Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Some Egyptian Gods
The great sun god of Egypt was worshiped by the royal family. The pharaohs believed that they were descended from Ra. Ra was born each day at sunrise to travel across the sky in a flaming chariot. He is sometimes shown with the head of a falcon, his sacred animal.
Anubis is shown as a jackal, or a man with a jackal’s head. He was a son of Osiris. Anubis was the god of funerals and of mummies. He was thought to show dead people the way to the next world. Any offerings made to the dead were taken by Anubis to the next world.
Sobek was very popular in the area around Fayum. He was thought to have pushed the land up from the waters that originally covered everything. Sobek was he son of Neith and an enemy of Osiris.
The cat-headed goddess was sister of Ra and wife of Ptah. Bastet symbolised the warmth of the sun that made plants grow. A great festival which involved huge feasts and enormous parties was held in her honour at the city of Bubastis.
Thoth was a moon god who was worshiped as the god of learning, science and inventions. Thoth was the scribe of Osiris, and later of Ra. Thoth wrote down the decisions of the gods and saw that they were enforced.
Isis was the leading magician of the gods. She married Osiris and was the mother of Horus. She was the goddess of cooking, spinning and other domestic chores. The worship of Isis spread outside Egypt and she was later popular in Rome and Greece.
Osiris was the god of the dead. He had once been king of Egypt, but was killed by his brother Set. His wife Isis embalmed his body as a mummy and ensured his eternal life in the next world. Osiris then ruled the world of the dead as a perfect king.
Horus is shown with the head of a falcon. He was a sky god, the son of Osiris and Isis. He had many forms and powers. In some places he was worshiped as the god of revenge, in other places as a sun god and elsewhere as a moon god.
Anhur was a god of violence. He is thought to have been a son of Ra. He protected people against snakes, scorpions and other poisonous animals. Anhur was not very popular in early Egypt, but after about 1200bc became worshiped throughout the kingdom.
Set was the god of evil. Set murdered his elder brother Osiris because he was jealous of his powers and popularity. Horus banished Set to the desert, but he was thought to return to stalk among humans spreading arguments and starting fights.
As the goddess of love, joy, music and dance, Hathor presided over parties and festivals. Hathor was usually shown as a woman with the head or horns of a cow, often holding a musical instrument. She was married to Horus.
Menthu, the god of war, was thought to come to earth from time to time to possess a sacred bull kept in his temple at Hermonthis. When the bull died it was made into a mummy and buried, then a new bull was chosen.
As the supreme mother goddess, Mut cared for mothers and young children. Mut had a large temple at Hermopolis, but is rarely shown elsewhere. She was the wife of Ra and the mother of Khons.
Khons was the god of healing and so was worshiped by doctors. Sick people prayed to Khons in the hope of being healed. He was the son of Ra and Mut and had a temple dedicated to him at Karnak.
Ptah was the god of artists and skilled workmen. He was incredibly rich, owning vast stores of gold that he used to reward those who pleased him. It was Ptah who was believed to have created the world.
The hunter goddess was one of the most ancient deities of Egypt, but she was never very important. She was thought to live in the desert west of the Nile. She sometimes went to join Osiris in the land of the dead where she gave food to the dead.