Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt



PROBABLY nothing in the life of the ancient Nile-dwellers commends them more appealingly to our sympathetic consideration than the fact that when the Osirian faith had once developed, it so readily caught the popular imagination as to spread rapidly among all classes. It thus came into active competition with the Solar faith of the court and state priesthoods. This was especially true of its doctrines of the after life, in the progress of which we can discern the gradual Osirianization of Egyptian religion, and especially of the Solar teaching regarding the hereafter.

There is nothing in the Osiris myth, nor in the character or later history of Osiris, to suggest a celestial hereafter. Indeed clear and unequivocal survivals from a period when he was hostile to the celestial and Solar dead are still discoverable in the Pyramid Texts. We recall the exorcisms intended to restrain Osiris and his kin from entering the pyramid, a Solar tomb, with evil intent (<page 75>). [*1] Again we find the dead king as a star in the sky, thus addressed: "Thou lookest down upon Osiris commanding the Glorious (= the dead). There thou standest, being far from him, (for) thou art not of them (the dead), thou belongest not among them." [*2] Likewise it is said of the Sun-god: "He has freed king Teti from Kherti, he has

[p. 143]

not given him to Osiris." [*1] It is perhaps due to an effort to overcome this difficulty that Horus, the son of Osiris, is represented as one "who puts not this Pepi over the dead, he puts him among the gods, he being divine." [*2] The prehistoric Osiris faith, probably local to the Delta, thus involved a forbidding hereafter which was dreaded and at the same time was opposed to celestial blessedness beyond. To be sure, the Heliopolitan group of gods, the Divine Ennead of that city, makes Osiris a child of Nut, the Sky-goddess. But his father was the Earth-god Geb, a very natural result of the character of Osiris as a Nile-god and a spirit of vegetable life, both of which in Egyptian belief came out of the earth. Moreover, the celestial destiny through Nut the Sky-goddess is not necessarily Osirian. It is found, along with the frequent and non-Osirian or even pre-Osirian co-ordination of Horus and Set, associated in the service of the dead. [*3] The appearance of these two together assisting the dead cannot be Osirian. [*4] To be protected and assisted by Nut, therefore, does not necessarily imply that she is doing this for the dead king, because he is identified with Osiris, her son. It is thus probable that as a Sky-goddess intimately associated with Re, Nut's functions in the celestial life hereafter were originally Solar and at first not connected with the Osirian faith.

When Osiris migrated up the Nile from the Delta, we recall how he was identified with one of the old mortuary gods of the South, the "First of the Westerners" (Khenti-Amentiu), and his kingdom was conceived as situated in the West, or below the western horizon, where it merged into the Nether World. He became king of a realm of

[p. 144]

the dead below the earth, and hence his frequent title, "Lord of Dewat," the "Nether World," which occurs even in the Pyramid Texts. [*1] It is as lord of a subterranean kingdom of the dead that Osiris later appears. [*2]

[p. 145]

As there was nothing then in the myth or the offices of Osiris to carry him to the sky, so the simplest of the Osirian Utterances in the Pyramid Texts do not carry him thither. There are as many varying pictures of the Osirian destiny as in the Solar theology. We find the dead king as a mere messenger of Osiris announcing the prosperous issue and plentiful yield of the year, the harvest year, which is associated with Osiris. [*1] That group of incidents in the myth which proves to be especially available in the future career of the dead king is his relations with Horus, the son of Osiris, and the filial piety displayed by the son toward his father. We may find the dead king identified with Horus and marching forth in triumph from Buto, with his mother, Isis, before him and Nephthys behind him, while Upwawet opened the way for them. [*2] More often, however, the dead king does all that Osiris did, receiving heart and limbs as did Osiris, [*3] or becoming Osiris himself. This was the favorite belief of the Osiris faith. The king became Osiris and rose from the dead as Osiris did. [*4] This identity began at birth and is described in the Pyramid Texts with all the wonders and prodigies of a divine birth.

"The waters of life that are in the sky come;
  The waters of life that are in the earth come.
  The sky burns for thee,
  The earth trembles for thee,
  Before the divine birth.
  The two mountains divide,
  The god becomes,

[p. 146]

[paragraph continues] The god takes possession of his body.
  The two mountains divide,
  This king Neferkere becomes,
  This king Neferkere takes possession of his body."

[paragraph continues] Osiris as Nile is thus born between the two mountains of the eastern and western Nile shores, and in the same way, and as the same being, the king is born. [*1] Hence we find the king appearing elsewhere as the inundation. [*2] It is not the mere assumption of the form of Osiris, [*3] but complete identity with him, which is set forth in this doctrine of the Pyramid Texts. "As he (Osiris) lives, this king Unis lives; as he dies not, this king Unis dies not; as he perishes not, this king Unis perishes not." These asseverations are repeated over and over, and addressed to every god in the Ennead, that each may be called upon to witness their truth. Osiris himself under various names is adjured, "Thy body is the body of this king Unis, thy flesh is the flesh of this king Unis, thy bones are the bones of this king Unis." [*4] Thus the dead king receives the throne of Osiris, and becomes, like him, king of the dead. "Ho! king Neferkere (Pepi II)! How beautiful is this! How beautiful is this, which thy father Osiris has done for thee! He has given thee his throne, thou rulest those of the hidden places (the dead), thou leadest their august ones, all the glorious ones follow thee." [*5]

The supreme boon which this identity of the king with Osiris assured the dead Pharaoh was the good offices of Horus, the personification of filial piety. All the pious

[p. 147]

attentions which Osiris had once enjoyed at the hands of his son Horus now likewise become the king's portion. The litigation which the myth recounts at Heliopolis is successfully met by the aid of Horus, as well as Thoth, and, like Osiris, the dead king receives the predicate "righteous of voice," or "justified," an epithet which was later construed as meaning "triumphant." [*1] Over and over again the resurrection of Osiris by Horus, and the restoration of his body, are likewise affirmed to be the king's privilege. "Horus collects for thee thy limbs that he may put thee together without any lack in thee." [*2] Horus then champions his cause, as he had done that of his father, till the dead king gains the supreme place as sovereign of all. "O Osiris king Teti, arise! Horus comes that he may reclaim thee from the gods. Horus loves thee, he has equipped thee with his eye. . . . Horus has opened for thee thy eye that thou mayest see with it. . . . The gods . . . they love thee. Isis and Nephthys have healed thee. Horus is not far from thee; thou art his ka. Thy face is gracious unto him. . . . Thou hast received the word of Horus, thou art satisfied therewith. Hearken unto Horus, he has caused the gods to serve thee. . . . Horus has found thee that there is profit for him in thee. Horus sends up to thee the gods; he has given them to thee that they may illuminate thy face. Horus has placed thee at the head of the gods. He has caused thee to take every crown. . . . Horus has seized for thee the gods. They escape not from thee, from the place where thou hast gone. Horus counts for thee the gods. They retreat not from thee, from the place which thou hast seized. . . . Horus avenged thee; it was not long till he avenged thee. Ho, Osiris king Teti! thou art

[p. 148]

a mighty god, there is no god like thee. Horus has given to thee his children that they might carry thee. He has given to thee all gods that they may serve thee, and thou have power over them." [*1] A long series of Utterances in the Pyramid Texts sets forth this championship of the dead king as Osiris by his son Horus. [*2] In all this there is little or no trace of the celestial destiny, or any indication of the place where the action occurs. Such incidents and such Utterances are appropriated from the Osirian theology and myth, with little or no change. But the Osirian doctrine of the hereafter, absorbed into these royal mortuary texts by the priesthood of Heliopolis, could not, in spite of its vigorous popularity, resist the prestige of the state (or Solar) theology. Even in the Osirian Utterances on the good offices of Horus just mentioned we twice find the dead king, although he is assumed to be Osiris, thus addressed: "Thou art a Glorious One (Y'hwty) in thy name of 'Horizon (Y'ht) from which Re comes forth.'" [*3] The Osirian hereafter was thus celestialized, as had been the Osirian theology when it was correlated with that of Heliopolis. We find the Sky-goddess Nut extending to the Osirian dead her protection and the privilege of entering her realm. Nut "takes him to the sky, she does not cast him down to the earth." [*4] The ancient hymn in praise of the Sky-goddess embedded in the Pyramid Texts [*5] has received an introduction, in which the king as Osiris is commended to her protection, and the hymn is broken up by petitions inserted at intervals craving a celestial destiny for the dead king, although this archaic hymn had originally no demonstrable connection

[p. 149]

with Osiris, and was, as far as any indication it contains is concerned, written before the priestly theology had made Osiris the son of the Sky-goddess. [*1] Similarly Anubis, the ancient mortuary god of Siut, "counts Osiris away from the gods belonging to the earth, to the gods dwelling in the sky"; [*2] and we find in the Pyramid Texts the anomalous ascent of Osiris to the sky: "The sky thunders (lit. speaks), earth trembles, for fear of thee, Osiris, when thou makest ascent. Ho, mother cows yonder! Ho, suckling mothers (cows) yonder! Go ye behind him, weep for him, hail him, acclaim him, when he makes ascent and goes to the sky among his brethren, the gods." [*3] His transition to the Solar and celestial destiny is effected in one passage by a piece of purely mortuary theologizing which represents Re as raising Osiris from the dead. [*4] Thus is Osiris celestialized until the Pyramid Texts even call him "lord of the sky," [*5] and represent him as ruling there. The departed Pharaoh is ferried over, the doors of the sky are opened for him, he passes all enemies as he goes, and he is announced to Osiris in the sky precisely as in the Solar theology. There he is welcomed by Osiris, [*6] and he joins the "Imperishable Stars, the followers of Osiris," [*7] just as in the Solar faith. In the same way he emerges as a god of primeval origin and elemental powers. "Thou bearest the sky in thy hand, thou layest down the earth with thy foot." [*8] Celestials and men acclaim the dead, even "thy wind is incense, thy north wind is smoke," [*9] say they.

While the Heliopolitan priests thus solarized and celestialized

[p. 150]

the Osirian mortuary doctrines, although they were essentially terrestrial in origin and character, these Solar theologians were in their turn unable to resist the powerful influence which the popularity of the Osirian faith brought to bear upon them. The Pyramid Texts were eventually Osirianized, and the steady progress of this process, exhibiting the course of the struggle between the Solar faith of the state temples and the popular beliefs of the Osirian religion thus discernible in the Pyramid Texts, is one of the most remarkable survivals from the early world, preserving as it does the earliest example of such a spiritual and intellectual conflict between state and popular religion. The dying Sun and the dying Osiris are here in competition. With the people the human Osiris makes the stronger appeal, and even the wealthy and subsidized priesthoods of the Solar religion could not withstand the power of this appeal. What we have opportunity to observe in the Pyramid Texts is specifically the gradual but irresistible intrusion of Osiris into the Solar doctrines of the hereafter and their resulting Osirianization.

Even on his coffin, preserved in the pyramid sepulchre, the departed king is called "Osiris, lord of Dewat." [*1] The Osirian influence is superficially evident in otherwise purely Solar Utterances of the Pyramid Texts where the Osirian editor has inserted the epithet "Osiris" before the king's name, so that we have "Osiris king Unis," or "Osiris king Pepi." [*2] This was at first so mechanically done that in the offering ritual it was placed only at the head of each Utterance. In the earliest of our five versions of the Pyramid Texts, that of Unis, we find "Osiris" inserted before the king's name wherever that name stands at the

[p. 151]

head of the Utterance, but not where it is found in the body of the text. Evidently the Osirian editor ran hastily and mechanically through the sections, inserting "Osiris" at the head of each one which began with the king's name, but not taking the trouble to go through each section seeking the king's name and to insert "Osiris" wherever necessary in the body of the text also. [*1]

In this way the whole Offering Ritual was Osirianized in Unis's pyramid, but the editor ceased this process of mechanical insertion at the end of the ritual. A similar method may be observed where the same Utterance happens to be preserved in two different pyramids, one exhibiting the mechanical insertion of "Osiris" before the king's name, while the other lacks such editing. This is especially significant where the content of the Utterances is purely Solar. [*2]

But the Osirianization of the Pyramid Texts involves more than such mechanical alteration of externals. We find one Utterance [*3] in its old Solar form, without a single reference to Osiris or to Osirian doctrine, side by side with the same Utterance in expanded form filled with Osirian elements. The traces of the Osirian editor's work are evident throughout, but they are interestingly demonstrable

[p. 152]

in a series of five stanzas each addressed to a different god, whose name begins the stanza. The last stanza of the five begins with two gods' names, however, the second being "Sekhem, son of Osiris," although in the apostrophe, which constitutes this fifth stanza, the two gods are addressed by pronouns in the singular number! It is evident that, like the other four stanzas, the fifth also began with the name of a single god, but that the Osirian editor has inserted the name of an Osirian god as a second name, forgetting to change the pronouns. [*1] The insertion is enhanced in significance by the fact that all five gods in these five stanzas are Solar gods, and the last one, after which the name of Osiris was inserted, is identified with Re.

The process was carried so far that it was sometimes applied to passages totally at variance with the Osirian doctrine. In the old Solar teaching we not infrequently find Horus and Set side by side on an equal basis, and both represented as engaged in some beneficent act for the dead. [*2] Now when the dead king is identified with Osiris, by the insertion of the name "Osiris" before that of the king, we are confronted by the extraordinary assumption that Set performs pious mortuary offices for Osiris, although the Osiris myth represents Set as mutilating the body of the dead Osiris and scattering his limbs far and wide. Thus an old purification ceremony in the presence of the gods and nobles of Heliopolis (and hence clearly Solar) represents the dead as cleansed by the spittle of Horus and the spittle of Set. This ceremony

[p. 153]

had, of course, nothing to do with the Osirian ritual, but when the ritual introducing this ceremony was Osirianized, we find "King Osiris, this Pepi" inserted before the formula of purification, thus assuming that Osiris was purified by his arch-enemy, the foul Set! [*1] Similarly, Set may appear alone in old Solar Utterances on familiar and friendly terms with the dead king, so that the king may be addressed thus: "He calls to thee on the stairway of the sky; thou ascendest to the god; Set fraternizes with thee," even though the king has just been raised as Osiris from the dead! [*2]

The ladder leading to the sky was originally an element of the Solar faith. That it had nothing to do with Osiris is evident, among other things, from the fact that one version of the ladder episode represents it in charge of Set. [*3] The Osirianization of the ladder episode is clearly traceable in four versions of it, which are but variants of the same ancient original. [*4] The four represent a period of nearly a century, at least of some eighty-five years. In the oldest form preserved to us, in the pyramid of Unis, [*5] dating from the middle of the twenty-seventh century, the Utterance opens with the acclamation of the gods as Unis ascends. "'How beautiful to see, how satisfying to behold,' say the gods, when this god ascends to the sky, when Unis ascends to the sky. . . .' The gods in the sky and the gods on earth come to him; they make supports for Unis on their arm. Thou ascendest, O Unis,

[p. 154]

to the sky. Ascend upon it in this its name of 'Ladder.' The sky is given to Unis, the earth is given to him by Atum." Such is the essential substance of the Utterance. [*1] The ladder here barely emerges and the climber is the Pharaoh himself, though Atum is prominent. A generation later, in the pyramid of Teti the ladder is more developed and the original climber is Atum, the Sun-god; but the Osirian goddesses, Isis and Nephthys, are introduced. Finally, in the pyramid of Pepi I, at least eighty-five years after that of Unis, the opening acclamation of the old gods as they behold the ascent of the Pharaoh is put into the mouths of Isis and Nephthys, and the climber has become Osiris. [*2] Thus Osiris has taken possession of the old Solar episode and appropriated the old Solar text. This has taken place in spite of embarrassing complications. In harmony with the common co-ordination of Horus and Set in the service of the dead, an old Solar doctrine represented them as assisting him at the ascent of the ladder which Re and Horus set up. But when the ascending king becomes Osiris, the editor seems quite unconscious of the incongruity, as Set, the mortal enemy and slayer of Osiris, assists him to reach his celestial abode! [*3]

Nowhere is the intrusion of Osiris in the Pyramid Texts more striking than in the Utterances devoted to the services of the four Eastern Horuses on behalf of the dead. A favorite means of ascension, of opening the sky-gates,

[p. 155]

of ferrying over, of purification and the like, was to have all these things first done for each of the four Horuses in succession, and then by sympathetic inevitability also for the dead king. Four considerable Utterances are built up in this way, each containing an account of the things done by each of the four Horuses, and then likewise by the king. [*1]

In the oldest form of these Utterances, as found in the pyramid of Teti, the quartette comprise the following:

1. Horus of the Gods.

2. Horus of the Horizon (Harakhte).

3. Horus of the Shesmet.

4. Horus of the East. [*2]

[paragraph continues] The exclusively Solar character of each of these Horuses is evident from the connections in which they appear in the Pyramid Texts, while in the case of two of them (Horus of the Horizon and Horus of the East) the name renders it evident. Indeed, in the Teti pyramid the four appear as heralds announcing the name of Teti to the Sun-god, in a passage which is hostile to Osiris, and affirms that the Sun-god "has not given him (the king)

[p. 156]

to Osiris." [*1] Two generations after Teti we find the same four Horuses, unaltered, [*2] side by side with a further development of the group exhibiting an intruder; it appears thus:

1. Horus of the Gods.

2. Horus of the East.

3. Horus of the Shesmet.

4. Osiris. [*3]

Osiris has thus pushed his way into this Solar group to the displacement of the most unequivocally Solar of them all, Horus of the Horizon (Harakhte). The intrusion of Osiris here is the most convincing example of his power, and the most clearly discernible in the whole range of the process which Osirianized the Pyramid Texts. We can now understand why it is that when the dead is identified with the four Horuses, he is preserved from decay by Isis and Nephthys as the four Horuses had been likewise preserved by the same Osirian goddesses. When once the group has been Osirianized it is to be expected that they shall enjoy the good offices of the wife and sister of Osiris. [*4] The exclusion of one of the four Horuses, by the intrusion of Osiris, leaving really only three, is doubtless the reason why we find in another Osirianized Utterance that only three of them appear. [*5]

As the four Solar Horuses of the East were Osirianized, so in all probability were the four mortuary genii, commonly known as the "four sons of Horus." We find this second four (whom we shall call the four genii to distinguish them from the four Solar Horuses) figuring prominently in the ascension. Indeed they make the ladder, which is a purely celestial and Solar matter, as we have

[p. 157]

seen (<page 111>), and they make it together with Atum, the primeval Sun-god. Similarly we find them all in a list of Solar gods, [*1] and they appear also in charge of the Solar ferry-boat, [*2] in which they ferry over the dead. [*3] The four Horuses also have much to do with the celestial ferry, and it would appear, though this is merely a conjecture, that the four genii are an artificial creation parallel with the four Horuses, and perhaps their sons. [*4] In any case the dead may be identified with one of them as with the four Horuses. [*5] The four genii were, however, fully Osirianized, they avenge Osiris and smite Set, [*6] and they carry the body of the dead king as Osiris. [*7] In the later mortuary ritual of the Osirian faith they played a prominent role, and are especially well known as the four genii who had charge of the viscera of the dead, which they protect in the hereafter in the four so-called "Canopic" jars, each one of which is surmounted by the head of one of the four genii. This function in the Osirian faith is foreshadowed in the Pyramid Texts in a passage where we find them expelling hunger and thirst from the belly and lips of the dead. [*8]

As the four Horuses and the four genii, who had so  to do with the ascension and the celestial ferry, were Osirianized, so eventually was the ancient Solar ferryman "Face-Behind-Him," who receives the title "Doorkeeper of Osiris" and the Solar ferry becomes the property

[p. 158]

of Osiris, to whom the ferryman is adjured to say, "Let this thy (Osiris's) ship be brought for this king Pepi." [*1] The two floats of reeds suffered much the same fate. These, as we have seen (p.108), are clearly Solar when they first appear. [*2] Indeed, in the pyramid of Teti they are found in an Utterance [*3] explicitly hostile to Osiris, in which it is stated that the Sun-god does not deliver the dead king to Osiris. Nevertheless the reed floats are also completely Osirianized in the Pyramid Texts. We find them laid down for Osiris, by the gods of the cardinal points, in an Utterance purely Osirian in character, [*4] and within a century after they appear still purely Solar in the pyramid of Unis, they were employed in that of Pepi I for the crossing of Osiris. [*5]

If the ladder, the ferry-boat, and the reed floats, the instrumentalities for reaching the skies, a place with which Osiris had properly nothing to do, were thus early Osirianized, we cannot wonder that the sky itself and its denizens were likewise appropriated by Osiris till the "Imperishable Stars" are called "followers of Osiris." In the same way, when the king is born, like Osiris, as Nile, [*6] we may find him transferred to the sky and flooding the heavens as the Nile inundation; he makes all the sky fresh and verdant. "King Unis comes to his pools that are in the region of the flood at the great inundation, to the place of peace with green fields, that is in the horizon. Unis makes the verdure to flourish in the two regions of the horizon." [*7] Finally Osiris is not only identified with the dead king, but also even with his temple and pyramid, [*8] the great Solar symbol, from which these

[p. 159]

same Pyramid Texts contain formulae for exorcising Osiris and his kin (see <page 75>). [*1]

An important link between the celestial and the Osirian doctrine of the hereafter was the fact that the Sun-god died every day in the west. There was at Abydos, as we have already seen (<page 38>), an old mortuary god known as "First of the Westerners," who was early absorbed by Osiris, so that "First of the Westerners" became an epithet appended to the name of Osiris. Before this conquest by Osiris took place, however, the "First of the Westerners" as a local god of Abydos had already become involved in the celestial hereafter. An ancient Abydos offering formulary preserved in the Pyramid Texts addresses the dead thus: "The earth is hacked up for thee, the offering is placed before thee. Thou goest upon that way whereon the gods go. Turn thee that thou mayest see this offering which the king has made for thee, which the First of the Westerners has made for thee. Thou goest to those northern gods, the Imperishable Stars." [*2] It is evident that the First of the Westerners is closely associated with the celestial hereafter in this passage. Later, when Osiris was identified with the First of the Westerners, the latter's connection with the celestial hereafter will have assisted in celestializing the Osirian mortuary beliefs.

Now, while all this also resulted in Osirianizing the celestial and Solar mortuary teachings, they still remained celestial. When the dead Osiris is taken up by Re, [*3] it is evident that Re's position in these composite mortuary doctrines is still the chief one. The fact remains, then, that the celestial doctrines of the hereafter dominate the Pyramid Texts throughout, and the later subterranean

[p. 160]

kingdom of Osiris and Re's voyage through it are still entirely in the background in these royal mortuary teachings. Among the people Re is later, as it were, dragged into the Nether World to illumine there the subjects of Osiris in his mortuary kingdom, and this is one of the most convincing evidences of the power of Osiris among the lower classes. In the royal and state temple theology, Osiris is lifted to the sky, and while he is there Solarized, we have just shown how he also tinctures the Solar teaching of the celestial kingdom of the dead with Osirian doctrines. The result was thus inevitable confusion, as the two faiths interpenetrated.

In both faiths we recall that the king is identified with the god, and hence we find him unhesitatingly called Osiris and Re in the same passage. The following extensive passages well illustrate the often inextricable confusion resulting from the interweaving of these unharmonized elements. The text opens with the resurrection of Osiris at the hands of Horus, but we soon perceive that this incident has been engrafted upon ancient Solar doctrines. "Arise for me, O king. Arise for me, O Osiris king Mernere. I am he, I am thy son, I am Horus. I come to thee, I purify thee, I make thee alive, I gather for thee thy bones. . . . For I am Horus, thy avenger. I have smitten for thee him who smote thee. I have avenged thee, king Osiris Mernere, on him who did thee evil. I have come to thee with a commission of Heru. He has put thee, king Osiris Mernere, upon the throne of Re-Atum, that thou mayest lead the people. Thou embarkest in this barque of Re, to which the gods love to descend, in which they love to embark, in which Re is rowed to the horizon. Thou embarkest therein like Re, thou sittest down on this throne of Re that thou mayest

[p. 161]

command the gods. For thou art Re who came forth from Nut, who begets Re every day. This Mernere is born every day like Re." Then follows a picture of enthronement and felicity in the realm of Re, in which there is no reference to Osiris. It then proceeds: "They (the 'two great gods who are in charge of the Field of Rushes') recite for thee this chapter which they recited for Re-Atum who shines every day. They put this Mernere upon their thrones before every Divine Ennead, like Re and like his successor. They cause this Mernere to become like Re in this his name of Kheprer (Sun-god). Thou ascendest to them like Re in this his name of Re. Thou wanderest away from them like Re in this his name of Atum. [*1] The two Divine Enneads rejoice, O king Osiris Mernere. They say, 'Our brother here comes to us,' say the two Divine Enneads concerning Osiris Mernere, O king Osiris Mernere. 'One of us comes to us,' say the two Divine Enneads concerning thee, O king Osiris Mernere. 'The first-born of his mother!' say the two Divine Enneads concerning thee, O king Osiris Mernere. 'He to whom evil was done by his brother Set comes to us,' say the two Divine Enneads. 'But we shall not permit that Set be delivered from bearing thee forever, O king Osiris Mernere,' say the two Divine Enneads concerning thee, O king Osiris Mernere. Lift thee up, O king Osiris Mernere. Thou livest." [*2] It will be noticed that the Osirian passage which follows so abruptly upon the Solar is Osirian in content, and its Osirian character does not consist in the simple insertion of the name of Osiris before that of the king.

[p. 162]

Perhaps even worse confusion is exhibited by the following Utterance:

"O this Pepi! Thou hast departed. Thou art a Glorious One, thou art mighty as a god, like the successor of Osiris. Thy soul hast thou in the midst of thee. Thy power (or 'control') hast thou behind thee. Thy crown hast thou on thy head. . . . The servants of the god are behind thee, the nobles of the god are before thee."

"They recite: 'The god comes! The god comes! This Pepi comes upon the throne of Osiris. This Glorious One comes, the Dweller in Nedyt, the mighty one, the dweller in Thinis (Osiris).'"

"Isis speaks to thee, Nephthys greets thee. The Glorious come to thee, bowing down; they kiss the earth at thy feet, because the terror of thee, O this Pepi, is in the cities of Seya."

"Thou ascendest to thy mother Nut; she seizes thy arm. She gives to thee the way to the horizon, to the place where Re is. The double doors of the sky are opened for thee, the double doors of Kebehu (the sky) are opened for thee."

"Thou findest Re standing (there); he greets thee. He seizes thy arm, he leads thee into the double palace of the sky. He places thee upon the throne of Osiris."

"Ho, this Pepi! The Horus-eye comes to thee, it addresses thee. Thy soul that is among the gods comes to thee; thy power (or control') that is among the Glorious comes to thee. The son has avenged his father, Horus has avenged Osiris. Horus has avenged Pepi on his enemies."

"Thou risest, O this Pepi, avenged, equipped as a god, endued with the form of Osiris, upon the throne of the First of the Westerners. Thou doest what he was accustomed

[p. 163]

to do among the Glorious, the Imperishable Stars."

"Thy son stands on thy throne equipped with thy form. He does what thou wast accustomed to do formerly before the living, by command of Re, the great god. He ploughs barley, he ploughs spelt, he presents thee therewith."

"'Ho, this Pepi! All satisfying life is given to thee, eternity is thine,' says Re. Thou speakest thyself; receive to thee the form of the god wherewith thou shalt be great among the gods who are in control of the lake."

"Ho, this Pepi! Thy soul stands among the gods, among the Glorious. The fear of thee is on their hearts."

"Ho, this Pepi! This Pepi stands upon thy throne before the living. The terror of thee is on their hearts."

"Thy name lives upon earth, thy name grows old upon earth. Thou perishest not, thou passest not away for ever and ever." [*1]

While there is some effort here to correlate the functions of Re and Osiris, it can hardly be called an attempt at harmonization of conflicting doctrines. This is practically unknown in the Pyramid Texts. Perhaps we may regard it as an explanation of Osiris's presence in the sky when we find a reference to the fact that "he ascended . . . to the sky that he might join the suite of Re." [*2] But the fact that both Re and Osiris appear as supreme kings of the hereafter cannot be reconciled, and such mutually irreconcilable beliefs caused the Egyptian no more

[p. 164]

discomfort than was felt by any early civilization in the maintenance of a group of religious teachings side by side with others involving varying and totally inconsistent suppositions. Even Christianity itself has not escaped this experience.

There is a marked difference between Osiris and Re. Osiris is in function passive. Rarely does he become an active agent on behalf of the dead (as, e.g., in Pyr. Ut. 559). The blessedness of the Osirian destiny consisted largely in the enjoyment of the good offices of Horus, who appears as the son of the dead as soon as the latter is identified with Osiris. On the other hand, Re is a mighty sovereign, often directly interposing in favor of the dead, while it is the services of others on behalf of Osiris (not by Osiris) which the dead (as Osiris) enjoys. Osiris is a god of the dead; Re, on the other hand, is the great power in the affairs of living men, and there we behold his sovereignty expanding and developing to hold sway in a more exalted realm of moral values--a realm of which we shall gain the earliest glimpses anywhere vouchsafed us as we endeavor to discover more than the merely material agencies, and the material ends, which we have seen dominating the Egyptian conception of the hereafter.


^142:1 Pyr.  section section 1266-7.

^142:2 Pyr.  section 251.

^143:1 Pyr.  section 350.

^143:2 Pyr.  section 969.

^143:3 Pyr. Ut. 443.

^143:4 See infra, pp. <page 152>-3.

^144:1 Pyr.  section 8 d.

^144:2 The situation of Dewat is a difficult problem. As the Nile flows out of it, according to later texts, especially the Sun-hymns, and the common designation of the universe in the Empire is "sky, earth, and Dewat," it is evident that it was later understood to be the Nether World. Such is the conclusion of SETHE in his still unpublished Antrittsvorlesung. See also JeQUIER, Le livre de ce qu'il y a dans l'Hades, Paris, 1894, especially pp. 3-6; also LEFEBURE, in Sphinx, vol. I, pp. 27-46. In the Pyramid Texts it is evidently in the sky in a considerable number of passages. It can be understood in no other way in passages where it is parallel with "sky," like the following:

"The sky conceived thee together with Orion;
  Dewat bears thee together with Orion."
  (Pyr.  section 820 = the same in Pyr.  section 1527.)

[paragraph continues] Or again:

"Who voyages the sky with Orion,
  Who sails Dewat with Osiris."
                             (Pyr.  section 882.)

Similarly "Dewat seizes thy hand, (leads thee) to the place where Orion (= the sky) (Pyr.  section 802); and Orion and Sothis in the "horizon" are encircled by Dewat (Pyr.  section 151). Here Dewat is in the horizon, and likewise we find the dead "descends among" the dwellers in Dewat after he has ascended to the sky (Pyr.  section 2084 c). It was thus sufficiently accessible from the sky, so that the dead, after he ascended, bathed in the "lake of Dewat" (Pyr.  section 1164), and while in the sky he became a "glorious one dwelling in Dewat" (Pyr.  section 1172 b). When he has climbed the ladder of Re, Horus and Set take him to Dewat (Pyr.  section 390). It is parallel with 'kr, where 'kr is a variant of Geb, the earth (Pyr.  section 1014 =  section 796), which carries it down to earth again. It might appear here that Dewat was a lower region of the sky, in the vicinity of the horizon, below which it also extended. It is notable that in the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom there appears a "lower Dewat" (LACAU, Rec. 27, 218, l. 47). The deceased says: "My place is in the barque of Re in the middle of lower Dewat" (ibid., l. 52). Dewat thus merged into the Nether World, with which it was ultimately identified, or, being originally the Nether World, it had its counterpart in the sky.

^145:1 Pyr.  section section 1195.

^145:2 Pyr.  section section 1089-90;  section section 1373-5. Both these passages merge into an ascension of Solar character.

^145:3 Pyr.  section 364, followed by celestial ascent and association with Re.

^145:4 Pyr. Ut. 373.

^146:1 Pyr.  section section 2063-5.

^146:2 Pyr.  section section 507-9.

^146:3 Pyr.  section 1804.

^146:4 Pyr. Ut. 219.

^146:5 Pyr.  section section2022-3. There is little distinction between the passages where the dead king receives the throne of Osiris, because identified with him and others in which he receives it as the heir of Osiris. He may take it even from Horus, heir of Osiris, e.g., Pyr. Ut. 414.

^147:1 Pyr. Ut. 260. See above, <page 35>.

^147:2 Pyr.  section 635.

^148:1 Pyr. Ut. 364. See also 1683-6.

^148:2 Pyr. Ut. 356, 357, 364, 367-372.

^148:3 Pyr.  section 621 =  section 636.

^148:4 Pyr.  section 1345.

^148:5 Pyr. Ut. 427-435.

^149:1 The protection and assistance of Nut are further elaborated in Ut. 444-7 and 450-2.

^149:2 Pyr.  section 1523.

^149:3 Pyr. Ut. 337.

^149:4 Pyr.  section 721.

^149:5 Pyr.  section section 964, 968.

^149:6 Pyr.  section 2000.

^149:7 Pyr.  section 749.

^149:8 Pyr.  section 2067.

^149:9 Pyr.  section 877.

^150:1 Pyr.  section 8 d.

^150:2 Pyr. Ut. 578 and 579.

^151:1 "Osiris Unis" occurs in the body of the Utterance in 18 c (once) and 30 b (once); but the following references will show how regularly it is found at the head of the Utterance and not in the body of the text in the pyramid of Unis. In Ut. 45-49, once each at beginning; in Ut. 72-76 and 78-79, once each at beginning; omitted in Ut. 77, 81, and 93, where Unis's name does not begin the Utterance. In Ut. 84, 85, 87-92, 94, 108-171, and 199 "Osiris-Unis" heads each Utterance. After Ut. 200 "Osiris-Unis" does not occur at all. It is evident that this mechanical method of Osirianization did not extend beyond the Offering Ritual, which also terminates at this place.

^151:2 Pyr. Ut. 579 and 673.

^151:3 Pyr. Ut. 571.

^152:1 Pyr. Ut. 570.

^152:2 See above, pp. <page 40> f. The best examples are: Pyr.  section section 204, 206, 370, 390, 418, 473, 487, 594, 535, 601, 683, 798, 801 =  section section 1016, 823, 848-850, 946, 971, 1148.

^153:1 Pyr  section section 848-850.

^153:2 Pyr.  section 1016.

^153:3 Pyr.  section 478; compare also "Set lifts him (the dead) up" (Pyr.  section 1148). In Pyr.  section 1253 we find "ladder which carried the Ombite (Set)."

^153:4 Pyr. Ut. 306 (Unis, Mernere, Pepi II), 480 (Teti), 572 (Pepi, Mernere), 474 (Pepi).

^153:5 Pyr. Ut. 306.

^154:1 The brief intimation of a mysterious enemy plotting against the life of the king, appended at the end of the Utterance, is perhaps an intrusive Osirian reference; but it does not affect the clearly celestial and Solar character of the Utterance. It is omitted in Ut. 480, but appears more fully developed in the Osirianized Utterances 572 and 474, but in none of the Utterances to which it is appended is the name of Osiris mentioned, while the epithet which is employed, "Ymnw (Hidden one?) of the Wild Bull," is usually Solar.

^154:2 Pyr. Ut. 474.

^154:3 Pyr. Ut. 305.

^155:1 These Utterances are 325, 563, 479, and 573. In Ut. 573 variant forms of their names appear. In 1085-6 the four Horuses appear ferrying over on the two floats of the sky; they are found again in 1105 and in 1206, "these four youths who stand on the east side of the sky" bind the two floats for Re and then for the dead. We should doubtless recognize them also in the four curly haired youths who are in charge of the ferry-boat to the eastern sky in Ut. 520. (But in Ut. 522 the four in charge of the ferry-boat are the four genii, the "sons of Horus," and confusion must be guarded against.) The four Horuses in 1258 (Ut. 532), who are identified with the dead and kept from decay by Isis and Nephthys, are treated above. For the sake of completeness, compare the four children of Geb in Pyr.  section section 1510-11, and especially the four children of Atum who decay not (Pyr.  section section 2057-8), just as in 1258.

^155:2 Pyr. Ut. 325 and 563.

^156:1 Pyr.  section 348.

^156:2 Pyr. Ut. 563.

^156:3 Pyr. Ut. 479.

^156:4 Pyr. Ut. 532.

^156:5 Pyr.  section section 1132-8.

^157:1 Pyr.  section section 147-9.

^157:2 Pyr. Ut. 522.

^157:3 Pyr.  section 1092.

^157:4 I am aware that the four genii are called "the offspring of Horus of Letopolis" (Pyr.  section 2078).

^157:5 Pyr.  section 1483.

^157:6 Pyr. Ut. 541.

^157:7 Pyr. Ut. 544-6, 645, 648. We find them bringing to the dead his name "Imperishable," at which time they are called the "souls" of Horus (Pyr.  section 2102).

^157:8 Pyr.  section 552.

^158:1 Pyr.  section 1201.

^158:2 Pyr. Ut. 263-6.

^158:3 Pyr. Ut. 264.

^158:4 Pyr. Ut. 303.

^158:5 Pyr.  section 556.

^158:6 Pyr.  section section 2063-5.

^158:7 Pyr.  section section 508-9.

^158:8 Pyr.  section section 1657-8.

^159:1 Pyr.  section section 1266-7.

^159:2 Pyr. Ut. 441.

^159:3 Pyr.  section 819.

^161:1 "Ascendest" and "wanderest" are in Egyptian puns on the names of Re and Atum.

^161:2 Pyr. Ut. 606.

^163:1 Pyr. Ut. 422.

^163:2 Pyr.  section 971 e. The only passage which may fairly be called an effort to harmonize conflicting doctrine is that on <page 102>, where the place of the Imperishable Stars in the north is pushed over toward the east to harmonize with the doctrine of the eastern sky as the place of the abode of the celestial dead. Pyr.  section 1000.


Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt

Main Library