A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Synopsis

Students of archaeology, travellers, visitors to museums and all those interested in mythology will value this comprehensive handbook. It details the major gods and goddesses and presents a broad survey of others, giving a vivid picture of the complexity and richness of the imagery of Egyptian mythology.

Excerpt

No one who has trekked through the jungle of Egyptological monographs and articles on religion and mythology can ever visualise a synthesis that encapsulates the essence – let alone the idiosyncracies – of individual gods and goddesses in the pharaonic pantheon. The confidence of Thucydides, who saw his History of the Peloponnesian War as a 'possession for eternity', is admirable but alas not attainable by modern non-fiction writers paying due respect to the march of scholarship. Seemingly authoritative or 'atmospheric' passages in books by earlier generations of Egyptologists can today appear woefully out of date in the light of advances in linguistics or recovery of additional archaeological or epigraphic evidence. Accordingly, this author, increasingly aware that the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus was right in asserting 'all things proceed and nothing stands still', ventures to offer this annotated roll-call of ancient Egyptian deities to his contemporaries.

The source material upon which this Dictionary is based is spread over 3,000 years of Egyptian civilisation. I have tried to emphasise the origin or earliest inscriptional or iconographical evidence for a deity in the hope that this will simplify the way to understanding his or her basic 'personality' before it was enriched with numerous epithets and assimilations from the fertile minds of the ever-competitive priesthoods. For chthonic and Underworld deities and for the dominant solar cult, documentation occurs in the world's earliest compilation of religious thought found in the Pyramid Texts. First inscribed on the walls of the Pyramid of King Unas (Dynasty V) at Saqqara, these spells for the royal Afterlife crystallise untold centuries of mythological imagery. Our supply of information flourishes through the Middle Kingdom Coffin Texts painted on the walls of wooden sarcophagi and . . .

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