A Handbook of Egyptian Religion

By Adolf Erman; A. S. Griffith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND CUSTOMS OF THE NEW KINGDOM

DURING that earliest period, the religious beliefs of which we sketched in our first chapter, the religion of the Egyptian nation became more and more complicated. The principal gods of the people were worshipped as local gods under various names. In the historical period this particularism came to an end owing to the fact that at three periods, which lasted for many centuries, the whole country was united in one great commonwealth. This drew the religion into closer unity, and thus much which originally belonged to one town only, became gradually the common property of the whole nation. The earliest example of such dissemination we have already (p. 27) seen in the Osiris myth; as early as the Old Kingdom the belief in this god of the dead prevailed from the Delta to Elephantine, and in Memphis, Sokar, the ancient local god of the dead, appeared only as another name of Osiris. After the Middle Kingdom we meet with other similar combinations, even among gods who originally had no connection with each other. In the temple at Koptos the goddess Mut of Thebes was called at one time Bast, and at another time Sekhmet of Memphis,1 although she was neither cat- nor lion-headed, but figured as a vulture. At the same period the god Min of Koptos was forced to appear merely as another name for the universally beloved Horus. He is called the son of Osiris, and among other borrowed phrases, it is related of him that he chastised his foes, and protected his father . . . seized the crown, and that the inheritance of his father was given to him.2 With the sun god also, the great ruler of the world, were combined deities who

____________________
1
Petrie, Koptos, X. 2; p. 12.
2
Mariette, Cat. d'Abydos, 813.

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