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Egyptian Myths

A Few Myths
All Picture on this page are courtesy of : fantmyth.htm



"there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re."

In the beginning, before there was any land of Egypt, all was darkness, and there was nothing but a great waste of water called Nun. The power of Nun was such that there arose out of the darkness a great shining egg, and this was Re.

Now Re was all-powerful, and he could take many forms. His power and the secret of it lay in his hidden name; but if he spoke other names, that which he named came into being.

"I am Khepera at the dawn, and Re at noon, and Tem in the evening," he said. And the sun rose and passed across the sky and set for the first time.

Then he named Shu, and the first winds blew; he named Tefnut the spitter, and the first rain fell. Next he named Geb, and the earth came into being; he named the goddess Nut, and she was the sky arched over the earth with her feet on one horizon and her hands on the other; he named Hapi, and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt and made it fruitful.

After this Re named all things that are upon the earth, and they grew. Last of all he named mankind, and there were men and women in the land of Egypt.

Then Re took on the shape of a man and became the first Pharaoh, ruling over the whole country for thousands and thousands of years, and giving such harvests that for ever afterwards the Egyptians spoke of the good things "which happened in the time of Re".

But, being in the form of a man, Re grew old. In time men no longer feared him or obeyed his laws. They laughed at him, saying: "Look at Re! His bones are like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair is the colour of lapis lazuli!"

Re was angry when he heard this, and he was more angry still at the evil deeds which men were doing in disobedience to his laws. So he called together the gods whom he had made - Shu and Tefnut and Geb and Nut - and he also summoned Nun. Soon the gods gathered about Re in his Secret Place, and the goddesses also. But mankind knew nothing of what was happening, and continued to jeer at Re and to break his commandments. Then Re spoke to Nun before the assembled gods: "Eldest of the gods, you who made me; and you gods whom I have made: look upon mankind who came into being at a glance of my Eye. See how men plot against me; hear what they say of me; tell me what I should do to them. For I will not destroy mankind until I have heard what you advise."

Then Nun said: "My son Re, the god greater than he who made him and mightier than those whom he has created, turn your mighty Eye upon them and send destruction upon them in the form of your daughter, the goddess Sekhmet."

Re answered: "Even now fear is falling upon them and they are fleeing into the desert and hiding themselves in the mountains in terror at the sound of my voice."

"Send against them the glance of your Eye in the form Sekhmet!" cried all the other gods and goddesses, bowing before Re until their foreheads touched the ground.

"...and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood."

So at the terrible glance from the Eye of Re his daughter Sekhmet came into being, the fiercest of all goddesses. Like a lion she rushed upon her prey, and her chief delight was in slaughter, and her pleasure was in blood. At the bidding of Re she came into Upper and Lower Egypt to slay those who had scorned and disobeyed him: she killed them among the mountains which lie on either side of the Nile, and down beside the river, and in the burning deserts. All whom she saw she slew, rejoicing in slaughter and the taste of blood.

Presently Re looked out over the land and saw what Sekhmet had done. Then he called to her, saying: "Come, my daughter, and tell me how you have obeyed my commands."

Sekhmet answered with the terrible voice of a lioness as she tears her prey: "By the life which you have given me, I have indeed done vengeance on mankind, and my heart rejoices."

Now for many nights the Nile ran red with blood, and Sekhmet's feet were red as she went hither and thither through all the land of Egypt slaying and slaying.

Presently Re looked out over the earth once more, and now his heart was stirred with pity for men, even though they had rebelled against him. But none could stop the cruel goddess Sekhmet, not even Re himself: she must cease from slaying of her own accord -and Re saw that this could only come about through cunning.

So he gave his command: "Bring before me swift messengers who will run upon the earth as silently as shadows and with the speed of the storm winds." When these were brought he said to them: "Go as fast as you can up the Nile to where it flows fiercely over the rocks and among the islands of the First Cataract; go to the isle that is called Elephantine and bring from it a great store of the red ochre which is to be found there."

The messengers sped on their way and returned with the blood-red ochre to Heliopolis, the city of Re where stand the stone obelisks with points of gold that are like fingers pointing to the sun. It was night when they came to the city, but all day the women of Heliopolis had been brewing beer as Re bade them.

Re came to where the beer stood waiting in seven thousand jars, and the gods came with him to see how by his wisdom he would save mankind.

"Mingle the red ochre of Elephantine with the barley-beer," said Re, and it was done, so that the beer gleamed red in the moonlight like the blood of men.

"Now take it to the place where Sekhmet proposes to slay men when the sun rises," said Re. And while it was still night the seven thousand jars of beer were taken and poured out over the fields so that the ground was covered to the depth of nine inches -- three times the measure of the palm of a man's hand-with the strong beer, whose other name is "sleep-maker".

When day came Sekhmet the terrible came also, licking her lips at the thought of the men whom she would slay. She found the place flooded and no living creature in sight; but she saw the beer which was the colour of blood, and she thought it was blood indeed -- the blood of those whom she had slain.

Then she laughed with joy, and her laughter was like the roar of a lioness hungry for the kill. Thinking that it was indeed blood, she stooped and drank. Again and yet again she drank, laughing with delight; and the strength of the beer mounted to her brain, so that she could no longer slay.

At last she came reeling back to where Re was waiting; that day she had not killed even a single man.

Then Re said: "You come in peace, sweet one." And her name was changed to Hathor, and her nature was changed also to the sweetness of love and the strength of desire. And henceforth Hathor laid low men and women only with the great power of love. But for ever after her priestesses drank in her honour of the beer of Heliopolis coloured with the red ochre of Elephantine when they celebrated her festival each New Year.

So mankind was saved, and Re continued to rule old though he was. But the time was drawing near when he must leave the earth to reign for ever in the heavens, letting the younger gods rule in his place. For dwelling in the form of a man, of a Pharaoh of Egypt, Re was losing his wisdom; yet he continued to reign, and no one could take his power from him, since that power dwelt in his secret name which none knew but himself. If only anyone could discover his Name of Power, Re would reign no longer on earth; but only by magic arts was this possible.

Geb and Nut had children: these were the younger gods whose day had come to rule, and their names were Osiris and Isis, Nephthys and Seth. Of these Isis was the wisest: she was cleverer than a million men, her knowledge was greater than that of a million of the noble dead. She knew all things in heaven and earth, except only for the Secret Name of Re, and that she now set herself to learn by guile.

Now Re was growing older every day. As he passed across the land of Egypt his head shook from side to side with age, his jaw trembled, and he dribbled at the mouth as do the very old among men. As his spittle fell upon the ground it made mud, and this Isis took in her hands and kneaded together as if it had been dough. Then she formed it into the shape of a serpent, making the first cobra -- the uraeus, which ever after was the symbol of royalty worn by Pharaoh and his queen.

"...the venom of its bite coursed through his veins..."

Isis placed the first cobra in the dust of the road by which Re passed each day as he went through his two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As Re passed by the cobra bit him and then vanished into the grass. But the venom of its bite coursed through his veins, and for a while Re was speechless, save for one great cry of pain which rang across the earth from the eastern to the western horizon. The gods who followed him crowded round, asking: "What is it? What ails you?" But he could find no words; his lips trembled and he shuddered in all his limbs, while the poison spread over his body as the Nile spreads over Egypt at the inundation. When at last he could speak, Re said: "Help me, you whom I have made. Something has hurt me, and I do not know what it is. I created all things, yet this thing I did not make. It is a pain such as I have never known before, and no other pain is equal to it. Yet who can hurt me?-for none knows my Secret Name which is hidden in my heart, giving me all power and guarding me against the magic of both wizard and witch. Nevertheless as I passed through the world which I have created, through the two lands that are my special care, something stung me. It is like fire, yet is not fire; it is like water and not water. I burn and I shiver, while all my limbs tremble. So call before me all the gods who have skill in healing and knowledge of magic, and wisdom that reaches to the heavens."

Then all the gods came to Re, weeping and lamenting at the terrible thing which had befallen him. With them came Isis, the healer, the queen of magic, who breathes the breath of life and knows words to revive those who are dying. And she said:

"What is it, divine father? Has a snake bitten you. Has a creature of your own creating lifted up its head against you? I will drive it out by the magic that is mine, and make it tremble and fall down before your glory."

"I went by the usual way through my two lands of Egypt," answered Re, "for I wished to look upon all that I had made. And as I went I was bitten by a snake which I did not see -- a snake that, I had not created. Now I burn as if with fire and shiver as if my veins were filled with water, and the sweat runs down my face it runs down the faces of men on the hottest days of summer."

"Tell me your Secret Name." said Isis in a sweet, soothing voice. "Tell it me, divine father; for only by speaking your name in my spells can I cure you."

Then Re spoke the many names that were his: "I am Maker Heaven and Earth." he said. "I am Builder of the Mountains. I am Source of the Waters throughout all the world. I am Light and Darkness. I am Creator of the Great River of Egypt. I am the Kindler of the Fire that burns in the sky; yes, I am Khepera in the, morning, Re at the noontide, and Tum in the evening."

But Isis said never a word, and the poison had its way in the veins of Re. For she knew that he had told her only the names which all men knew, and that his Secret Name, the Name of Power, still lay hidden in his heart.

At last she said: "You know well that the name which I need to learn is not among those which you have spoken. Come, tell me the Secret Name; for if you do the poison will come forth and you will have an end of pain."

The poison burned with a great burning, more powerful than any flame of fire, and Re cried out at last: "Let the Name of Power pass from my heart into the heart of Isis! But before it does, swear to me that you will tell it to no other save only the son whom you will have, whose name shall be Horus. And bind him first with such an oath that the name will remain with him and be passed on to no other gods or men."

Isis the great magician swore the oath, and the knowledge of the Name of Power passed from the heart of Re into hers.

Then she said: "By the name which I know, let the poison go from Re for ever!"

So it passed from him and he had peace. But he reigned upon earth no longer. Instead he took his place in the high heavens, traveling each day across the sky in the likeness of the sun itself, and by night crossing the underworld of Amenti in the Boat of Re and passing through the twelve divisions of Duat where many dangers lurk. Yet Re passes safely, and with him he takes those souls of the dead who know all the charms and prayers and words that must be said. And so that a man might not go unprepared for his voyage in the Boat of Re, the Egyptians painted all the scenes of that journey on the walls of the tombs of the Pharaohs, with all the knowledge that was written in The Book of the Dead, of which a copy was buried in the grave of lesser men so that they too might read and come safely to the land beyond the west where the dead dwell.

Courtesy of :



In the days before Re had left the earth, before he had begun to grow old, his great wisdom told him that if the goddess Nut bore children, one of them would end his reign among men. So Re laid a curse upon Nut - that she should not be able to bear any child upon any day in the year.

"one of them would end
his reign among men..."

Full of sorrow, Nut went for help to Thoth, the thrice-great god of wisdom and magic and learning, Re's son, who loved her. Thoth knew that the curse of Re, once spoken, could never be recalled, but in his wisdom he found a way of escape. He went to Khonsu, the Moon-god, and challenged him to a contest at draughts. Game after game they played and always Thoth won. The stakes grew higher and higher, but Khonsu wagered the most, for it was some of his own light that he risked and lost.

At last Khonsu would play no more. Then Thoth the thrice-great in wisdom gathered up the light which he had won and made it into five extra days which for ever after were set between the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The year was of three hundred and sixty days before this, but the five days which were added, which were not days of any year, were ever afterwards held as days of festival in old Egypt.

But, since his match with Thoth, Khonsu the moon has not had enough light to shine throughout the month, but dwindles into darkness and then grows to his full glory again; for he had lost the light needed to make five whole days.

On the first of these days Osiris, the eldest son of Nut, was born, and the second day was set aside to be the birthday of Horus (the son of Isis and Osiris). On the third day the second son of Nut was born, dark Set, the lord of evil. On the fourth her daughter Isis first saw the light, and her second daughter Nephthys on the fifth. In this way the curse of Re was both fulfilled and defeated: for the days on which the children of Nut were born belonged to no year.

When Osiris was born many signs and wonders were seen and heard throughout the world. Most notable was the voice which came from the holiest shrine in the temple at Thebes on the Nile, which today is called Karnak, speaking to a man called Pamyles bidding him proclaim to all men that Osiris, the good and mighty king, was born to bring joy to all the earth. Pamyles did as he was bidden, and he also attended on the Divine Child and brought him up as a man among men.

When Osiris was grown up he married his sister Isis, a custom which the Pharaohs of Egypt followed ever after. And Set married Nephthys: for he too being a god could marry only a goddess.


After Isis by her craft had learned the Secret Name of Re, Osiris became sole ruler of Egypt and reigned on earth as Re had done. He found the people both savage and brutish, fighting among themselves and killing and eating one another. But Isis discovered the grain of both wheat and barley, which grew wild over the land with the other plants and was still unknown to man; and Osiris taught them how to plant the seeds when the Nile had risen in the yearly inundation and sunk again leaving fresh fertile mud over the fields; how to tend and water the crops; how to cut the corn when it was ripe, and how to thresh the grain on the threshing floors, dry it and grind it to flour and make it into bread. He showed them also how to plant vines and make the grapes into wine; and they knew already how to brew beer out of the barley.

When the people of Egypt had learned to make bread and cut only the flesh of such animals as he taught them were suitable, Osiris, went on to teach them laws, and how to live peacefully and happily together, delighting themselves with music and poetry. As soon as Egypt was filled with peace and plenty, Osiris set out over the world to bring his blessings upon other nations. While he was away he left Isis to rule over the land, which she did both wisely and well.

But Set the Evil One, their brother, envied Osiris and hated Isis. The more the people loved and praised Osiris, the more Set hated him; and the more good he did and the happier mankind became, the stronger grew Set's desire to kill his brother and rule in his place. Isis, however, was so full of wisdom and so watchful that Set made no attempt to seize the throne while she was watching over the land of Egypt. And when Osiris returned from his travels Set was among the first to welcome him back and kneel in reverence before "the good god Pharaoh Osiris".

Yet he had made his plans, aided by seventy-two of his wicked friends and Aso the evil queen of Ethiopia. Secretly Set obtained the exact measurements of the body of Osiris, and caused beautiful chest to be made that would fit only him. It was fashioned of the rarest and most costly woods: cedar brought from Lebanon, and ebony from Punt at the south end of the Red Sea for no wood grows in Egypt except the soft and useless palm.

Then Set gave a great feast in honour of Osiris; but the other guests were the two-and-seventy conspirators. It was the greatest feast that had yet been seen in Egypt, and the foods were choicer, the wines stronger and the dancing girls more beautiful than ever before. When the heart of Osiris had been made glad with feasting and song the chest was brought in, and all were amazed at its beauty.

Osiris marveled at the rare cedar inlaid with ebony and ivory, with less rare gold and silver, and painted inside with figures of gods and birds and animals, and he desired it greatly.

"I will give this chest to whosoever fits it most exactly!" cried Set. And at once the conspirators began in turn to see if they could win it. But one was too tall and another too short; one was too fat and another too thin - and all tried in vain.

"Let me see if I will fit into this marvelous piece of work," said Osiris, and he laid himself down in the chest while all gathered round breathlessly.

"I fit exactly, and the chest is mine!" cried Osiris.

"And the chest is mine!"

"It is yours indeed, and shall be so forever!" hissed Set as he banged down the lid. Then in desperate haste he and the conspirators nailed it shut and sealed every crack with molten lead, so that Osiris the man died in the chest and his spirit went west across the Nile into Duat the Place of Testing; but, beyond it to Amenti, where those live for ever who have lived well on earth and passed the judgments of Duat, he could not pass as yet. Set and his companions took the chest which held the body of Osiris and cast it into the Nile; and Hapi the Nile-god carried it out into the Great Green Sea where it was tossed for many days until it came to the shore of Phoenicia near the city of Byblos. Here the waves cast it into a tamarisk tree that grew on the shore; and the tree shot out branches and grew leaves and flowers to make a fit resting place for the body of the good god Osiris and very soon that tree became famous throughout the land.

Isis suckling the Horus-Child in the papyrus swamps
Isis suckling the Horus-Child
in the papyrus swamps.

Presently King Malcander heard of it, and he and his wife, Queen Astarte, came to the seashore to gaze at the tree. By now the branches had grown together and hidden the chest which held the body of Osiris in the trunk itself. King Malcander gave orders that the tree should be cut down and fashioned into a great pillar for his palace. This was done, and all wondered at its beauty and fragrance: but none knew that it held the body of a god. Meanwhile in Egypt Isis was in great fear. She had always known that Set was filled with evil and jealousy, but kindly Osiris would not believe in his brother's wickedness. But Isis knew as soon as her husband was dead, though no one told her, and fled into the marshes of the delta carrying the baby Horus with her. She found shelter on a little island where the goddess Buto lived, and entrusted the divine child to her. And as a further safeguard against Set, Isis loosed the island from its foundations, and let it float so that no one could tell where to find it.

Then she went to seek for the body of Osiris. For, until he was buried with all the needful rites and charms, even his spirit could go no farther to the west than Duat, the Testing-Place; and it could not come to Amenti.

Back and forth over the land of Egypt wandered Isis, but never a trace could she find of the chest in which lay the body of Osiris. She asked all whom she met, but no one had seen it - and in this matter her magic powers could not help her.

At last she questioned the children who were playing by the riverside, and at once they told her that just such a chest as she described had floated past them on the swift stream and out into the Great Green Sea.

Then Isis wandered on the shore, and again and again it was the children who had seen the chest floating by and told her which way it had gone. And because of this, Isis blessed the children and decreed that ever afterwards children should speak words of wisdom and sometimes tell of things to come.

At length Isis came to Byblos and sat down by the seashore. Presently the maidens who attended on Queen Astarte came down to bathe at that place; and when they returned out of the water Isis taught them how to plait their hair - which had never been done before. When they went up to the palace a strange and wonderful perfume seemed to cling to them; and Queen Astarte marveled at it, and at their plaited hair, and asked them how it came to be so.

The maidens told her of the wonderful woman who sat by the seashore, and Queen Astarte sent for Isis, and asked her to serve in the palace and tend her children, the little Prince Maneros and the baby Dictys, who was ailing sorely. For she did not know that the strange woman who was wandering alone at Byblos was the greatest of all the goddesses of Egypt. Isis agreed to this, and very soon the baby Dictys was strong and well though she did no more than give him her finger to suck. But presently she became fond of the child, and thought to make him immortal, which she did by burning away his mortal parts while she flew round and round him in the form of a swallow. Astarte, however, had been watching her secretly; and when she saw that her baby seemed to be on fire she rushed into the room with a loud cry, and so broke the magic.

Then Isis took on her own form, and Astarte crouched down in terror when she saw the shining goddess and learned who she was.

Malcander and Astarte offered her gifts of all the richest treasures in Byblos, but Isis asked only for the great tamarisk pillar which held up the roof, and for what it contained. When it was given to her, she caused it to open and took out the chest of Set. But the pillar she gave back to Malcander and Astarte; and it remained the most sacred object in Byblos, since it had once held the body of a god.

When the chest which had become the coffin of Osiris was given to her, Isis flung herself down on it with so terrible a cry of sorrow that little Dictys died at the very sound. But Isis at length caused the chest to be placed on a ship which King Malcander provided for her, and set out for Egypt. With her went Maneros, the young prince of Byblos: but he did not remain with her for long, since his curiosity proved his undoing. For as soon as the ship had left the land Isis retired to where the chest of Set lay, and opened the lid. Maneros crept up behind her and peeped over her shoulder: but Isis knew he was there and, turning, gave him one glance of anger - and he fell backwards over the side of the ship into the sea.

Next morning, as the ship was passing the Phaedrus River, its strong current threatened to carry them out of sight of land. But Isis grew angry and placed a curse on the river, so that its stream dried up from that day.

She came safely to Egypt after this, and hid the chest in the marshes of the delta while she hastened to the floating island where Buto was guarding Horus.

But it chanced that Set came hunting wild boars with his dogs, hunting by night after his custom, since he loved the darkness in which evil things abound. By the light of the moon he saw the chest of cedar wood inlaid with ebony and ivory, with gold and silver, and recognized it.

At the sight hatred and anger came upon him in a red cloud, and he raged like a panther of the south. He tore open the chest, took the body of Osiris, and rent it into fourteen pieces which, by his divine strength, he scattered up and down the whole length of the Nile so that the crocodiles might eat them.

"It is not possible to destroy the body of a god!" cried Set. "Yet I have done it - for I have destroyed Osiris!" His laughter echoed through the land, and all who heard it trembled and hid.

Now Isis had to begin her search once more. This time she had helpers, for Nephthys left her wicked husband Set and came to join her sister. And Anubis, the son of Osiris and Nephthys, taking the form of a jackal, assisted in the search. When Isis traveled over the land she was accompanied and guarded by seven scorpions. But when she searched on the Nile and among the many streams of the delta she made her way in a boat made of papyrus: and the crocodiles, in their reverence for the goddess, touched neither the rent pieces of Osiris nor Isis herself. Indeed ever afterwards anyone who sailed the Nile in a boat made of papyrus was safe from them, for they thought that it was Isis still questing after the pieces of her husband's body.


Slowly, piece by piece, Isis recovered the fragments of Osiris. And wherever she did so, she formed by magic the likeness of his whole body and caused the priests to build a shrine and perform his funeral rites. And so there were thirteen places in Egypt which claimed to be the burial place of Osiris. In this way also she made it harder for Set to meddle further with the body of the dead god.

One piece only she did not recover, for it had been eaten by certain impious fishes; and their kind were accursed ever afterwards, and no Egyptian would touch or eat them. Isis, however, did not bury any of the pieces in the places where the tombs and shrines of Osiris stood. She gathered the pieces together, rejoined them by magic, and by magic made a likeness of the missing member so that Osiris was complete. Then she caused the body to be embalmed and hidden away in a place of which she alone knew. And after this the spirit of Osiris passed into Amenti to rule over the dead until the last great battle, when Horus should slay Set and Osiris would return to earth once more.

But as Horus grew in this world the spirit of Osiris visited him often and taught him all that a great warrior should know - one who was to fight against Set both in the body and in the spirit.

One day Osiris said to the boy: "Tell me, what is the noblest thing that a man can do?"

And Horus answered: "To avenge his father and mother for the evil done to them."

This pleased Osiris, and he asked further: "And what animal is most useful for the avenger to take with him as he goes out to battle?"

"A horse," answered Horus promptly.

"Surely a lion would be better still?" suggested Osiris.

"A lion would indeed be the best for a man who needed help," replied Horus; "but a horse is best for pursuing a flying foe and cutting him off from escape."

"...the time had come for Horus to declare war on Set..."

When he heard this Osiris knew that the time had come for Horus to declare war on Set, and bade him gather together a great army and sail up the Nile to attack him in the deserts of the south.

Horus gathered his forces and prepared to begin the war. And Re himself, the shining father of the gods, came to his aid in his own divine boat that sails across the heavens and through the dangers of the underworld.

Before they set sail Re drew Horus aside so as to gaze into his blue eyes: for whoever looks into them, of gods or men, sees the future reflected there. But Set was watching; and he took upon himself the form of a black pig - black as the thunder-cloud, fierce to look at, with tusks to strike terror into the bravest heart.

Meanwhile Re said to Horus: "Let me gaze into your eyes, and see what is to come of this war." He gazed into the eyes of Horus and their color was that of the Great Green Sea when the summer sky turns it to deepest blue.

While he gazed the black pig passed by and distracted his attention, so that he exclaimed: "Look at that! Never have I seen so huge and fierce a pig."

And Horus looked; and he did not know that it was Set, but thought it was a wild boar out of the thickets of the north, and he was not ready with a charm or a word of power to guard himself against the enemy.

Then Set aimed a blow of fire at the eyes of Horus; and Horus shouted with the pain and was in a great rage. He knew now that it was Set; but Set had gone on the instant and could not be trapped.

Re caused Horus to be taken into a dark room, and it was not long before his eyes could see again as clearly as before. When he was recovered Re had returned to the sky; but Horus was filled with joy that he could see, once more, and as he set out up the Nile at the head of his army, the country on either side shared his joy and blossomed into spring.

There were many battles in that war, but the last and greatest was at Edfu, where the great temple of Horus stands to this day in memory of it. The forces of Set and Horus drew near to one another among the islands and the rapids of the First Cataract of the Nile. Set, in the form of a red hippopotamus of gigantic size, sprang up on the island of Elephantine and uttered a great curse against Horus and against Isis:

"Let there come a terrible raging tempest and a mighty flood against my enemies!" he cried, and his voice was like the thunder rolling across the heavens from the south to the north. At once the storm broke over the boats of Horus and his army; the wind roared and the water was heaped into great waves. But Horus held on his way, his own boat gleaming through the darkness, its prow shining like a ray of the sun.

Opposite Edfu, Set turned and stood at bay, straddling the whole stream of the Nile, so huge a red hippopotamus was he. But Horus took upon himself the shape of a handsome young man, twelve feet in height. His hand held a harpoon thirty feet long with a blade six feet wide at its point of greatest width.

Set opened his mighty jaws to destroy Horus and his followers when the storm should wreck their boats. But Horus cast his harpoon, and it struck deep into the head of the red hippopotamus, deep into his brain. And that one blow slew Set the great wicked one, the enemy of Osiris and the gods - and the red hippopotamus sank dead beside the Nile at Edfu. The storm passed away, the flood sank and the sky was clear and blue once more. Then the people of Edfu came out to welcome Horus the avenger and lead him in triumph to the shrine over which the great temple now stands. And they sang the song of praise which the priests chanted ever afterwards when the yearly festival of Horus was held at Edfu:

"Rejoice, you who dwell in Edfu! Horus the great god, the lord of the sky, has slain the enemy of his father! Eat the flesh of the vanquished, drink the blood of the red hippopotamus, burn his bones with fire! Let him be cut in pieces, and the scraps be given to the cats, and the offal to the reptiles!

"Glory to Horus of the mighty blow, the brave one, the slayer, the wielder of the Harpoon, the only son of Osiris, Horus of Edfu, Horus the avenger!"

But when Horus passed from earth and reigned no more as the Pharaoh of Egypt, he appeared before the assembly of the gods, and Set came also in the spirit, and contended in words for the rule of the world. But not even Thoth the wise could give judgment. And so it comes about that Horus and Set still contend for the souls of men and for the rule of the world.

There were no more battles on the Nile or in the land of Egypt; and Osiris rested quietly in his grave, which (since Set could no longer disturb it) Isis admitted was on the island of Philae, the most sacred place of all, in the Nile a few miles upstream from Elephantine. But the Egyptians believed that the Last Battle was still to come - and that Horus would defeat Set in this also. And when Set was destroyed forever, Osiris would rise from the dead and return to earth, bringing with him all those who had been his own faithful followers. And for this reason the Egyptians embalmed dead and set the bodies away beneath towering pyramids of stone and deep in the tomb chambers of western Thebes, so that the blessed souls returning from Amenti should find them ready to enter again, and in them to live for ever on earth under the good god Osiris, Isis his queen and their son Horus.

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In the reign of Rameses III, a large temple was built at Thebes in honor of the Moon-god Khonsu. According to a tradition which his priests in later times inscribed on a stone stelae, the fame of his Theban representative was so widespread that it reached a remote country called Bekhten.

Rameses III
Rameses III

A king of Egypt (probably Rameses III) was in the country of Nehern (a portion of Western Syria near the Euphrates), collecting tribute according to an annual custom, when the prince of Bekhten came with the other chiefs to salute his majesty and to bring a gift. The other chiefs brought gold, and lapis-lazuli, and turquoise, and precious woods, but the prince of Bekhten brought with his offerings his eldest daughter, who was exceedingly beautiful; the king accepted the maiden, and took her to Egypt, where he made her the chief royal wife and gave her the name of Ra-neferu i.e., the "beauties of Ra", the Sun-god.

Some time after, in the fifteenth year of the reign of the king of Egypt, the prince of Bekhten appeared in Thebes on the 22nd day of the second month of summer, and when he had been led into the presence he laid his offering at the feet of the king, and did homage to him. As soon as he had the opportunity he explained the object of his visit to Egypt, and said that he had come on behalf of the young sister of Queen Ra-neferu, who was grievously sick, and he begged the king to send a physician to see his daughter Bent-Reshet, or Bent-enth-reshet. Thereupon the king summoned into his presence all the learned men of his court, and called upon them to choose from among their number a skilled physician that he might go to Bekhten and heal the Queen's young sister; the royal scribe Tehuti-em-beb was recommended for this purpose, and the king at once sent him off with the envoy from Bekhten to that country. In due course he arrived there and found that the princess of Bekhten was under the influence of some evil spirit, which he was powerless either to exorcise or to contend with in any way successfully. When the king of Bekhten saw that his daughter was in no way benefited by the Egyptian scribe, he dispatched his envoy a second time to Egypt with the petition that the king would send a god to heal his daughter, and the envoy arrived in Thebes at the time when the king was celebrating the festival of Amon.

As soon as the king, had heard what was wanted he went into the temple of Khonsu Nefer-hetep, and said to the god, "0 my fair Lord, I have come once again into thy presence [to entreat] thee on behalf of the daughter of the Prince of Bekhten"; and he entreated him to allow the god Khonsu to go to Bekhten, and said, "Grant that thy magical (or saving) power may go with him, and let me send his divine Majesty into Bekhten to deliver the daughter of the Prince of that land from the power of the demon."

"Bent-reshet was possessed of an
evil spirit..."

The king of Egypt dispatched Khonsu to Bekhten, where the god arrived after a journey of seventeen months. As soon as he had been welcomed to the country by the Prince of Bekhten and his generals and nobles the god went to the place where the princess was, and he found that Bent-reshet was possessed of an evil spirit; but as soon as he had made use of his magical power the demon left her and she was healed straightway. Then that demon spoke to Khonsu , and acknowledged his power, and having tendered to him his unqualified submission he offered to return to his own place; but he begged Khonsu to ask the Prince of Bekhten to make a feast at which they both might be present, and he did so, and the god, and the demon, and the Prince spent a very happy day together. When the feast was concluded the demon returned to his own land, which he loved, according to his promise.

As soon as the Prince recognized the power of Khonsu he planned to keep him in Bekhten, and the god actually tarried there for three years, four months, and five days, but at length he departed from his shrine and returned to Egypt in the form of a hawk of gold. When the king saw what had happened, he spoke to the priest, and declared to him his determination to send back to Egypt the chariot of Khonsu, and when he had loaded him with gifts and offerings of every kind the Egyptians set out from Bekhten and made the journey back to Thebes in safety. On his return Khonsu took all the gifts which had been given to him by the Prince of Bekhten, and carried them to the temple of Khonsu Nefer-hetep, where he laid them at the feet of the god. Such is the story which the priests of Khonsu under the New Empire were wont to relate concerning their god "who could perform mighty" deeds and miracles, and vanquish the demons of darkness."

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Seneferu, father of the Pharaoh Khufu who built the Great Pyramid of Giza, reigned long over a contented and peaceful Egypt. He had no foreign wars and few troubles at home, and with so little business of state he often found time hanging heavy on his hands.

One day he wandered wearily through his palace at Memphis, seeking for pleasures and finding none that would lighten his heart.

Then he bethought him of his Chief Magician, Zazamankh, and he said, 'If any man is able to entertain me and show me new marvels, surely it is the wise scribe of the rolls. Bring Zazamankh before me.'

Pharaoh: "...devise something that will fill my heart with pleasure"

Straightway his servants went to the House of Wisdom and brought Zazamankh to the presence of Pharaoh. And Seneferu said to him, 'I have sought throughout all my palace for some delight, and found none. Now of your wisdom devise something that will fill my heart with pleasure.' Then said Zazamankh to him, 'O Pharaoh life, health, strength be to you! - my counsel is that you go sailing upon the Nile, and upon the lake below Memphis. This will be no common voyage, if you will follow my advice in all things.'

'Believing that you will show me marvels, I will order out the Royal Boat,' said Seneferu. 'Yet I am weary of sailing upon the Nile and upon the lake.'

'This will be no common voyage,' Zazamankh assured him. 'For your rowers will be different from any you have seen at the oars before. They must be fair maidens from the Royal House of the King's Women: and as you watch them rowing, and see the birds upon the lake, the sweet fields and the green grass upon the banks, your heart will grow glad.'

'Indeed, this will be something new,' agreed Pharaoh, showing some interest at last. 'Therefore I give you charge of this expedition. Speak with my power, and command all that is necessary.'

Then said Zazamankh to the officers and attendants of Pharaoh Seneferu, 'Bring me twenty oars of ebony inlaid with gold, with blades of light wood inlaid with electrum. And choose for rowers the twenty fairest maidens in Pharaoh's household: twenty virgins slim and lovely, fair in their limbs, beautiful, and with flowing hair. And bring me twenty nets of golden thread, and give these nets to the fair maidens to be garments for them. And let them wear ornaments of gold and electrum and malachite.'

All was done according to the words of Zazamankh, and presently Pharaoh was seated in the Royal Boat while the maidens rowed him up and down the stream and upon the shining waters of the lake. And the heart of Seneferu was glad at the sight of the beautiful rowers at their unaccustomed task, and he seemed to be on a voyage in the golden days that were to be when Osiris returns to rule the earth.

But presently a mischance befell that gay and happy party upon the lake. In the raised stern of the Royal Boat two of the maidens were steering with great oars fastened to posts. Suddenly the handle of one of the oars brushed against the head of the girl who was using it and swept the golden lotus she wore on the fillet that held back her hair into the water, where it sank out of sight.

With a little cry she leant over and gazed after it. And as she ceased from her song, so did all the rowers on that side who were taking their time from her.

'Why have you ceased to row?' asked Pharaoh.

And they replied, 'Our little steerer has stopped, and leads us no longer.'

'And why have you ceased to steer and lead the rowers with your song?' asked Seneferu.

'Forgive me, Pharaoh - life, health, strength be to you!' she sobbed. 'But the oar struck my hair and brushed from it the beautiful golden lotus set with malachite which your majesty gave to me, and it has fallen into the water and is lost forever.'

'Row on as before, and I will give you another,' said Seneferu.

But the girl continued to weep, saying, 'I want my golden lotus back, and no other!'

Then said Pharaoh, 'There is only one who can find the golden lotus that has sunk to the bottom of the lake. Bring to me Zazamankh my magician, he who thought of this voyage. Bring him here on to the Royal Boat before me.'

So Zazamankh was brought to where Seneferu sat in his silken pavilion on the Royal Boat. And as he knelt, Pharaoh said to him: 'Zazamankh, my friend and brother, I have done as you advised. My royal heart is refreshed and my eyes are delighted at the sight of these lovely rowers bending to their task. As we pass up and down on the waters of the lake, and they sing to me, while on the shore I see the trees and the flowers and the birds, I seem to be sailing into the golden days either those of old when Re ruled on earth, or those to come when the good god Osiris shall return from the Duat. But now a golden lotus has fallen from the hair of one of these maidens fallen to the bottom of the lake. And she has ceased to sing and the rowers on her side cannot keep time with their oars. And she is not to be comforted with promises of other gifts, but weeps for her golden lotus. Zazamankh, I wish to give back the golden lotus to the little one here, and see the joy return to her eyes.'

'Pharaoh, my lord - life, health, strength be to you!' answered Zazamankh the magician, 'I will do what you ask - for to one with my knowledge it is not a great thing. Yet maybe it is an enchantment you have never seen, and it will fill you with wonder, even as I promised, and make your heart rejoice yet further in new things.'

"...the lake parted as if a piece had been cut out of it with a great sword."

Then Zazamankh stood at the stern of the Royal Boat and began to chant great spells and words of power. And presently he held out his wand over the water, and the lake parted as if a piece had been cut out of it with a great sword. The lake here was twenty feet deep, and the piece of water that the magician moved rose up and set itself upon the surface of the lake so that there was a cliff of water on that side forty feet high.

Now the Royal Boat slid gently down into the great cleft in the lake until it rested on the bottom. On the side towards the forty-foot cliff of water there was a great open space where the bottom of the lake lay uncovered, as firm and dry as the land itself.

And there, just below the stern of the Royal Boat, lay the golden lotus.

With a cry of joy the maiden who had lost it sprang over the side on to the firm ground, picked it up and set it once more in her hair. Then she climbed swiftly back into the Royal Boat and took the steering oar into her hands once more.

Zazamankh slowly lowered his rod, and the Royal Boat slid up the side of the water until it was level with the surface once more. Then at another word of power, and as if drawn by the magician's rod, the great piece of water slid back into place, and the evening breeze rippled the still surface of the lake as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. But the heart of Pharaoh Seneferu rejoiced and was filled with wonder, and he cried: 'Zazamankh, my brother, you are the greatest and wisest of magicians! You have shown me wonders and delights this day, and your reward shall be all that you desire, and a place next to my own in Egypt.' Then the Royal Boat sailed gently on over the lake in the glow of the evening, while the twenty lovely maidens in their garments of golden net, and the jeweled lotus flowers in their hair dipped their ebony and silver oars in the shimmering waters and sang sweetly a love song of old Egypt:

'She stands upon the further side,
Between us flows the Nile;
And in those waters deep and wide
There lurks a crocodile.

'Yet is my love so true and sweet,
A word of power, a charm -
The stream is land beneath my feet
And bears me without harm.

'For I shall come to where she stands,
No more be held apart;
And I shall take my darling's hands
And draw her to my heart.'

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The one visit to the Duat of which a record remains was paid by Se-Osiris, the wonderful child magician who read the sealed letter, and his father Setna, the son of Pharaoh Rameses the Great.

They stood one day in the window of the palace at Thebes watching two funerals on their way to the West. The first was that of a rich man: his mummy was enclosed in a wooden case inlaid with gold; troops of servants and mourners carried him to burial and bore gifts for the tomb, while many priests walked in front and behind chanting hymns to the gods and reciting the great names and words of power which he would need on his journey through the Duat. - The second funeral was that of a poor laborer. His two sons carried the simple wooden case: his widow and daughters-in-law were the only mourners.

'Well,' said Setna, watching the two funerals going down to where the boats were waiting to carry them across the Nile, 'I hope that my fate will be that of the rich noble and not of the poor laborer.'

'On the contrary,' said Se-Osiris, 'I pray that the poor man's fate may be yours and not that of the rich man!'

'I pray that the poor man's fate may be yours...'

Setna was much hurt by his son's words, but Se-Osiris tried to explain them, saying, 'Whatever you may have seen here matters little compared with what will chance to these two in the Judgement Hall of Osiris. I will prove it to you, if you will trust yourself to me. I know the words of power that open all gates: I can release your Ba and mine - our souls, that can then fly into the Duat, the world of the dead, and see all that is happening there. Then you will discover how different are the fates of this rich man who has worked evil during his life, and this poor man who has done nothing but good.'

Setna had learnt to believe anything the wonderful child said without surprise, and now he agreed to accompany his son into the Duat, even though he knew that such an expedition would be dangerous: for once there they might not be able to return.

So the prince and the small boy made their way into the sanctuary of the Temple of Osiris where, as members of the royal family, they had power to go.

When Setna had barred the doors, Se-Osiris drew a magic circle round them and round the statue of Osiris and round the altar on which a small fire of cedar wood was burning. Then he threw a certain powder into the flame upon the altar. Thrice he threw the powder, and as he threw it a ball of fire rose from the altar and floated away. Then he spoke a spell and ended with a great name of power, a word at which the whole temple rocked and the flame on the altar leapt high, and then sank into darkness.

'[He] would have cried out in horror if the silence had not pressed upon him like a weight that held him paralyzed.'

But the Temple of Osiris was not dark. Setna turned to see whence the light came - and would have cried out in horror if the silence had not pressed upon him like a weight that held him paralyzed.

For standing on either side of the altar he saw himself and his son Se-Osiris only suddenly he knew that it was not his own body and the boy's for the two bodies lay in the shadows cast by these two forms - the forms of their Kas or doubles, and above each Ka hovered a tongue of flame which was its Khou or spirit - and the clear, light of the Khou served to show its Ka and the dim form of the body from which Ka and Khou were drawn.

Then the silence was broken by a whisper soft as a feather falling, yet which seemed to fill the whole Temple with sound: 'Follow me now, my father,' said the voice of Se-Osiris, 'for the time is short and we must be back before the morning if we would live to see the Sun of Re rise again over Egypt.

Setna turned, and saw beside him the Ba or soul of Se-Osiris - a great bird with golden feathers but with the head of his son.

'I follow,' he forced his lips to answer; then, as the whisper filled the Temple, he rose on the golden wings of his own Ba and followed the Ba of Se-Osiris.

The temple roof seemed to open to let them through, and a moment later they were speeding into the West swifter than an arrow from an Ethiopian's bow.

Darkness lay over Egypt, but one red gash of sunset shone through the great pass in the mountains of the Western Desert, the Gap of Abydos. Through this they sped into the First Region of the Night and saw beneath them the Mesektet Boat in which Re began his journey into the Duat with the ending of each day. Splendid was the Boat, glorious its trappings, and its colors were of amethyst and emerald, jasper and turquoise, lazuli and the deep glow of gold. A company of the gods drew the Boat along the ghostly River of Death with golden towing-ropes; the portals of the Duat were flung wide, and they entered the First Region between the six serpents who were curled on either side. And in the great Boat of Re journeyed the Kas of all those who had died that day and were on their way to the judgement Hall of Osiris.

So the Boat moved on its way through regions of night and thick darkness and came to the portal of the Second Region. Tall were the walls on either side, and upon their tops were the points of spears so that none might climb over; the great wooden doors turned on pivots, and once again snakes breathing fire and poison guarded them. But all who passed through on the Boat of Re spoke the words of power decreed for that portal, and the doors swung open.

The Second Region was the Kingdom of Re, and the gods and heroes of old who had lived on earth when he was King dwelt there in peace and happiness, guarded by the Spirits of the Corn who make the wheat and barley flourish and cause the fruits of the earth to increase.

Yet not one of the dead who voyaged in the Boat of Re might pause there or set foot on the land: for they must pass into Amenti, the Third Region of the Duat where the judgement Hall of Osiris stood waiting to receive them.

So the Boat came to the next portals, and at the word of power the great wooden doors screamed open on their pivots - yet not so loudly did they scream as the man who lay with one of the pivots turning in his eye as punishment for the evil he had done upon earth.

Into the Third Region sailed the Boat of Re, and here the dead disembarked in the outer court of the judgement Hall of Osiris. But the Boat itself continued on its way through the nine other Regions of the Night until the re-birth of Re from out of the mouth of the Dragon of the East brought dawn once more upon earth and the rising of the sun. Yet the sun would not rise unless each night Re fought and defeated the Dragon Apep, who seeks ever to devour him in the Tenth Region of the Night.

The Ba of Setna and Se-Osiris did not follow the Boat of Re further, but flew over the Kas of the newly dead who came one by one to the portal of the Hall of Osiris and one by one were challenged by the Door-Keeper.

'Stay!' cried the Door-Keeper. 'I will not announce thee unless thou knowest my name!'

'Understander of Hearts is thy name,' answered each instructed Ka. 'Searcher of Bodies is thy name!'

'Then to whom should I announce thee?' asked the Door-Keeper.

'Thou shouldst tell of my coming to the Interpreter of the Two Lands.'

'Who then is the Interpreter of the Two Lands?'

'It is Thoth the Wise God.'

So each Ka passed through the doorway and in the Hall Thoth was waiting to receive him, saying: 'Come with me. Yet why hast thou come?'

'I have come here to be announced,' answered the Ka.

'What is thy condition?'

'I am pure of sin.'

'Then to whom shall I announce thee? Shall I announce thee to him whose ceiling is of fire, whose walls are living serpents, whose pavement is water?'

'Yes,' answered the Ka, 'announce me to him, for he is Osiris.'

So ibis-headed Thoth led the Ka to where Osiris sat upon his throne, wrapped in the mummy-clothes of the dead, wearing the uraeus crown upon his forehead and holding the scourge and the crook crossed upon his breast. Before him stood a huge balance with two scales, and jackal-headed Anubis, god of death, stepped forward to lead the Ka to the judgement.

'I am pure! I am pure! I am pure! I am pure!'

But before the Weighing of the Heart, each dead man's Ka spoke in his own defense, saying: 'I am pure! I am pure! I am pure! I am pure! My purity is as that of the Bennu bird, the bright Phoenix whose nest is upon the stone persea-tree, the obelisk at Heliopolis. Behold me, I have come to you without sin, without guilt, without evil, without a witness against me, without one against whom I have taken action. I live on truth and I eat of truth. I have done that which men said and that with which gods are content. I have satisfied each god with that which he desires. I have given bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothing to the naked and a boat to him who could not cross the River. I have provided offerings to the gods and offerings to the dead. So preserve me from Apep, the 'Eater-up of Souls', so protect me - Lord of the Atef-Crown, Lord of Breath, great god Osiris.'

Then came the moment which the evil-doer feared but the good man welcomed with joy.

Anubis took the heart out of the Ka that was the double of his earthly body and placed it in the Scale; and in the other Scale was set the Feather of Truth. Heavy was the heart of the evil-doer and it dragged down the Scale: lower and lower it sank, while Thoth marked the angle of the beam until the Scale sank so low that Ammit the Devourer of Hearts could catch the sinner's heart in his jaws and bear it away. Then the evil-doer was driven forth into the thick darkness of the Duat to dwell with Apep the Terrible in the Pits of Fire.


But with the good man the Feather of Truth sank down and his heart rose up, and Thoth cried aloud to Osiris and the gods, 'True and accurate are the words this man has spoken. He has not sinned; he has not done evil towards us. Let not the Eater-up of Souls have power over him. Grant that the eternal bread of Osiris be given to him, and a place in the Fields of Peace with the followers of Horus!'

Then Horus took the dead man by the hand and led him before Osiris, saying, 'I have come to thee, oh Unnefer Osiris, bringing with me this new Osiris. His heart was true at the coming forth from the Balance. He has not sinned against any god or any goddess. Thoth has weighed his heart and found it true and righteous. Grant that there may be given to him the bread and beer of Osiris; may he be like the followers of Horus!'

Then Osiris inclined his head, and the dead man passed rejoicing into the Fields of Peace there to dwell, taking joy in all the things he had loved best in life, in a rich land of plenty, until Osiris returned to earth, taking with him all those who had proved worthy to live for ever as his subjects.

All these things and more the Ba of Se-Osiris showed to the Ba of his father Setna; and at length he said, 'Now you know why I wished your fate to be that of the poor man and not of the rich man. For the rich man was he in whose eye the pivot of the Third Door was turning - but the poor man dwells for ever in the Fields of Peace, clad in fine robes and owning all the offerings which accompanied the evil rich man to his tomb.'

Then the two Ba spread their golden wings and flew back through the night to Thebes. There they re-entered their bodies which their Kas had been guarding in the Temple of Osiris, and were able to return to their place as ordinary, living father and child, in time to see the sun rise beyond the eastern desert and turn the cliffs of Western Thebes to pink and purple and gold as a new day dawned over Egypt.

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Drawing of the god Geb holding an ankh, a symbol of life.
Click on image for full size (45K GIF)

Thousands of years ago, Geb was worshipped at the city of Heliopolis in lower Egypt as the earth god. Geb was depicted as a bearded man with a goose on his head. He was the provider of crops and a healer. Egyptian people believed that Geb laughter caused earthquakes. It was feared that because Geb was an Earth god, he might imprison the dead, preventing others from having another life in the afterworld.

According to an Egyptian legend, Geb married his sister Nut, the sky goddess, without the permission of the powerful Sun god Re. Re was so angry at Nut and Geb that he forced their father Shu, the god of air, to separate them. That is why the Earth is divided from the sky. Moreover, Re prevented Nut from having children in any month of the year.

But, fortunately, Thoth the divine scribe decided to help her. Thus, he induced the Moon to play with him a game of draughts, where the prize was the Moon's light. Thoth won so much light that the Moon had to add five new days to the official calendar. Thus Nut and Geb could finally have four children: Osiris, Seth, Isis, Nephthys. Geb was identified by the ancient Greeks as the god Cronos.

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The image above comes from the "Book of the Dead"(13th century B.C.) which was a collection of spells, hymns, and prayers intended to secure a safe passage to the underworld for the deceased. Horus is depicted as a man with the head of a falcon. Here, Horus is wearing the costume of a king and the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. He leads the soul of the scribe Ani into the presence of Osiris.
Click on image for full size (181K JPEG)
Image courtesy of James Wasserman, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Chronicle Books

Horus was a fierce and proud Egyptian god. He was the son of Osiris, the god of air and the Earth, and the goddess Isis. Osiris was killed by his brother Seth in order to seize the throne. To assure his power, Seth tried to prevent Osiris from having any offspring. However, Isis managed to hide her pregnancy from Seth and saved her child.

Horus grew up in secrecy, determined to avenge the death of his father. Thus, when he reached manhood, Horus challenged Seth. The violent fight, where Horus lost one eye, lasted until the assembly of the gods decided to intervene and declare the throne was the rightful inheritance of Horus. They forced Seth to restore Horus'eye. But to honor the memory of Osiris, Horus offered the recovered falcon-eye to his father, and covered his wound with a divine serpent, Uraeus. Ever since, the serpent is considered the emblem of the Egyptian pharaohs.

At last, Osiris transferred his power to his son Horus, and retired to the world of the blessed to become an underworld deity. Thus, Horus became the new king of Egypt, serving under the sun-god Re.
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The image above shows the sky goddess Nut supported by Shu, the god of air. At his feet lies the earth god Geb.

Nut was the Egyptian sky goddess. She was depicted as a giant, naked woman who was supporting the sky with her back. Her body was blue and covered by stars. Ancient documents describe how each evening, the Sun entered the mouth of Nut and passing through her body was born each morning out of her womb.

According to an Egyptian legend, Nut married her brother, the earth god Geb without the permission of the powerful Sun god, Re. Re was so angry at Geb and Nut that forced their father, the god of air to separate them. That is why the Earth is divided from the sky. Moreover, Re prevented Nut from having children in any month of the year.

Fortunately, Thoth, the divine scribe, wanted to help her. Thus, he induced the Moon to play with him a game of draughts where the prize was the Moon's light. Thoth won so much light that the Moon had to add five new days to the official calendar. Thus Nut could finally bear her four children: Osiris, Seth, Isis, Nephthys.

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Amanda's Gods and Myths of the Ancient Civilizations