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The Legend of the Destruction of Mankind

    [Here is the story of Ra,] the god who was self-begotten and self-created, after he had assumed the sovereignty over men and women, and gods, and things, the one god. Now men and women were speaking words of complaint, saying: - "Behold, his Majesty (Life, Strength, and Health to him!) hath grown old, and his bones have become like silver, and his members have turned into gold and his hair is like unto real lapis-lazuli."
    His Majesty heard the words of complaint which men and women were uttering, and his Majesty (Life, Strength, and Health to him!) said unto those who were in his train: - "Cry out, and bring to me my Eye, and Shu, and Tefnut, and Geb, and Nut, and the father-gods, and the mother-gods who were with me, even when I was in Nu side by side with my god Nu. Let there be brought along with my Eye his ministers, and let them be led to me hither secretly, so that men and women may not perceive them [coming] hither, and may not therefore take to flight with their hearts.

 
-my Eye: The Eye of Re - 1) The sun, the right eye of Horus but also of Re; 2) Hathor; 3) Isis, above all when identified with Hathor; 4) Satis, the Lady of Elephantine, wife of Khnum, who came to be identified with Re; 5) Sekhet; 6) The sun-disk between Hathor's horns (according to Pyramid Text #705.
-Shu: God of the air
-Tefnut: Goddess of moisture
-Geb: God of the earth
-Nut: Goddess of the sky
-Nu: Nun, the primordial waters
    Come thou with them to the Great House, and let them declare their plans (or, arrangements) fully, for I will go from Nu into the place wherein I brought about my own existence, and let those gods be brought unto me there."
    Now the gods were drawn up on each side of Ra, and they bowed down before his Majesty until their heads touched the ground, and the maker of men and women, the king of those who have knowledge, spake his words in the presence of the Father of the first-born gods. And the gods spake in the presence of his Majesty, saying: - "Speak unto us, for we are listening to them" (i.e., thy words).
    Then Ra spake unto Nu, saying: - "O thou first-born god from whom I came into being, O ye gods of ancient time, my ancestors, take ye heed to what men and women [are doing]; for behold, those who were created by my Eye are uttering words of complaint against me. Tell me what ye would do in the matter, and consider this thing for me, and seek out [a plan] for me, for I will not slay them until I have heard what ye shall say to me concerning it."
    Then the Majesty of Nu, to son Ra, spake, saying: - "Thou art the god who art greater than he who made thee, thou art the sovereign of those who were created with thee, thy throne is set, and the fear of thee is great; let thine Eye go against those who have uttered blasphemies against thee."

 
-Great House: Residence of the ruler, pr-aA, whence Pharaoh from the New Kingdom onward
-Nun: The primal flood preceding creation, later the ocean in which the earth rests. As the oldest god, he is also called the Old One or Father of the Gods.
-let thine Eye go against those: The Eye was at times quite independent and might leave Re for a while after an argument. Once when it returned from a mission, it found that another eye had grown in its place. Re placated it by setting it on his forehead as an uraeus: And when my Eye came to me, and found that I had made another [Eye] in place where it was (i.e., the Moon), it was wroth with (or, raged at) me, whereupon I endowed it (i.e., the (second Eye) with [some of] the splendour which I had made for the first [Eye], and I made it to occupy its place in my Face, and henceforth it ruled throughout all this earth.
E. A. Wallis Budge, Legends of the Egyptian Gods: The History of Creation
    And the Majesty of Ra, said: - " Behold, they have betaken themselves to flight into the mountain lands, for their hearts are afraid because of the words which they have uttered."
    Then the gods spake in the presence of his Majesty, saying: - "Let thine Eye go forth and let it destroy for thee those who revile thee with words of evil, for there is no eye whatsoever that can go before it and resist thee and it when it journeyeth in the form of Hathor."
    Thereupon this goddess went forth and slew the men and the women who were on the mountain (or, desert land). And the Majesty of this god said, "Come, come in peace, O Hathor, for the work is accomplished."

 
-thine Eye: Here the Eye of Re is Hathor
    Then this goddess said, "Thou hast made me to live, for when I gained the mastery over men and women it was sweet to my heart;" and the Majesty of Ra said, "I myself will be master over them as [their] king, and I will destroy them."
    And it came to pass that Sekhet of the offerings waded about in the night season in their blood, beginning at Suten-henen. Then the Majesty of Ra, spake [saying], "Cry out, and let there come to me swift and speedy messengers who shall be able to run like the wind ........ ;"
and straightway messengers of this kind were brought unto him. And the Majesty of this god spake [saying], "Let these (messengers) go to Abu, and bring unto me mandrakes in great numbers;"
and [when] these mandrakes were brought unto him the Majesty of this god gave them to Sekhet, the goddess who dwelleth in Annu to crush.

 
-Sekhet: Eye of Re, lion-headed goddess symbolizing the destructive power of the sun.
-Suten-henen: Herakleopolis
-Abu: Elephantine at the southern border of the country.
-mandrakes: Plant belonging to the poisonous nightshade family. Its root resembles the human form, has somniferous qualities, and is often used in magic.
-Annu: Heliopolis
    And behold, when the maidservants were bruising the grain for [making] beer, these mandrakes were placed in the vessels which were to hold the beer, and some of the blood of the men and women [who had been slain]. Now they made seven thousand vessels of beer. Now when the Majesty of Ra, the King of the South and North, had come with the gods to look at the vessels of beer, and behold, the daylight had appeared after the slaughter of men and women by the goddess in their season as she sailed up the river, the Majesty of Ra said, "It is good, it is good, nevertheless I must protect men and women against her."
    And Ra, said, "Let them take up the vases and carry them to the place where the men and women were slaughtered by her."
    Then the Majesty of the King of the South and North in the three-fold beauty of the night caused to be poured out these vases of beer which make [men] to lie down (or, sleep), and the meadows of the Four Heavens were filled with beer (or, water) by reason of the Souls of the Majesty of this god. And it came to pass that when this goddess arrived at the dawn of day, she found these [Heavens] flooded [with beer], and she was pleased thereat; and she drank [of the beer and blood], and her heart rejoiced, and she became drunk, and she gave no further attention to men and women.

 
-Four Heavens: North, south, east and west
    Then said the Majesty of Ra to this goddess, "Come in peace, come in peace, O Amit,"
and thereupon beautiful women came into being in the city of Amit (or, Amem). And the Majesty of Ra spake [concerning] this goddess, [saying], "Let there be made for her vessels of the beer which produceth sleep at every holy time and season of the year, and they shall be in number according to the number of my hand-maidens;"
and from that early time until now men have been wont to make on the occasions of the festival of Hathor vessels of the beer which make them to sleep in number according to the number of the handmaidens of Ra.
    And the Majesty of Ra spake unto this goddess, [saying], "I am smitten with the pain of the fire of sickness; whence cometh to me [this] pain?"
    And the Majesty of Ra said, "I live, but my heart hath become exceedingly weary with existence with them (i.e., with men); I have slain [some of] them, but there is a remnant of worthless ones, for the destruction which I wrought among them was not as great as my power."
    Then the gods who were in his following said unto him, "Be not overcome by thy inactivity, for thy might is in proportion to thy will."
    And the Majesty of this god said unto the Majesty of Nu, "My members are weak for (or, as at) the first time; I will not permit this to come upon me a second time."
    And the Majesty of the god Nu said, "O son Shu, be thou the Eye 'for thy father ............ and avenue (?) him, and 'thou goddess Nut, place him ........." And the goddess Nut said, "How can this be then, O my father Nu?"
    "Hail," said Nut .......... to the god Nu, and the goddess straightway became [a cow], and she set the Majesty of Ra. upon [her] back .........
    And when these things had been done, men and women saw the god Ra, upon the back [of the cow]. Then these men and women said, "Remain with us, and we will overthrow thine enemies who speak words of blasphemy [against thee], and [destroy them]."
    Then his Majesty [Re] set out for the Great House, and [the gods who were in the train of Ra remained] with them (i.e., the men); during that time the earth was in darkness. And when the earth became light [again]; and the morning had dawned, the men came forth with their bows and their [weapons], and they set their arms in motion to shoot the enemies [of Ra].
    Then said the Majesty of this god, "Your transgressions of violence are placed behind you, for the slaughtering of the enemies is above the slaughter [of sacrifice];"
thus came into being the slaughter [of sacrifice]. And the Majesty of this god said unto Nut, "I have placed myself upon my back in order to stretch myself out."
    What then is the meaning of this? It meaneth that he united (?) himself with Nut. [Thus came into being] .........
    Then said the Majesty of this god, "I am departing from them (i.e., from men), and he must come after (me) who would see me;" thus came into being .........
    Then the Majesty of this god looked forth from its interior, saying, "Gather together [men for me], and make ready for me an abode for multitudes;" thus came into being ............

 
    And his Majesty (life, health, and strength be to him!) said, "Let a great field (sekhet) be produced (hetep);"
thereupon Sekhet-hetep came into being.
    [And the god said], "I will gather herbs (aarat) therein;"
thereupon Sekhet-aaru came into being.
    [And the god said], "I will make it to contain as dwellers things (khet) like stars of all sorts;"
thereupon the stars (akhekha) came into being.
    Then the goddess Nut trembled because of the height. And the Majesty of Ra said, "I decree that supports be to bear [the goddess up];"
thereupon the props of heaven (heh) came into being.
    And the Majesty of Ra said, "O my son Shu, I pray thee to set thyself under [my] daughter Nut, and guard thou for me the supports (heh) of the millions (heh) which are there, and which live in darkness. Take thou the goddess upon thy head, and act thou as nurse for her;"
thereupon came into being [the custom] of a son nursing a daughter, and [the custom] of a father carrying a son upon his head.
 
This chapter shall be said over [a figure of] the cow.
 
    The supporters [called] Heh-enti shall be by her shoulder. The supporters [called] Heh-enti shall be at her side, and one cubit and four spans of hers shall be in colours, and nine stars shall be on her belly, and Set shall be by her two thighs and shall keep watch before her two legs, and before her two legs shall be Shu, under her belly, and he shall be made (i.e., painted) in green qenat colour. His two arms shall be under the stars, and his name shall be made (i.e., written) in the middle of them, namely, Shu himself.

 
-Sekhet-hetep and Sekhet-aaru: Paradise. Just like the country itself or the Realm of the Dead (Amenti and Duat), paradise was dual.
According to other interpretations Sekhet-aaru (Field of Plants) was divided into a number of regions, such as Sekhet-hetep (Field of Peace), Sekhet-Sanehemu (Field of Grasshoppers), etc.
Nun
Nut propped up by Shu, the setting sun by her mouth about to be swallowed, Kheperu, symbol of the rising, reborn sun, by her knees
Source: Lurker, Lexikon der Götter und Symbole der alten Ägypter
    A boat with a rudder and a double shrine shall be therein, and Aten shall be above it, and Ra shall be in it, in front of Shu, near his hand, or, as another reading hath, behind him, near his hand. And the udders of the Cow shall be made to be between her legs, towards the left side.
    And on the two flanks, towards the middle of the legs, shall be done in writing [the words], "The exterior heaven," and "I am what is in me," and "I will not permit them to make her to turn."
That which is [written] under the boat which is in front shall read, "Thou shalt not be motionless, my son;" and the words which are written in an opposite direction shall read, "Thy support is like life," and "The word is as the word there," and "Thy son is with me," and "Life, strength, and health be to thy nostrils!"

 
-Aten: The sun disk.
    And that which is behind Shu, near his shoulder, shall read, "They keep ward," and that which is behind him, written close to his feet in an opposite direction, shall read, "Maat," and "They come in," and "I protect daily." And that which is under the shoulder of the divine figure which is under the left leg, and is behind it shall read, "He who sealeth all things."
    That which is over his head, under the thighs of the Cow, and that which is by her legs shall read, "Guardian of his exit." That which is behind the two figures which are by her two legs, that is to say, over their heads, shall read, "The Aged One who is adored as he goeth forth," and The Aged One to whom praise is given when he goeth in." That which is over the head of the two figures, and is between the two thighs of the Cow, shall read, " Listener," "Hearer," "Sceptre of the Upper Heaven," and "Star" (?).
 

 
    Then the majesty of this god spake unto Thoth, [saying]: "Let a call go forth for me to the Majesty of the god Seb, saying, 'Come, with the utmost speed, at once'."
    And when the Majesty of Seb had come, the Majesty of this god said unto him, "Let war be made against thy worms (or, serpents) which are in thee; verily, they shall have fear of me as long as I have being; but thou knowest their magical powers. Do thou go to the place where my father Nu is, and say thou unto him, 'Keep ward over the worms (or, serpents) which are in the earth and water.'

 
-Thoth
-Seb: Geb
-worms, serpents: Serpents were thought to be both dangerous and protective. Re, on his daily round-trip had to ward them off. Apep, his main enemy, could only be defeated by Seth.
    And moreover, thou shalt make a writing for each of the nests of thy serpents which are there, saying, 'Keep ye guard [lest ye] cause injury to anything.' They shall know that I am removing myself [from them], but indeed I shall shine upon them. Since, however, they indeed wish for a father, thou shalt be a father unto them in this land for ever. Moreover, let good heed be taken to the men who have my words of power, and to those whose mouths have knowledge of such things; verily my own words of power are there, verily it shall not happen that any shall participate with me in my protection, by reason of the majesty which hath come into being before me.
 
-words of power: magic spells
    I will decree them to thy son Osiris, and their children shall be watched over, the hearts of their princes shall be obedient (or, ready) by reason of the magical powers of those who act according to their desire in all the earth through their words of power which are in their bodies."
 
    And the majesty of this god said, "Call to me the god Thoth,"
and one brought the god to him forthwith. And the Majesty of this god said unto Thoth, "Let us depart to a distance from heaven, from my place, because I would make light and the god of light (Khu) in the Tuat and [in] the Land of Caves. Thou shalt write down [the things which are] in it, and thou shalt punish those who are in it, that is to say, the workers who have worked iniquity (or, rebellion). Through thee I will keep away from the servants whom this heart [of mine] loatheth.
Thou shalt be in my place (ast) Asti, and thou shalt therefore be called, O Thoth, the 'Asti of Ra.' Moreover, I give thee power to send (hab) forth ..........; thereupon shall come into being the Ibis (habi) bird of Thoth. I moreover give thee [power] to lift up thine hand before the two Companies of the gods who are greater than thou, and what thou doest shall be fairer than [the work of] the god Khen; therefore shall the divine bird Tekni of Thoth come into being.

 
-to send (hab) forth...... being the Ibis (habi): The Egyptians were very fond of these somewhat strange etymologies.
Moreover, I give thee [Power] to embrace (anh) the two heavens with thy beauties, and with thy rays of light; therefore shall come into being the Moon-god (Aah) of Thoth. Moreover, I give thee [power] to drive back (anan) the Ha-nebu; therefore shall come into being the dog-headed Ape (anan) of Thoth, and he shall act as governor for me. Moreover, thou art now in my place in the sight of all those who see thee and who present offerings to thee, and every being shall ascribe praise unto thee, O thou who art God."
 
Whosoever shall recite the words of this composition over himself shall anoint himself with olive oil and with thick unguent, and he shall have propitiatory offerings on both his hands of incense, and behind his two ears shall be pure natron, and sweet-smelling salve shall be on his lips.

 
-dog-headed ape: baboon
    He shall be arrayed in a new double tunic, and his body shall be purified with the water of the nile-flood, and he shall have upon his feet a pair of sandals made of white [leather], and a figure of the goddess Maat shall be drawn upon his tongue with green-coloured ochre. Whensoever Thoth shall wish to recite this composition on behalf of Ra, he must perform a sevenfold (?) purification for three days, and priests and [ordinary] men shall do likewise. Whosoever shall recite the above words shall perform the ceremonies which are to be performed when this book is being read. And he shall make his place of standing (?) in a circle (or, at an angle) ......... which is beyond [him], and his two eyes shall be fixed upon himself, all his members shall be [composed], and his steps shall not carry him away [from the place]. Whosoever among men shall recite [these] words shall be like Ra on the day of his birth; and his possessions shall not become fewer, and his house shall never fall into decay, but shall endure for a million eternities.
 
  These passages describe what was expected of a magician if his magic was to be successful: ritual purification of the body, dressing in appropriate (and often highly specific) clothing, repetitiveness (three, seven and nine times are very common), recitation of spells, invocation of helping spirits and gods etc.
    Then the Aged One himself (i.e., Ra) embraced (?) the god Nu, and spake unto the gods who came forth in the east of the sky, "Ascribe ye praise to the god, the Aged One, from whom I have come into being. I am he who made the heavens, and I (set in order [the earth, and created the gods, and] I was with them for an exceedingly long period; 'then was born the year and .......... but my soul is older than it (i.e., time). It is the Soul of Shu, it is the Soul of Khnemu (?), it is the Soul of Heh, it is the Soul of Kek and Kerh (i.e., Night and Darkness), it is the Soul of Nu and of Ra, it is the Soul of Osiris, the lord of Tettu, it is the Soul of the Sebak Crocodile-gods and of the Crocodiles, it is the Soul of every god [who dwelleth] in the divine Snakes, it is the Soul of Apep in Mount Bakhau (i.e., the Mount of Sunrise), and it is the Soul of Ra which pervadeth the whole world."
 
-Tettu: Capital of the 9th nome of Lower Egypt, also called Tetau, Per-Asar-neb-Tettu, Busiris, city in the Delta, the entrance to paradise was thought to have been near it.
    Whosoever sayeth [these words] worketh his own protection by means of the words of power, "I am the god Hekau (i.e., the divine Word of power), and [I am] pure in my mouth, and [in] my belly; [I am] Ra from whom the gods proceeded. I am Ra, the Light-god (Khu)."
    When thou sayest [this], stop forth in the evening and in the morning on thine own behalf if thou wouldst make to fall the enemies of Ra. I am his Soul, and I am Heka.

 
-Heka: Magic
    Hail, thou lord of eternity, thou creator of everlastingness, who bringest to nought the gods who came forth from Ra, thou lord of thy god, thou prince who didst make what made thee, who art beloved by the fathers of the gods, on whose head are the pure words of power, who didst create the woman (erpit) that standeth on the south side of thee, who didst create the goddess who hath her face on her breast, and the serpent which standeth on his tail, with her eye on his belly, and with his tail on the earth, to whom Thoth giveth praises, and upon whom the heavens rest, and to whom Shu stretcheth out his two hands, deliver thou me from those two great gods who sit in the east of the sky, who act as wardens of heaven and as wardens of earth, and who make firm the secret places, and who are called "Aaiu-su," and "Per-f-er-maa-Nu." Moreover [there shall be) a purifying on the ........... day of the month .............. even according to the performance of the ceremonies in the oldest time.
    Whosoever shall recite this Chapter shall have life in Neter-kher (i.e., Underworld), and the fear of him shall be much greater than it was formerly [upon earth] . . . . . . . and they shall say, "Thy names are 'Eternity' and 'Everlastingness.'"
    They are called, they are called, "Au-peh-nef-n-aa-em-ta-uatipu," and "Rekh-kuh-[tut]-en-neter-pui ......... en-en-hra-f-Her-shefu."

 
    I am he who hath strengthened the boat with the company of the gods, and his Shenit, and his Gods, by means of words of power.
 
Source: E. A. Wallis Budge, Legends of the Egyptian Gods
- -Sheni: Title, according to Budge the Shenit were special royal ministers.

 


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June 2003
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