Saturday, February 24, 2018

The gods of ancient Egypt

I thought it was a crocodile on our bed on a cruise boat on the Nile.  It turned out to be Sobek, the god of Nile crocodiles.  But let me start from the beginning. 

As soon as our plane landed in Cairo, we were confronted with a golden status of Isis in the arrival hall.  Isis is, of course, the goddess who resurrected her husband the divine king Osiris after he was murdered, and produce the son Horus, the falcon-headed god.  

Horus, with a falcon’s head and a man’s body, is everywhere.  He had either morphed into different forms, or perhaps they were actually different gods.  Horus had been said to be a brother of Isis and Osiris and then later their son.  Horus often wears the double crown of both upper (southern) and lower (northern) Egypt. 

Horus was later merged with the sun god Ra to become Ra-Horakhty. He was believed a great god who rule over the sky, earth and underworld. 

Horus has a consort, the popular goddess Hathor.  She is a goddess of music, dance, fertility, … assists in childbirth, and welcomes the dead into the next life. 

Anubis is the jackal-headed god who assist in the passing of the dead into afterlife, which is another intriguing story too long to repeat here.  More about that later. 

Hathor is sometimes represented as a cow, with the sun disk on her head.  

One myth says Ra sends Hathor as the blood-thirsty warrior lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet to destroy mortals who conspired against him.  She ended up killing almost all of humanity.  Ra had to drug her with blood-coloured beer to calm her down to return to Ra. 

Nut is the goddess of the sky. She is the mother of Osiris, Isis, Set (who murdered Osiris) and (one version of) Horus.  Ra was said to be jealous of her and forced her to be separated from her brother and husband the god of the earth, Geb.  She is often depicted as a naked women covered with stars, arching over the earth.  

Another great god who came later is Amun.  Amun is often merged with Ra and depicted with feathers on his head.  I found him receiving goodies on the walls at the Temple of Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Queen.  

The god of the crocodiles of the Nile is Sobek, naturally depicted as a crocodile-headed man.  At some point Sobek was merged with Ra, to become even more powerful.  He has his own temple in Kom Ombo. 

One day my wife and I returned to our room on a cruise boat on the Nile to find Sobek lying on our bed. 

The whole thing is so confusing.  But also so much fun.  

No comments: