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Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 31

The message of the cult of Isis as preached by her priests was one of hope and happiness, and coming to the Greeks and Romans, as it did, at a time when men were weary of their national cults, and when the speculations of the philosophers carried no weight with the general public, the people everywhere welcomed it with the greatest enthusiasm. From Egypt it was carried to the Islands of Greece and to the mainland, to Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal, and then crossing the western end of the Mediterranean it entered North Africa, and with Carthage as a centre spread east and west along the coast. Wherever the cult of Isis came men accepted it as something which supplied what they thought to be lacking in their native cults; rich and poor, gentle and simple, all welcomed it, and the philosopher as well as the ignorant man rejoiced in the hope of a future life which it gave to them. Its Egyptian origin caused it to be regarded with the profoundest interest, and its priests were most careful to make the temples of Isis quite different from those of the national gods, and to decorate them with obelisks, sphinxes, shrines, altars, etc., which were either imported from temples in Egypt, or were copied from Egyptian originals. In the temples of Isis services were held at daybreak and in the early afternoon daily, and everywhere these were attended by crowds of people. The holy water used in the libations and for sprinkling the people was Nile water, specially imported from Egypt, and to the votaries of the goddess it symbolized the seed of the god Osiris, which germinated and brought forth fruit through the spells of the goddess Isis. The festivals and processions of Isis were everywhere most popular, and were enjoyed by learned and unlearned alike. In fact, the Isis-play which was acted annually in November, and the festival of the blessing of the ship, which took place in the spring, were the most important festivals of the year. Curiously enough, all the oldest gods and goddesses of Egypt passed into absolute oblivion, with the exception of Osiris (Sarapis), Isis, Anubis the physician, and Harpokrates, the child of Osiris and Isis, and these, from being the ancestral spirits of a comparatively obscure African tribe in early dynastic times, became for several hundreds of years the principal objects of worship of some of the most cultured and intellectual nations. The treatise of Plutarch De Iside helps to explain how this came about, and for those who study the Egyptian Legend of Isis and Osiris the work has considerable importance.

THE HISTORY OF CREATION—A.

THE BOOK OF KNOWING THE EVOLUTIONS[FN#49] OF RA, AND OF OVERTHROWING APEP.

[FN#49] Kheperu. The verb Kheper means "to make, to form, to produce, to become, and to roll;" kheperu here means "the things which come into being through the rollings of the ball of the god Kheper (the roller)," i.e., the Sun.


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