ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: Thoth
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[Image: Thoth]     Thoth was the Greek name for the Egyptian moon deity DHwtj (Djehowtey or the like), given the epithet Silvery Aten in the Late Period. At night the sun-god Re turned into the moon-god and Teti pleaded:
May Teti see you when you go forth as Thoth
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1, p.43
    He was the god of learning, wisdom, and magic. The vizier Rekhmire gave fulsome praise to Thutmose III, comparing him to Thoth:
Lo, his majesty knew that which occurred; there was nothing which he did not know ///, he was Thoth in everything...
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 664
    In the Egyptian mythology Thoth was the creator and orderer of the universe and the inventor of writing, arithmetic, and astronomy. The first calendars being based on the moon, he was called Lord of Time and Accountant of the Years.
    He was a lover of Nut, and, playing draughts with the moon, won from her a seventy second part of every day which he compounded into five days, adding them the original Egyptian calendar of 360 days.
    He was also a god of the Realm of the Dead, where he served as a clerk who recorded the judgments on the souls of the dead. At times, it was Thoth himself who weighed the hearts of the dead against the feather of Truth in the Hall of the Two Truths.
    He was seen as the embodiment of justice. The peasant in the Eloquent Peasant pleaded for justice:
You are the peer of Thoth,
The judge who is not partial
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1, p.179
He was the judge of the two rivals (wp rH.wj) who had to decide the fate of Egypt, whether it should be ruled by Horus or by Seth (cf. the Contendings of Horus and Seth).
    More than any other Egyptian deity, Thoth was shrouded in secrecy. Much of his knowledge was inaccessible, his temples had secret chambers; in one of the stories of the Westcar Papyrus King Khufu inquired of the magician Djedi
"It was also said that you know the number of the secret chambers of the sanctuary of Thoth."
M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Vol.1, p.219
    The king's scribe Amenhotep, who served under Amenhotep III, described his first appointment
I was appointed to be inferior king's scribe. I was introduced into the divine book, I beheld the excellent things of Thoth; I was equipped with their secrets; I opened all their [passages (?)]; one took counsel with me on all matters.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, Part Two, § 915
    In the Hellenistic period he was identified with the Greek god Hermes and in later European lore with Hermes Trismegistus, patron of magicians. "The Book of Thoth" is a traditional name for tarot cards.

    Thoth was depicted as an ibis-headed man carrying a pen and an ink holder, or as a baboon after merging with the Hermopolitan baboon shaped god Hezwer. His principal sanctuary was at Hermopolis (Khmunu) in the Nile delta region.

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Changes: October 2005

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