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An Introduction to Mythology

Page: 87

Cult of Othin), and sometimes the 'blood eagle' was carved on their backs. King Domalde of Sweden and a certain King Olaf were sacrificed to Odin in order that he might be induced to put an end to a famine. Thus early Scandinavia resembles Mexico. By such instances does the science of comparative religion triumphantly assert its value. Thus the myth of Valhalla appears to have had the same genesis as the myth of the reception of dead Mexican warriors into the sun-god's train.

THE OLYMPUS OF OLD EGYPT

But scanty information is to be gleaned concerning the abode of the gods of Egypt. In the Pyramid texts of King Pepi I we read that the whole universe was divided into three portions, Heaven, earth, and the Underworld or 'Duat,' each with its own gods. Besides the gods, Heaven contained other classes of beings, the Shesu-Heru or Shemsu-Heru, a name which may, perhaps, be translated 'Followers of Horus.' They were those who attended upon Horus, his satellites, and on occasion his defenders, obviously followers of the sun, the hosts of the sun-god, resembling in nature the 'pages' of the Mexican[Pg 199] Quetzalcoatl, the Knights of King Arthur of the Round Table (also perhaps the sun[1]), or the dead warriors who caroused with Norse Odin in Valhalla. Indeed, we find them assisting Horus in his war against the powers of darkness exactly as the dead warriors help Odin. These powers are alluded to in the texts of Pepi I as if they were of very considerable importance in the Egyptian heavenly economy. Pepi placates them and they purify him and recite the 'Chapter of those who rise up' on his behalf. Another class of heavenly beings is the Ashemu, whose characteristics are unknown. The Henmemet or Hamemet were either those who have been or were to become human beings. A text of Hatshepset seems to ascribe mortal attributes to them, as it employs the determinative signs which stand for human beings, and a passage in a hymn to Amen-Ra edited by Grépaut shows that the Egyptians believed them to live on grain. Of other beings, the Set, the Afa, and the Utennu, we only know the name. The souls of righteous men also dwelt In Heaven.

The Egyptian Heaven, so far as we can glean, realized the idea of Paracelsus, 'as above, so below'; for it was the macrocosm of the earth's microcosm, the greater world above, which was mirrored in the earth below, one being the complement of the other. The denizens of the Egyptian Olympus were the 'Great,' the 'Little,' and the other companies of gods; the different classes of beings already alluded to; and the souls of men, or their 'shadows,' 'doubles,' 'souls,' 'spirits,' 'powers,' 'hearts,' or 'spiritual bodies.' The denizens of Heaven directed the course of the celestial bodies, overlooked the affairs of mortals, and accompanied the greater gods in their progress through the heavens. Constant prayers and hymns of praise arose to Ra, the king and chief of Heaven. The gods were nourished on celestial food which came from the Eye of Horus—that is, they subsisted upon the beams of light which emanated from the sun. In a text of Pepi I we read of a 'plant of life' which the gods subsisted on, and it apparently grew near the great lake Sekhet-hetep, on the banks of which the gods usually reclined. The just who abode with the gods[Pg 200] were apparelled in similar manner to them; but they also wore white linen garments, and were shod with white sandals.


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