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Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 13

This was the infallible spell which was to be used in cases of poisoning, for it rendered the bite or sting of every venomous reptile harmless. It drove the poison out of Ra, and since it was composed by Isis after she obtained the knowledge of his secret name it was irresistible. If the words were written on papyrus or linen over a figure of Temu or Heru-hekenu, or Isis, or Horus, they became a mighty charm. If the papyrus or linen were steeped in water and the water drunk, the words were equally efficacious as a charm against snake- bites. To this day water in which the written words of a text from the Kur'an have been dissolved, or water drunk from a bowl on the inside of which religious texts have been written, is still regarded as a never- failing charm in Egypt and the Sudan. Thus we see that the modern custom of drinking magical water was derived from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that it conveyed into their bodies the actual power of their gods.

IV.

THE LEGEND OF HERU-BEHUTET AND THE WINGED DISK.

The text of this legend is cut in hieroglyphics on the walls of the temple of Edfu in Upper Egypt, and certain portions of it are illustrated by large bas-reliefs. Both text and reliefs were published by Professor Naville in his volume entitled Mythe d'Horus, fol., plates 12-19, Geneva, 1870. A German translation by Brugsch appeared in the Ahandlungen der Gottinger Akademie, Band xiv., pp. 173-236, and another by Wiedemann in his Die Religion, p. 38 ff. (see the English translation p. 69 ff.). The legend, in the form in which it is here given, dates from the Ptolemaic Period, but the matter which it contains is far older, and it is probable that the facts recorded in it are fragments of actual history, which the Egyptians of the late period tried to piece together in chronological order. We shall see as we read that the writer of the legend as we have it was not well acquainted with Egyptian history, and that in his account of the conquest of Egypt he has confounded one god with another, and mixed up historical facts with mythological legends to such a degree that his meaning is frequently uncertain. The great fact which he wished to describe is the conquest of Egypt by an early king, who, having subdued the peoples in the South, advanced northwards, and made all the people whom he conquered submit to his yoke. Now the King of Egypt was always called Horus, and the priests of Edfu wishing to magnify their local god, Horus of Behutet, or Horus of Edfu, attributed to him the conquests of this human, and probably predynastic, king. We must remember that the legend assumes that Ra, was still reigning on earth, though he was old and feeble, and had probably deputed his power to his successor, whom the legend regards as his son.

PLATE I. Horus holding the Hippopotamus-fiend with chain and spear. Behind stand Isis and Heru Khenti-Khatti.


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