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Egyptian Ideas of the Future Life by E. A. Wallis Budge

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Egyptians, could ever have become the byword they did through their
alleged worship of a multitude of "gods" in various forms. It is quite
true that the Egyptians paid honour to a number of gods, a number so
large that the list of their mere names would fill a volume, but it is
equally true that the educated classes in Egypt at all times never
placed the "gods" on the same high level as God, and they never imagined
that their views on this point could be mistaken. In prehistoric times
every little village or town, every district and province, and every
great city, had its own particular god; we may go a step farther, and
say that every family of any wealth and position had its own god. The
wealthy family selected some one to attend to its god, and to minister
unto his wants, and the poor family contributed, according to its means,
towards a common fund for providing a dwelling-house for the god, and
for vestments, etc. But the god was an integral part of the family,
whether rich or poor, and its destiny was practically locked up with
that of the family. The overthrow of the family included the overthrow
of the god, and seasons of prosperity resulted in abundant offerings,
new vestments; perhaps a new shrine, and the like. The god of the
village, although he was a more important being, might be led into
captivity along with the people of the village, but the victory of his
followers in a raid or fight caused the honours paid to him to be
magnified and enhanced his renown.

The gods of provinces or of great cities were, of course, greater than
those of villages and private families, and in the large houses
dedicated to them, _i.e._, temples, a considerable number of them,
represented by statues, would be found. Sometimes the attributes of one
god would be ascribed to another, sometimes two or more gods would be
"fused" or united and form one, sometimes gods were imported from remote
villages and towns and even from foreign countries, and occasionally a
community or town would repudiate its god or gods, and adopt a brand new
set from some neighbouring district Thus the number of the gods was
always changing, and the relative position of individual gods was always
changing; an obscure and almost unknown, local god to-day might through a
victory in war become the chief god of a city, and on the other hand, a
god worshipped with abundant offerings and great ceremony one month
might sink into insignificance and become to all intents and purposes a
dead god the next. But besides family and village gods there were
national gods, and gods of rivers and mountains, and gods of earth and
sky, all of which taken together made a formidable number of "divine"
beings whose good-will had to be secured, and whose ill-will must be
appeased. Besides these, a number of animals as being sacred to the gods
were also considered to be "divine," and fear as well as love made the
Egyptians add to their numerous classes of gods.

The gods of Egypt whose names are known to us do not represent all those
that have been conceived by the Egyptian imagination, for with them as
with much else, the law of the survival of the fittest holds good. Of
the gods of the prehistoric man we know nothing, but it is more than
probable that some of the gods who were worshipped in dynastic times
represent, in a modified form, the deities of the savage, or
semi-savage, Egyptian that held their influence on his mind the longest.
A typical example of such a god will suffice, namely Thoth, whose
original emblem was the dog-headed ape. In very early times great
respect was paid to this animal on account of his sagacity,
intelligence, and cunning; and the simple-minded Egyptian, when he heard
him chattering just before the sunrise and sunset, assumed that he was
in some way holding converse or was intimately connected with the sun.
This idea clung to his mind, and we find in dynastic times, in the
vignette representing the rising sun, that the apes, who are said to be
the transformed openers of the portals of heaven, form a veritable
company of the gods, and at the same time one of the most striking
features of the scene. Thus an idea which came into being in the most
remote times passed on from generation to generation until it became
crystallized in the best copies of the Book of the Dead, at a period
when Egypt was at its zenith of power and glory. The peculiar species of
the dog-headed ape which is represented in statues and on papyri is
famous for its cunning, and it was the words which it supplied to Thoth,
who in turn transmitted them to Osiris, that enabled Osiris to be "true
of voice," or triumphant, over his enemies. It is probably in this
capacity, _i.e._, as the friend of the dead, that the dog-headed ape
appears seated upon the top of the standard of the Balance in which the
heart of the deceased is being weighed against the feather symbolic of
Ma[=a]t; for the commonest titles of the god are "lord of divine books,"
"lord of divine words," _i.e._, the formulae which make the deceased to
be obeyed by friend and foe alike in the next world. In later times,
when Thoth came to be represented by the ibis bird, his attributes were
multiplied, and he became the god of letters, science, mathematics,
etc.; at the creation he seems to have played a part not unlike that of
"wisdom" which is so beautifully described by the writer of Proverbs
(see Chap. VIII. vv. 23-31).

Whenever and wherever the Egyptians attempted to set up a system of gods
they always found that the old local gods had to be taken into
consideration, and a place had to be found for them in the system. This
might be done by making them members of triads, or of groups of nine
gods, now commonly called "enneads"; but in one form or other they had
to appear. The researches made during the last few years have shown that
there must have been several large schools of theological thought in
Egypt, and of each of these the priests did their utmost to proclaim the
superiority of their gods. In dynastic times there must have been great
colleges at Heliopolis, Memphis, Abydos, and one or more places in the
Delta, not to mention the smaller schools of priests which, probably
existed at places on both sides of the Nile from Memphis to the south.
Of the theories and doctrines of all such schools and colleges, those of
Heliopolis have survived in the completest form, and by careful
examination of the funeral texts which were inscribed on the monuments
of the kings of Egypt of the Vth and VIth dynasties we can say what
views they held about many of the gods. At the outset we see that the
great god of Heliopolis was Temu or Atmu, the setting sun, and to him
the priests of that place ascribed the attributes which rightly belong
to R[=a], the Sun-god of the day-time. For some reason or other they
formulated the idea of a company of the gods, nine in number, which was
called the "great company _(paut)_ of the gods," and at the head of this
company they placed the god Temu. In Chapter XVII of the Book of the
Dead [Footnote: See _Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p. 49.] we find
the following passage:--

"I am the god Temu in his rising; I am the only One. I came into being
in Nu. I am R[=a] who rose in the beginning."

Next comes the question, "But who is this?" And the answer is: "It is
R[=a] when at the beginning he rose in the city of Suten-henen
(Heracleopolis Magna) crowned like a king in rising. The pillars of the
god Shu were not as yet created when he was upon the staircase of him
that dwelleth in Khemennu (Hermopolis Magna)." From these statements we
learn that Temu and R[=a] were one and the same god, and that he was the
first offspring of the god Nu, the primeval watery mass out of which all
the gods came into being. The text continues: "I am the great god Nu who
gave birth to himself, and who made his names to come into being and to
form the company of the gods. But who is this? It is R[=a], the creator
of the names of his members which came into being in the form of the
gods who are in the train of R[=a]." And again: "I am he who is not
driven back among the gods. But who is this? It is Tem, the dweller in
his disk, or as others say, it is R[=a] in his rising in the eastern
horizon of heaven." Thus we learn further that Nu was self-produced, and
that the gods are simply the names of his limbs; but then R[=a] is Nu,
and the gods who are in his train or following are merely
personifications of the names of his own members. He who cannot be
driven back among the gods is either Temu or R[=a], and so we find that
Nu, Temu, and R[=a] are one and the same god. The priests of Heliopolis
in setting Temu at the head of their company of the gods thus gave
R[=a], and Nu also, a place of high honour; they cleverly succeeded in
making their own local god chief of the company, but at the same time
they provided the older gods with positions of importance. In this way
worshippers of R[=a], who had regarded their god as the oldest of the
gods, would have little cause to complain of the introduction of Temu
into the company of the gods, and the local vanity of Heliopolis would
be gratified.

But besides the nine gods who were supposed to form the "great company"
of gods of the city of Heliopolis, there was a second group of nine gods
called the "little company" of the gods, and yet a third group of nine
gods, which formed the least company. Now although the _paut_ or company
of nine gods might be expected to contain nine always, this was not the
case, and the number nine thus applied is sometimes misleading. There
are several passages extant in texts in which the gods of a _paut_ are
enumerated, but the total number is sometimes ten and sometimes eleven.
This fact is easily explained when we remember that the Egyptians
deified the various forms or aspects of a god, or the various phases in
his life. Thus the setting sun, called Temu or Atmu, and the rising sun,
called Khepera, and the mid-day sun, called R[=a], were three forms of
the same god; and if any one of these three forms was included in a
_paut_ or company of nine gods, the other two forms were also included
by implication, even though the _paut_ then contained eleven, instead of
nine gods. Similarly, the various forms of each god or goddess of the
_paut_ were understood to be included in it, however large the total
number of gods might become. We are not, therefore, to imagine that the
three companies of the gods were limited in number to 9 x 3, or
twenty-seven, even though the symbol for god be given twenty-seven times
in the texts.

We have already alluded to the great number of gods who were known to
the Egyptians, but it will be readily imagined that it was only those
who were thought to deal with man's destiny, here and hereafter, who
obtained the worship and reverence of the people of Egypt. These were,
comparatively, limited in number, and in fact may be said to consist of
the members of the great company of the gods of Heliopolis, that is to
say, of the gods who belonged to the cycle of Osiris. These may be
briefly described as follows:--

1. TEMU or ATMU, _i.e._, the "closer" of the day, just as Ptah was the
"opener" of the day. In the story of the creation he declares that he
evolved himself under the form of the god Khepera, and in hymns he is
said to be the "maker of the gods", "the creator of men", etc., and he
usurped the position of R[=a] among the gods of Egypt. His worship
must have been already very ancient at the time of the kings of the
Vth dynasty, for his traditional form is that of a man at that time.

2. SHU was the firstborn son of Temu. According to one legend he
sprang direct from the god, and according to another the goddess
Hathor was his mother; yet a third legend makes him the son of Temu by
the goddess Ius[=a]set. He it was who made his way between the gods
Seb and Nut and raised up the latter to form the sky, and this belief
is commemorated by the figures of this god in which he is represented
as a god raising himself up from the earth with the sun's disk on his
shoulders. As a power of nature he typified the light, and, standing
on the top of a staircase at Hermopolis Magua, [Footnote: See above,
pp. 69 and 89.] he raised up the sky and held it up during each day.
To assist him in this work he placed a pillar at each of the cardinal
points, and the "supports of Shu" are thus the props of the sky.

3. TEFNUT was the twin-sister of Shu; as a power of nature she
typified moisture or some aspect of the sun's heat, but as a god of
the dead she seems to have been, in some way, connected with the
supply of drink to the deceased. Her brother Shu was the right eye of
Temu, and she was the left, _i.e._, Shu represented an aspect of the
Sun, and Tefnut of the Moon. The gods Temu, Shu, and Tefnut thus
formed a trinity, and in the story of the creation the god Temu says,
after describing how Shu and Tefnut proceeded from himself, "thus from
being one god I became three."

4. SEB was the son of the god Shu. He is called the "Erp[=a]," _i.e._,
the "hereditary chief" of the gods, and the "father of the gods,"
these being, of course, Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. He was
originally the god of the earth, but later he became a god of the dead
as representing the earth wherein the deceased was laid. One legend
identifies him with the goose, the bird which, in later times was
sacred to him, and he is often called the "Great Cackler," in allusion
to the idea that he made the primeval egg from which the world came
into being.

5. NUT was the wife of Seb and the mother of Osiris, Isis, Set, and
Nephthys. Originally she was the personification of the sky, and
represented the feminine principle which was active at the creation of
the universe. According to an old view, Seb and Nut existed in the
primeval watery abyss side by side with Shu and Tefnut; and later Seb
became the earth and Nut the sky. These deities were supposed to unite
every evening, and to remain embraced until the morning, when the god
Shu separated them, and set the goddess of the sky upon his four
pillars until the evening. Nut was, naturally, regarded as the mother
of the gods and of all things living, and she and her husband Seb were
considered to be the givers of food, not only to the living but also
to the dead. Though different views were current in Egypt as to the
exact location of the heaven of the beatified dead, yet all schools of
thought in all periods assigned it to some region in the sky, and the
abundant allusions in the texts to the heavenly bodies--that is, the
sun, moon, and stars--which the deceased dwells with, prove that the
final abode of the souls of the righteous was not upon earth. The
goddess Nut is sometimes represented as a female along whose body the
sun travels, and sometimes as a cow; the tree sacred to her was the

6. Osiris was the son of Seb and Nut, the husband of Isis and the
father of Horus. The history of this god is given elsewhere in this
book so fully that it is only necessary to refer briefly to him. He
was held to be a man although of divine origin; he lived and reigned
as a king on this earth; he was treacherously murdered by his brother
Set, and his body was cut up into fourteen pieces, which were
scattered about Egypt; after his death, Isis, by the use of magical
formulae supplied to her by Thoth, succeeded in raising him to life,
and he begot a son called Horus; when Horus was grown up, he engaged
in combat with Set, and overcame him, and thus "avenged his father";
by means of magical formulae, supplied to him by Thoth, Osiris
reconstituted and revivified his body, and became the type of the
resurrection and the symbol of immortality; he was also the hope, the
judge, and the god of the dead, probably even in pre-dynastic times.
Osiris was in one aspect a solar deity, and originally he seems to
have represented the sun after it had set; but he is also identified
with the moon. In the XVIIIth dynasty, however, he is already the
equal of R[=a], and later the attributes of God and of all the "gods"
were ascribed to him.

7. Isis was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus; as a nature
goddess she had a place in the boat of the sun at the creation, when
she probably typified the dawn. By reason of her success in
revivifying her husband's body by means of the utterance of magical
formulae, she is called the "lady of enchantments." Her wanderings in
search of her husband's body, and the sorrow which she endured in
bringing forth and rearing her child in the papyrus swamps of the
Delta, and the persecution which she suffered at the hands of her
husband's enemies, form the subject of many allusions in texts of all
periods. She has various aspects, but the one which appealed most to
the imagination of the Egyptians, was that of "divine mother"; in this
character thousands of statues represent her seated and suckling her
child Horus whom she holds upon her knees.

8. Set was the son of Seb and Nut, and the husband of Nephthys. At a
very early period he was regarded as the brother and friend of "Horus
the Elder," the Aroueris of the Greeks, and Set represented the night
whilst Horus represented the day. Each of these gods performed many
offices of a friendly nature for the dead, and among others they set
up and held the ladder by which the deceased made his way from this
earth to heaven, and helped him to ascend it. But, at a later period,
the views of the Egyptians concerning Set changed, and soon after the
reign of the kings called "Seti," _i.e._, those whose names were based
upon that of the god, he became the personification of all evil, and
of all that is horrible and terrible in nature, such as the desert in
its most desolate form, the storm and the tempest, etc. Set, as a
power of nature, was always waging war with Horus the Elder, _i.e._,
the night did battle with the day for supremacy; both gods, however,
sprang from the same source, for the heads of both are, in one scene,
made to belong to one body. When Horus, the son of Isis, had grown up,
he did battle with Set, who had murdered Horus's father Osiris, and
vanquished him; in many texts these two originally distinct fights are
confused, and the two Horus gods also. The conquest of Set by Horus in
the first conflict typified only the defeat of the night by the day,
but the defeat of Set in the second seems to have been understood as
the victory of life over death, and of good over evil. The symbol of
Set was an animal with a head something like that of a camel, but it
has not yet been satisfactorily identified; figures of the god are
uncommon, for most of them were destroyed by the Egyptians when they
changed their views about him.

9. NEPHTHYS was the sister of Isis and her companion in all her
wanderings and troubles; like her she had a place in the boat of the
Sun at creation, when she probably typified the twilight or very early
night. She was, according to one legend, the mother of Anubis by
Osiris, but in the texts his father is declared to be R[=a]. In
funeral papyri, stelae, etc., she always accompanies Isis in her
ministrations to the dead, and as she assisted Osiris and Isis to
defeat the wickedness of her own husband (Set), so she helped the
deceased to overcome the powers of death and the grave.

Here then we have the nine gods of the divine company of Heliopolis, but
no mention is made of Horus, the son of Isis, who played such an
important part in the history of his father Osiris, and nothing is said
about Thoth; both gods are, however, included in the company in various
passages of the text, and it may be that their omission from it is the
result of an error of the scribe. We have already given the chief
details of the history of the gods Horus and Thoth, and the principal
gods of the other companies may now be briefly named.

NU was the "father of the gods," and progenitor of the "great company
of the gods"; he was the primeval watery mass out of which all things

PTAH was one of the most active of the three great gods who carried
out the commands of Thoth, who gave expression in words to the will of
the primeval, creative Power; he was self-created, and was a form of
the Sun-god R[=a] as the "Opener" of the day. From certain allusions
in the Book of the Dead he is known to have "opened the mouth"
[Footnote: "May the god Ptah open my mouth"; "may the god Shu open my
mouth with his implement of iron wherewith he opened the mouth of the
gods" (Chap. XXIII.)] of the gods, and it is in this capacity that he
became a god of the cycle of Osiris. His feminine counterpart was the
goddess SEKHET, and the third member of the triad of which he was the
chief was NEFER-TEMU.

PTAH-SEKER is the dual god formed by fusing Seker, the Egyptian name
of the incarnation of the Apis Bull of Memphis, with Ptah.

PTAH-SEKER-AUSAR was a triune god who, in brief, symbolized life,
death, and the resurrection.

KHNEMU was one of the old cosmic gods who assisted Ptah in carrying
out the commands of Thoth, who gave expression in words to the will of
the primeval, creative Power, he is described as "the maker of things
which are, the creator of things which shall be, the source of created
things, the father of fathers, and the mother of mothers." It was he
who, according to one legend, fashioned man upon a potter's wheel.

KHEPERA was an old primeval god, and the type of matter which contains
within itself the germ of life which is about to spring into a new
existence; thus he represented the dead body from which the spiritual
body was about to rise. He is depicted in the form of a man having a
beetle for a head, and this insect became his emblem because it was
supposed to be self-begotten and self-produced. To the present day
certain of the inhabitants of the Sudan, pound the dried scarabaeus or
beetle and drink it in water, believing that it will insure them a
numerous progeny. The name "Khepera" means "he who rolls," and when
the insect's habit of rolling along its ball filled with eggs is taken
into consideration, the appropriateness of the name is apparent. As
the ball of eggs rolls along the germs mature and burst into life; and
as the sun rolls across the sky emitting light and heat and with them
life, so earthly things are produced and have their being by virtue

R[=A] was probably the oldest of the gods worshipped in Egypt, and his
name belongs to such a remote period that its meaning is unknown. He
was in all periods the visible emblem of God, and was the god of this
earth to whom offerings and sacrifices were made daily; time began
when R[=a] appeared above the horizon at creation in the form of the
Sun, and the life of a man was compared to his daily course at a very
early date. R[=a] was supposed to sail over heaven in two boats, the
[=A]TET or M[=A] TET boat in which he journeyed from sunrise until
noon, and the SEKTET boat in which he journeyed from noon until
sunset. At his rising he was attacked by [=A]pep, a mighty "dragon" or
serpent, the type of evil and darkness, and with this monster he did
battle until the fiery darts which he discharged into the body of
=Apep scorched and burnt him up; the fiends that were in attendance
upon this terrible foe were also destroyed by fire, and their bodies
were hacked in pieces. A repetition of this story is given in the
legend of the fight between Horus and Set, and in both forms it
represented originally the fight which was supposed to go on daily
between light and darkness. Later, however, when Osiris had usurped
the position of R[=a], and Horus represented a divine power who was
about to avenge the cruel murder of his father, and the wrong which
had been done to him, the moral conceptions of right and wrong, good
and evil, truth and falsehood were applied to light and darkness, that
is to say, to Horus and Set.

As R[=a] was the "father of the gods," it was natural that every god
should represent some phase of him, and that he should represent every
god. A good illustration of this fact is afforded by a Hymn to R[=a], a
fine copy of which is found inscribed on the walls of the sloping
corridor in the tomb of Seti I., about B.C. 1370, from which we quote
the following:--

11. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, who dost enter
into the habitations of Ament, behold [thy] body is Temu.

12. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, who dost enter
into the hidden place of Anubis, behold, [thy] body is Khepera.

13. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, whose duration
of life is greater than that of the hidden forms, behold [thy] body is

14. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, .... behold
[thy] body is Tefnut.

15. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, who bringest
forth, green things in their season, behold [thy] body is Seb.

16. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, thou mighty
being who dost judge,... behold [thy] body is Nut.

17. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, the lord....
behold [thy] body is Isis.

18. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, whose head
giveth light to that which is in front of thee, behold [thy] body is

19. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, thou source of
the divine members, thou One, who bringest into being that which hath
been begotten, behold [thy] body is Horus.

20. "Praise be unto thee, O R[=a], thou exalted Power, who dost dwell
in and illumine the celestial deep, behold [thy] body is Nu."
[Footnote: For the text see _Annales du Musee Guimet: Le Tombeau de
Seti 1_. (ed. Lefebure), Paris, 1886, pl. v.]

In the paragraphs which follow R[=a] is identified with a large number
of gods and divine personages whose names are not of such common
occurrence in the texts as those given above, and in one way or another
the attributes of all the gods are ascribed to him. At the time when the
hymn was written it is clear that polytheism, not pantheism as some
would have it, was in the ascendant, and notwithstanding the fact that
the Theban god Amen was gradually being forced to the headship of the
companies of the gods of Egypt, we find everywhere the attempt being
made to emphasize the view that every god, whether foreign or native,
was an aspect or form of R[=a].

The god Amen just referred to was originally a local god of Thebes,
whose shrine was either founded or rebuilt as far back as the XIIth
dynasty, about B.C. 2500. This "hidden" god, for such is the meaning of
the name Amen, was essentially a god of the south of Egypt, but when the
Theban kings vanquished their foes in the north, and so became masters
of the whole country, Amen became a god of the first importance, and the
kings of the XVIIIth, XIXth, and XXth dynasties endowed his temples on a
lavish scale. The priests of the god called Amen "the king of the gods,"
and they endeavoured to make all Egypt accept him as such, but in spite
of their power they saw that they could not bring this result about
unless they identified him with the oldest gods of the land. They
declared that he represented the hidden and mysterious power which
created and sustains the universe, and that the sun was the symbol of
this power; they therefore added his name to that of R[=a], and in this
form he gradually usurped the attributes and powers of Nu, Khnemu, Ptah,
H[=a]pi, and other great gods. A revolt headed by Amen-hetep, or
Amenophis IV. (about B.C. 1500), took place against the supremacy of
Amen in the middle of the XVIIIth dynasty, but it was unsuccessful. This
king hated the god and his name so strongly that he changed his own name
into that of "Khu-en-Aten," _i.e._, "the glory of the solar Disk," and
ordered the name of Amen to be obliterated, wherever possible, on
temples and other great monuments; and this was actually done in many
places. It is impossible to say exactly what the religious views of the
king were, but it is certain that he wished to substitute the cult of
Aten, a form of the Sun-god worshipped at Annu (_i.e._, On or
Heliopolis) in very ancient times, for that of Amen. "Aten" means
literally the "Disk of the Sun," and though it is difficult to
understand at this distance of time in what the difference between the
worship of R[=a] and the worship of "R[=a] in his Disk" consisted, we
may be certain that there must have been some subtle, theological
distinction between them. But whatever the difference may have been, it
was sufficient to make Amenophis forsake the old capital Thebes and
withdraw to a place [Footnote: The site is marked by the ruins of Tell
el-Amarna.]some distance to the north of that city, where he carried on
the worship of his beloved god Aten. In the pictures of the Aten worship
which have come down to us the god appears in the form of a disk from
which proceed a number of arms and hands that bestow life upon his
worshippers. After the death of Amenophis the cult of Aten declined, and
Amen resumed his sway over the minds of the Egyptians.

Want of space forbids the insertion here of a full list of the titles of
Amen, and a brief extract from the Papyrus of the Princess Nesi-Khensu
[Footnote: For a hieroglyphic transcript of the hieratic text, see
Maspero, _Memoires_, tom. i., p. 594 ff.] must suffice to describe the
estimation in which the god was held about B.C. 1000. In this Amen is
addressed as "the holy god, the lord of all the gods, Amen-R[=a], the
lord of the thrones of the world, the prince of Apt (_i.e._, Karnak),
the holy soul who came into being in the beginning, the great god who
liveth by right and truth, the first ennead who gave birth unto the
other two enneads, [Footnote: _i.e._, the great, the little, and the
least companies of the gods; each company (_paut_) contained nine gods.]
the being in whom every god existeth, the One of One, the creator of the
things which came into being when the earth took form in the beginning,
whose births are hidden, whose forms are manifold, and whose growth
cannot be known. The holy Form, beloved and terrible and mighty.... the
lord of space, the mighty One of the form of Khepera, who came into
existence through Khepera, the lord of the form of Khepera; when he came
into being nothing existed except himself. He shone upon the earth from
primeval time, he the Disk, the prince of light and radiance.... When
this holy god moulded himself, the heavens and the earth were made by
his heart (_or_ mind).... He is the Disk of the Moon, the beauties
whereof pervade the heavens and the earth, the untiring and beneficent
king whose will germinateth from rising to setting, from whose divine
eyes men and women come forth, and from whose mouth the gods do come,
and [by whom] food and meat and drink are made and provided, and [by
whom] the things which exist are created. He is the lord of time, and he
traverseth eternity; he is the aged one who reneweth his youth.... He is
the Being who cannot be known, and he is more hidden than all the
gods.... He giveth long life and multiplieth the years of those who are
favoured by him, he is the gracious protector of him whom he setteth in
his heart, and he is the fashioner of eternity and everlastingness. He
is the king of the North and of the South, Amen-R[=a], king of the gods,
the lord of heaven, and of earth, and of the waters and of the
mountains, with whose coming into being the earth began its existence,
the mighty one, more princely than, all the gods of the first company."

In the above extract, it will be noticed that Amen is called the "One of
One," or the "One One," a title which has been explained as having no
reference whatever to the unity of God as understood in modern times:
but unless these words are intended to express the idea of unity, what
is their meaning? It is also said that he is "without second," and thus
there is no doubt whatever that when the Egyptians declared their god to
be One, and without a second, they meant precisely what the Hebrews and
Arabs meant when they declared their God to be One. [Footnote: See
Deut., vi. 4; and _Koran_, chapter cxii.] Such a God was an entirely
different Being from the personifications of the powers of nature and
the existences which, for want of a better name, have been called

But, besides R[=a], there existed in very early times a god called
HORUS, whose symbol was the hawk, which, it seems, was the first living
thing worshipped by the Egyptians; Horus was the Sun-god, like R[=a],
and in later times was confounded with Horus the son of Isis. The chief
forms of Horus given in the texts are: (1) HERU-UR (Aroueris), (2)
Connected with one of the forms of Horus, originally, were the four gods
of the cardinal points, or the "four, spirits of Horus," who supported
heaven at its four corners; their names were HAPI, TUAMUTEE, AMSET, and
QEBHSENNUF, and they represented the north, east, south, and west
respectively. The intestines of the dead were embalmed and placed in
four jars, each being under the protection, of one of these four gods.
Other important gods of the dead are: (1) ANUBIS, the son of R[=a] or
Osiris, who presided over the abode of the dead, and with AP-UAT shared
the dominion of the "funeral mountain"; the symbol of each of these gods
is a jackal. (2) HU and SA, the children of Temu, or R[=a], who appear
in the boat of the sun at the creation, and later in the Judgment Scene.
(3) The goddess MA[=A]T, who was associated with Thoth, Ptah, and Khnemu
in the work of creation; the name means "straight," hence what is right,
true, truth, real, genuine, upright, righteous, just, steadfast,
unalterable, and the like. (4) The goddess HET-HERT (Hathor), _i.e._,
the "house of Horus," which was that part of the sky where the sun rose
and set. The sycamore tree was sacred to her, and the deceased prays to
be fed by her with celestial food from out of it (5) The goddess
MEH-URT, who represented that portion of the sky in which the sun takes
his daily course; here it was, according to the view held at one period
at least, that the judgment of the deceased was supposed to take place.
(6) NEITH, the mother of SEBEK, who was also a goddess of the eastern
portion of the sky. (7) SEKHET and BAST, who are represented with the
heads of a lion and a cat, and who were symbols of the destroying,
scorching power of the sun, and of the gentle heat thereof,
respectively. (8) SERQ, who was a form of Isis. (9) TA-URT (Thoueris),
who was the genetrix of the gods. (10) UATCHET, who was a form of
Hather, and who had dominion over the northern sky, just as NEKHEBET was
mistress of the southern sky. (11) NEHEB-KA, who was a goddess who
possessed magical powers, and in some respects resembled Isis in her
attributes. (12) SEBAK, who was a form of the Sun-god, and was in later
times confounded with Sebak, or Sebek, the friend of Set. (13) AMSU (or
MIN or KUEM), who was the personification of the generative and
reproductive powers of nature. (14) BEB or BABA, who was the "firstborn
son of Osiris." (15) H[=a]pi, who was the god of the Nile, and with whom
most of the great gods were identified.

The names of the beings who at one time or another were called "gods" in
Egypt are so numerous that a mere list of them would fill scores of
pages, and in a work of this kind would be out of place. The reader is,
therefore, referred to Lanzone's _Mitologia Egizia_, where a
considerable number are enumerated and described.



The belief that the deeds done in the body would be subjected to an
analysis and scrutiny by the divine powers after the death of a man
belongs to the earliest period of Egyptian civilization, and this belief
remained substantially the same in all generations. Though we have no
information as to the locality where the Last Judgment took place, or
whether the Egyptian soul passed into the judgment-hall immediately
after the death of the body, or after the mummification was ended and
the body was deposited in the tomb, it is quite certain that the belief
in the judgment was as deeply rooted in the Egyptians as the belief in
immortality. There seems to have been no idea of a general judgment when
all those who had lived in the world should receive their reward for the
deeds done in the body; on the contrary, all the evidence available goes
to show that each soul was dealt with individually, and was either
permitted to pass into the kingdom of Osiris and of the blessed, or was
destroyed straightway. Certain passages in the texts seem to suggest the
idea of the existence of a place for departed spirits wherein the souls
condemned in the judgment might dwell, but it must be remembered that it
was the enemies of R[=a], the Sun-god, that inhabited this region; and
it is impossible to imagine that the divine powers who presided over the
judgment would permit the souls of the wicked to live after they had
been condemned and to become enemies of those who were pure and blessed.
On the other hand, if we attach any importance to the ideas of the Copts
upon this subject, and consider that they represent ancient beliefs
which they derived from the Egyptians traditionally, it must be admitted
that the Egyptian underworld contained some region wherein the souls of
the wicked were punished for an indefinite period. The Coptic lives of
saints and martyrs are full of allusions to the sufferings of the
damned, but whether the descriptions of these are due to imaginings of
the mind of the Christian Egyptian or to the bias of the scribe's
opinions cannot always be said. When we consider that the Coptic hell
was little more than a modified form of the ancient Egyptian Amenti, or
Amentet, it is difficult to believe that it was the name of the Egyptian
underworld only which was borrowed, and that the ideas and beliefs
concerning it which were held by the ancient Egyptians were not at the
same time absorbed. Some Christian writers are most minute in their
classification of the wicked in hell, as we may see from the following
extract from the life of Pisentios, [Footnote: Ed. Amelineau, Paris,
1887, p. 144 f.] Bishop of Keft, in the VIIth century of our era. The
holy man had taken refuge in a tomb wherein a number of mummies had been
piled up, and when he had read the list of the names of the people who
had been buried there he gave it to his disciple to replace. Then he
addressed his disciple and admonished him to do the work of God with
diligence, and warned him that every man must become even as were the
mummies which lay before them. "And some," said he, "whose sins have
been many are now in Amenti, others are in the outer darkness, others
are in pits and ditches filled with fire, and others are in the river of
fire: upon these last no one hath bestowed rest. And others, likewise,
are in a place of rest, by reason of their good works." When the
disciple had departed, the holy man began to talk to one of the mummies
who had been a native of the town of Erment, or Armant, and whose father
and mother had been called Agricolaos and Eustathia. He had been a
worshipper of Poseidon, and had never heard that Christ had come into
the world. "And," said he "woe, woe is me because I was born into the
world. Why did not my mother's womb become my tomb? When, it became
necessary for me to die, the Kosmokrator angels were the first to come
round about me, and they told me of all the sins which I had committed,
and they said unto me, 'Let him that can save thee from the torments
into which thou shalt be cast come hither.' And they had in their hands
iron knives, and pointed goads which were like unto sharp spears, and
they drove them into my sides and gnashed upon me with their teeth. When
a little time afterwards my eyes were opened I saw death hovering about
in the air in its manifold forms, and at that moment angels who were
without pity came and dragged my wretched soul from my body, and having
tied it under the form of a black horse they led me away to Amonti. Woe
be unto every sinner like unto myself who hath been born into the world!
O my master and father, I was then delivered into the hands of a
multitude of tormentors who were without pity and who had each a
different form. Oh, what a number of wild beasts did I see in the way!
Oh, what a number of powers were there that inflicted punishment upon
me! And it came to pass that when I had been cast into the outer
darkness, I saw a great ditch which was more than two hundred cubits
deep, and it was filled with reptiles; each reptile had seven heads, and
the body of each was like unto that of a scorpion. In this place also
lived the Great Worm, the mere sight of which terrified him that looked
thereat. In his mouth he had teeth like unto iron stakes, and one took
me and threw me to this Worm which never ceased to eat; then immediately
all the [other] beasts gathered together near him, and when he had
filled his mouth [with my flesh], all the beasts who were round about me
filled theirs." In answer to the question of the holy man as to whether
he had enjoyed any rest or period without suffering, the mummy replied:
"Yea, O my father, pity is shown unto those who are in torment every
Saturday and every Sunday. As soon as Sunday is over we are cast into
the torments which we deserve, so that we may forget the years which we
have passed in the world; and as soon as we have forgotten the grief of
this torment we are cast into another which is still more grievous."

Now, it is easy to see from the above description of the torments which
the wicked were supposed to suffer, that the writer had in his mind some
of the pictures with which we are now familiar, thanks to the excavation
of tombs which has gone on in Egypt during the last few years; and it is
also easy to see that he, in common with many other Coptic writers,
misunderstood the purport of them. The outer darkness, _i.e._, the
blackest place of all in the underworld, the river of fire, the pits of
fire, the snake and the scorpion, and such like things, all have their
counterparts, or rather originals, in the scenes which accompany the
texts which describe the passage of the sun through the underworld
during the hours of the night. Having once misunderstood the general
meaning of such scenes, it was easy to convert the foes of R[=a], the
Sun-god, into the souls of the damned, and to look upon the burning up
of such foes--who were after all only certain powers of nature
personified--as the well-merited punishment of those who had done evil
upon the earth. How far the Copts reproduced unconsciously the views
which had been held by their ancestors for thousands of years cannot be
said, but even after much allowance has been made for this possibility,
there remains still to be explained a large number of beliefs and views
which seem to have been the peculiar product of the Egyptian Christian

It has been said above that the idea of the judgment of the dead is of
very great antiquity in Egypt; indeed, it is so old that it is useless
to try to ascertain the date of the period when it first grew up. In the
earliest religious texts known to us, there are indications that the
Egyptians expected a judgment, but they are not sufficiently definite to
argue from; it is certainly doubtful if the judgment was thought to be
as thorough and as searching then as in the later period. As far back as
the reign of Men-kau-R[=a], the Mycerinus of the Greeks, about B.C.
3600, a religious text, which afterwards formed chapter 30B of the Book
of the Dead, was found inscribed on an iron slab; in the handwriting of
the god Thoth, by the royal son or prince Herut[=a]t[=a]f. [Footnote:
See _Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, Translation, p. 80.] The original
purpose of the composition of this text cannot be said, but there is
little doubt that it was intended, to benefit the deceased in the
judgment, and, if we translate its title literally, it was intended to
prevent his heart from "falling away from him in the underworld." In the
first part of it the deceased, after adjuring his heart, says, "May
naught stand up to oppose me in the judgment; may there be no opposition
to me in the presence of the sovereign princes; may there be no parting
of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance!... May
the officers of the court of Osiris (in Egyptian _Shenit_), who form the
conditions of the lives of men, not cause my name to stink! Let [the
judgment] be satisfactory unto me, let the hearing be satisfactory unto
me, and let me have joy of heart at the weighing of words. Let not that
which is false be uttered against me before the Great God, the Lord of

Now, although the papyrus upon, which this statement and prayer are
found was written about two thousand years after Men-kau-R[=a] reigned,
there is no doubt that they were copied from texts which were themselves
copied at a much earlier period, and that the story of the finding of
the text inscribed upon an iron slab is contemporary with its actual
discovery by Herut[=a]t[=a]f. It is not necessary to inquire here
whether the word "find" (in Egyptian _qem_) means a genuine discovery or
not, but it is clear that those who had the papyrus copied saw no
absurdity or impropriety in ascribing the text to the period of
Men-kau-R[=a]. Another text, which afterwards also became a chapter of
the Book of the Dead, under the title "Chapter of not letting the heart
of the deceased be driven away from him in the underworld," was
inscribed on a coffin of the XIth dynasty, about B.C. 2500, and in it we
have the following petition: "May naught stand up to oppose me in
judgment in the presence of the lords of the trial (literally, 'lords of
things'); let it not be said of me and of that which I have done, 'He
hath done deeds against that which is very right and true'; may naught
be against me in the presence of the Great God, the Lord of Amentet."
[Footnote: _Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p. 78.] From these
passages we are right in assuming that before the end of the IVth
dynasty the idea of being "weighed in the balance" was already evolved;
that the religious schools of Egypt had assigned to a god the duty of
watching the balance when cases were being tried; that this weighing in
the balance took place in the presence of the beings called _Shenit_,
who were believed to control the acts and deeds of men; that it was
thought that evidence unfavourable to the deceased might be produced by
his foes at the judgment; that the weighing took place in the presence
of the Great God, the Lord of Amentet; and that the heart of the
deceased might fail him either physically or morally. The deceased
addresses his heart, calling it is "mother," and next identifies it with
his _ka_ or double, coupling the mention of the _ka_ with the name of
the god Khnemu: these facts are exceedingly important, for they prove
that the deceased considered his heart to be the source of his life and
being, and the mention of the god Khnemu takes the date of the
composition back to a period coaeval with the beginnings of religious
thought in Egypt. It was the god Khnemu who assisted Thoth in performing
the commands of God at the creation, and one very interesting sculpture
at Philae shows Khnemu in the act of fashioning man upon a potter's
wheel. The deceased, in mentioning Khnemu's name, seems to invoke his
aid in the judgment as fashioner of man and as the being who is in some
respects responsible for the manner of his life upon earth.

In Chapter 30A there is no mention made of the "guardian of the
balance," and the deceased says, "May naught stand up to oppose me in
judgment in the presence of the lords of things!" The "lords of things"
may be either the "lords of creation," _i.e._, the great cosmic gods, or
the "lords of the affairs [of the hall of judgment]," _i.e._, of the
trial. In this chapter the deceased addresses not Khnemu, but "the gods
who dwell in the divine clouds, and who are exalted by reason of their
sceptres," that is to say, the four gods of the cardinal points, called
Mestha, H[=a]pi Tuamutef, and Qebhsennuf, who also presided over the
chief internal organs of the human body. Here, again, it seems as if the
deceased was anxious to make these gods in some way responsible for the
deeds done by him in his life, inasmuch as they presided, over the
organs that were the prime movers of his actions. In any case, he
considers them in, the light of intercessors, for he beseeches them to
"speak fair words unto R[=a]" on his behalf, and to make him to prosper
before the goddess Nehebka. In this case, the favour of R[=a], the
Sun-god, the visible emblem of the almighty and eternal God, is sought
for, and also that of the serpent goddess, whose attributes are not yet
accurately defined, but who has much to do with the destinies of the
dead. No mention whatever is made of the Lord of Amentet--Osiris.

Before we pass to the consideration of the manner in which the judgment
is depicted upon the finest examples of the illustrated papyri,
reference must be made to an interesting vignette in the papyri of
Nebseni [Footnote: British Museum, No. 9900.] and Amen-neb. [Footnote 2:
British Museum, No. 0964.] In both of these papyri we see a figure of
the deceased himself being weighed in the balance against his own heart
in the presence of the god Osiris. It seems probable that a belief was
current at one time in ancient Egypt concerning the possibility of the
body being weighed against the heart, with the view of finding out if
the former had obeyed the dictates of the latter; be that as it may,
however, it is quite certain that this remarkable variant of the
vignette of Chapter 30B had some special meaning, and, as it occurs in
two papyri which date from the XVIIIth dynasty, we are justified in
assuming that it represents a belief belonging to a much older period.
The judgment here depicted must, in any case, be different from that
which forms such a striking scene in the later illustrated papyri of the
XVIIIth and following dynasties.

We have now proved that the idea of the judgment of the dead was
accepted in religious writings as early as the IVth dynasty, about B.C.
3600, but we have to wait nearly two thousand years before we find it in
picture form. Certain scenes which are found in the Book of the Dead as
vignettes accompanying certain texts or chapters, _e.g._, the Fields of
Hetep, or the Elysian Fields, are exceedingly old, and are found on
sarcophagi of the XIth and XIIth dynasties; but the earliest picture
known of the Judgment Scene is not older than the XVIIIth dynasty. In
the oldest Theban papyri of the Book of the Dead no Judgment Scene is
forthcoming, and when we find it wanting in such authoritative documents
as the Papyrus of Nebseni and that of Nu, [Footnote: British Museum, No.
10,477.] we must take it for granted that there was some reason for its
omission. In the great illustrated papyri, in which, the Judgment Scene
is given in full, it will be noticed that it comes at the beginning of
the work, and that it is preceded by hymns and by a vignette. Thus, in
the Papyrus of Ani, [Footnote: British Museum, No. 10,470.] we have a
hymn to R[=a] followed by a vignette representing the sunrise, and a
hymn to Osiris; and in the Papyrus of Hunefer, [Footnote 2: British
Museum, No. 9901.] though the hymns are different, the arrangement is
the same. We are justified, then, in assuming that the hymns and the
Judgment Scene together formed an introductory section to the Book of
the Dead, and it is possible that it indicates the existence of the
belief, at least during the period of the greatest power of the priests
of Amen, from B.C. 1700 to B.C. 800, that the judgment of the dead for
the deeds done in the body preceded the admission of the dead into the
kingdom of Osiris. As the hymns which accompany the Judgment Scene are
fine examples of a high class of devotional compositions, a few
translations from some of them are here given.

HYMN TO R[=A]. [Footnote: See _The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p.

"Homage to thee, O thou who risest in Nu, [Footnote: The sky
personified.] and who at thy manifestation dost make the world bright
with light; the whole company of the gods sing hymns of praise unto
thee after thou hast come forth. The divine Merti [Footnote:
Literally, the Two Eyes, _i.e._, Isis and Nephthys.] goddesses who
minister unto thee cherish thee as King of the North and South, thou
beautiful and beloved Man-child. When, thou risest men and women live.
The nations rejoice in thee, and the Souls of Annu [Footnote: _i.e._,
R[=a], Shu and Tefnut.] (Heliopolis) sing unto thee songs of joy. The
Souls of the city of Pe, [Footnote: Part of the city of Buto
(Per-Uatchit). The souls of Pe were Horus, Mestha, H[=a]pi.] and the
Souls of the city of Nekhen [Footnote: _i.e._, Horus, Tuamutef, and
Qebhsennuf.] exalt thee, the apes of dawn adore thee, and all beasts
and cattle praise thee with one accord. The goddess Seba overthroweth
thine enemies, therefore hast thou rejoicing in thy boat; thy mariners
are content thereat. Thou hast attained unto the [= A]tet boat,
[Footnote: _i.e._, the boat in which the sun travels until noon.] and
thy heart swelleth with joy. O lord of the gods, when thou didst
create them they shouted for joy. The azure goddess Nut doth compass
thee on every side, and the god Nu floodeth thee with his rays of
light. O cast thou thy light upon me and let me see thy beauties, and
when thou goest forth over the earth I will sing praises unto thy fair
face. Thou risest in heaven's horizon, and thy disk is adored when it
resteth upon the mountain to give life unto the world."

"Thou risest, thou risest, and thou comest forth from the god Nu. Thou
dost renew thy youth, and thou dost set thyself in the place where
thou wast yesterday. O thou divine Child, who didst create thyself, I
am not able [to describe] thee. Thou hast come with thy risings, and
thou hast made heaven and earth resplendent with thy rays of pure
emerald light. The land of Punt [Footnote: _i.e._, the land on each
side of the Red Sea and North-east Africa.] is established [to give]
the perfumes which, thou smellest with thy nostrils. Thou risest, O
marvellous Being, in heaven, and the two serpent-goddesses, Merti, are
established upon thy brow. Thou art the giver of laws, O thou lord of
the world and of all the inhabitants thereof; all the gods adore

HYMN TO OSIRIS [Footnote: See _The Chapters of Coming Forth by Day_, p.

"Glory be to thee, O Osiris Un-nefer, the great god within Abydos,
king of eternity and lord of everlastingness, the god who passest
through millions of years in thy existence. Thou art the eldest son of
the womb of Nut, thou wast engendered by Seb, the Ancestor of the
gods, thou art the lord of the Crowns of the North and of the South,
and of the lofty white crown. As Prince of the gods and of men thou
hast received the crook, and the whip, and the dignity of thy divine
fathers. Let thy heart which is in the mountain of Ament [Footnote:
_i.e._, the underworld.] be content, for thy son Horus is established
upon thy throne. Thou art crowned the lord of Tattu (Mendes) and ruler
in Abtu (Abydos). Through thee the world waxeth green in triumph
before the might of Neb-er-tcher. [Footnote: A name of Osiris.] Thou
leadest in thy train that which is, and that which is not yet, in thy
name of 'Ta-her-sta-nef;' thou towest along the earth in thy name of
'Seker;' thou art exceedingly mighty and most terrible in thy name of
'Osiris;' thou endurest for ever and for ever in thy name of

"Homage to thee, O thou King of kings, Lord of lords, Prince of
Princes! From the womb of Nut thou hast ruled the world and the
underworld. Thy body is of bright and shining metal, thy head is of
azure blue, and the brilliance of the turquoise encircleth thee. O
thou god An, who hast had existence for millions of years, who
pervadest all things with thy body, who art beautiful in countenance
in the Land of Holiness (_i.e._, the underworld), grant thou to me
splendour in heaven, might upon earth, and triumph in the underworld.
Grant thou that I may sail down to Tattu like a living soul, and up to
Abtu like the phoenix; and grant that I may enter in and come forth
from the pylons of the lands of the underworld without let or
hindrance. May loaves of bread be given unto me in the house of
coolness, and offerings of food and drink in Annu (Heliopolis), and a
homestead for ever and for ever in the Field of Reeds [Footnote: A
division of the "Fields of Peace" or Elysian Fields.] with wheat and
barley therefor."

In the long and important hymn in the Papyrus of Hunefer [Footnote: See
_The Chapters of Coming Forth By Day_, pp. 343-346.] occurs the
following petition, which is put into the mouth of the deceased:--

"Grant that I may follow in the train of thy Majesty even as I did
upon earth. Let my soul be called [into the presence], and let it be
found by the side of the lords of right and truth. I have come into
the City of God, the region which existed in primeval time, with [my]
soul, and with [my] double, and with [my] translucent form, to dwell
in this land. The God thereof is the lord of right and truth, he is
the lord of the _tchefau_ food of the gods, and he is most holy. His
land draweth unto itself every land; the South cometh sailing down the
river thereto, and the North, steered thither by winds, cometh daily
to make festival therein according to the command of the God thereof,
who is the Lord of peace therein. And doth he not say, 'The happiness
thereof is a care unto me'? The god who dwelleth therein worketh right
and truth; unto him that doeth these things he giveth old age, and to
him that followeth after them rank and honour, until at length he
attaineth unto a happy funeral and burial in the Holy Land" (_i.e._,
the underworld).

The deceased, having recited these words of prayer and adoration to
R[=a], the symbol of Almighty God, and to his son Osiris, next "cometh
forth into the Hall of Ma[=a]ti, that he may be separated from every sin
which he hath done, and may behold the faces of the gods." [Footnote:
This quotation is from the title of Chapter CXXV. of the Book of the
Dead.] From the earliest times the Ma[=a]ti were the two goddesses Isis
and Nephthys, and they were so called because they represented the ideas
of straightness, integrity, righteousness, what is right, the truth, and
such like; the word Ma[=a]t originally meant a measuring reed or stick.
They were supposed either to sit in the Hall of Ma[=a]t outside the
shrine of Osiris, or to stand by the side of this god in the shrine; an
example of the former position will be seen in the Papyrus of Ani (Plate
31), and of the latter in the Papyrus of Hunefer (Plate 4). The original
idea of the Hall of Ma[=a]t or Ma[=a]ti was that it contained forty-two
gods; a fact which we may see from the following passage in the
Introduction to Chapter CXXV. of the Book of the Dead. The deceased says
to Osiris:--

"Homage to thee, O thou great God, thou Lord of the two Ma[=a]t
goddesses! I have come to thee, O my Lord, and I have made myself to
come hither that I may behold thy beauties. I know thee, and I know
thy name, and I know the names of the two and forty gods who live with
thee in this Hall of Ma[=a]ti, who live as watchers of sinners and who
feed upon their blood on that day when the characters (_or_ lives) of
men are reckoned up (_or_ taken into account) in the presence of the
god Un-nefer. Verily, God of the Rekhti-Merti (_i.e._, the twin
sisters of the two eyes), the Lord of the city of Ma[=a]ti is thy
name. Verily I have come to thee, and I have brought Ma[=a]t unto
thee, and I have destroyed wickedness."

The deceased then goes on to enumerate the sins or offences which he has
not committed; and he concludes by saying: "I am pure; I am pure; I am
pure; I am pure. My purity is the purity of the great Bennu which is in
the city of Suten-henen (Heracleopolis), for, behold., I am the nostrils
of the God of breath, who maketh all mankind to live on the day when the
Eye of R[=a] is full in Annu (Heliopolis) at the end of the second month
of the season PERT. [Footnote: _i.e._, the last day of the sixth month
of the Egyptian year, called by the Copta Mekhir.] I have seen the Eye
of R[=a] when it was full in Annu; [Footnote: The allusion here seems to
be to the Summer or Winter Solstice.] therefore let not evil befall me
either in this land or in this Hall of Ma[=a]ti, because I, even I, know
the names of the gods who are therein."

Now as the gods who live in the Hall of Ma[=a]t with Osiris are two and
forty in number, we should expect that two and forty sins or offences
would be mentioned in the addresses which the deceased makes to them;
but this is not the case, for the sins enumerated in the Introduction
never reach this number. In the great illustrated papyri of the XVIIIth
and XIXth dynasties we find, however, that notwithstanding the fact that
a large number of sins, which the deceased declares he has not
committed, are mentioned in the Introduction, the scribes and artists
added a series of negative statements, forty-two in number, which they
set out in a tabular form. This, clearly, is an attempt to make the sins
mentioned equal in number to the gods of the Hall of Ma[=a]t, and it
would seem as if they preferred to compose an entirely new form of this
section of the one hundred and twenty-fifth chapter to making any
attempt to add to or alter the older section. The artists, then,
depicted a Hall of Ma[=a]t, the doors of which are wide open, and the
cornice of which is formed of uraei and feathers, symbolic of Ma[=a]t.
Over the middle of the cornice is a seated deity with hands extended,
the right over the Eye of Horus, and the left over a pool. At the end of
the Hall are seated the goddesses of Ma[=a]t, _i.e._, Isis and Nephthys,
the deceased adoring Osiris who is seated on a throne, a balance with
the heart of the deceased in one scale, and the feather, symbolic of
Ma[=a]t, in the other, and Thoth painting a large feather. In this Hall
sit the forty-two gods, and as the deceased passes by each, the deceased
addresses him by his name and at the same time declares that he has not
committed a certain sin. An examination of the different papyri shows
that the scribes often made mistakes in writing this list of gods and
list of sins, and, as the result, the deceased is made to recite before
one god the confession which strictly belongs to another. Inasmuch, as
the deceased always says after pronouncing the name of each god, "I have
not done" such and such a sin, the whole group of addresses has been
called the "Negative Confession." The fundamental ideas of religion and
morality which underlie this Confession are exceedingly old, and we may
gather from it with tolerable clearness what the ancient Egyptian
believed to constitute his duty towards God and towards his neighbour.

It is impossible to explain, the fact that forty-two gods only are
addressed, and equally so to say why this number was adopted. Some have
believed that the forty-two gods represented each a name of Egypt, and
much support is given to this view by the fact that most of the lists of
names make the number to be forty-two; but then, again, the lists do not
agree. The classical authors differ also, for by some of these writers
the names are said to be thirty-six in number, and by others forty-six
are enumerated. These differences may, however, be easily explained, for
the central administration may at any time have added to or taken from
the number of names for fiscal or other considerations, and we shall
probably be correct in assuming that at the time the Negative Confession
was drawn up in the tabular form in which we meet it in the XVIIIth
dynasty the names were forty-two in number. Support is also lent to this
view by the fact that the earliest form of the Confession, which forms
the Introduction to Chapter CXXV., mentions less than forty sins.
Incidentally we may notice that the forty-two gods are subservient to
Osiris, and that they only occupy a subordinate position in the Hall of
Judgment, for it is the result of the weighing of the heart of the
deceased in the balance that decides his future. Before passing to the
description of the Hall of Judgment where the balance is set, it is
necessary to give a rendering of the Negative Confession which,
presumably, the deceased recites before his heart is weighed in the
balance; it is made from the Papyrus of Nu. [Footnote: British Museum,
No. 10,477.]

1. "Hail Usekh-nemtet (_i.e._, Long of strides), who comest forth from
Anuu (Heliopolis), I have not done iniquity.

2. "Hail Hept-seshet (_i.e._, Embraced by flame), who comest forth
from Kher-[=a]ba, [Footnote: A city near Memphis.] I have not robbed
with violence.

3. "Hail Fenti (_i.e._, Nose), who comest forth from Khemennu
(Hermopolis), I have not done violence to any man.

4. "Hail [=A]m-khaibitu (_i.e._, Eater of shades), who comest forth
from the Qereret (_i.e._, the cavern where the Nile rises), I have not
committed theft.

5. "Hail Neha-bra (_i.e._, Stinking face), who comest forth from
Restau, I have slain neither man nor woman.

6. "Hail Rereti (_i.e._, Double Lion-god), who comest forth from
heaven, I have not made light the bushel.

7. "Hail Maata-f-em-seshet (_i.e._, Fiery eyes), who comest forth from
Sekhem (Letopolis), I have not acted deceitfully.

8. "Hail Neba (_i.e._, Flame), who comest forth and retreatest, I have
not purloined the things which belong unto God.

9. "Hail Set-qesu (_i.e._, Crusher of bones), who comest forth from
Suten-henen (Heracleopolis), I have not uttered falsehood.

10. "Hail Khemi (_i.e._, Overthrower), who comest forth from Shetait
(_i.e._, the hidden place), I have not carried off goods by force.

11. "Hail Uatch-nesert (_i.e._, Vigorous of Flame), who comest forth
from Het-ka-Ptah (Memphis), I have not uttered vile (_or_ evil) words.

12. "Hail Hra-f-ha-f (_i.e._, He whose face is behind him), who comest
forth from the cavern and the deep, I have not carried off food by

13. "Hail Qerti (_i.e._, the double Nile source), who comest forth
from the Underworld, I have not acted deceitfully.

14. "Hail Ta-ret (_i.e._, Fiery-foot), who comest forth out of the
darkness, I have not eaten my heart (_i.e._ lost my temper and become

15. "Hail Hetch-abehu (_i.e._, Shining teeth), who comest forth from
Ta-she (_i.e._, the Fayyum), I have invaded no [man's land].

16. "Hail [=A]m-senef (_i.e._, Eater of blood), who comest forth from
the house of the block, I have not slaughtered animals which are the
possessions of God.

17. "Hail [=A]m-besek (_i.e._, Eater of entrails), who comest forth
from M[=a]bet, I have not laid waste the lands which have been

18. "Hail Neb-Ma[=a]t (_i.e._, Lord of Ma[=a]t), who comest forth from
the city of the two Ma[=a]ti, I have not pried into matters to make

19. "Hail Thenemi (_i.e._, Retreater), who comest forth from Bast
(_i.e._, Bubastis), I have not set my mouth in motion against any man.

20. "Hail [=A]nti, who comest forth from Annu (Heliopolis), I have not
given way to wrath without due cause.

21. "Hail Tututef, who comest forth from the home of Ati, I have not
committed fornication, and I have not committed sodomy.

22. "Hail Uamemti, who comest forth from the house of slaughter, I
have not polluted myself.

23. "Hail Maa-ant-f (_i.e._, Seer of what is brought to him), who
comest forth from the house of the god Amsu, I have not lain with the
wife of a man.

24. "Hail Her-seru, who comest forth from Nehatu, I have not made any
man to be afraid.

25. "Hail Neb-Sekhem, who comest forth from the Lake of Kaui, I have
not made my speech to burn with anger. [Footnote: Literally, "I have
not been hot of mouth."]

26. "Hail Seshet-kheru (_i.e._, Orderer of speech), who comest forth
from Urit, I have not made myself deaf unto the words of right and

27. "Hail Nekhen (_i.e._, Babe), who comest forth from the Lake of
Heq[=a] t, I have not made another person to weep.

28. "Hail Kenemti, who comest forth from Kenemet, I have not uttered

29. "Hail An-hetep-f (_i.e._, Bringer of his offering), who comest
forth from Sau, I have not acted with violence.

30. "Hail Ser-kheru (_i.e._, Disposer of Speech), who comest forth
from Unsi, I have not hastened my heart. [Footnote: _i.e._, acted
without due consideration.]

31. "Hail Neb-hrau (_i.e._, Lord of Faces), who comest forth from
Netchefet, I have not pierced (?) my skin (?), and I have not taken
vengeance on the god.

32. "Hail Serekhi, who comest forth from Uthent, I have not multiplied
my speech beyond what should be said.

33. "Hail Neb-abui (_i.e._, Lord of horns), who comest forth from
Sauti, I have not committed fraud, [and I have not] looked upon evil.

34. "Hail Nefer-Tem, who comest forth from Ptah-het-ka (Memphis), I
have never uttered curses against the king.

35. "Hail Tem-sep, who comest forth from Tattu, I have not fouled
running water.

36. "Hail Ari-em-ab-f, who comest forth from Tebti, I have not exalted
my speech.

37. "Hail Ahi, who comest forth from Nu, I have not uttered curses
against God.

38. "Hail Uatch-rekhit [who comest forth from his shrine (?)], I have
not behaved with insolence.

39. "Hail Neheb-nefert, who comest forth from his temple, I have not
made distinctions. [Footnote: _i.e._, I have not been guilty of

40. "Hail Neheb-kau, who comest forth from thy cavern, I have not
increased my wealth except by means of such things as are mine own

41. "Hail Tcheser-tep, who comest forth from thy shrine, I have not
uttered curses against that which belongeth to God and is with me.

42. "Hail An-[=a]-f (_i.e._, Bringer of his arm), [who comest forth
from Aukert], I have not thought scorn of the god of the city."

A brief examination of this "Confession" shows that the Egyptian code of
morality was very comprehensive, and it would be very hard to find an
act, the commission of which would be reckoned a sin when the
"Confession" was put together, which is not included under one or other
part of it. The renderings of the words for certain sins are not always
definite or exact, because we do not know the precise idea which the
framer of this remarkable document had. The deceased states that he has
neither cursed God, nor thought scorn of the god of his city, nor cursed
the king, nor committed theft of any kind, nor murder, nor adultery, nor
sodomy, nor crimes against the god of generation; he has not been
imperious or haughty, or violent, or wrathful, or hasty in deed, or a
hypocrite, or an accepter of persons, or a blasphemer, or crafty, or
avaricious, or fraudulent, or deaf to pious words, or a party to evil
actions, or proud, or puffed up; he has terrified no man, he has not
cheated in the market-place, and he has neither fouled the public
watercourse nor laid waste the tilled land of the community. This is, in
brief, the confession which the deceased makes; and the next act in the
Judgment Scene is weighing the heart of the deceased in the scales. As
none of the oldest papyri of the Book of the Dead supplies us with a
representation of this scene, we must have recourse to the best of the
illustrated papyri of the latter half of the XVIIIth and of the XIXth
dynasties. The details of the Judgment Scene vary greatly in various
papyri, but the essential parts of it are always preserved. The
following is the description of the judgment of Ani, as it appears in
his wonderful papyrus preserved in the British Museum.

In the underworld, and in that portion of it which is called the Hall of
Ma[=a]ti, is set a balance wherein the heart of the deceased is to be
weighed. The beam is suspended by a ring upon a projection from the
standard of the balance made in the form of the feather which is the
symbol of Ma[=a]t, or what is right and true. The tongue of the balance
is fixed to the beam, and when this is exactly level, the tongue is as
straight as the standard; if either end of the beam inclines downwards
the tongue cannot remain in a perpendicular position. It must be
distinctly understood that the heart which was weighed in the one scale
was not expected to make the weight which was in the other to kick the
beam, for all that was asked or required of the deceased was that his
heart should balance exactly the symbol of the law. The standard was
sometimes surmounted by a human head wearing the feather of Ma[=a]t;
sometimes by the head of a jackal, the animal sacred to Anubis; and
sometimes by the head of an ibis, the bird sacred to Thoth; in the
Papyrus of Ani a dog-headed ape, the associate of Thoth, sits on the top
of the standard. In some papyri (_e.g._, those of Ani [Footnote: About
B.C. 1500.] and Hunefer [Footnote: About B.C. 1370.]), in addition to
Osiris, the king of the underworld and judge of the dead, the gods of
his cycle or company appear as witnesses of the judgment. In the Papyrus
of the priestess Anhai [Footnote: About B.C. 1000.] in the British
Museum the great and the little companies of the gods appear as
witnesses, but the artist was so careless that instead of nine gods in
each group he painted six in one and five in the other. In the Turin
papyrus [Footnote: Written in the Ptolemaic period.] we see the whole of
the forty-two gods, to whom the deceased recited the [Illustration: The
weighing of the heart of the scribe Ani in the Balance in the presence
of the gods.] "Negative Confession," seated in the judgment-hall. The
gods present at the weighing of Ani's heart are--

1. R[=A]-HARMACHIS, hawk-headed, the Sun-god of the dawn and of noon.

2. TEMU, the Sun-god of the evening, the great god of Heliopolis. He
is depicted always in human form and with the face of a man, a fact
which proves that he had at a very early period passed through all the
forms in which gods are represented, and had arrived at that of a man.
He has upon his head the crowns of the South and North.

3. SHU, man-headed, the son of R[=a] and Hathor, the personification
of the sunlight.

4. TEFNUT, lion-headed, the twin-sister of Shu, the personification of

5. SEB, man-headed, the son of Shu, the personification of the earth.

6. NUT, woman-headed, the female counterpart of the gods Nu and Seb;
she was the personification of the primeval water, and later of the

7. ISIS, woman-headed, the sister-wife of Osiris, and mother of Horus.

8. NEPHTHYS, woman-headed, the sister-wife of Osiris, and mother of

9. HORUS, the "great god," hawk-headed, whose worship was probably the
oldest in Egypt.

10. HATHOR, woman-headed, the personification of that portion of the
sky where the sun rose and set.

11. HU, man-headed, and

12. SA, also man-headed; these gods are present in the boat of R[=a]
in the scenes which depict the creation.

On one side of the balance kneels the god Anubis, jackal-headed, who
holds the weight of the tongue of the balance in his right hand, and
behind him stands Thoth, the scribe of the gods, ibis-headed, holding in
his hands a reed wherewith to write down the result of the weighing.
Near him is seated the tri-formed beast [=A]m-mit, the, "Eater of the
Dead," who waits to devour the heart of Ani should it be found to be
light. In the Papyrus of Neb-qet at Paris this beast is seen lying by
the side of a lake of fire, at each corner of which is seated a
dog-headed ape; this lake is also seen in Chapter CXXVI. of the Book of
the Dead. The gods who are seated before a table of offerings, and
Anubis, and Thoth, and [=A]m-mit, are the beings who conduct the case,
so to speak, against Ani. On the other side of the balance stand Ani and
his wife Thuthu with their heads reverently bent; they are depicted in
human form, and wear garments and ornaments similar to those which they
wore upon earth. His soul, in the form of a man-headed hawk standing
upon a pylon, is present, also a man-headed, rectangular object,
resting upon a pylon, which has frequently been supposed to represent
the deceased in an embryonic state. In the Papyrus of Anhai two of these
objects appear, one on each side of the balance; they are described as
Shai and Renenet, two words which are translated by "Destiny" and
"Fortune" respectively. It is most probable, as the reading of the name
of the object is _Meskhenet_, and as the deity Meskhenet represents
sometimes both Shai and Renenet, that the artist intended the object to
represent both deities, even though we find the god Shai standing below
it close to the standard of the balance. Close by the soul stand two
goddesses called Meskhenet and Renenet respectively; the former is,
probably, one of the four goddesses who assisted at the resurrection of
Osiris, and the latter the personification of Fortune, which has already
been included under the _Meskhenet_ object above, the personification of

It will be remembered that Meskhenet accompanied Isis, Nephthys, Heqet,
and Khnemu to the house of the lady Rut-Tettet, who was about to bring
forth three children. When these deities arrived, having changed their
forms into those of women, they found R[=a]-user standing there. And
when they had made music for him, he said to them, "Mistresses, there is
a woman in travail here;" and they replied, "Let us see her, for we know
how to deliver a woman." R[=a]-user then brought them into the house,
and the goddesses shut themselves in with the lady Rut-Tettet. Isis took
her place before her, and Nephthys behind her, whilst Heqet hastened the
birth of the children; as each child was born Meskhenet stepped up to
him and said, "A king who shall have dominion over the whole land," and
the god Khnemu bestowed health upon his limbs. [Footnote: See Erman,
_Westcar Papyrus_, Berlin, 1890, hieroglyphic transcript, plates 9 and
10.] Of these five gods, Isis, Nephthys, Meskhenet, Heqet, and Khnemu,
the first three are present at the judgment of Ani; Khnemu is mentioned
in Ani's address to his heart (see below), and only Heqet is

As the weighing of his heart is about to take place Ani says, "My heart,
my mother! My heart, my mother! My heart whereby I came into being! May
naught stand up to oppose me in the judgment; may there be no opposition
to me in the presence of the sovereign princes; may there be no parting
of thee from me in the presence of him that keepeth the Balance! Thou
art my _ka_, the dweller in my body; the god Khnemu who knitteth and
strengtheneth my limbs. Mayest thou come forth into the place of
happiness whither we go. May the princes of the court of Osiris, who
order the circumstances of the lives of men, not cause my name to
stink." Some papyri add, "Let it be satisfactory unto us, and let the
listening be satisfactory unto us, and let there be joy of heart unto us
at the weighing of words. Let not that which is false be uttered against
me before the great god, the lord of Amentet! Verily how great shalt
thou be when thou risest in triumph!"

The tongue of the balance having been examined by Anubis, and the ape
having indicated to his associate Thoth that the beam is exactly
straight, and that the heart, therefore, counterbalances the feather
symbolic of Ma[=a]t _(_i.e._, right, truth, law, etc.), neither
outweighing nor underweighing it, Thoth writes down the result, and then
makes the following address to the gods:--

"Hear ye this judgment. The heart of Osiris hath in very truth been
weighed, and his soul hath stood as a witness for him; it hath been
found true by trial in the Great Balance. There hath not been found
any wickedness in him; he hath not wasted the offerings in the
temples; he hath not done harm by his deeds; and he spread abroad no
evil reports while he was upon earth."

In answer to this report the company of the gods, who are styled "the
great company of the gods," reply, "That which cometh forth from thy
mouth, O Thoth, who dwellest in Khemennu (Hermopolis), is confirmed.
Osiris, the scribe Ani, triumphant, is holy and righteous. He hath not
sinned, neither hath he done evil against us. The Devourer [=A]m-mit
shall not be allowed to prevail over him, and meat-offerings and
entrance into the presence of the god Osiris shall be granted unto him,
together with a homestead for ever in the Field of Peace, as unto the
followers of Horus." [Footnote: These are a class of mythological
beings, or demi-gods, who already in the Vth dynasty were supposed to
recite prayers on behalf of the deceased, and to assist Horus and Set in
performing funeral ceremonies. See my _Papyrus of Ani_, p. cxxv.]

Here we notice at once that the deceased is identified with Osiris, the
god and judge of the dead, and that they have bestowed upon him the
god's own name; the reason of this is as follows. The friends of the
deceased performed for him all the ceremonies and rites which were
performed for Osiris by Isis and Nephthys, and it was assumed that, as a
result, the same things which took place in favour of Osiris would also
happen on behalf of the deceased, and that in fact, the deceased would
become the counterpart of Osiris. Everywhere in the texts of the Book of
the Dead the deceased is identified with Osiris, from B.C. 3400 to the
Roman period. Another point to notice is the application of the words
_ma[=a] kheru_ to the deceased, a term which I have, for want of a
better word, rendered "triumphant." These words actually mean "true of
voice" or "right of word," and indicate that the person to whom they are
applied has acquired the power of using his voice in such a way that
when the invisible beings are addressed by him they will render unto him
all the service which he has obtained the right to demand. It is well
known that in ancient times magicians and sorcerers were wont to address
spirits or demons in a peculiar tone of voice, and that all magical
formulae were recited in a similar manner; the use of the wrong sound or
tone of voice would result in the most disastrous consequences to the
speaker, and perhaps in death. The deceased had to make his way through
a number of regions in the underworld, and to pass through many series
of halls, the doors of which were guarded by beings who were prepared,
unless properly addressed, to be hostile to the new-comer; he also had
need to take passage in a boat, and to obtain the help of the gods and
of the powers of the various localities wherein he wanted to travel if
he wished to pass safely into the place where he would be. The Book of
the Dead provided him with all the texts and formulae which he would
have to recite to secure this result, but unless the words contained in
them were pronounced in a proper manner, and said in a proper tone of
voice, they would have no effect upon the powers of the underworld. The
term _ma[=a] kheru_ is applied but very rarely to the living, but
commonly to the dead, and indeed the dead needed most the power which
these words indicated. In the case of Ani, the gods, having accepted the
favourable report of the result obtained by weighing Ani's heart by
Thoth, style him _ma[=a] kheru_, which is equivalent to conferring upon
him power to overcome all opposition, of every kind, which he may meet.
Henceforth every door will open at his command, every god will hasten to
obey immediately Ani has uttered his name, and those whose duty it is to
provide celestial food for the beatified will do so for him when once
the order has been given. Before passing on to other matters it is
interesting to note that the term _ma[=a] kheru_ is not applied to Ani
by himself in the Judgment Scene, nor by Thoth, the scribe of the gods,
nor by Horus when he introduces him to Osiris; it is only the gods who
can make a man _ma[=a] kheru_, and thereby he also escapes from the

The judgment ended, Horus, the son of Isis, who has assumed all the
attributes of his father Osiris, takes Ani's left hand in his right and
leads him up to the shrine wherein the god Osiris is seated. The god
wears the white crown with feathers, and he holds in his hands a
sceptre, a crook, and whip, or flail, which typify sovereignty and
dominion. His throne is a tomb, of which the bolted doors and the
cornice of uraei may be seen painted on the side. At the back of his
neck hangs the _menat_ or symbol of joy and happiness; on his right hand
stands Nephthys, and on his left stands Isis. Before him, standing on a
lotus flower, are the four children of Horus, Mestha, H[=a]pi, Tuamutef,
and Qebhsennuf, who presided over and protected the intestines of the
dead; close by hangs the skin of a bull with which magical ideas seem to
have been associated. The top of the shrine in which the god sits is
surmounted by uraei, wearing disks on their heads, and the cornice also
is similarly decorated. In several papyri the god is seen standing up in
the shrine, sometimes with and sometimes without the goddesses Isis and
Nephthys. In the Papyrus of Hunefer we find a most interesting variant
of this [Illustration: Horus, the son of Isis, leading the scribe Ani
into the presence of Osiris, the god and judge of the dead; before the
shrine of the god Am kneels in adoration and presents offerings.]
portion of the scene, for the throne of Osiris rests upon, or in, water.
This reminds us of the passage in the one hundred and twenty-sixth
chapter of the Book of the Dead in which the god Thoth says to the
deceased, "Who is he whose roof is of fire, whose walls are living
uraei, and the floor of whose house is a stream of running water? Who is
he, I say?" The deceased answers, "It is Osiris," and the god says,
"Come forward, then; for verily thou shalt be mentioned [to him]."

When Horus had led in Ani he addressed Osiris, saying, "I have come unto
thee, O Un-nefer, and I have brought the Osiris Ani unto thee. His heart
hath been found righteous and it hath come forth from the balance; it
hath not sinned against any god or any goddess. Thoth hath weighed it
according to the decree uttered unto him by the company of the gods; and
it is very true and right. Grant unto him cakes and ale; and let him
enter into thy presence; and may he be like unto the followers of Horus
for ever!" After this address Ani, kneeling by the side of tables of
offerings of fruit, flowers, etc., which he has brought unto Osiris,
says, "O Lord of Amentet, I am in thy presence. There is no sin in me, I
have not lied wittingly, nor have I done aught with a false heart. Grant
that I may be like unto those favoured ones who are round about thee,
and that I may be an Osiris greatly favoured of the beautiful god and
beloved of the Lord of the world, [I], the royal scribe of Ma[=a]t, who
loveth him, Ani, triumphant before Osiris." [Footnote: Or "true of voice
in respect of Osiris;" _i.e._, Ani makes his petition, and Osiris is to
hear and answer because he has uttered the right words in the right
manner, and in the right tone of voice.] Thus we come to the end of the
scene of the weighing of the heart.

The man who has passed safely through this ordeal has now to meet the
gods of the underworld, and the Book of the Dead provides the words
which "the heart which is righteous and sinless" shall say unto them.
One of the fullest and most correct texts of "the speech of the deceased
when he cometh forth true of voice from the Hall of the Ma[=a]ti
goddesses" is found in the Papyrus of Nu; in it the deceased says:--

"Homage to you, O ye gods who dwell in the Hall of the Ma[=a]ti
goddesses, I, even I, know you, and I know your names. Let me not fall
under your knives of slaughter, and bring ye not forward my wickedness
unto the god in whose train ye are; and let not evil hap come upon, me
by your means. O declare ye me true of voice in the presence of
Neb-er-teber, because I have done that which is right and true in
Ta-mera (_i.e._, Egypt). I have not cursed God, therefore let not evil
hap come upon me through the King who dwelleth in his day.

"Homage to you, O ye gods, who dwell in the Hall of the Ma[=a]ti
goddesses, who are without evil in your bodies, and who live upon
right and truth, and who feed yourselves upon right and truth in the
presence of the god Horus, who dwelleth in his divine Disk; deliver ye
me from the god Baba [Footnote: The first born son of Osiris.] who
feedeth upon the entrails of the mighty ones upon the day of the great
reckoning, O grant ye that I may come to you, for I have not committed
faults, I have not sinned, I have not done evil, I have not borne
false witness; therefore let nothing [evil] be done unto me. I live
upon right and truth, and I feed upon right and truth. I have
performed the commandments of men [as well as] the things whereat are
gratified the gods; I have made God to be at peace [with me by doing]
that which is his will. I have given bread to the hungry man, and
water to the thirsty man, and apparel to the naked man, and a boat to
the [shipwrecked] mariner. I have made holy offerings to the gods, and
sepulchral meals to the beatified dead. Be ye then my deliverers, be
ye then my protectors, and make ye not accusation against me in the
presence of [Osiris]. I am clean of mouth and clean of hands;
therefore let it be said unto me by those who shall behold me, 'Come
in peace, come in peace.' I have heard the mighty word which the
spiritual bodies spake unto the Cat [Footnote: _i.e._, R[=a] as the
slayer of the serpent of darkness, the head of which be cuts off with
a knife. (See above, p. 63). The usual reading is "which the Ass spake
to the Cat;" the Ass being Osiris and the cat R[=a].] in the house of
Hapt-re. I have testified in the presence of Hra-f-ha-f, and he hath
given [his] decision. I have seen the things over which the Persea
tree spreadeth within Re-stau. I am he who hath offered up prayers to
the gods and who knoweth their persons. I have come, and I have
advanced to make the declaration of right and truth, and to set the
Balance upon what supporteth it in the region of Aukert.

"Hail, thou who art exalted upon thy standard (_i.e._, Osiris), thou
lord of the 'Atefu' crown whose name is proclaimed as 'Lord of the
winds,' deliver thou me from thy divine messengers who cause dire
deeds to happen, and who cause calamities to come into being, and who
are without coverings for their faces, for I have done that which is
right and true for the Lord of right and truth. I have purified myself
and my breast with libations, and my hinder parts with the things
which make clean, and my inward parts have been [immersed] in the Pool
of Right and Truth. There is no single member of mine which lacketh
right and truth. I have been purified in the Pool of the South, and I
have rested in the City of the North, which is in the Field of the
Grasshoppers, wherein the divine sailors of R[=a] bathe at the second
hour of the night and at the third hour of the day; and the hearts of
the gods are gratified after they have passed through it, whether it
be by night, or whether it be by day. And I would that they should say
unto me, 'Come forward,' and 'Who art thou?' and 'What is thy name?'
These are the words which, I would have the gods say unto me. [Then
would I reply] 'My name is He who is provided with flowers, and
Dweller in his olive tree.' Then let them say unto me straightway,
'Pass on,' and I would pass on to the city to the north of the Olive
tree, 'What then wilt thou see there?' [say they. And I say]' The Leg
and the Thigh,' 'What wouldst thou say unto them?' [say they.] 'Let me
see rejoicings in the land of the Fenkhu' [I reply]. 'What will they
give thee? [say they]. 'A fiery flame and a crystal tablet' [I reply].
'What wilt thou do therewith?' [say they]. 'Bury them by the furrow of
M[=a][=a]at as Things for the night' [I reply]. 'What wilt thou find
by the furrow of M[=a][=a]at?' [say they]. 'A sceptre of flint
called Giver of Air' [I reply]. 'What wilt thou do with the fiery
flame and the crystal tablet after thou hast buried them?' [say they].
'I will recite words over them, in the furrow. I will extinguish the
fire, and I will break the tablet, and I will make a pool of water' [I
reply]. Then let the gods say unto me, 'Come and enter in through the
door of this Hall of the M[=a][=a]ti goddesses, for thou knowest us.'"

After these remarkable prayers follows a dialogue between each part of
the Hall of M[=a][=a]ti and the deceased, which reads as follows:--

_Door bolts_. "We will not let thee enter in through us unless thou
tellest our names."

_Deceased_. "'Tongue of the place of Right and Truth' is your

_Right post_. "I will not let thee enter in by me unless thou tellest
my name."

_Deceased_. "'Scale of the lifter up of right and truth' is thy

_Left post_. "I will not let thee enter in by me unless thou tellest
my name."

_Deceased_. "'Scale of wine' is thy name."

_Threshold_. "I will not let thee pass over me unless thou tellest my

_Deceased_. "'Ox of the god Seb' is thy name."

_Hasp_. "I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my name."

_Deceased_. "'Leg-bone of his mother' is thy name."

_Socket-hole_. "I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my

_Deceased_. "'Living Eye of Sebek, the lord of Bakhau,' is thy name."

_Porter_. "I will not open unto thee unless thou tellest my name."

_Deceased_. "'Elbow of the god Shu when he placeth himself to protect
Osiris' is thy name."

_Side posts_. "We will not let thee pass in by us, unless thou tellest
our names."

_Deceased_. "'Children of the uraei-goddesses' is your name."

"Thou knowest us; pass on, therefore, by us" [say these].

_Floor_. "I will not let thee tread upon me, because I am silent and I
am holy, and because I do not know the names of thy feet
wherewith thou wouldst walk upon me; therefore tell them to

_Deceased_. "'Traveller of the god Khas' is the name of my right foot,
and 'Staff of the goddess Hathor' is the name of my left

"Thou knowest me; pass on, therefore, over me" [it saith].

_Doorkeeper_. "I will not take in thy name unless thou tellest my

_Deceased_. "'Discerner of hearts and searcher of the reins' is thy

_Doorkeeper_. "Who is the god that dwelleth in his hour? Utter his

_Deceased_. "'M[=a]au-Taui' is his name."

_Doorkeeper_. "And who is M[=a]au-Taui?"

_Deceased_. "He is Thoth."

_Thoth_. "Come! But why hast thou come?"

_Deceased_. "I have come and I press forward that my name may be

_Thoth_, "In what state art thou?"

_Deceased_. "I am purified from evil things, and I am protected from
the baleful deeds of those who live in their days; and I
am not of them."

_Thoth_. "Now will I make mention of thy name [to the god]. And who is
he whose roof is of fire, whose walls are living uraei, and
the floor of whose house is a stream of water? Who is he, I

_Deceased_. "It is Osiris."

_Thoth_. "Come forward, then; verily, mention of thy name shall be
made unto him. Thy cakes [shall come] from the Eye of R[=a];
and thine ale [shall come] from the Eye of R[=a]; and thy
sepulchral meals upon earth [shall come] from the Eye of

With these words Chapter CXXV comes to an end. We have seen how the
deceased has passed through the ordeal of the judgment, and how the
scribes provided him with hymns and prayers, and with the words of a
confession with a view of facilitating his passage through the dread
Hall of the Ma[=a]ti goddesses. Unfortunately the answer which the god
Osiris may be supposed to have made to his son Horus in respect of the
deceased is not recorded, but there is no doubt that the Egyptian
assumed that it would be favourable to him, and that permission would be
accorded him to enter into each and every portion of the underworld, and
to partake of all the delights which the beatified enjoyed under the
rule of R[=a] and Osiris.



In perusing the literature of the ancient Egyptians one of the first
things which forces itself upon the mind of the reader is the frequency
of allusions to the future life or to things which appertain thereto.
The writers of the various religious and other works, belonging to all
periods of Egyptian history, which have come down to us, tacitly assume
throughout that those who once have lived in this world have "renewed"
their life in that which is beyond the grave, and that they still live
and will live until time shall be no more. The Egyptian belief in the
existence of Almighty God is old, so old that we must seek for its
beginnings in pre-dynastic times; but the belief in a future life is
very much older, and its beginnings must be as old, at least, as the
oldest human remains which have been found in Egypt. To attempt to
measure by years the remoteness of the period when these were committed
to the earth, is futile, for no date that could be given them is likely
to be even approximately correct, and they may as well date from B.C.
12,000 as from B.C. 8000. Of one fact, however, we may be quite certain;
that is to say, that the oldest human remains that have been found in
Egypt bear upon them traces of the use of bitumen, which proves that the
Egyptians at the very beginning of their stay in the valley of the Nile
made some attempt to preserve their dead by means of mummification.
[Footnote: See J. de Morgan, _Ethnographie Prehistorique_, Paris, 1897,
p. 189.] If they were, as many think, invaders who had made their way
across Arabia and the Red Sea and the eastern desert of the Nile, they
may have brought the idea and habit of preserving their dead with them,
or they may have adopted, in a modified form, some practice in use among
the aboriginal inhabitants whom they found on their arrival in Egypt; in
either case the fact that they attempted to preserve their dead by the
use of substances which would arrest decay is certain, and in a degree
their attempt has succeeded.

The existence of the non-historic inhabitants of Egypt has been revealed
to us in recent years by means of a number of successful excavations
which have been made in Upper Egypt on both sides of the Nile by several
European and native explorers, and one of the most striking results has
been the discovery of three different kinds of burials, which
undoubtedly belong to three different periods, as we may see by
examining the various objects which have been found in the early graves
at Nak[=a]dah and other non-historic sites of the same age and type. In
the oldest tombs we find the skeleton laid upon its left side, with the
limbs bent: the knees are on a level with the breast, and the hands are
placed in front of the face. Generally the head faces towards the south,
but no invariable rule seems to have been observed as to its
"orientation." Before the body was laid in the ground it was either
wrapped in gazelle skin or laid in loose grass; the substance used for
the purposes of wrapping probably depended upon the social condition of
the deceased. In burials of this class there are no traces of
mummification, or of burning, or of stripping the flesh from the bones.
In the next oldest graves the bodies are found to have been wholly or
partly stripped of their flesh; in the former case all the bones are
found cast indiscriminately is the grave, in the latter the bones of the
hands and the feet were laid together, while the rest of the skeleton is
scattered about in wild confusion. Graves of this period are found to be
oriented either north or south, and the bodies in them usually have the
head separated from the body; sometimes it is clear that the bodies have
been "jointed" so that they might occupy less space. Occasionally the
bodies are found lying upon their backs with their legs and arms folded
over them; in this case they are covered over with clay casings. In
certain graves it is clear that the body has been burnt. Now in all
classes of tombs belonging to the prehistoric period in Egypt we find
offerings in vases and vessels of various kinds, a fact which proves
beyond all doubt that the men who made these graves believed that their
dead friends and relatives would live again in some place, of the
whereabouts of which they probably had very vague ideas, in a life which
was, presumably, not unlike that which they had lived upon earth. The
flint tools, knives, scrapers and the like indicate that they thought
they would hunt and slay their quarry when brought down, and fight their
foes; and the schist objects found in the graves, which M. de Morgan
identifies as amulets, shows that even in those early days man believed
that he could protect himself against the powers of supernatural and
invisible enemies by talismans. The man who would hunt and fight in the
next world must live again; and if he would live again it must be either
in his old body or in a new one; if in the old body, it must be
revivified. But once having imagined a new life, probably in a new body,
death a second time was not, the prehistoric Egyptian hoped, within the
bounds of possibility. Here, then, we have the origin of the grand ideas

There is every reason for believing that the prehistoric Egyptian
expected to eat, and to drink, and to lead a life of pleasure in the
region where he imagined his heaven to be, and there is little doubt
that he thought the body in which he would live there would be not
unlike the body which he had while he was upon earth. At this stage his
ideas of the supernatural and of the future life would be like those of
any man of the same race who stood on the same level in the scale of
civilization, but in every way he was a great contrast to the Egyptian
who lived, let us say, in the time of Mena, the first historical king of
Egypt, the date of whom for convenience' sake is placed at B.C. 4400.
The interval between the time when the prehistoric Egyptians made the
graves described above and the reign of Mena must have been very
considerable, and we may justly believe it to represent some thousands
of years; but whatever its length, we find that the time was not
sufficient to wipe out the early views which had been handed on from
generation to generation, or even to modify some of the beliefs which we
now know to have existed in an almost unchanged state at the latest
period of Egyptian history. In the texts which were edited by the
priests of Heliopolis we find references to a state or condition of
things, as far as social matters are concerned, which could only exist
in a society of men who were half savages. And we see from later works,
when extracts are made from the earlier texts which contain such
references, that the passages in which objectionable allusions occur are
either omitted altogether or modified. We know of a certainty that the
educated men of the College of Heliopolis cannot have indulged in the
excesses which the deceased kings for whom they prepared the funeral
texts are assumed to enjoy, and the mention of the nameless abomination
which the savage Egyptian inflicted upon his vanquished foe can only
have been allowed to remain in them because of their own reverence for
the written word.

In passing it must be mentioned that the religious ideas of the men who
were buried without mutilation of limbs, or stripping of flesh from the
body, or burning, must have been different from those of the men who
practised such things on the dead. The former are buried in the
ante-natal position of a child, and we may perhaps be justified in
seeing in this custom the symbol of a hope that as the child is born
from this position into the world, so might the deceased be born into
the life in the world beyond the grave; and the presence of amulets, the
object of which was to protect the body, seems to indicate that they
expected the actual body to rise again. The latter, by the mutilation of
the bodies and the burning of the dead, seem to show that they had no
hope of living again in their natural bodies, and how far they had
approached to the conception of the resurrection of a spiritual body we
shall probably never know. When we arrive at the IVth dynasty we find
that, so far from any practice of mutilation or burning of the body
being common, every text assumes that the body is to be buried whole;
this fact indicates a reversal of the custom of mutilation, or burning,
which must have been in use, however, for a considerable time. It is to
this reversal that we probably owe such passages as, "O flesh of Pepi,
rot not, decay not, stink not;" "Pepi goeth forth with his flesh;" "thy
bones shall not be destroyed, and thy flesh shall not perish,"
[Footnote: See _Recueil de Travaux_, tom. v. pp. 55, 185 (lines 160,
317, 353).] etc.; and they denote a return to the views and ways of the
earliest people known to us in Egypt.

In the interval which elapsed between the period of the prehistoric
burials and the IVth dynasty, the Egyptian formulated certain theories
about the component parts of his own body, and we must consider these
briefly before we can describe the form in which the dead were believed
to rise. The physical body of a man was called KHAT, a word which
indicates something in which decay is inherent; it was this which was
buried in the tomb after mummification, and its preservation from
destruction of every kind was the object of all amulets, magical
ceremonies, prayers, and formulae, from the earliest to the latest
times. The god Osiris even possessed such a body, and its various
members were preserved as relics in several shrines in Egypt. Attached
to the body in some remarkable way was the KA, or "double," of a man; it
may be defined as an abstract individuality or personality which was
endowed with all his characteristic attributes, and it possessed an
absolutely independent existence. It was free to move from place to
place upon earth at will, and it could enter heaven and hold converse
with the gods. The offerings made in, the tombs at all periods were
intended for the nourishment of the KA, and it was supposed to be able
to eat and drink and to enjoy the odour of incense. In the earliest
times a certain portion of the tomb was set apart for the use of the KA,
and the religious organization of the period ordered that a class of
priests should perform ceremonies and recite prayers at stated seasons
for the benefit of the KA in the KA chapel; these men were known as "KA
priests." In the period when the pyramids were built it was firmly
believed that the deceased, in some form, was able to be purified, and
to sit down and to eat bread with it "unceasingly and for ever;" and the
KA who was not supplied with a sufficiency of food in the shape of
offerings of bread, cakes, flowers, fruit, wine, ale, and the like, was
in serious danger of starvation.

The soul was called BA, and the ideas which the Egyptians held
concerning it are somewhat difficult to reconcile; the meaning of the
word seems to be something like "sublime," "noble," "mighty." The BA
dwelt in the KA, and seems to have had the power of becoming corporeal
or incorporeal at will; it had both substance and form, and is
frequently depicted on the papyri and monuments as a human-headed hawk;
in nature and substance it is stated to be ethereal. It had the power to
leave the tomb, and to pass up into heaven where it was believed to
enjoy an eternal existence in a state of glory; it could, however, and
did, revisit the body in the tomb, and from certain texts it seems that
it could re-animate it and hold converse with it. Like the heart AB it
was, in some respects, the seat of life in man. The souls of the blessed
dead dwelt in heaven with the gods, and they partook of all the
celestial enjoyments for ever.

The spiritual intelligence, or spirit, of a man was called KHU, and it
seems to have taken form as a shining, luminous, intangible shape of the
body; the KHUs formed a class of celestial beings who lived with the
gods, but their functions are not clear. The KHU, like the KA, could be
imprisoned in the tomb, and to obviate this catastrophe special formulae
were composed and duly recited. Besides the KHU another very important
part of a man's entity went into heaven, namely, his SEKHEM. The word
literally means "to have the mastery over something," and, as used in
the early texts, that which enables one to have the mastery over
something; _i.e._, "power." The SEKHEM of a man was, apparently, his
vital force or strength personified, and the Egyptians believed that it
could and did, under certain conditions, follow him that possessed it
upon earth into heaven. Another part of a man was the KHAIBIT or
"shadow," which is frequently mentioned in connexion with the soul and,
in late times, was always thought to be near it. Finally we may mention
the REN, or "name" of a man, as one of his most important constituent
parts. The Egyptians, in common with all Eastern nations, attached the
greatest importance to the preservation of the name, and any person, who
effected the blotting out of a man's name was thought to have destroyed
him also. Like the KA it was a portion, of a man's most special
identity, and it is easy to see why so much importance grew to be
attached to it; a nameless being could not be introduced to the gods,
and as no created thing exists without a name the man who had no name
was in a worse position before the divine powers than the feeblest
inanimate object. To perpetuate the name of a father was a good son's
duty, and to keep the tombs of the dead in good repair so that all might
read the names of those who were buried in them was a most meritorious
act. On the other hand, if the deceased knew the names of divine beings,
whether friends or foes, and could pronounce them, he at once obtained
power over them, and was able to make them perform his will.

We have seen that the entity of a man consisted of body, double, soul,
heart, spiritual intelligence or spirit, power, shadow, and name. These
eight parts may be reduced to three by leaving out of consideration the
double, heart, power, shadow and name as representing beliefs which were
produced by the Egyptian as he was slowly ascending the scale of
civilization, and as being the peculiar product of his race; we may then
say that a man consisted of body, soul, and spirit. But did all three
rise, and live in the world beyond the grave? The Egyptian texts answer
this question definitely; the soul and the spirit of the righteous
passed from the body and lived with the beatified and the gods in
heaven; but the physical body did not rise again, and it was believed
never to leave the tomb. There were ignorant people in Egypt who, no
doubt, believed in the resurrection of the corruptible body, and who
imagined that the new life would be, after all, something very much like
a continuation of that which they were living in this world; but the
Egyptian who followed the teaching of his sacred writings knew that such
beliefs were not consistent with the views of their priests and of
educated people in general. Already in the Vth dynasty, about B.C. 3400,
it is stated definitely:--

"The soul to heaven, the body to earth;" [Footnote: _Recueil de
Travaux_, tom. iv. p. 71 (l. 582).] and three thousand years later the
Egyptian writer declared the same thing, but in different words, when
he wrote:--[Footnote: Horrack, _Lamentations d' Isis_, Paris, 1866,
p. 6.] "Heaven hath thy soul, and earth thy body."

The Egyptian hoped, among other things, that he would sail over the sky
in the boat of R[=a], but he knew well that he could not do this in his
mortal body; he believed firmly that he would live for millions of
years, but with the experience of the human race before him he knew that
this also was impossible if the body in which he was to live was that in
which he had lived upon earth. At first he thought that his physical
body might, after the manner of the sun, be "renewed daily," and that
his new life would resemble that of that emblem of the Sun-god R[=a]
with which he sought to identify himself. Later, however, his experience
taught him that the best mummified body was sometimes destroyed, either
by damp, or dry rot, or decay in one form or another, and that
mummification alone was not sufficient to ensure resurrection or the
attainment of the future life; and, in brief, he discovered that by no
human means could that which is corruptible by nature be made to become
incorruptible, for the very animals in which the gods themselves were
incarnate became sick and died in their appointed season. It is hard to
say why the Egyptians continued to mummify the dead since there is good
reason for knowing that they did not expect the physical body to rise
again. It may be that they thought its preservation necessary for the
welfare of the KA, or "double," and for the development of a new body
from it; also the continued custom may have been the result of intense
conservatism. But whatever the reason, the Egyptian never ceased to take
every possible precaution to preserve the dead body intact, had he
sought for help in his trouble from another source.

It will be remembered that when Isis found the dead body of her husband
Osiris, she at once set to work to protect it. She drove away the foes,
and made the ill-luck which had come upon it to be of no effect. In
order to bring about this result "she made strong her speech with all
the strength of her mouth, she was perfect of tongue, and she halted not
in her speech," and she pronounced a series of words or formulae with
which Thoth had provided her; thus she succeeded in "stirring up the
inactivity of the Still-heart" and in accomplishing her desire in
respect of him. Her cries, prompted by love and grief, would have had no
effect on the dead body unless they had been accompanied by the words of
Thoth, which she uttered with boldness (_Ichu_), and understanding
(_ager_), and without fault in pronunciation (_an-uh_). The Egyptian of
old kept this fact in his mind, and determined to procure the
resurrection of his friends and relatives by the same means as Isis
employed, _i.e._, the formulae of Thoth; with this object in view each
dead person, was provided with a series of texts, either written upon
his coffin, or upon papyri and amulets, which would have the same effect
as the words of Thoth which were spoken by Isis. But the relatives of
the deceased had also a duty to perform in this matter, and that was to
provide for the recital of certain prayers, and for the performance of a
number of symbolical ceremonies over the dead body before It was laid to
rest finally in the tomb. A sacrifice had to be offered up, and the
deceased and his friends and relatives assisted at it, and each ceremony
was accompanied by its proper prayers; when all had been done and said
according to the ordinances of the priests, the body was taken, to its
place in the mummy chamber. But the words of Thoth and the prayers of
the priests caused the body to become changed into a "S[=A]HU," or
incorruptible, spiritual body, which passed straightway out of the tomb
and made its way to heaven where it dwelt with the gods. When, in the
Book of the Dead the deceased says, "I exist, I exist; I live, I live; I
germinate, I germinate," [Footnote: See Chap. cliv.] and again, "I
germinate like the plants," [Footnote: See Chap. lxxxviii. 3.] the
deceased does not mean that his physical body is putting forth the
beginnings of another body like the old one, but a spiritual body which
"hath neither defect nor, like R[=a], shall suffer diminution for ever."
Into the S[=A]HU passed the soul which had lived in the body of a man
upon earth, and it seems as if the new, incorruptible body formed the
dwelling-place of the soul in heaven just as the physical body had been
its earthly abode. The reasons why the Egyptians continued to mummify
their dead is thus apparent; they did not do so believing that their
physical bodies would rise again, but because they wished the spiritual
body to "sprout" or "germinate" from them, and if possible--at least it
seems so--to be in the form of the physical body. In this way did the
dead rise according to the Egyptians, and in this body did they come.

From what has been said above, it will be seen that there is no reason
for doubting the antiquity of the Egyptian belief in the resurrection of
the dead and in immortality, and the general evidence derived both from
archaeological and religious considerations supports this view. As old,
however, as this belief in general is the specific belief in a spiritual
body (S[=A]H or S[=A]HU); for we find it in texts of the Vth dynasty
incorporated with ideas which belong to the prehistoric Egyptian in his
savage or semi-savage state. One remarkable extract will prove this
point. In the funeral chapters which are inscribed on the walls of the
chambers and passages inside the pyramid of King Unas, who flourished at
the end of the Vth dynasty, about B.C. 3300, is a passage in which the
deceased king terrifies all the powers of heaven and earth because he
"riseth as a soul (BA) in the form of the god who liveth upon his
fathers and who maketh food of his mothers. Unas is the lord of wisdom
and his mother knoweth not his name. He hath become mighty like unto the
god Temu, the father who gave him birth, and after Temu gave him birth
he became stronger than his father." The king is likened unto a Bull,
and he feedeth upon every god, whatever may be the form in which he
appeareth; "he hath weighed words with the god whose name is hidden,"
and he devoureth men and liveth upon gods. The dead king is then said to
set out to limit the gods in their meadows, and when he has caught them
with nooses, he causes them to be slain. They are next cooked in blazing
cauldrons, the greatest for his morning meal, the lesser for his evening
meal, and the least for his midnight meal; the old gods and goddesses
serve as fuel for his cooking pots. In this way, having swallowed the
magical powers and spirits of the gods, he becomes the Great Power of
Powers among the gods, and the greatest of the gods who appear in
visible forms. "Whatever he hath found upon his path he hath consumed,
and his strength is greater than that of any spiritual body (S[=A]HU) in
the horizon; he is the firstborn of all the firstborn, and ... he hath
carried off the hearts of the gods.... He hath eaten the wisdom of every
god, and his period of existence is everlasting, and his life shall be
unto all eternity, ... for the souls and the spirits of the gods are in

We have, it is clear, in this passage an allusion to the custom of
savages of all nations and periods, of eating portions of the bodies of
valiant foes whom they have vanquished in war in order to absorb their
virtues and strength; the same habit has also obtained in some places in
respect of animals. In the case of the gods the deceased is made to
covet their one peculiar attribute, that is to say, everlasting life;
and when he has absorbed their souls and spirits he is declared to have
obtained all that makes him superior to every other spiritual body in
strength and in length of life. The "magical powers" (_heka_) which the
king is also said to have "eaten," are the words and formulae, the
utterance of which by him, in whatever circumstances he may be placed,
will cause every being, friendly or unfriendly, to do his will. But
apart from any question of the slaughter of the gods the Egyptians
declared of this same king, "Behold, thou hast not gone as one dead, but
as one living, to sit upon the throne of Osiris." [Footnote: _Recuell de

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