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Ancient Egyptian deities: Apophis
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Apophis

also Apopis, Apep (aApp), Weben-Re,
 
Re killing Apep     Apophis, aApp ,[10] was a primordial demon, since the 15th century in the shape of a giant water serpent. He is known since the beginning of the second millennium.[11] In the fight of Thoth and Horus against Seth the turtle is at times a symbol for Seth and Apophis.[12]

Hathor as the cat of Re decapitates Apophis.
Deir el Medina
© Hajor, Oct.2004, GNU licence

    He had a special relationship with Re which was was intimate and complex, the myths about it going possibly back to as early as the New Kingdom.[9] On the one hand he was referred to as the umbilical cord of Re in the Neith cosmogony of Esna:
Now she (i.e. Neith) removed the umbilical cord of her son whom she had given birth to in the water, and it became a serpent of 120 cubits. It was called Apophis.
Cosmogony of Esna [9]
Plutarch went a bit further and called Apophis Re's brother:
There is another tale current among the Egyptians that Apopis, brother of the Sun, made war upon Zeus
Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, chapter 36
On the other hand Apophis was the archenemy of the sun god, trying to stop the course of the solar bark through the sky by drinking all the water of the heavens. The sunship would then run onto the sandbanks which were thus revealed,[1] its course interrupted causing chaos in the world. Alternatively these sandbanks were thought to be coils of the snake's body.[5]
    Metaphorically the 'sandbanks of Apophis' came to mean times of famine, caused by the absence of the Nile flood after the river's waters had been swallowed by Apophis.(cf. The autobiography of Ankhtifi) The only one able to withstand the hypnotic look of the serpent was the god Seth, who accompanied and defended Re. Because of this vital service Re favoured Seth over Horus in the Contendings of Horus and Seth:
Pre's wish was to give the office to Seth, great in virility, the son of Nut.
Seth fighting Apophis In later times from being an enemy of Seth, Apophis became identified with the god, who was slowly becoming the encarnation of chaos and of evil. They are both referred to as nbD, the Evil One. In the complex world of ancient Egyptian deities Apophis was also connected to Re at that time:
There is another tale current among the Egyptians that Apophis, brother of the Sun, made war upon Zeus, and that because Osiris espoused Zeus's cause and helped him to overthrow his enemy, Zeus adopted Osiris as his son and gave him the name of Dionysus. It may be demonstrated that the legend contained in this tale has some approximation to truth so far as Nature is concerned; for the Egyptians apply the name "Zeus" to the wind, and whatever is dry or fiery is antagonistic to this. This is not the Sun, but it has some kinship with the Sun; and the moisture, by doing away with the excess of dryness, increases and strengthens the exhalations by which the wind is fostered and made vigorous.
Plutarch, Isis and Osiris, Part 2, Chapter 36, Loeb Classical Library, 1936
    In the tomb of Seti I there is a list of divine bas, i.e. physical manifestations, among them that of Apophis:[4]
....The ba of Nun is Re. The ba of Osiris is the ram of Mendes. The bas of Sobek are the crocodiles, while the ba of any god are snakes and the ba of Apophis is the white of the eye, while the ba of Re everywhere in the whole land is....

Fighting Apophis

    Seth fought Apophis with a spear, standing in the bow of the solar barque and the gods armed themselves with knives. Mortals, being weaker, might use magic, if they knew the right formulas. In the Books of the Dead the deceased supported Re in his conflict with Apophis:
I shall vanquish the One, that Evil One, who blocks the path of Re
After a transcription and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pLondon BM EA 10477 (pNu) => Tb 131
A charm used to pass the sandbank of Apophis can be found in pTurin Museo Egizio 1791[7]. An important ingredient of magic was the protection one gained, by keeping one's real name secret, another was making a wax model of an enemy which could be destroyed easily, putting an end to his existence as well:
Charm for passing the sandbank of Apophis. It is difficult.
To be spoken by Osiris NN, justified:
Oh! you made of wax, plunderer, who seizes violently, who lives on the tired (i.e. deceased) ones, I shall not become inert because of you. Poison shall not enter my limbs. If you do not weaken, I shall not weaken either. Your weakness shall not penetrate my limbs. I am the One, who is in the primordial waters. My protection is the protection of all the gods. I am the one with names more secret and places holier than those of the multitudes. I have emerged from Atem. I have the knowledge.
Twice
But this fight never ends, for as long as Re will cross the heavens and will be in danger of being swallowed by the demon, as occasionally happened, when the sungod had to be freed by the other gods. Re would daily be beholden to the deceased:
Behold, Osiris NN justified has descended to your court.
Every day he saves Re from Apophis.
After a transcription and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pLondon BM EA 10477 (pNu) => Tb 131
    Apophis fought his fight in the heavens, but his poison descended in the West. At last he was cut to pieces by the ennead on his sandbank.[3]
In the Book of the Dead his demise is described as follows:
Your head is severed, you "Who are in his Earth".
Your bones are broken.
Your member is cut off
He is judged, the Dark One, Apophis, enemy of Re.
L.Kairo J.E. 96810 (L.Ahmose-Henut-Tjemehu), Tb 039
After a transcription and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => L.Kairo J.E. 96810 (L.Ahmose-Henut-Tjemehu) => Tb 039

Magic

    A New Kingdom serpent charm [8] speaks of the complete and utter destruction of Apophis. In the light of the victorious sun he does not even cast a shadow anymore:
Your ba is not among the bas, your corpse is not before the corpses after the flames have devoured you, after the fire has eaten you, after the embers have satisfied themselves with you. Apophis, enemy of Re! Re rejoices, Atem is enraptured, Horus the Elder's heart is sweet. The enemy of the gods has passed away, he does not exist at all, neither in the heavens nor on earth does his shadow exist. Apophis, enemy of Re, you shall spit out, for you are destroyed. Apophis!
    Magicians at times threatened the deities in order to coerce them into doing their bidding, as in the following healing charm, where the magician proposes to cause the solar ship to run aground on the sandbank of Apophis, which would have terrible consequences–unless-or until-the gods helped his patient:
The sun barque stands still and fares no further,
The sun is still where it was yesterday,
food is shipless, the temples blocked,
sickness there will turn disruption back
to where it was yesterday.
The demon of darkness roams about, time is not divided.
the figures of shadows can no longer be observed.
Springs are blocked, plants wither,
life is taken from the living,
until Horus recovers for his mother Isis
and my patient recovers.
Jan Assmann, The search for God in ancient Egypt, Cornell University Press, 2001, p.69

Worship

    Apophis was not worshipped. As the encarnation of chaos he was pure evil and people did well to revile him. The Teachings of Amenemope [6] exhort the reader to
Spit on Apophis!
while another insult would have been to defile him with one's left foot.
 

Footnotes:
[1] Jan Assmann, Andrew Jenkins, The mind of Egypt, Harvard University Press, 2003, p.101
[2] Christian Leitz, Heinz-Josef Thissen, Altägyptische Sternuhren, Peeters Publishers, 1995, p.36 [3]Christian Leitz, Dagmar Budde, Frank Förster, Daniel von Recklinghausen, Bettina Ventker, Lexikon der ägyptischen Götter und Götterbezeichnungen, Peeters Publishers, 2002, p.73
cf. the German translation of pTurin Museo Egizio 1791 Tb 1-113, Tb 039 on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pTurin Museo Egizio 1791 Tb 1-113 => Tb 039
[4]After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 1. Erzählungen => Mittelägyptische Erzählungen => Das Buch von der Himmelskuh (oder: Die Vernichtung des Menschengeschlechts) => KV 17: Grab Sethos' I., vordere rechte Seitenkammer der Sargkammer => Das Buch von der Himmelskuh(oder: Die Vernichtung des Menschengeschlechts)
[5] Lurker, Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter, Scherz 1998, p.46
[6] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften => 3. Weisheitslehren => Neuägyptische Weisheitslehren => Die Lehre des Amenemope => 1. pBM EA 10474 => Die Lehre des Amenemope
[7] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Totenbuchprojekt, Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften => pTurin Museo Egizio 1791 Tb 1-113 => Tb 007 (Lepsius, Das Todtenbuch der ägypter, Leipzig 1842 (Neudruck Osnabrück 1969); B. de Rachewiltz, Il Libro dei Morti, Mailand 1958)
[8] After a transliteration and German translation on the Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae website => Projekt "Digital-Heka" (Leipzig) => Texte DigitalHeka => Schlangenzauber Neues Reich => Cairo JE 69771 (Statue prophylactique) => Spruch 8 (Rückseite, 18-26)
(E. Drioton: "Une statue prophylactique de Ramses III". In: ASAE 39 (1939), 57-89; Taf. V u. VI.; KRI V, 261-268.; J.F. Borghouts: Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts. NISABA 9, 1978, 94 )
[9] Joachim F. Quack, "Die Nabelschnur des Re" in Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur, vol. 34 (2006), p.378
[10] MdC transliteration aApp, Wb 1, 167.14-15
[11] Susanne Bickel, "Apophis", in Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East, Electronic Pre-publication revision 20th November 2007, accessed at : http://www.religionswissenschaft.unizh.ch/idd/prepublications/e_idd_apophis.pdf on 5th March 2010
[12] Richard Lewis Jasnow, Karl-Theodor Zauzich, The ancient Egyptian Book of Thoth: a demotic discourse on knowledge and pendant to the classical hermetica, Volume 1, Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005, p.255
 

 
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