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Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

Page: 81

[FN#300] i.e., Heru-ur, "Horus the Elder."

[FN#301] It was Horus, son of Isis, who was born in the marshes of
Egypt.

[FN#302] This day is described as unlucky in the hieroglyphic texts.

[FN#303] Set and Nephthys are regarded as husband and wife in the texts; their offspring was Anubis, Anpu.

XIII. Osiris having become king of Egypt, applied himself to civilizing his countrymen by turning them from their former indigent and barbarous course of life. He taught them how to cultivate and improve the fruits of the earth, and he gave them a body of laws whereby to regulate their conduct, and instructed them in the reverence and worship which they were to pay to the gods. With the same good disposition he afterwards travelled over the rest of the world, inducing the people everywhere to submit to his discipline, not indeed compelling them by force of arms, but persuading them to yield to the strength of his reasons, which were conveyed to them in the most agreeable manner, in hymns and songs, accompanied with instruments of music. From this last circumstance the Greeks identified him with their Dionysos, or Bacchus. During the absence of Osiris from his kingdom, Typhon had no opportunity of making any innovations in the state, Isis being extremely vigilant in the government, and always upon her guard. After his return, however, having first persuaded seventy- two other people to join with him in the conspiracy, together with a certain queen of Ethiopia called Aso, who chanced to be in Egypt at that time, he formed a crafty plot against him. For having privily taken the measure of the body of Osiris, he caused a chest to be made of exactly the same size, and it was very beautiful and highly decorated. This chest he brought into a certain banqueting room, where it was greatly admired by all who were present, and Typhon, as if in jest, promised to give it to that man whose body when tried would be found to fit it. Thereupon the whole company, one after the other, went into it, but it did not fit any of them; last of all Osiris himself lay down in it. Thereupon all the conspirators ran to the chest, and clapped the cover upon it, and then they fastened it down with nails on the outside, and poured melted lead over it. They next took the chest to the river, which carried it to the sea through the Tanaitic mouth of the Nile; and for this reason this mouth of the Nile is still held in the utmost abomination by the Egyptians, and is never mentioned by them except with marks of detestation. These things, some say, took place on the seventeenth day of the month of Hathor, when the sun was in Scorpio, in the twenty-eighth year of the reign of Osiris, though others tell us that this was the year of his life and not of his reign.

XIV. The first who had knowledge of the accident which had befallen their king were the Pans and Satyrs, who inhabited the country round about Chemmis,[FN#304] and they having informed the people about it, gave the first occasion to the name of Panic Terrors, which has ever since been made use of to signify any sudden fright or amazement of a multitude. As soon as the report reached Isis, she immediately cut off one of the locks of her hair, and put on mourning apparel in that very place where she happened to be; for this reason the place has ever since been called "Koptos," or the "city of mourning," though some are of opinion that this word rather signifies "deprivation." After this she wandered round about through the country, being full of disquietude and perplexity, searching for the chest, and she inquired of every person she met, including some children whom she saw, whether they knew what was become of it. Now, it so happened that these children had seen what Typhon's accomplices had done with the body, and they accordingly told her by what mouth of the Nile it had been conveyed to the sea. For this reason the Egyptians look upon children as endued with a kind of faculty of divining, and in consequence of this notion are very curious in observing the accidental prattle which they have with one another whilst they are at play, especially if it be in a sacred place, forming omens and presages from it. Isis meanwhile having been informed that Osiris, deceived by her sister Nephthys, who was in love with him, had unwittingly enjoyed her instead of herself, as she concluded from the melilot-garland which he had left with her, made it her business likewise to search out the child, the fruit of this unlawful commerce (for her sister, dreading the anger of her husband Typhon, had exposed it as soon as it was born). Accordingly, after much pains and difficulty, by means of some dogs that conducted her to the place where it was, she found it and bred it up; and in process of time it became her constant guard and attendant, and obtained the name of Anubis, and it is thought that it watches and guards the gods as dogs do men.


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