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Lecture 11

CLAA05H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Ramesses V, Harpocrates, Harpoon


Department
Classical Studies
Course Code
CLAA05H3
Professor
B Ferguson
Lecture
11

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Notes Nov. 24th
The Contending of Horus and Seth
- “This, the longest of the New Kingdom stories, is perhaps the one with the least literary
merit, for there is little in the way of suspense to maintain the reader’s interest
throughout the narrative” (Author of Simpson book .. Wente)
- Compare this with S.Dalley’s crtitque of the Epic of Creation “Here is no struggle against
fate, no mortal heroes, no sense of suspense over the outcome of events. The success
of the hero – god Marduk... is a foregone conclusion”
- The text comes from a papyrus from the reign of Ramesses V
- This myth was partly meant for entertainment, but was also serious religion
- As Seth and Horus fight for Osiris’ kingship, the recurring theme is the superiority of
Horus
- Osiris, Isis, Nepthys, Seth and Horus the Elder are born to Nut
- Osiris is a good king, but Seth is jealous and locks Osiris in a coffin that floats to Byblos
- Isis returns with Osiris’ body in the coffin
- Seth chops up his body into 14 pieces and scatters them
- Isis reunites the pieces (except his phallus)
oOsiris becomes the first mummy
- Horus defeats Seth in battle 3 times
- Isis has intercourse with Osiris’s corpse and gives birth to Harpocrates (the younger
Horus)
- The myth opens with the Ennead of Heliopolis awarding Osiris’ kingship to his son Horus
- The Universal Lord is outraged
oThis is Pre-Harakhty (Re-Horus of the Double horizon), also Re-Atum
oBecause Seth was his protector and because the Ennead was usurping his
power
- Seth challenges Horus to fight
- Banebdjede (northern ram god) and Ptah – Tatenen asked to help judge

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- They send a letter to the creator/war goddess Neith
oNeith advises giving the power to Horus
oSeth should be given wealth and Anath (Ishtar) and Astarte as wives (Semitic
foreign goddesses)
- There is great commotion and disturbance among the gods
- Pre-Harakhty is insulted and withdraws from the gods
- His daughter Hathor exposes herself to him --> this makes him feel better
- Seth makes his case  He fights off the monster Apophis
- Isis and Horus make the case for Horus
- Seth threatens to kill a god a day with his 2,000 kg mace (because he’s mad about Isis
intervening)
- The Ennead retires to the Island in the Middle to judge
oIsis is banned from attending the court
- Isis disguises herself as an old woman and tricks the ferryman to take her to the island
- The ferryman has been given orders to not to let anyone on that resembles Isis but since
she doesn’t look like herself he lets her on and accept her bribe of gold
- When arriving on the island she turns into a beautiful woman and catches Seth’s eye, he
sneaks away to come see her
- Isis tricks Seth into agreeing that her cause is just and the villain should be punished
pun about cattleman – office position
- She turns into a bird and confronts him with his own words
- Seth is ashamed and runs to Pre-Harakhti
- He takes his vengeance on the ferrying man by cutting his toes off  hence why gold is
taboo in the city
- Hippo contest where Isis harpoons them both and Horus cuts off her head
- Seth finds Horus hiding and take out both his eyes that he plants and they grow into
lotus flowers
- Horus’s eyes are connected with the sun and the moon
- Isis restores his eyes with gazelle milk
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