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Egyptian Myths and Legends

Powerful Essays
Egyptian Myths and Legends

Egyptian creation stories tell of several variations of how the

world was composed. According to one variation, the ocean was the only thing

in existence. Then the sun, Ra, came out of an egg (or a flower in some

versions) that appeared on the surface of the water. Ra created four

children. They were the gods Shu and Geb and the goddesses Tefnut and Nut.

Shu and Tefnut became the air, who stood on Geb, the earth, and held up Nut,

who became the sky. Ra ruled over all.

It was not uncommon for siblings to have children in ancient Egypt,

and Geb and Nut had two sons, Set and Osiris, and two daughters, Isis and

Nephthys. Osiris succeeded Ra as the king of the earth, helped by Isis.

However, Set hated his brother out of jealousy and killed him. Isis embalmed

Osiris' body with the aid of the god Anubis, who then became the god of

embalming. Isis then resurrected Osiris, and he became the god of the

afterlife and the land of the dead. Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, later

defeated Set in an immense battle and became king of the earth.

Another version tells that Ra emerged from primeval waters. From him came

Shu, the god of air and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. From their union

came Geb and Nut, who held the same positions as the above version.

Yet another version tells that Ra became the god of the afterlife, but was

still supreme.

GODS

The ancient Egyptian theology dealt with hundreds of deities. These gods

changed during the different dynasties and their importance depended on the

views of the rulers of the kingdom.

The Egyptians worshipped their gods at temples, and each was dedicated to a

particular god. A statue of the god stood in the center of these temples.

Every day, priests would clean and dress the statue and offer it meals

before the worshipping ceremonies took place.

Ra

Ra means "creator." He is or was for a time, in nearly all accounts of

Egyptian mythology, the supreme god. He was "the father of the gods, the

fashioner of men, the creator of cattle, the lord of all being". He is the

god of the sun in most of these accounts and is shown as a man with a

falcon's head. He carries a staff and the symbol for life, the ankh. The

symbol of the sun, also known as the solar disc, is above his head. Despite

the fact that he was a very important figure to Egyptians, he had few

templ...

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...ts that the gods should "give the office of Osiris to

his son Horus," she declared,

"and do not act wickedly, else I become angry, and send heaven crashing to

the ground." He was granted rule over both Upper and Lower Egypt, even

though his father only ruled Upper Egypt.

To mark the event, Horus gave Osiris the eye he had lost and wore a serpent

on his head as his second eye. Thereafter, the pharaohs of Egypt wore the

serpent on their crown as a symbol of royal authority.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cotterell, Arthur THE MACMILLAN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MYTHS AND

LEGENDS. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1989.

Katan, Norma Jean, and Mintz, Barbara HIEROGLYPHS: THE WRITING OF ANCIENT

EGYPT. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1981.

Microsoft MICROSOFT ENCARTA '95. Electronic media. Redmond: Microsoft

Corporation, 1994.

Roberts, David. "Age of Pyramids." National Geographic Jan. 1995: 6-41

BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY. New York: Crown Publishers Incorporated, 1979.

Breasted, J.H. DEVELOPMENT OF RELIGION AND THOUGHT IN ANCIENT EGYPT. New

York: Harper & Row Publishers Incorporated, 1959.

THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA. Chicago: World Book Incorporated, 1993.
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