ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: The Hermopolitan Ogdoad

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Ogdoad

    According to the Hermopolitan mythology there existed four pairs of gods before the creation of the world. They represented the primordial properties of chaos, generally given as:
Nun - Naunet: The primordial waters and the sky above them
Amen (Amun) - Amaunet: Invisibility
Kuk - Kauket: Darkness
Hah (Huh, Heh) - Hauhet (Hehet): Infinity and eternity
    The ogdoad was not unchangeable. The pair Amen and Amaunet were included in the Ogdoad only from the first millennium BCE onwards. Niu and Niut (or Nia and Niat) representing the void, may replace one of the other couples,[1], the symbols for a lack of orientation Tenem and Tenemet are occasionally part of the Ogdoad, at Hibis only there are Gereh and Gereht, doubles of Kuk and Kauket and during the Roman Period Hemsu and Hemset appear on funerary beds.[2]
 
    The males were represented as frogs or men with frog or jackal heads, the females as snakes or women with snake heads.As such they seem to have fertilized the primeval waters. The ogdoad witnessed the creation of the sun, and are often shown worshiping the sun bark. At times they were identified with the eight Heh gods created by Shu and were at times represented as the "Eastern Gods", baboons greeting the rising sun.[1]
 
    The Ogdoad had a small temple at Medinet Habu [3] and was venerated in many other places all over Egypt.

Footnotes:
[1] Geraldine Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian Mythology, p.176ff.
[2] Christiane Zivie-Coche, "Religion de líÉgypte ancienne", in Annuaire EPHE, Sciences religieuses, t. 115 (2006-2007), p.77
[3] Lurker 1998, p.37
 
References:
Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999
 

 
© October 2005
Changes:
October 2011

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