of Tcheser is not clear. They may have wished to prove the great antiquity of the worship of Khnemu, but it would have been quite easy to select the name of some king of the Ist Dynasty, and had they done this, they would have made the authority of Khnemu over the Nile coaeval with Dynastic civilization. It is impossible to assume that no great famine took place in Egypt between the reign of Tcheser and the period when the inscription was made, and when we consider this fact the choice by the editor of the legend of a famine which took place under the IIIrd Dynasty to illustrate the power of Khnemu seems inexplicable.
Of the famines which must have taken place in the Dynastic period the inscriptions tell us nothing, but the story of the seven years’ famine mentioned in the Book of Genesis shows that there is nothing improbable in a famine lasting so long in Egypt. Arab historians also mention several famines which lasted for seven years. That which took place in the years 1066-1072 nearly ruined the whole country. A cake of bread was sold for 15 dinanir, (the dinar = 10s.), a horse was sold for 20, a dog for 5, a cat for 3, and an egg for 1 dinar. When all the animals were eaten men began to eat each other, and human flesh was sold in public. “Passengers were caught in the streets by hooks let down from the windows, drawn up, killed, and cooked.”[FN#45] During the famine which began in 1201 people ate human flesh habitually. Parents killed and cooked their own children, and a wife was found eating her husband raw. Baby fricassee and haggis of children’s heads were ordinary articles of diet. The graves even were ransacked for food. An ox sold for 70 dinanir. [FN#46]
[FN#45] Lane Poole, Middle Ages, p. 146.
[FN#46] Ibid., p. 216.
The legend begins with the statement that in the 18th year of the reign of King Tcheser, when Matar, the Erpa Prince and Ha, was the Governor of the temple properties of the South and North, and was also the Director of the Khenti men at Elephantine (Aswan), a royal despatch was delivered to him, in which the king said: “I am in misery on my throne. My heart is very sore because of the calamity which hath happened, for the Nile hath not come forth[FN#47] for seven years. There is no grain, there are no vegetables, there is no food, and every man is robbing his neighbour. Men wish to walk, but they are unable to move; the young man drags along his limbs, the hearts of the aged are crushed with despair, their legs fail them, they sink to the ground, and they clutch their bodies with their hands in pain. The councillors are dumb, and nothing but wind comes out of the granaries when they are opened. Everything is in a state of ruin.” A more graphic picture of the misery caused by the famine could hardly be imagined. The king then goes on to ask Matar where the Nile is born? what god or goddess presides over it? and what is his [or her] form? He says he would like to go to the temple of Thoth to enquire of that god, to go to the College of the Magicians, and search through the sacred books in order to find out these things.
[FN#47] i.e., there have been insufficient Nile-floods.
When Matar had read the despatch, he set out to go to the king, and explained to him the things which he wished to know. He told him that, the Nile rose near the city of Elephantine, that it flowed out of two caverns, which were the breasts of the Nile-god, that it rose to a height of twenty-eight cubits at Elephantine, and to the height of seven cubits at Sma-Behutet, or, Diospolis Parva in the Delta. He who controlled the Nile was Khnemu, and when this god drew the bolt of the doors which shut in the stream, and smote the earth with his sandals, the river rushed forth. Matar also described to the king the form of Khnemu, which was that of Shu, and the work which he did, and the wooden house in which he lived, and its exact position, which was near the famous granite quarries. The gods who dwelt with Khnemu were the goddess Sept (Sothis, or the Dog-star), the goddess Anqet, Hap (or Hep), the Nile-god, Shu, Keb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Horus. Thus we see that the priests of Khnemu made him to be the head of a Company of Gods. Finally Matar gave the king a list of all the stones, precious and otherwise, which were found in and about Elephantine.
When the king, who had, it seems, come to Elephantine, heard these things he rejoiced greatly, and he went into the temple of Khnemu. The priests drew back the curtains and sprinkled him with holy water, and then he passed into the shrine and offered up a great sacrifice of bread-cakes, beer, geese, oxen, and all kinds of good things, to the gods and goddesses who dwelt at Elephantine, in the place called “Couch of the heart in life and power.” Suddenly he found himself standing face to face with the god Khnemu, whom he placated with a peace- offering and with prayer. Then the god opened his eyes, and bent his body towards the king, and spake to him mighty words, saying, “I am Khnemu, who made thee. My hands knitted together thy body and made it sound, and I gave thee thy heart.” Khnemu then went on to complain that, although the ground under the king’s feet was filled with stones and metal, men were too inert to work them and to employ them in repairing or rebuilding of the shrines of the gods, or in doing what they ought to do for him, their Lord and Creator. These words were, of course, meant as a rebuke for the king, who evidently, though it is not so stated in the text, was intended by Khnemu to undertake the rebuilding of his shrine without delay. The god then went on to proclaim his majesty and power, and declared himself to be Nu, the Celestial Ocean, and the Nile-god, “who came into being at the beginning, and riseth at his will to give health to him that laboureth for Khnemu.” He described himself as the Father of the gods, the Governor of the earth and of men, and then he promised the king to make the Nile rise yearly, regularly, and unceasingly, to give abundant harvests, to give all people their heart’s desire, to make misery to pass away, to fill the granaries, and to make the whole land of Egypt yellow with waving fields of full ripe grain. When the king, who had been in a dream, heard the god mention crops, he woke up, and his courage returned to him, and having cast away despair from his heart he issued a decree by which he made ample provision for the maintenance of the worship of the god in a fitting state. In this decree, the first copy of which was cut upon wood, the king endowed Khnemu with 20 schoinoi of land on each side of the river, with gardens, etc. It was further enacted that every man who drew water from the Nile for his land should contribute a portion of his crops to the god. Fishermen, fowlers, and hunters were to pay an octroi duty of one-tenth of the value of their catches when they brought them into the city, and a tithe of the cattle was to be set apart for the daily sacrifice. The masters of caravans coming from the Sudan were to pay a tithe also, but they were not liable to any further tax in the country northwards. Every metal-worker, ore-crusher, miner, mason, and handicraftsman of every kind, was to pay to the temple of the god one-tenth of the value of the material produced or worked by his labour. The decree provided also for the appointment of an inspector whose duty it would be to weigh the gold, silver and copper which came into the town of Elephantine, and to assess the value both of these metals and of the precious stones, etc., which were to be devoted to the service of Khnemu. All materials employed in making the images of the gods, and all handicraftsmen employed in the work were exempted from tithing. In short, the worship of the god and his company was to be maintained according to ancient use and wont, and the people were to supply the temple with everything necessary in a generous spirit and with a liberal hand. He who failed in any way to comply with the enactments was to be beaten with the rope, and the name of Tcheser was to be perpetuated in the temple.
THE LEGEND OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF HORUS, AND OTHER MAGICAL TEXTS.
The magical and religious texts of the Egyptians of all periods contain spells intended to be used against serpents, scorpions, and noxious reptiles of all kinds, and their number, and the importance which was attached to them, suggest that Egypt must always have produced these pests in abundance, and that the Egyptians were always horribly afraid of them. The text of Unas, which was written towards the close of the Vth Dynasty, contains many such spells, and in the Theban and Saite Books of the Dead several Chapters consist of nothing but spells and incantations, many of which are based on archaic texts, against crocodiles, serpents, and other deadly reptiles, and insects of all kinds. All such creatures were regarded as incarnations of evil spirits, which attack the dead as well as the living, and therefore it was necessary for the well-being of the former that copies of spells against them should be written upon the walls of tombs, coffins, funerary amulets, etc. The gods were just as open to the attacks of venomous reptiles as man, and Ra, himself, the king of the gods, nearly died from the poison of a snake-bite. Now the gods were, as a rule, able to defend themselves against the attacks of Set and his fiends, and the poisonous snakes and insects which were their emissaries, by virtue of the fluid of life, which was the peculiar attribute of divinity, and the efforts of Egyptians were directed to the acquisition of a portion of this magical power, which would protect their souls and bodies and their houses and cattle, and other property, each day and each night throughout the year. When a man cared for the protection of himself only he wore an amulet of some kind, in which the fluid of life was localized. When he wished to protect his house against invasion by venomous reptiles he placed statues containing the fluid of life in niches in the walls of various chambers, or in some place outside but near the house, or buried them in the earth with their faces turned in the direction from which he expected the attack to come.
The Metternich Stele–Obverse.
The Metternich Stele–Reverse.
Towards the close of the XXVIth Dynasty, when superstition in its most exaggerated form was general in Egypt, it became the custom to make house talismans in the form of small stone stelae, with rounded tops, which rested on bases having convex fronts. On the front of such a talisman was sculptured in relief a figure of Horus the Child (Harpokrates), standing on two crocodiles, holding in his hands figures of serpents, scorpions, a lion, and a horned animal, each of these being a symbol of an emissary or ally of Set, the god of Evil. Above his head was the head of Bes, and on each side of him were: solar symbols, i.e., the lily of Nefer-Tem, figures of Ra and Harmakhis, the Eyes of Ra (the Sun and Moon), etc. The reverse of the stele and the whole of the base were covered with magical texts and spells, and when a talisman of this kind was placed in a house, it was supposed to be directly under the protection of Horus and his companion gods, who had vanquished all the hosts of darkness and all the powers of physical and moral evil. Many examples of this talisman are to be seen in the great Museums of Europe, and there are several fine specimens in the Third Egyptian Room in the British Museum. They are usually called “Cippi of Horus.” The largest and most important of all these “cippi” is that which is commonly known as the “Metternich Stele,” because it was given to Prince Metternich by Muhammad `Ali Pasha; it was dug up in 1828 during the building of a cistern in a Franciscan Monastery in Alexandria, and was first published, with a translation of a large part of the text, by Professor Golenischeff.[FN#48] The importance of the stele is enhanced by the fact that it mentions the name of the king in whose reign it was made, viz., Nectanebus I., who reigned from B.C. 378 to B.C. 360.
[FN#48] See Metternichstele, Leipzig, 1877. The Stele was made for Ankh-Psemthek, son of the lady Tent-Het-nub, prophet of Nebun, overseer of Temt and scribe of Het (see line 87).
The obverse, reverse, and two sides of the Metternich Stele have cut upon them nearly three hundred figures of gods and celestial beings. These include figures of the great gods of heaven, earth, and the Other World, figures of the gods of the planets and the Dekans, figures of the gods of the days of the week, of the weeks, and months, and seasons of the year, and of the year. Besides these there are a number of figures of local forms of the gods which it is difficult to identify. On the rounded portion of the obverse the place of honour is held by the solar disk, in which is seen a figure of Khnemu with four ram’s heads, which rests between a pair of arms, and is supported on a lake of celestial water; on each side of it are four of the spirits of the dawn, and on the right stands the symbol of the rising sun, Nefer-Temu, and on the left stands Thoth. Below this are five rows of small figures of gods. Below these is Harpokrates in relief, in the attitude already described. He stands on two crocodiles under a kind of canopy, the sides of which are supported by Thoth and Isis, and holds Typhonic animals and reptiles. Above the canopy are the two Eyes of Ra, each having a pair of human arms and hands. On the right of Harpokrates are Seker and Horus, and on his left the symbol of Nefer-Temu. On the left and right are the goddesses Nekhebet and Uatchet, who guard the South of Egypt and the North respectively. On the reverse and sides are numerous small figures of gods. This stele represented the power to protect man possessed by all the divine beings in the universe, and, however it was placed, it formed an impassable barrier to every spirit of evil and to every venomous reptile. The spells, which are cut in hieroglyphics on all the parts of the stele not occupied by figures of gods, were of the most potent character, for they contained the actual words by which the gods vanquished the powers of darkness and evil. These spells form the texts which are printed on p. 142 ff., and may be thus summarized:–
The first spell is an incantation directed against reptiles and noxious creatures in general. The chief of these was Apep, the great enemy of Ra, who took the form of a huge serpent that “resembled the intestines,” and the spell doomed him to decapitation, and burning and backing in pieces. These things would be effected by Serqet, the Scorpion-goddess. The second part of the spell was directed against the poison of Apep, and was to be recited over anyone who was bitten by a snake. When uttered by Horus it made Apep to vomit, and when used by a magician properly qualified would make the bitten person to vomit, and so free his body from the poison.
The next spell is directed to be said to the Cat, i.e., a symbol of the daughter of Ra, or Isis, who had the head of Ra, the eyes of the uraeus, the nose of Thoth, the ears of Neb-er-tcher, the mouth of Tem, the neck of Neheb-ka, the breast of Thoth, the heart of Ra, the hands of the gods, the belly of Osiris, the thighs of Menthu, the legs of Khensu, the feet of Amen-Horus, the haunches of Horus, the soles of the feet of Ra, and the bowels of Meh-urit. Every member of the Cat contained a god or goddess, and she was able to destroy the poison of any serpent, or scorpion, or reptile, which might be injected into her body. The spell opens with an address to Ra, who is entreated to come to his daughter, who has been stung by a scorpion on a lonely road, and to cause the poison to leave her body. Thus it seems as if Isis, the great magician, was at some time stung by a scorpion.
The next section is very difficult to understand. Ra-Harmakhis is called upon to come to his daughter, and Shu to his wife, and Isis to her sister, who has been poisoned. Then the Aged One, i.e., Ra, is asked to let Thoth turn back Neha-her, or Set. “Osiris is in the water, but Horus is with him, and the Great Beetle overshadows him,” and every evil spirit which dwells in the water is adjured to allow Horus to proceed to Osiris. Ra, Sekhet, Thoth, and Heka, this last- named being the spell personified, are the four great gods who protect Osiris, and who will blind and choke his enemies, and cut out their tongues. The cry of the Cat is again referred to, and Ra is asked if he does not remember the cry which came from the bank of Netit. The allusion here is to the cries which Isis uttered when she arrived at Netit near Abydos, and found lying there the dead body of her husband.
At this point on the Stele the spells are interrupted by a long narrative put into the mouth of Isis, which supplies us with some account of the troubles that she suffered, and describes the death of Horus through the sting of a scorpion. Isis, it seems, was shut up in some dwelling by Set after he murdered Osiris, probably with the intention of forcing her to marry him, and so assist him to legalize his seizure of the kingdom. Isis, as we have already seen, had been made pregnant by her husband after his death, and Thoth now appeared to her, and advised her to hide herself with her unborn child, and to bring him forth in secret, and he promised her that her son should succeed in due course to his father’s throne. With the help of Thoth she escaped from her captivity, and went forth accompanied by the Seven Scorpion-goddesses, who brought her to the town of Per-Sui, on the edge of the Reed Swamps. She applied to a woman for a night’s shelter, but the woman shut her door in her face. To punish her one of the Scorpion-goddesses forced her way into the woman’s house, and stung her child to death. The grief of the woman was so bitter and sympathy- compelling that Isis laid her hands on the child, and, having uttered one of her most potent spells over him, the poison of the scorpion ran out of his body, and the child came to life again. The words of the spell are cut on the Stele, and they were treasured by the Egyptians as an infallible remedy for scorpion stings. When the woman saw that her son had been brought back to life by Isis, she was filled with joy and gratitude, and, as a mark of her repentance, she brought large quantities of things from her house as gifts for Isis, and they were so many that they filled the house of the kind, but poor, woman who had given Isis shelter.
Now soon after Isis had restored to life the son of the woman who had shown churlishness to her, a terrible calamity fell upon her, for her beloved son Horus was stung by a scorpion and died. The news of this event was conveyed to her by the gods, who cried out to her to come to see her son Horus, whom the terrible scorpion Uhat had killed. Isis, stabbed with pain at the news, as if a knife had been driven into her body, ran out distraught with grief. It seems that she had gone to perform a religious ceremony in honour of Osiris in a temple near Hetep-hemt, leaving her child carefully concealed in Sekhet-An. During her absence the scorpion Uhat, which had been sent by Set, forced its way into the biding-place of Horus, and there stung him to death. When Isis came and found the dead body, she burst forth in lamentations, the sound of which brought all the people from the neighbouring districts to her side. As she related to them the history of her sufferings they endeavoured to console her, and when they found this to be impossible they lifted up their voices and wept with her. Then Isis placed her nose in the mouth of Horus so that she might discover if he still breathed, but there was no breath in his throat; and when she examined the wound in his body made by the fiend Aun-Ab she saw in it traces of poison. No doubt about his death then remained in her mind, and clasping him in her arms she lifted him up, and in her transports of grief leaped about like fish when they are laid on red-hot coals. Then she uttered a series of heartbreaking laments, each of which begins with the words “Horus is bitten.” The heir of heaven, the son of Un- Nefer, the child of the gods, he who was wholly fair, is bitten! He for whose wants I provided, he who was to avenge his father, is bitten! He for whom I cared and suffered when he was being fashioned in my womb, is bitten! He whom I tended so that I might gaze upon him, is bitten! He whose life I prayed for is bitten! Calamity hath overtaken the child, and he hath perished.
Whilst Isis was saying these and many similar words, her sister Nephthys, who had been weeping bitterly for her nephew Horus as she wandered about among the swamps, came, in company with the Scorpion- goddess Serqet, and advised Isis to pray to heaven for help. Pray that the sailors in the Boat of Ra may cease from rowing, for the Boat cannot travel onwards whilst Horus lies dead. Then Isis cried out to heaven, and her voice reached the Boat of Millions of Years, and the Disk ceased to move onward, and came to a standstill. From the Boat Thoth descended, being equipped with words of power and spells of all kinds, and bearing with him the “great command of maa-kheru,” i.e., the WORD, whose commands were performed, instantly and completely, by every god, spirit, fiend, human being and by every thing, animate and inanimate, in heaven, earth, and the Other World. Then he came to Isis and told her that no harm could possibly have happened to Horus, for he was under the protection of the Boat of Ra; but his words failed to comfort Isis, and though she acknowledged the greatness of his designs, she complained that they savoured of delay. “What is the good,” she asks, “of all thy spells, and incantations, and magical formulae, and the great command of maa-kheru, if Horus is to perish by the poison of a scorpion, and to lie here in the arms of Death? Evil, evil is his destiny, for it hath entailed the deepest misery for him and death.”
In answer to these words Thoth, turning to Isis and Nephthys, bade them to fear not, and to have no anxiety about Horus, “For,” said he, “I have come from heaven to heal the child for his mother.” He then pointed out that Horus was under protection as the Dweller in his Disk (Aten), the Great Dwarf, the Mighty Ram, the Great Hawk, the Holy Beetle, the Hidden Body, the Divine Bennu, etc., and proceeded to utter the great spell which restored Horus to life. By his words of power Thoth transferred the fluid of life of Ra, and as soon as this came upon the child’s body the poison of the scorpion flowed out of him, and he once more breathed and lived. When this was done Thoth returned to the Boat of Ra, the gods who formed its crew resumed their rowing, and the Disk passed on its way to make its daily journey across the sky. The gods in heaven, who were amazed and uttered cries of terror when they heard of the death of Horus, were made happy once more, and sang songs of joy over his recovery. The happiness of Isis in her child’s restoration to life was very great, for she could again hope that he would avenge his father’s murder, and occupy his throne. The final words of Thoth comforted her greatly, for he told her that he would take charge of the case of Horus in the Judgment Hall of Anu, wherein Osiris had been judged, and that as his advocate he would make any accusations which might be brought against Horus to recoil on him that brought them. Furthermore, he would give Horus power to repulse any attacks which might be made upon him by beings in the heights above, or fiends in the depths below, and would ensure his succession to the Throne of the Two Lands, i.e., Egypt. Thoth also promised Isis that Ra himself should act as the advocate of Horus, even as he had done for his father Osiris. He was also careful to allude to the share which Isis had taken in the restoration of Horus to life, saying, “It is the words of power of his mother which have lifted up his face, and they shall enable him to journey wheresoever he pleaseth, and to put fear into the powers above. I myself hasten [to obey them].” Thus everything turned on the power of the spells of Isis, who made the sun to stand still, and caused the dead to be raised.
Such are the contents of the texts on the famous Metternich Stele. There appears to be some confusion in their arrangement, and some of them clearly are misplaced, and, in places, the text is manifestly corrupt. It is impossible to explain several passages, for we do not understand all the details of the system of magic which they represent. Still, the general meaning of the texts on the Stele is quite clear, and they record a legend of Isis and Horus which is not found so fully described on any other monument.