Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

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The text containing the Legend of the Destruction of Mankind is written in hieroglyphs, and is found on the four walls of a small chamber which is entered from the "hall of columns" in the tomb of Seti I., which is situated on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. On the wall facing the door of this chamber is painted in red the figure of the large "Cow of Heaven." The lower part of her belly is decorated with a series of thirteen stars, and immediately beneath it are the two Boats of Ra, called Semketet and Mantchet, or Sektet and Matet. Each of her four legs is held in position by two gods, and the god Shu, with outstretched uplifted arms, supports her body. The Cow was published by Champollion,[FN#5] without the text. This most important mythological text was first published and translated by Professor E. Naville in 1874.[FN#6] It was republished by Bergmann[FN#7] and Brugsch,[FN#8] who gave a transcription of the text, with a German translation. Other German versions by Lauth,[FN#9] Brugsch,[FN#10] and Wiedemann[FN#11] have appeared, and a part of the text was translated into French by Lefebure.[FN#12] The latest edition of the text was published by Lefebure,[FN#13] and text of a second copy, very much mutilated, was published by Professor Naville, with a French translation in 1885.[FN#14] The text printed in this volume is that of M. Lefebure.

[FN#5] Monuments, tom. iii., p. 245.

[FN#6] Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. iv., p. 1 ff.

[FN#7] Hieroglyphische Inschriften, Bl. 85 fl.

[FN#8] Die neue Weltordnung nach Vernichtung des sundigen
Menschengeschlechtes, Berlin, 1881.

[FN#9] Aus Aegyptens Vorzeit, p. 71.

[FN#10] Religion der alten Aegypter, p. 436.

[FN#11] Die Religion, p. 32.

[FN#12] A. Z., 1883, p. 32.

[FN#13] Tombeau de Seti I., Part IV., plates 15-18.

[FN#14] Trans. Soc. Bibl. Arch., vol. viii., p. 412 ft.

The legend takes us back to the time when the gods of Egypt went about in the country, and mingled with men and were thoroughly acquainted with their desires and needs. The king who reigned over Egypt was Ra, the Sun-god, who was not, however, the first of the Dynasty of Gods who ruled the land. His predecessor on the throne was Hephaistos, who, according to Manetho, reigned 9000 years, whilst Ra reigned only 992 years; Panodorus makes his reign to have lasted less than 100 years. Be this as it may, it seems that the "self-created and self-begotten" god Ra had been ruling over mankind for a very long time, for his subjects were murmuring against him, and they were complaining that he was old, that his bones were like silver, his body like gold, and his hair like lapis-lazuli. When Ra heard these murmurings he ordered his bodyguard to summon all the gods who had been with him in the primeval World-ocean, and to bid them privately to assemble in the Great House, which can be no other than the famous temple of Heliopolis. This statement is interesting, for it proves that the legend is of Heliopolitan origin, like the cult of Ra itself, and that it does not belong, at least in so far as it applies to Ra, to the Predynastic Period.