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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Classical Studies
P Ferguson

Lecture 8: Egyptian Religion and The Book of the Heavenly Cow Common Terms 1. Polytheism: worship of / belief in more than one god 2. Monotheism: doctrine / belief that there is only one god 3. Pantheism: worship that admits / tolerates all gods; doctrine that the universe is a manifestation of God 4. Henotheism: belief in one god without denying the existence of others 5. Iconography: images / symbolic representations that are traditionally associated with a person or subject 6. Multiplicity: principle where one god may be seen as many with the multiplicity of names (and thus manifestations) of a deity 7. Syncretism: Linking or bringing together different deities into the body or identity of a combined god or goddess (e.g. Re-Horakhty, Amun-Re) Grouping the Gods Grouping by Numbers: Gods categorized into one or more of… 1. Dyad: groups of 2: usually male-female, e.g. Sokar/Sokaret or Shasha/ Sheshat, but can be two gods of the same sex, e.g. Horus/Seth, Isis/Nephthys 2. Triad: groups of 3: usually divine family (father-mother-child triad), e.g. Horus-Osiris-Isis or Amun-Mut-Khonsu 3. Ogdoad: groups of 8 (four pairs) - The Ogdoad of Heliopolis consisting of frogs (male) vs. snakes (female); incudes Nun/Naunet (primeval water), Heh/Hauhet (infinity, flood force), Kek/Kauket (darkness), Amun/Amaunet (hiddenness, concealed dynamism) 4. Ennead (Pesdjet): groups of 9, e.g. Ennead of Heliopolis (Atum, Tefnut, Shu, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Nephthys) Grouping by Region 1. Cavern Deities 2. Gate Deities 3. Hours of the Day Deities 4. Hours of the Night Deities 5. Judgement Deities 6. Nome Deities (Remember nome is like a county) - There is no answer to how many Gods are there in Egypt since one god may have many manifestations, different city states had their own deities, deities might be syncretised etc Important Solar Deities: divergent based on who you ask, when you ask, e.t.c. 1. Khepri: “to come into being”; scarab beetle god - Egyptians believed some creatures e.g. this beetle were born through their own generative powers - Scarab beetles are known to roll balls of dung  huge invisible scarab beetle pushes around sun 2. Re: mid-day sun - Synchretized as Amun-Re (king of the gods) 3. Atum: god of the setting sun - Sometimes shown with a ram head * Egyptians gave mummified animals as gifts to gods / goddesses Ennead of Heliopolis - Atum: creator god, self created, emerged from Nun; in primeval sense, he is the one god since everything is inside of him - Tefnut: one of Atum’s daughters, seems to be water goddess - Nut (sky goddess) held up by Shu, Geb and the 4 invisble ones - Osiris tied to the idea of monarchy, originally a fertility god, usually shown as a human with no actual related animal  offered mummified soil - Seth: god of desert, chaos, etc; some sort of dog, ant-eater or something - Isis: goddess and consort to Osiris, mother of Horus, represented by kites - Nephthys: dyad with Isis Popular Deities - Deities worshipped individually, with shrines at home since they don’t have temples - Horus: both state and popular deity; solar deity; Hoppocrates (“the child”) - Hathor: both state and popular deity; complicated set of affairs; identified by Aphrodite / Venus by the Greeks; her animal is the bull; goddess of destruction and eye of Ra - Thoth: god of writing (and magic); patron god of scribes; judge (since judgement is done through records); most often identified as the Ibis bird but also with the baboon (taught to worship the sun), - Ptah: complicated, creator god, God of Memphis (close to Cairo); shown as a man wrapped up in bandages (like a mummy), holding a scepter with the symbol for life on the top - Sakhmet: dual lioness goddess (not pussycat goddess) who is goddess of destruction but also of healing - Anubis: funerary god in charge of overseeing embalming rites, shown as a man with a jackal’s head or the jackal itself - Neith: goddess of war and creator goddess often showed with red crown of Upper Egypt and two arrows - Taweret: popular deity especially as protective goddess [of pregnant women]; pregnant hippopotamus with human breasts and a crocodile’s tail; hippopotamus very violent creatures (big, fearful teeth, etc)  protection - Bes: also a protective god; shown with long hair, as a dwarf, etc; was so ugly that he could drive evil sprits away  good luck for pregnant women  good luck charm, even used by Roman soldiers Egyptian Temples The Temple in Egypt: Model of the Cosmos - Much of our information about Egypt comes from temples - Pillars shown with lotus flowers and papyrus holding up the roof (represents sky) since Egyptians believed the beginning of the world was very marshy (swampy primordial setting supporting the sky) = original creation - Temple aligned east-west to recreate path of the sun and pylon gates represent horizon = solar cycle - Temples served as house of the god(s) and were off-limits to commoners Temple of Karnak - Accumulated over millennia, particularly in the New Kingdom - Large gateways and surrounded by other temples Temple of Edfu - Gateway  open courtyard  hallway  smaller area - Temple actually gets lower and inner areas blocked off from Egyptian public - Processional way with stone statues (?) Obelisk: long, tall building, usually covered with hieroglyphs Pylon Entrance: images carved into it; structures to support standards of the Gods Naos and Barque Shrines Daily Cultic Rituals - Ensured continuation of order and the cosmos - Cult statue symbolically reborn each day: priest enters presence of the god, undresses statue, anoints / dresses / crowns it, gains invocation to enter body of god, gives offerings, exits - King shown as officiating in religious art but priests substituted for him The Myth Problem - Egyptian mythography is very different from Mesopotamian - Evidence from the Old Kingdom (Pyramid Texts) shows that myths must have existed but as oral tradition - Myths were flexible to adapted to different situations (e.g. temple ritual, funerary rites, royal accession, oral performance etc), cult and city - Narrative myths did not appear in writing before the New Kingdom and many examples from Greek and Roman retelling - Not many Egyptian myths so they must be pieced together - Most important myths are creation, Osiris, Contendings of Horus and Seth,
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