Ancient Egyptian deities: The Abydos Triad–Osiris, Isis, Horus–and Seth
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The Abydos Triad–Osiris, Isis and Horus–and Seth
Osiris wearing the atef crown
The Osiris mythThe only complete account of the Osiris myth occurs in Plutarch's Of Isis and Osiris, Egyptian text fragments support much of his version. Osiris was the son of the earth-god Geb and the sky-goddess Nut.
Thou art the eldest son of the womb of Nut. Thou wast begotten by Keb (Geb), the Erpat.In the temple of Denderah he is given his full royal titulary and personal details like size and ancestry:
Osiris who has appeared as king on the throne of his father.According to another tradition mentioned by Diodorus Siculus Osiris was the founder of Thebes, rather than just being born there.
When he was twenty-eight Osiris was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth, according to one tradition because he had had an affair with Seth's wife Nephthys, but Isis recovered the fourteen scattered parts of his body, reassembled them, restored him to life and was impregnated by him. However, Osiris did not return to rule this world, but remained in the underworld as king, the Khentamenti (First of the Westerners, i.e. the dead–originally an epithet of Anubis), while his posthumous son Horus became king of the living.
His sister [Isis] hath protected him, and hath repulsed the fiends, and turned aside calamities (of evil). She uttered the spell with the magical power of her mouth. Her tongue was perfect, and it never halted at a word. Beneficent in command and word was Isis, the woman of magical spells, the advocate of her brother. She sought him untiringly, she wandered round and round about this earth in sorrow, and she alighted not without finding him. She made light with her feathers, she created air with her wings, and she uttered the death wail for her brother. She raised up the inactive members of whose heart was still, she drew from him his essence, she made an heir, she reared the child in loneliness, and the place where he was not known, and he grew in strength and stature, and his hand was mighty in the House of Keb. The Company of the Gods rejoiced, rejoiced, at the coming of Horus, the son of Osiris, whose heart was firm, the triumphant, the son of Isis, the heir of Osiris.Osiris, whose death had been unlawful, was "justified", i.e. was declared free of wrongdoing, and regained life. He came to represent the resurrection into eternal life that Egyptians sought by having their corpses embalmed and swathed like that of their beneficent god.
IconographyOsiris is depicted mummified in green stone statues, but in pictures the color of his skin suggests that he was a black god. His body is customarily wrapped in white funeral cloths. In his hands he holds the crook and flail of kings and the scepter of the gods. The Ani Papyrus (ca.1250 BCE; at the British Museum) of the Book of the Dead shows a green Osiris enthroned, sitting in judgment over the dead, who recite before him their 42 negative confessions, asserting that they had lived blameless lives.
Grant thou to me glory in heaven, and power upon earth, and truth-speaking in the Divine Underworld, and [the power to] sail down the river to Tetu in the form of a living Ba-soul, and [the power to] sail up the river to Abydos in the form of a Benu bird, and [the power to] pass in through and to pass out from, without obstruction, the doors of the lords of the Tuat.
Associations with other divinitiesPossibly the first god Osiris became identified with was Anedjti, a ruler deity and fertility god from Busiris, whose insignia, the crook and the flail, he adopted. Like other gods, Osiris was at times equated with Re, or, as in the following passage from the Book of the Dead, with his fertilizing phallus:
It is Osiris. Others, however, say that his name is Ra, and that the god who dwelleth in Amentet is the phallus of Ra, wherewith he had union with himself.Self-fertilisation, a recurring motif in creation myths based on a single god bringing forth the rest of the creation, is also attributed to Amen.
The Greeks identified Osiris with Dionysos, and other gods as well:
Osiris is considered at times to be one with Serapis, at times with Dionysos, with Pluto, with Ammon, occasionally with Zeus, often with Pan. Some claim Serapis to be the same as the one called Pluto by the Greeks.The black bull god Kemwer (Kemur) of Athribis was variously identified with Osiris and Khenti-kheti. Osiris came to be considered the father of Anubis taking over that god's role as lord of the underworld.
The association of the hare, Egyptian wn, with Osiris-Wennefre, who also carries the epithet of Wen (wn), is based on a misunderstanding of 19th century Egyptologists. There is no apparent ancient Egyptian connection between this animal and the god.
Source: Jon Bodsworth
This is the land ------ the burial of Osiris in the House of Sokar. ------ Isis and Nephthys without delay, for Osiris had drowned in his water. Isis [and Nephthys] looked out, [beheld him and attended to him]. Horus speaks to Isis and Nephthys: "Hurry, grasp him ---." Isis and Nephthys speak to Osiris: "We come, we take you ---."Sometimes she is depicted wearing on her head the horns of a cow, encircling either a lunar or solar disk, which were generally attributes of Hathor. Her worship originated in Egypt, and by Hellenistic times she had assimilated the attributes of the major Greek divinities Demeter and Aphrodite. By the period of the Roman Empire, she had become the most prominent deity of the Mediterranean basin, as her temple at Pompeii attests.
The Egyptians report of Isis that she was the inventor of many remedies and very knowledgeable in medicine. Therefore her greatest joy, even now after she had become immortal, was still to make people well, and to those who implored her she explained remedies in their dream, clearly revealing her presence to every petitioner needing help.The Isis cult focused on the celebration of the mysteries associated with the death and resurrection of Osiris. In The Golden Ass (ca.155 AD), Lucius Apuleius, an African priest of Isis, left an excellent account of her appearance and mystery cult; in a dream or during initiation, Apuleius saw Queen Isis rise with the moon from the sea. In this text she has many titles, including Queen of Heaven, Earth, and the Underworld, and Mother of Wheat.
During the early centuries CE the cult of Isis vied with the newly founded Christian religion for dominance. Despite persecutions of her followers, the Isis cult continued well into the 6th century.
HorusIn Egyptian mythology Horus was the god of light. He personified the life-giving power of the sun, which was one of his eyes, the other being the moon, the wadjet. Horus was usually represented as a falcon-headed man wearing a sun disk as a crown.
Source: Jon Bodsworth
Horus was the child of Osiris and Isis and the brother of Seth. He avenged his father's murder by killing Seth or, alternatively, in his struggle against Seth for the succession of Osiris he was judged by the gods to be in the right and was declared ruler of Egypt. In the Shabaka Stone version the two were finally reconciled:
Geb's words to the Nine Gods: "I have appointed Horus, the firstborn."The reigning kings of Egypt were believed to be incarnations of Horus. In a variant legend Horus was the son of Re (or Amen-Re).
He was popular as Harpocrates (MdC transliteration Hr-pA-Xrd, Horus the child) among the Greeks and the Romans, who worshipped him as the god of silence - represented in this context as a child with his finger held to his lips, and a god of fertility shown bearing a horn of plenty, or riding on a ram. According to Plutarch his birth was celebrated by offerings of lentils:
they bring to him as an offering the first-fruits of growing lentils, and the days of his birth they celebrate after the spring equinox.Other forms of Horus were Hor-sematawy (translit. Hrw-smA-tAwj, Uniter of the Two Lands, Greek Harsomtus), two gods of the morning sun: Harakhte (translit. Hrw-Axt.j, Horus of the Horizon) and Harmakhis (translit. Hrw-m-Axt, Horus in the Horizon), Horus of Edfu (translit. Hrw bxdt.j ), the tutelary Harendotes (translit. Hr-n-D-jt=f, Protector of his Father) who defeated Seth to become avenger of his father Osiris and heir to his patrimony, Harpare of the triad of Medamud (translit. Hr-pA-ra, Horus the Sun) who was the son of Montu, Harsiese (translit. Hr-aA-Ast, Horus son of Isis). As Herwer (translit. Hr-wr, Horus the Elder, Greek Haroeris) he either belonged to the generation of Osiris and Isis, was their child or was the son of Hathor by Re. At times he was identified with Shu. As Har-Sopdu he became Lord of the East.
The connection of Horus with sight was a close one. There was the seeing Horus, Hormerty (Horus Khenty-irty; i.e. Horus of the two eyes), a warrior god defending the solar barque of Re against Apophis and represented by the ichneumon and Horus Khenty-en-irty who had no eyes, was represented by an eyeless shrew, lived in the Underworld where he tortured the evil dead as punishment. Horus the Elder was said to have a green, with which the Egyptians meant red (cf. Red or Green Crown of Lower Egypt), eye which represented the sun, and a lesser white eye, the moon.
Seth and a pharaoh
This statue has been heavily restored and may reflect the notion the restorers had of Seth's looks rather than what the ancient Egyptians thought.
Source: Jon Bodsworth
The Egyptian god of chaos who embodied the principle of hostility - he was the adversary of the god Osiris - or of outright evil, even if his role was not altogether negative: Only he could withstand the stare of the Serpent of Chaos and only he had the weapons to which its flint scales were vulnerable. He was associated with foreign lands where Maat, the rule of justice, was unknown.
During the second dynasty Seth became closely connected with Ash, the original god of the Upper Egyptian city of Ombos, whom he substituted as that city's chief deity. 
For a while during the third millennium BCE, Seth replaced Horus as the guardian of the pharaohs.
...the combat which took place on the day when Horus fought with Seth, during which Seth threw filth in the face of Horus, and Horus crushed the genitals of Seth .... This storm was the raging of Ra at the thunder-cloud which [Seth] sent forth against the Right Eye of Ra (the Sun). Thoth removed the thunder-cloud from the Eye of Ra, and brought back the Eye living, healthy, sound, and with no defect in it to its owner.A council of the gods declared Horus the victor, and made him ruler of the kingdoms of Lower and Upper Egypt. Seth had to give back the eye of Horus and was killed according to one tradition, according to another he joined the sun god Re and became the voice of the thunder, according to a third he was reconciled with Horus
Seth was the one of Nubet and his connection to royalty is, according to some interpreters, reflected in the so-called Golden Horus name of the pharaonic titulary, thought to mean rather "Horus over the one of Nubet", i.e. Seth.
The Book of the Dead refers to Seth as the "Lord of the northern sky", responsible for clouds and storms.
Seth fighting Apophis
Throughout history Seth's reputation grew steadily worse, until he became Seth, the abominable. In the Book of victory over Seth the god is expelled from Egypt. Magic is invoked against him, his effigy is burned, and he is delivered to the Devourer. Even his mother Nut is driven to repudiate her son:
"Is there a mother who consumes her child?
Seth was usually depicted in human form with a head of indeterminate origin, said to resemble that of an aardvark with a curved snout, erect square-tipped ears and a long forked tail. Sometimes he was represented in entirely animal form with a body similar to that of a greyhound. He was said to be the son either of Nut and Geb or of Nut and Ra, and the brother of Isis, Osiris and Nephthys. Nephthys was sometimes given as his consort, although he is more commonly associated with the foreign, Semitic goddesses Astarte and Anat. Despite his reputation, he had an important sanctuary at Ombus in Upper Egypt, his reputed birthplace, and had his cult was also prominent in the north-eastern region of the Nile delta.
Animals sacred to Seth were the desert oryx, the crocodile, the boar, and the destructive hippopotamus. The pig was taboo in Seth's cult.
The Hyksos introduced Baal into Egypt where he came to be identified with Seth; the Greeks equated Seth with Typhon.
 Duat: Realm of the Dead, often translated as underworld, should not be confused with the dark Greek underworld where the dead existed as nameless shadows, though as the centuries passed by, this was a view also held in Egypt. The Duat was inhabited by the stars. These were followers of Osiris and contained the dead.
 The excerpts from the Shabaka Stone text were taken from The Shabaka Stone: Our Guide to the Memphite Theology, at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pds/shabaka.htm
 George Hart, The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Routledge 2005, p.33
 Hart 2005, p.143
 Anne Burton, Diodorus Siculus, Brill, 1973, p.8
 Manfred Lurker, The Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons, Routledge, 2004, p.42
 Geraldine Pinch, Handbook of Egyptian mythology, ABC-CLIO, 2002, p.131
| A satirical view of the dispute: The contendings of Horus and Seth|
|A Hymn to Osiris and the Legend of the Origin of Horus|
|The book of the victory over Seth|
|The Abydos stela of Ramses IV|
|The Shabaka Stone|
|The Legend of Horus of Behutet and the Winged Disk|
|The Legend of Re and Isis|