Book: Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity
Author: Samuel Sharpe

Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity By Samuel Sharpe

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 126
Publication Date: 1863

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With over 100 illustrations, Sharpe covers subjects like gods who had been mortals, burial ceremonies, the worship of ancestors and kings, Osiris, wives and priestesses and the theory of creation. As the title of the book suggests, it also contains info on Egyptian Christianity and covers the rise of Alexandria, the rebellions against Rome, the council of Nicaea and the conversions of temples into churches.

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First among these gods of the Egyptians was Ra, the Sun, or Amun-Ra, The Great Sun, whose warmth ripened their harvests, but whose scorching rays made his power felt as much as an enemy as a friend. His sculptured figure wears a cap ornamented with two tall feathers, and sometimes with the figure of the sun (see Fig. 2). He was the King of the Gods. He was more particularly the god of Thebes.

Over the portico of the Theban temple there is usually a ball or sun, ornamented with outstretched wings, representing the all-seeing Providence thus watching over and sheltering the world. From this sun hang two sacred asps wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt (see Fig. 1).

Every Egyptian king bore the title of Zera, the Son of Ra (see Fig. 27), and many of the Theban kings took the name of Amunmai, beloved by Amun. From him the Romans borrowed a name for their god-Jupiter Ammon. This god was at times called Adon-Ra, from a word for Lord, known also in the Hebrew language.

In the western half of the Delta the Sun was worshipped as Mando-Ra. Like Amun-Ra, he wears the two tall feathers, and the Sun on his head, but he differs from him in having a hawk's face (see Fig. 3). In our woodcuts these gods each carry in their left hand a staff, with an animal's head, and in the right hand the character for life. A cow's tail, the ornament of royalty, hangs down behind from the waistband. After the fall of the kings of Thebes we find a violent attempt was made by the kings of the city of Mendes to introduce into Thebes the worship of Mando-Ra, in place of Amun-Ra.

Next was Hapimou, the Nile, whose waters were the chief source of their food, whose overflow marked the limits between the cultivated land and the desert; to him they owed nothing but grateful thanks. He is a figure of both sexes, having the beard of a man and the breasts of a child-bearing woman (see Fig. 4). He carries in his arms fruits and flowers, and sometimes waterfowls.

Another great god was their narrow valley, the country in which they lived, clearly divided from the yellow desert by the black Nile-mud, by which it was covered and made fertile, and hence called Chemi, the Black Land, or when made into a person, Chem, or Ham. He was the father of their race, called in the Bible one of the sons of Noah, and considered by themselves the god of increase, the Priapus of the Greeks. Chem has a cap with two tall feathers like that of Amun-Ra, so large that it was necessary to give him a metal support to hold it on the head. His right arm is raised and holds a whip, his left arm is hid under his dress, which is the tight garment of the Egyptian women (see Fig. 5). In consequence of the confusion arising from the Egyptian guttural, his name is in the Hieroglyphics usually spelled THM, as Champsi, the crocodile, becomes Tempsi on the eastern side of the Delta. Kneph, the Wind, or Air, or Breath of our bodies, was supposed to be the god of Animal and Spiritual Life. He has the head and horns of a ram (see Fig. 6).

Pthah, the god of Fire, was more particularly the god of Memphis, as Amun-Ra of Thebes; and the kings in that city were said to be "Beloved by Pthah." His figure is bandaged like a mummy, and his head shaven like a priest (see Fig. 7).

Having thus created for themselves a number of gods, their own feelings and what they saw around them would naturally lead them to create an equal number of goddesses. Of these Neith, the Heavens, was one. She is often drawn with wings stretched out as if covering the whole earth. At other times she is formed into an arch, with her feet and fingers on the ground, while her body forms the blue vault overhead, and is spangled with stars. At other times she is simply a woman, with the hieroglyphical character for her name as the ornament on the top of her head (see Fig. 8). She was particularly worshipped at Sais, and the kings of that city are styled "Beloved by Neith."