Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

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[FN#341] The 17th day is very unlucky; the 18th is very lucky; the 19th and 20th are very unlucky. On the 17th day Isis and Nephthys made great lamentation for their brother Un-nefer at Sais; on the 19th no man should leave the house; and the man born on the 20th would die of the plague.

[Sec. XL. Though Typhon was conquered by Horus, Isis would not allow him to be destroyed. Typhon was once master of all Egypt, i.e., Egypt was once covered by the sea, which is proved by the sea-shells which are dug out of the mines, and are found on the tops of the hills. The Nile year by year creates new land, and thus drives away the sea further and further, i.e., Osiris triumphs over Typhon.]


[Sec. XLI. Osiris is the Moon, and Typhon is the Sun; Typhon is therefore called Seth,[FN#342] a word meaning "violence," "force," &c. Herakles accompanies the Sun, and Hermes the Moon. In Sec. XLII. Plutarch connects the death-day of Osiris, the seventeenth of Hathor, with the seventeenth day of the Moon's revolution, when she begins to wane. The age of Osiris, twenty-eight years, suggests the comparison with the twenty-eight days of the Moon's revolution. The tree-trunk which is made into the shape of a crescent at the funeral of Osiris refers to the crescent moon when she wanes. The fourteen pieces into which Osiris was broken refer to the fourteen days in which the moon wanes.]

[FN#342] In Egyptian, ####, or #### which Plutarch seems to connect with set, ####.

[Sec. XLIII. The height of the Nile in flood at Elephantine is twenty- eight cubits, at Mendes and Xois low Nile is seven cubits, and at Memphis middle Nile is fourteen cubits; these [figures] are to be compared with the twenty-eight days of the Moon's revolution, the seven-day phase of the Moon, and the fourteen days' Moon, or full moon. Apis was begotten by a ray of light from the Moon, and on the fourteenth day of the month Phamenoth[FN#343] Osiris entered the Moon. Osiris is the power of the Moon, Isis the productive faculty in it.]

[FN#343] Marked in the papyrus Sallier IV. as a particularly unlucky day.


[Sec. XLIV. The philosophers say that the story is nothing but an enigmatical description of the phenomena of Eclipses. In Sec. XLV. Plutarch discusses the five explanations which he has described, and begins to state his own views about them. It must be concluded, he says, that none of these explanations taken by itself contains the true explanation of the foregoing history, though all of them together do. Typhon means every phase of Nature which is hurtful and destructive, not only drought, darkness, the sea, &c. It is impossible that any one cause, be it bad or even good, should be the common principle of all things. There must be two opposite and quite different and distinct Principles. In Sec. XLVI., Plutarch compares this view with the Magian belief in Ormazd and Ahriman, the former springing from light (Sec. XLVII.), and the latter from darkness. Ormazd made six good gods, and Ahriman six of a quite contrary nature. Ormazd increased his own bulk three times, and adorned the heaven with stars, making the Sun to be the guard of the other stars. He then created twenty-four other gods, and placed them in an egg, and Ahriman also created twenty-four gods; the latter bored a hole in the shell of the egg and effected an entrance into it, and thus good and evil became mixed together. In Sec. XLVIII. Plutarch quotes Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Aristotle, and Plato in support of his hypothesis of the Two Principles, and refers to Plato's Third Principle. Sec. XLIX. Osiris represents the good qualities of the universal Soul, and Typhon the bad; Bebo[FN#344] is a malignant being like Typhon, with whom Manetho identifies him. Sec. L. The ass, crocodile, and hippopotamus are all associated with Typhon; in the form of a crocodile Typhon escaped from Horus.[FN#345]