Ancient Egypt, in spite of everything, remains one of the most mysterious civilizations. It is still called the “gift of the Nile” and is considered the birthplace of the pyramids and the Sphinx, which fixed its eyes on the boundless sands. The past and present of this state are intertwined with threads of historical events and amazing stories. Ancient Egyptian myths are a truly valuable gift that helps modern historians unravel many of the mysteries of this country's past. It is in them that the meaning of the existence of the ancient Egyptians and their interaction with the outside world is laid.
Features of Egyptian mythology
Even without being a historian, any person is aware that the mythology of any ancient civilization is based on the worldview of a particular people. The ancient mythology of Egypt has amazing features that are contained in numerous symbols hiding behind ordinary events. It is almost impossible to understand them through a cold mind. To do this, it is necessary to take a philosophical look at what is hidden behind a string of words. What is the main feature of these ancient tales and legends? Ancient Egyptian mythology, first of all, urged a person not to oppose what is happening.events, not to go against what is now commonly called fate, because everything done contrary to the "wise order" will turn against humanity.
Heroes of the myths of Ancient Egypt
The first myths in Egypt were written, or rather told, even before the construction of the famous pyramids. They contained legends about the creation of all life on earth. In addition, the ancient mythology of Egypt contained stories about the struggle of the gods for power. Unlike many Eastern peoples, the Egyptians did not like to include ordinary people in myths, so their main characters were always numerous gods. Some Egyptians revered and loved, while others were afraid or frankly afraid. At the same time, the population of Ancient Egypt was considered close to the divine principle, because, according to the same myths, the gods lived among people in ancient times, and their direct descendants became kings and took care of their people.
Villain Gods and Helper Gods
What and who did the mythology of ancient Egypt tell about? Gods are the main characters of similar works in many other civilizations. And ancient Egyptian is no exception. As mentioned above, the Egyptians divided all the gods into good and evil. If it was possible to “negotiate” with the former with the help of offerings, then the latter did not know mercy and could moderate their anger only after huge sacrifices in the form of human lives were made to them. It's time to remember all the higher beings that ancient Egyptian mythology has ever mentioned.
There were several supreme gods in Egypt,it depended primarily on the regions of the given state. Everywhere the Egyptians revered and respected the sun god Ra, and the pharaohs were considered his children. In Thebes (Upper Egypt) he was considered to be Amon-Ra, the god of the wind and sun, while in Lower Egypt, Atum, the god of the setting sun, ruled. In Heliopolis, located in Lower Egypt, Geb, the god of the earth, was recognized as the main deity, and in Memphis, Ptah. Here is such a diversity. It is worth noting that in ancient Egyptian mythology, the sun god was not alone. In those days, the Egyptians extolled not only the luminary itself, but also the stages of its existence on earth: the morning and evening sun. In addition, the god of the solar disk Aton was perceived as a separate divine principle.
Besides the creatures described above, the myths about the ancient gods of Egypt mentioned other equally important and influential entities. Positive roles in this case belonged to Amat (the goddess of retribution for sins), Apis (the patron of fertility and strength), and Horus (the god of dawn or the rising sun). In addition, Anubis, Isis, Osiris and Ptah were often mentioned on the positive side in the myths. The following were considered cruel and, therefore, unloved higher beings in Egypt: Sebek - the god of lakes and rivers, who could be propitiated only by bringing him great sacrifices, Seth - the lord of the winds and the desert, Sekhmet - the goddess of war, cruel and merciless to all people.
Particularly interesting are the ancient Egyptian myths about the creation of people, heaven and earth, that is, the world. In various centers of Egypt, the main role was assigned to someone deity, while others were either assistants to him, or resisted and plotted. There was only one point of contact between these cosmogonistic directions - the deity Nun, symbolizing the Primordial Chaos.
Myths about the creation of the world according to Heliopolis
The population of the Egyptian city of Heliopolis and its environs believed that the creation of the world, or rather, of everything that exists on earth, took place thanks to Atum. In their opinion, it was this god who was the very first creature that arose in the depths of Nun - a boundless, cold and dark substance. Not finding a solid place from which he could try to create light and heat, Atum created Ben-Ben - a hill rising in the middle of a cold, lifeless ocean.
After some thought about what else to create, God decided to create Shu (the god of the wind), who could set the surface of the ocean in motion, and Tefnut (the goddess of world order), who was called upon to monitor that so that Shu does not destroy what will be created next. Nun, seeing such a miracle, endowed Shu and Tefnut with one soul for two. Since there was no light in this new world, the first gods were suddenly lost. Atum sent his Eye to search for them, which soon led his children to their ancestor. For joy, Atum shed tears, they dripped onto the earth's firmament and turned into people.
Shu and Tefnut meanwhile gave birth to Geb and Nut, who soon began to live as husband and wife. Soon the goddess of the sky Nut gave birth to Osiris, Set and Horus, Isis and Nephthys. Everythingthe divine family, according to this myth, constitutes the Great Nine gods of Egypt. But this is far from the only version of the order of appearance of higher beings, and hence their supremacy. The ancient mythology of Egypt contains several more stories on this subject.
Creation: Memphis Cosmogony
According to the version of the creation of the world, set forth in the scrolls that were found in Memphis, the first god that arose in the depths of Nun was Ptah, representing the earth's firmament. By an effort of will, he uprooted himself from the earth and found a body. Ptah decided to create faithful helpers for himself from the same material from which he himself arose, that is, from the earth. Atum was the first to be born, who, at the behest of his father, recreated the Great Nine Gods of Egypt from the darkness of Nun. Bird could only endow them with wisdom and power.
Theban version of the origin of the world
In Thebes, the history of the origin of the world is somewhat different from those followed in other areas of Ancient Egypt. The first and most significant difference is the number of gods: if in other versions it was the Great Nine, then Theban suggests the presence of three supreme beings: Mina, the god of fertility, Amun, the god of the sun, and Montu, the god of war. Ming was considered the creator of the whole world. Somewhat later, Min and Amon were already presented as a single deity, symbolizing the sun, which gives light, warmth and rich harvests.
Germanic cosmogony about the origin of the world
The most numerous pantheon of ancient Egyptian "original" gods existed inmythological version of the creation of the world, found in Hermopolis. In the abyss of the Great Chaos (Nun), forces aimed at destruction reigned, consisting of three pairs of deities: Nisa and Niaut, symbolizing the void, Tenema and Tenemuit, denoting disappearance in darkness, and Gerech and Gerecht, the gods of night and darkness. They were opposed by four pairs of deities endowed with positive powers: Huh and Hauhet (gods of infinity), Nun and Naunet (gods of water), Kuk and Kauket (gods of darkness), Amon and Amaunet (invisible gods). This is the so-called Great Eight. Swimming for a long time in the waters of the ocean, they created an egg and placed it on the only place above the water - Fire Hill. After some time, a young Ra hatched from him, who was given the name Khepri. So there were nine gods, and they were able to create people.
Life after death in Egyptian myths
Myths and legends of Ancient Egypt were not only devoted to the creation of the world. The faith that prevailed in this country assumed the existence of life after death. In Egyptian mythology, the underworld was a large full-flowing river, between the banks of which boats scurried. According to myths, the souls of dead people, after the extinction of the body, ended up in such a boat and made a long journey between the world of the living and the dead. Only after reaching the opposite shore, the soul of the deceased could calm down. The success of this journey was ensured by the gods: Anubis was responsible for the safety of the body before and after burial, Selket protected the souls of the dead, Sokar guarded the gates of the underworld, Upuat accompaniedsouls while traveling along the River of the Dead.
The preservation of the body of the deceased was also of great importance, for which he was mummified, preserving the internal organs in separate vessels. According to legend, a person could be reborn if all the rituals were carried out exactly as prescribed by the great wise law.
The struggle between good and evil in Egyptian myths
The ancient mythology of Egypt and such a topic as the struggle between good and evil did not bypass. To date, many stories have been translated about how the gods of Egypt fought evil divine beings, which were most often represented in the form of crocodiles and hippos. The main fighter against them was, of course, the god of the Sun, and the main assistants in restoring order were the original gods - Shu, Montu, Nut and others. According to mythology, the battles of Ra with evil take place every day, and not only in the world of the living, but also in the realm of the dead.