egypt 2010 - Valdosta State University

Dr. Theresa Thompson
English 2110
Fall 2010
(origin &
Geneology of
the Gods)
Upper Egypt Creation Myth
At first there was only Nun, the primal ocean of chaos that
contained the beginnings of everything to come.
From these
waters came Re
who, by himself,
gave birth to
Shu and Tefnut.
Shu, the god of
air, and Tefnut,
the goddess of
moisture gave
birth to Geb
and Nut, the
earth god and
the sky goddess.
And so the
universe was
Men were created from Re's tears.
Men proved to be ungrateful so Re, and a council of gods,
decided to destroy them.
•  Re created Sekhmet to do the job. She was very efficient
and slaughtered all but a few humans, when Re relented
and tricked her into stopping.
•  And so the present world was created.
Against Re's orders, Geb and Nut married.
Re was angry
and ordered
Shu to
them, which
he did.
Thoth, the god of learning, decided to help Nut and
gambled with the moon for extra daylight. He won
five extra days, which he added to the 360-day
Nut was already
pregnant, but
unable to give
birth because Re
had decreed she
could not give
birth in any
month of any
those five
days, Nut
gave birth to
five children:
Horus the
Elder, Set,
Isis, and
Osiris became the symbol of good
and Set became the symbol of evil.
These two poles of morality became fixed in
Egyptian theology.
Lower Egypt Creation Myth
Only the ocean existed at first. Then Re (the sun) came out
of an egg that appeared on the surface of the water.
Re brought forth four children, the gods Shu and Geb and the
goddesses Tefnut and Nut.
Shu and Tefnut
became the
atmosphere. They
stood on Geb,
who became the
earth, and raised
up Nut, who
became the sky.
Re ruled over all. Geb and Nut later had two sons, Set
and Osiris, and two daughters, Isis and Nephthys.
Osiris succeeded Re as king of the earth, helped by
Isis, his sister-wife.
Set hated his brother and killed him.
Isis embalmed her husband Osiris's body with the help of the god
Anubis, who thus became the god of embalming.
The powerful
charms of Isis
Osiris has many different titles: god of fertility, king of the dead,
god of agriculture, and god of the underworld, controller of the
Nile floods, and the rising and setting of the sun.
All of these titles have one thing
in common: life, death, and
Horus, son of Osiris and Isis,
defeated Set in a great battle and
became king of the earth. (Leiden
Hymns, lines 1-8, pp. 46-47)
Theology: rational inquiry into
religious questions.
Ancient Egyptians recognized a difference between natural forces and
cultural (human) behavior, but believed superhuman powers ruled both.
The annual
flooding of the
Nile and the
daily cycle of
the sun’s
influenced their
view of the
(Leiden Hymns,
Knowing,” lines
5-27, p. 48)
Egyptian devotional literature consisted of
hymns, prayers, and induction rituals.
Hymns exclusively praised one god or one goddess, as does
Adoration of Re in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Some hymns
beseech a deity for
intercession, favors
or blessings.
Hymns represent “the ancient
Egyptian equivalent of the
philosophical writings of the
Greeks and the theological
treatises of medieval
scholars” (Allen 242).
Most hymns provide
vehicle for theologians
to eternalize and
transmit their thoughts
about divinity.
Akhenaten’s “Hymn to the Sun” ;
(~1378-1358 b.c.e.)
Focus on Aten the Sun God. Rewrites creation mythologies
and geneology of Egyptian gods.
Akhenaten’s “Hymn” elevates Aten to the position of a
single, unparented creator deity (V, VII, XI).
Aten orders and organizes the
world according to his heart’s
desires: status, food rations,
skin color (VIII)
Aten is known fully only by
Akhenaten (XII)
The Leiden Hymns (~1238 b.c.e.)
•  Re-Harakhti (Horus of the
Twin Horizons) is union
of Re and Horus at
–  Self-insemination (p. 47,
lines 9-16)
•  Amun spoke himself into
being. (48)
–  “I am!”
–  All other gods came after!
Goddess Hathor and Re-Harakhti (Horus
of the Twin Horizons)
•  Re-Harakhti has “perfect
knowing” (48)
Works Consulted
•  Allen, J.P. : Middle Egyptian Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 2000.
•  Frankfort, H. Kingship and the Gods.
Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1979.