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āḥatiu en heyun - nå - her xent the "Warrior of the Prince.:' Was I conveying up the river
suten båt Aa-xeper-ka-Ră maāxeru
} Āa-kheper-ka-Rā, triumphant,
er ter the disaffected ones of Khetet, and to destroy
101 mm 4 Dī bes en A (?) un in i her the roads(?) of the district of Ā (?). Was I
THE RELIGION AND GODS OF
The religion of the ancient Egyptians is one of the most difficult problems of Egyptology, and though a great deal has been written about it during the last few years, and many difficulties have been satisfactorily explained, there still remain unanswered a large number of questions connected with it. In all religious texts the reader is always assumed to have a knowledge of the subject treated of by the writer, and no definite statement is made on the subject concerning which very little, comparatively, is known by students today. For example, in the texts inscribed inside the pyramids of Unås, Tetå, and Pepi (B.C. 3300-3233), we are brought face to face with religious compositions which mention the acts and relationships of the gods, and refer to beliefs, and give instructions for the performance of certain acts of ritual which are nowhere explained. It will be remembered that Ptolemy II. Philadelphus instructed Manetho to draw up a history of the religion of the ancient Egyptians. If such a work was needed by the cultured Greek who lived when the religion of ancient Egypt, though much modified, was still in existence, how much more is it needed now? The main beliefs of the Egyptian religion were always the same. The attributes of one god were applied to another, or one god was confused with another; the cult of one god declined in favour of another, or new gods arose and became popular, but the fundamentals of the religion of Egypt remained unchanged. Still, it is asserted by some that the religion of the Early Empire was simpler than that of the Middle and New Empires, in which the nature and mutual relationships of the gods were discussed and theogonies formulated. Many of the gods of Egypt were the everlasting and unalterable powers of nature.
The oldest god of Egypt is ħeru, and his symbol was a hawk. The great Sun-god Rā, or Åmen-Rā, as he was called in the Middle Empire, was said to be the maker of all things; the various gods Horus, Atmu, etc., were merely forms of him. Rā was self-begotten, and hymns to him never cease to proclaim his absolute and perfect unity in terms which resemble those of the Hebrew Scriptures. It will be seen from the translation of a hymn given in the following pages that he is made to possess every attribute, natural and spiritual, which Christian peoples ascribe to God Almighty, and there is no doubt that long before this hymn was written, the Egyptians had formulated a belief in One God, who was almighty and was self-existent.
The material symbol of God was the sun, who was personified under the form of Rā, or later Amen-Ră; and although Osiris, who was probably an indigenous god, is far older than Rā in Egypt, Rā was declared to have been the father of Osiris, and Osiris was his only son. Osiris was of divine origin, and he reigned wisely and well on earth, but at length he was slain and mutilared by Set, the personification of the powers of darkness. But he rose from the dead, and became the god of the underworld and of the beings who were therein. Because he suffered, died, and rose from the dead, he became the type of the Resurrection to the Egyptians, who based all their hopes of everlasting life upon the belief that Osiris was immortal and eternal. When, where, or how this belief arose cannot be said, but, however far back we go in dynastic, and even pre-dynastic, times in Egypt, we find evidences that the belief in the resurrection and eternal life was universal. Under the earliest dynasties tombs * were built, because the care ful preservation of mummies was believed to be necessary for the well-being of the souls which had inhabited them, and at one period the Egyptians seem to have believed that the material bodies would be raised up and enjoy a new lise. It is clear from the papyri that man was supposed to possess a body, 32 khat, a soul, Pop ba, a “double,” \ ka, an intelligence,
khu, a shadow,9 khaibit, a vital power, f sekhem, a heart, ab, a name, ren, and a spiritual body,
săủ. The body, freed from all its most corruptible portions, was preserved by being filled with bitumen, spices, and aromatic drugs, and having been swathed with many a fold of linen, and protected by amulets and religious texts, awaited in its tomb the visit of its soul.
Of the funeral procession we are able to gain some idea from the vignettes which are given in hieroglyphic copies of the Book of the Dead. In the scene on p. 267 the dead man is seen lying on a bier in a chest mounted on a boat with runners, which is drawn by oxen. In the rear is a sepulchral ark or chest surmounted by a figure of Anubis, the god of the dead. In front of the boat are a group of
* " Les belles tombes que l'on admire dans les plaines de Thèbes et de Sakkârah ne sont donc pas dues à l'orgueil de ceux qui les ont érigées. Une pensée plus large a présidé à leur consiruction. Plus les matériaux sont énormes, plus on est sûr que les promesses faites par la religion recevront leur exécution. En ces sens, les Pyramides re sont pas des monuments de la vaine ostentation des rois'; elles sont des obstacles impossibles à renverser, et les preuves gigantesques d'un dogme consolant." (Mariette, Notices des Principaux Monuments, P. 44.)