The Mythology of Ancient Egypt


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.


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 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
temples dedicated to him. This was because of the fact that his importance
was reflected in all other worshipping rituals. The pharaohs named
themselves as sons of Ra.

The passage of the sun across the sky obviously fascinated the Egyptians
and from it rose many metaphors. At dawn the sun was regarded as a newborn
child emerging from the womb of Nut. The sun was also associated with a
falcon flying across the midday sun, thus Ra\'s appearance. He could also be
a boat sailing across the great blue sea of the heavens. At dusk he was an
old man stepping down to the land of the dead.


Amon is "the complete one". He was regarded as an important deity after the
second millennium BC, and considered supreme, surpassing even Ra, after the
sixteenth century B.C. He, like most other gods, had the body of a man. He
had a human head, and wears a crown with two tall plumes on its top.

Amon started out having power over the air or wind, but was not in complete
control of these forces. He later acquired powers of fertility that had
belonged to the god Min, the god of harvest.

By being accepted as the supreme god, Ra was a rival. To satisfy the claims
of supremacy made by Amon and Ra, the two deities merged to form the god

Amon-Ra or Amon-Re. This new god was worshipped as king of the gods, creator
of the universe, and the father of the pharaohs.

Amon-Ra was said to have guided the pharaohs in the battlefield. During the
battle of Kadesh, 1286 BC, Amon-Ra is supposed to have comforted the pharaoh
by saying, "Forward! Your father is with you! My powerful hand will slay a
hundred thousand men."


Osiris was said to be the king and judge of the dead. Because the
importance of the afterlife was so immense in the Egyptians, Osiris was a
very important figure in worship cults. In fact, for a period, the
worshipping of Osiris in the Nile Valley