IN the oldest religious texts known the absolute identity of the deceased with Osiris is always assumed by the writer, and in later times the deceased is actually called by the name of the god; moreover, in every detail of the funeral ceremonies the friends and relatives of the dead sought to imitate the ceremonies which were declared by tradition to have been performed for the god, believing that thereby only could everlasting life and happiness be assured to the departed. The history of Osiris is shrouded in the mists of remote antiquity, and as the ancient Egyptian writers supply us with no information concerning their theories about the god there are small grounds for hoping that we shall ever possess any authentic history of him. It is, however, quite certain that even in the earliest dynastic times in Egypt the history of Osiris was legendary, and that all the main features of the story which Plutarch gave in De Iside et Osirids were then current; the scene on the plaque of Semti (see British Museum, No. 32,650), a king of the 1st Dynasty, proves that the “god on the top of the staircase” occupied a most prominent position in the religion of the country. The texts of the Heliopolitan Recension of the Book of Dead assume throughout that Osiris occupied the position of chief of the cycle of the gods of the dead, and down to the earliest centuries of the Christian era the fundamental ideas expressed in every text which was written for the benefit of the dead rest on this assumption. It was universally believed that Osiris was of divine origin, that he lived upon earth in a material body, that he was treacherously murdered and cut in pieces, that his sister Isis collected the limbs of his body, and, by means of magical words which had been specially provided by the god Thoth, reconstituted it, that the god came to life again by these means, that he became immortal, and entered into the underworld, where he became both the judge and king of the dead. The dismembering of the body of Osiris rather calls to mind the practice of the pre-dynastic Egyptians who, at one period, cut the bodies of their dead into pieces before burial, and removed the head from the body, to which, however, they showed special honour by placing it in a raised position in the grave. Thus one portion of the legend of Osiris may be of indigenous or North African origin; at all events the ceremonies connected with the raising up of the Tet which were performed in early dynastic times at Abydos, where the head of the god was believed to be buried, suggest the commemoration of funeral rites which can hardly have been introduced by the conquerors from the East. In the XVIIIth Dynasty it is expressly stated in Chapter CLIV. of the Book of the Dead (infra, p. 517) that Osiris neither decayed, nor putrefied, nor rotted away, nor became worms, nor perished, and that he enjoyed existence, being in the full possession of all the members of his body. Thus the deceased King Thothmes III. is made to say, “I “shall live, I shall live. I shall grow, I shall grow, I “shall grow. I shall wake up in peace; I shall not “putrefy; my intestines shall not perish; I shall not “suffer from any defect; mine eye shall not decay, “the form of my visage shall not disappear; mine “ear shall not become deaf; my head shall not be “separated from my neck; my tongue shall not be “carried away; my hair shall not be cut off; mine “eyebrows shall not be shaved off; and no baleful “injury shall come upon me. My body shall be “stablished (i.e., constituted), and it shall neither “fall into decay nor be destroyed upon this earth.” And the king, and every other follower of Osiris, believed that he would enjoy everlasting life and happiness in a perfectly constituted body because Osiris had conquered death, and had risen from the dead, and was living in a body which was perfect in all its members; moreover, for countless generations Osiris was the type and emblem of the resurrection, and relying upon his power to give immortality to man untold generations lived and died. In the hymns which are addressed to him he is called the “king of eternity, the “lord of the everlasting, who passeth through millions “of years in his existence” (see p. 18); and again it is said (see p. 67), “The dead rise up to see thee, they “breathe the air and they look upon thy face when the “Disk riseth on its horizon; their hearts are at peace “inasmuch as they behold thee, O thou who art “Eternity and Everlastingness.” Still more remarkable are the words which were addressed to him by the god Thoth and which are found in the Papyrus of Hu-nefer (see p. 623); the scribe of the gods having enumerated all the titles of Osiris in a series of paragraphs, and shown how love for him permeates every god, says, “Homage to thee, O Governor of those who are “in Amentet, who dost make men and women to “be born again,” the new birth being the birth into the new life of the world which is beyond the grave, and is everlasting.
All the pictures of the god Osiris known to us in funeral texts represent him as a being swathed in mummied form, and wearing on his head the white crown, and holding in his hands the emblems of sovereignty and dominion; but those which represent the deceased make him to appear in the ordinary garb of a man who is dressed in ceremonial attire, and he is seen in the Judgment Hall and other places in heaven in the form wherein he went about upon earth. There is reason for thinking that pre-dynastic man believed that his dead would live again in the identical bodies which they had upon earth, i.e., in a material resurrection, and there is no doubt that the funeral offerings which they placed in their graves and tombs were intended to be their food in the next world whilst they were accommodating themselves to their new circumstances. In later times, although the funeral offerings were made as before, the belief in a material resurrection was given up by educated Egyptians, and in texts, both of the earliest and latest periods of Egyptian history, it is distinctly stated that the material part of man rests in the earth whilst the immaterial part has its abode in heaven. Thus in a text of the Vth Dynasty1 we read, “RĀ receiveth thee, soul in heaven, body in earth;” and in one of the VIth Dynasty2 it is said to the deceased, “Thine essence is in heaven, thy body is in the “earth “; and in a text of the Ptolemaic period3 it is declared to the deceased, “Heaven hath thy soul, “earth hath thy body.” In another text, also of a late date4, the deceased is addressed in these words, “Thy “soul is in heaven before RĀ, thy double hath that “which should be given unto it with the gods, thy “spiritual body is glorious among the spirits of fire, “and thy material body is stablished in the under “world (i.e., grave).” All the available evidence shows that the Egyptians of dynastic times mummified the dead body because they believed that a spiritual body would “germinate” or develop itself in it. We know that an ancient belief held that the head of Osiris was buried at Abydos, and many cities of Egypt claimed that limbs of Osiris were buried in them, and one tradition affirmed that the whole body of the god rested in Ånnu or Heliopolis. The texts show that the Egyptians believed that, if the prescribed prayers were said and the appropriate ceremonies were properly performed over the dead body by duly appointed priests, it acquired the power of developing from out of itself an immaterial body called sāhu, which was able to ascend to heaven and to dwell with the gods there. The sāhu took the form of the body from which it sprang and was immortal, and in it lived the soul. The god Osiris possessed a sāhu in the Egyptian heaven, and in Chapter CXXX. of the Book of the the Dead (line 36) the deceased Nu is declared to have received this sāhu from the god; in other words Osiris rewarded the beatified dead by bestowing upon them his own spiritual form; and elsewhere (see p. 349) the deceased says, “Behold, verily I have said unto “thee, O Osiris, ‘I am a sāhu of the god,’” i.e., of Osiris. The proof that the soul dwelt in the sāhu is furnished by a passage in the LXXXIXth Chapter, wherein the deceased addresses the “gods who make “souls to enter into their sdhu” (see p. 280), and the distinct difference between the material and spiritual body is well illustrated by the following petition, which comes at the end of the same Chapter:— “And behold, “grant ye that the soul of Osiris Ani, triumphant, may “come forth before the gods and that it may be trium-” phant along with you in the eastern part of the sky “to follow unto the place where it (i.e., the ’boat of “millions of years’) was yesterday [and that my soul “may have] peace, peace in Åmentet. May it look “upon its material body, may it rest upon its spiritual “body; and may its body neither perish nor suffer “corruption for ever.” It now remains to enumerate briefly the constituent parts of man physically, mentally, and spiritually.
1. The physical body, which was called khat i.e., that which was liable to decay, and could only be preserved by mummification.
2. The ka, a word which by general consent is translated “double”; the Coptic equivalent is , and it can in most cases be accurately rendered by one of the meanings of . The ka was an abstract individuality or personality which possessed the form and attributes of the man to whom it belonged, and, though its normal dwelling place was in the tomb with the body, it could wander about at will; it was independent of the man and could go and dwell in any statue of him. It was supposed to eat and drink, and the greatest care was usually taken to lay abundant supplies of offerings in the tombs lest the kas of those who were buried in them should be reduced to the necessity of leaving their tombs and of wandering about and eating offal and drinking filthy water.
3. The ba, or heart-soul, was in some way connected with the ka, in whom or with whom it was supposed to dwell in the tomb, and to partake of the funeral offerings, although in many texts it is made to live with RĀ or Osiris in heaven. It seems to have been able to assume a material or immaterial form at will, and in the former character it is depicted as a human-headed hawk; in the Papyrus of Nebqet at Paris (ed. Devéria and Pierret, p1. 3) it is seen in this form flying down the funeral pit, bearing air and food to the mummified body to which it belongs. The soul could visit the body whensoever it pleased.
4. The ab, or heart, was closely associated with the soul, and it was held to be the source both of the animal life and of good and evil in man. The preservation of the heart of a man was held to be of the greatest importance, and in the Judgment it is the one member of the body which is singled out for special examination; here, however, the heart is regarded as having been the centre of the spiritual and thinking life, and as the organ through which the manifestations of virtue and vice revealed themselves, and it typifies everything which the word “conscience” signifies to us. The necessity of preserving the material heart was very great, and four Chapters of the Book of the Dead (XXVII.—XXXB.) were composed to prevent the heart of a man from being carried off or driven away from him in the underworld by the “stealers of hearts.” The most favourite of these Chapters was XXXB., which is found inscribed on large numbers of green basalt amulets, which date from the period of the XIIth Dynasty to that of the Romans. The heart amulet is made in the form of a scarab or beetle, and both it and the Chapter which is associated with it are connected, in the Papyrus of Nu (see p. 221), with that version of the LXIVth Chapter which is there declared to be as old as the time of Men-kau-RĀ, a king of the IVth Dynasty.
5. The khaibit, or shadow, was closely associated with the ba or soul, and was certainly regarded as an integral portion of the human economy; it, like the ka, seems to have been nourished by the offerings which were made in the tomb of the person to whom it belonged. Like the ka also it had an existence apart from the body, and it had the power of going wheresoever it pleased. As far back as the time of King Unås1 we find that souls and spirits and shadows are mentioned together, and in the XCIInd Chapter of the Book of the Dead (see p. 286) the deceased is made to say, “O keep not captive my soul, O keep not ward “over my shadow, but let a way be opened for my soul “and for my shadow, and let them see the Great God “in the shrine on the day of the judgment of souls, “and let them recite the utterances of Osiris, whose “habitations are hidden, to those who guard the “members of Osiris, and who keep ward over the “spirits, and who hold captive the shadows of the dead “who would work evil against me.”
6. The khu, or spiritual soul, is often mentioned in connexion with the ba or heart-soul, and it seems to have been regarded as an ethereal being, in fact the SOUL which under no circumstances could die; it dwelt in the sāhu or spiritual body.
7. The sekhem, or power, which we may look upon as the incorporeal personification of the vital force of a man; the sekhem dwelt in heaven among the khus or spirits, and in the texts it is usually mentioned in connexion with the soul and the spirit.
8. The ren, or name, to preserve which the Egyptians took the most extraordinary precautions, for the belief was widespread that unless the name of a man was preserved he ceased to exist. Already in the time of King Pepi the name was regarded as a most important portion of a man’s economy, and in the following passage1 it ranks equally with the ka:— “The iron which is the ceiling of heaven openeth “itself before Pepi, and he passeth through it with his ‘panther skin upon him, and his staff and whip in his “hand; Pepi passeth with his flesh, and he is happy “with his name, and he liveth with his double.” Already in the Pyramid Texts1 we find the deceased making supplication that his name may “grow” or “shoot forth” and endure as long as the names of Tem, Shu, Seb, and other gods, and, with modifications, the prayer written for Pepi II. in the VIth Dynasty was in common use at the Graeco-Roman period in Egypt. To preserve the name of his parents was the bounden duty of every pious son, and every offering which was made in a man’s tomb, however small, provided it was coupled with the mention of the deceased’s name, helped to keep in existence the person whose name was mentioned.1
9. The sāhu, or spiritual body, which formed the habitation of the soul. It sprang from the material body, through the prayers which were said, and the ceremonies which were performed at the tomb or elsewhere by duly appointed and properly qualified priests, and was lasting and incorruptible. In it all the mental and spiritual attributes of the natural body were united to the new powers of its own nature.
There is little doubt that the beliefs in the existence of these various members of the spiritual and material bodies are not all of the same age, and they probably represent several stages of intellectual development on the part of the Egyptians; their origin and development it is now impossible to trace, and the contradictions in the texts prove that the Egyptians themselves had not always definite ideas about the functions of each.
The judgment of the dead took place in the Judgment Hall of Osiris, the exact position of which is unknown; the Judge was Osiris, who was supported by the gods which formed his paut or company. The judgment of each individual seems to have taken place soon after death; those who were condemned in the judgment were devoured straightway by the Eater of the Dead, and ceased to exist, and those who were not condemned entered into the domains of Osiris, where they found everlasting life and happiness. There are no grounds for thinking that the Egyptians believed either in a general resurrection or in protracted punishment. The deceased whose heart or conscience had been weighed in the balance, and not found wanting, was declared to be “maā kheru” , and in papyri these words always follow the names of the persons for whom they were written. They are commonly rendered “triumphant,” or “victorious,” “disant la vérité,” “véridique,” “juste,” “justifié,” “vainqueur,” “waltend des Wortes,” “mächtig der Rede,” “vrai de voix,” “juste de voix,” etc., but their true meaning seems to be “he whose word is right and true,” i.e., he whose word is held to be right and true by those to whom it is addressed, and as a result, whatsoever is ordered or commanded by the person who is declared in the Judgment Hall to be maā kheru is straightway performed by the beings or things who are commanded or ordered. Thus before the person who possessed the “right word,” the doors of the halls of the underworld were opened, and the beings who had power therein became his servants; he had power to go wheresoever he pleased, and to do whatsoever he pleased, and he became the equal of the gods. The ideas which attached to the words maā kheru are well illustrated by the following passage from the text of Pepi I. (1. 171 ff.):— “O enter into the verdant stream of “the Lake of Kha, O fill with water the Fields of “Åaru, and let Pepi set sail for the eastern half “of heaven towards that place where the gods are “brought forth, wherein Pepi himself may be borne “along with them as eru-khuti, for Pepi is maā “kheru, and Pepi acclaimeth, and the ka of Pepi “acclaimeth [the gods]. And they call Pepi, and “they bring to him these four [gods] who make their “way over the tresses of Horus, and who stand with “their sceptres in the eastern half of heaven; and “they declare to RĀ the excellent name of Pepi, and “they exalt the excellent name of Pepi before Neheb-” kau, for Pepi is maā kheru, and Pepi acclaimeth, and “his ka acclaimeth [the gods]. The sister of Pepi is “Sothis, and the birth of Pepi is the morning star, “and it is he who is under the body of heaven before “RĀ. Pepi is maā kheru, and he acclaimeth and his “ka acclaimeth [the gods].”
The allusion to the “Fields of Åaru” in the above extract leads naturally to a brief mention of the “Sekhet-h·etepet,” or Elysian Fields, wherein the beatified were believed to lead a life of celestial happiness. At a very early period in their history the Egyptians believed in the existence of a place wherein the blessed dead led a life of happiness, the characteristics of which much resemble those of the life which he had led upon earth; these characteristics are so similar that it is hard to believe that in the early times the one life was not held to be a mere continuation of the other. At all events, the delights and pleasures of this world were believed to be forthcoming in the next, and a life there in a state of happiness which depended absolutely upon material things was contemplated. Such ideas date from the time when the Egyptians were in a semi-savage state, and the preservation of them is probably due to their extreme conservatism in all matters connected with religion; the remarkable point about them is their persistence, for they occur in texts which belong to periods when it was impossible for the Egyptians to have attached any serious importance to them, and some of the coarsest ideas are in places mingled with the expression of lofty spiritual conceptions. In a passage in the text of Unås it is said of this king (1. 623), “Unås hath come to his pools which are on “both sides of the stream of the goddess Meht-urt, and “to the place of verdant offerings, and to the fields “which are on the horizon; he hath made his fields “on both sides of the horizon to be verdant. He hath “brought the crystal to the Great Eye which is in the “field, he hath taken his seat in the horizon, he “riseth like Sebek the son of Neith, he eateth with his “mouth, he voideth water, he enjoyeth the pleasures of “love, and he is the begetter who carrieth away women “from their husbands whenever it pleaseth him so to “do.” And in the text of Tetå (1. 286 f.) we read, “Hail, Osiris Tetå, Horus hath granted that Thoth “shall, bring thine enemy unto thee. He hath placed “thee behind him that he may not harm thee and that “thou mayest make thy seat upon him, and that when “coming forth thou mayest sit upon him so that he “may not be able to force intercourse upon thee.” Such passages give a very clear idea of the state of Egyptian morals when they were written, and they indicate the indignities to which those vanquished in war, both male and female, were exposed at the hands of the conquerors.
The texts of the early period supply much information about the pleasures of the deceased in the world beyond the grave, but no attempt to illustrats the employments of the blessed dead is given until the XVIIIth Dynasty, when the vignette to the CXth Chapter of the Book of the Dead was inserted in papyri.1 Here we have an idea given of the conception which the Egyptian formed of the place wherein he was to dwell after death. A large homestead or farm, intersected with canals, is at once his paradise and the home of the blessed dead, and the abode of the god of his city. This place is called Sekhet-Åaru or “Field of Reeds,” and the name certainly indicates that at one time the Egyptian placed his paradise in the north of Egypt, probably in some part of the Delta, near at·t·u, or Busiris, the capital of the Busirite or ninth nome of Lower Egypt. It was here that the reconstitution of the dismembered body of Osiris took place, and it was here that the solemn ceremony of setting up the , or backbone of Osiris, was performed each year. The Field of Reeds, however, was but a portion of the district called “Sekhet-Hetep” or “Sekhet-etepet,” or “Fields of Peace,” over which there presided a number of gods, and here the deceased led a life which suggests that the idea of the whole place originated with a nation of agriculturists. In the vignettes we see the deceased sailing in a boat laden with offerings which he is bearing to the hawk-god. In another place he is reaping wheat and driving the oxen which tread out the corn, and beyond that he is kneeling before two heaps of grain, one red and one white. In the next division he is ploughing the land of Sekhet-Ånru or Sekhet-Åaru, by the side of a stream of vast length and unknown breadth, which contains neither worm nor fish. In the fourth division is the abode of the god Osiris, and here are the places where dwell those who are nourished upon divine food, and the spiritual bodies of the dead. In one section of this division the deceased placed the god of his city, so that even in respect of his religious observances his life might be as perfect as it was upon earth. His wishes in the matter of the future life are represented by the following prayer:—” Let me be rewarded with thy fields, O god “Hetep; that which is thy wish shalt thou do, O “lord of the winds. May I become a spirit therein, “may I eat therein, may I drink therein, may I plough “therein, may I reap therein, may I fight therein, may “I make love therein, may my words be mighty therein, “may I never be in a state of servitude therein, but “may I have authority therein.” Elsewhere in the same Chapter the deceased addresses the gods of the various lakes and sections of the Elysian Fields, and he states that he has bathed in the holy lake, that all uncleanness has departed from him, and that he has arrayed himself in the apparel of RĀ; in his new life even amusements are provided (but they are the amusements of earth), for he snares feathered fowl and sails about in his boat catching worms and serpents.
In the texts of all periods we read often that the deceased lives with RĀ, that he stands among the company of the gods, and that he is one like unto the divine beings who dwell with them; but little is told us concerning his intercourse with those whom he has known upon earth, and if it were not for some two or three passages in the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead we should be obliged to assume that the power to recognize the friends of earth in the next world was not enjoyed by the deceased. But that he really possessed this power, at least so far as his parents were concerned, we learn from the CXth Chapter, where the deceased, addressing a pool or lake situated in the first section of the Elysian Fields, says, “O “Qenqentet, I have entered into thee, and I have seen “the Osiris [my father], and I have recognized my “mother,” a delight, however, which he brackets with the pleasures of making love and of catching worms and serpents! In the papyrus of the priestess Anhai (see p. 325) we actually see the deceased lady in converse with two figures, one of whom is probably her father and the other certainly her mother, for above the head of the latter are written the words “her mother” (mut-s) followed by the name. A supplementary proof of this is afforded by a passage in the LIInd Chapter, where the deceased says :—” The gods “shall say unto me: ‘What manner of food wouldst “‘thou have given unto thee?’ [And I reply:] ‘Let me “‘eat my food under the sycamore tree of my lady, the “‘goddess Hathor, and let my times be among the “‘divine beings who have alighted thereon. Let me “’have the power to order my own fields in at·t·u”’ and my own growing crops in Ånnu. Let me live “‘upon bread made of white barley, and let my ale be “‘[made] from red grain, and may the persons of my “‘father and my mother be given unto me as guardians “‘of my door and for the ordering of my territory.’” The same idea is also expressed in the CLXXXIXth Chapter (1. 7). Thus the deceased hoped to have in the next world an abundance of the material comforts which he enjoyed in this world, and to meet again his own god, and his father and mother; as we see him frequently accompanied by his wife in several vignettes to other Chapters we may assume that he would meet her again along with the children whom she bore him.
It will be noticed that little is said throughout the Book of the Dead about the spiritual occupations of the blessed dead, and we are told nothing of the choirs of angels who hymn the Deity everlastingly in the religious works of later Western nations. The dead who attained to everlasting life became in every respect like the divine inhabitants of heaven, and they ate the same meat, and drank the same drink, and wore the same apparel, and lived as they lived. No classification of angels is mentioned, and grades of them like Cherubim, and Seraphim, Thrones, Powers, Dominions, etc., such as are found in the celestial hierarchy of Semitic nations, are unknown; a celestial city constructed on the model described in the Apocalypse is also unknown.
We have seen that the Elysian Fields much resembled the flat, fertile lands intersected by large cauals and streams of running water, such as must always have existed and may still be seen in certain parts of the Delta; of the distance to be traversed by the dead before they were reached nothing whatever is said. As the Egyptian made his future world a counterpart of the Egypt which he knew and loved, and gave to it heavenly counterparts of all the sacred cities thereof, he must have conceived the existence of a water way like the Nile, with tributaries and branches, whereon he might sail and perform his journeys. According to some texts the abode of the dead was away beyond Egypt to the north, but according to others it might be either above or below the earth. The oldest tradition of all placed it above the earth, and the sky was the large flat or vaulted iron surface which formed its floor; this iron surface was supported upon four pillars; one at each of the cardinal points, and its edges were some height above the earth. To reach this iron ceiling of the earth and floor of heaven a ladder was thought to be necessary, as we may see from the following passage, in which Pepi the king says, “Homage to thee, O “ladder1 of the god, homage to thee, O ladder of Set. “Set thyself up, O ladder of the god, set thyself up, “O ladder of Set, set thyself up, O ladder of Horus, “whereby Osiris appeared in heaven when he wrought “protection for RĀ.…. For it is thy son Pepi, and “this Pepi is Horus, and thou hast given birth to this “Pepi even as thou hast given birth to the god who is “the lord of the ladder. Thou hast given unto him “the ladder of the god, and thou hast given unto him “the ladder of Set, whereby this Pepi hath appeared in “heaven, when he wrought protection for RĀ.
A later belief placed the abode of the departed away to the west or north-west of Egypt, and the souls of the dead made their way thither through a gap in the mountains on the western bank of the Nile near Abydos. A still later belief made out that the abode of the departed was a long, mountainous, narrow valley with a river running along it; starting from the east, it made its way to the north, and then taking a circular direction it came back to the east. In this valley there lived all manner of fearful monsters and beasts, and here was the country through which the sun passed during the twelve hours of night.1 It is impossible to reconcile all the conflicting statements concerning the abode of the dead, and the Egyptians themselves held different views about it at different periods.
The Egyptians, from the earliest to the latest period of their history, were addicted to the use of magical formulas which were thought to be able to effect results usually beyond the power of man, and they accompanied the recital of such formulae by the performance of certain ceremonies. The formulae consisted of the repetition of the names of gods and supernatural beings, benevolent or hostile to man as the case might be, and of entreaties or curses; the ceremonies were of various kinds.1
The Egyptian believed that every word spoken under certain circumstances must be followed by some effect, good or bad; a prayer uttered by a properly qualified person, or by a man ceremonially pure, in the proper place, and in the proper manner, must necessarily be answered favourably; and similarly the curses which were pronounced upon a man, or beast, or thing, in the name of a hostile supernatural being were bound to result in harm to the object cursed. This idea had its origin in the belief that the world and all that therein is came into being immediately after Thoth had interpreted in words the will of the deity, in respect of the creation of the world, and that creation was the result of the god’s command. In very early times the Egyptian called in the professional religious man to utter words of good omen over the dead body of his relative or friend, and later the same words written upon some substance and buried with him were believed to be effectual in procuring for him the good things of the life beyond the grave. In the text on the pyramid of Unås (1. 583) is a reference to something written which the deceased was supposed to possess, in the following words:— “The bone and flesh which have no writing2 are “wretched, but, behold, the writing of Unås is under “the great seal, and behold, it is not under the little “seal.” And in the text on the pyramid of Pepi I. we find the words, “The uraeus of this Pepi is upon his “head, there is a writing on each side of him, and he “hath words of magical power at his two feet”; thus equipped the king enters heaven.
A common way to effect certain results, good or evil, was to employ figures made of various substances, chiefly wax, or amulets made of precious stones and metals in various forms; both figures and amulets were inscribed with words which gave them the power to carry out the work assigned to them by those who caused them to be made. It is well known that the Egyptians believed that the qualities and much else, including the ka, of a living original could be transferred to an image thereof by means of the repetition over it of certain formulae, and a good or evil act done to a statue or figure resulted in good or evil to the person whom it represented.
About the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty, we learn from a papyrus1 that a man was prosecuted in Egypt for having made figures of men and women in wax, by which he caused sundry and divers pains and sicknesses to the living beings whom they represented. And, according to Pseudo-Callisthenes,2 Nectanebus wrought magic by means of a bowl of water, some waxen figures, and an ebony rod. The waxen figures were made in the forms of the soldiers of the enemy who were coming against him by sea or by land, and were placed upon the water in the basin by him. Nectanebus then arrayed himself in suitable apparel, and, having taken the rod in his hand, began to recite certain formulae and the names of divine powers known unto him, whereupon the waxen figures became animated, and straightway sank to the bottom of the bowl; at the same moment the hosts of the enemy were destroyed. If the foe was coming by sea he placed the waxen soldiers in waxen ships, and at the sound of the words of power both ships and men sank into the waves as the waxen models sank to the bottom of the bowl. The same informant tells us that when Nectanebus wished Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, to believe that the god Ammon had visited her during the night, he went forth from her presence into the plain and gathered a number of herbs which had the power of causing dreams, and pressed out the juice from them. He then fashioned a female figure in the form of Olympias, and inscribed the Queen’s name upon it, and having made the model of a bed he laid the figure thereon. Nectanebus next lit a lamp, and reciting the words of power which would compel the demons to send Olympias a dream, he poured out the juice of the herbs over the waxen figure; and at the moment of the performance of these acts Olympias dreamed that she was in the arms of the god Ammon.
The most important mention of figures in the Book of the Dead occurs in the VIth Chapter. When the Egyptian, in very early days, conceived the existence of the Elysian Fields it occurred to him that the agricultural labours which would have to be carried out there might entail upon himself toil and fatigue. To avoid this a short Chapter (V.) was drawn up, the recital of which was believed to free the deceased from doing any work in the underworld. But it was felt that the work must be done by some person or thing, and eventually it became the custom to bury a figure or figures of the deceased with him in his tomb so that it or they might perform whatever work fell to his share. To these figures the Egyptian gave the name ushabtiu, a word which is commonly rendered by “respondents” or “answerers,” and they are often described in modern times as the “working figures of Hades.”
Several of the Chapters of the Book of the Dead are followed by Rubrics which give directions for the performance of certain magical ceremonies, and among them may be specially mentioned the following:—
Chap. XIII. This Chapter was to be recited over two rings made of A¯nkhåm flowers; one was to be laid on the right ear of the deceased, and the other was to be wrapped up in a piece of byssus whereon the name of the deceased was inscribed.
Chap. XIX. This Chapter was to be recited over the divine chaplet which was laid upon the face of the deceased while incense was burnt on his behalf.
Chap. C. This Chapter was to be recited over a picture of the boat of the Sun painted with a special ink upon a piece of new papyrus, which was to be laid on the breast of the deceased, who would then have power to embark in the boat of RĀ and to journey with the god.
Chap. CXXV. The Judgment Scene was to be painted upon a tile made of earth upon which neither the pig nor any other animal had trodden; and if the text of the Chapter was also written upon it, the deceased and his children would flourish for ever, his name would never be forgotten, and his place would henceforth be with the followers of Osiris.
Chap. CXXX. This Chapter was to be recited over a picture of the god RĀ wherein a figure of the deceased sitting in the bows was drawn; this done, the soul of the deceased would live for ever.
Chap. CXXXIII. This Chapter was to be recited over a faïence model of the boat of RĀ, four cubits in length, whereon the figures of the divine chiefs were painted; painted figures of RĀ and of the Khu of the deceased were to be placed in the boat. A model of the starry heavens was also to be made and upon it the model of the boat of RĀ was to be moved about, in imitation of the motion of the boat of the god in heaven; this ceremony would cause the deceased to be received by the gods in heaven as one of themselves.
Chap. CXXXIV. This Chapter was to be recited over figures of a hawk (RĀ), Tem, Shu, Tefnut, Seb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Suti, and Nephthys painted on a plaque, which was to be placed in a model of the boat of RĀ wherein the deceased was seated; this ceremony would cause the deceased to travel with RĀ in the sky.
Chap. CXXXVIA. This Chapter was to be recited over a figure of the deceased seated in the boat of RĀ.
Chap. CXXXVIIA. This Chapter was to be recited over four fires, fed by a special kind of cloth anointed with unguent, which were to be placed in the hands of four men who had the names of the pillars of Horus written upon their shoulders. Four clay troughs, whereon incense had been sprinkled, were to be filled with the milk of a white cow, and the milk was to be employed in extinguishing the four fires. If this Chapter were recited daily (?) for the deceased he would become like unto Osiris in every respect. The Rubric supplies a series of texts which were to be recited:—(1) over a Tet of crystal set in a plinth, which was to be placed in the west wall of the tomb; (2) over a figure of Anubis set in a plinth, which was to be placed in the east wall; (3) over a brick smeared with pitch which was set on fire, and then placed in the south wall; and (4) over a brick inscribed with the figure of a palm tree, which was set in the north wall.
Chap. CXL. This Chapter was to be recited over an utchat, or figure of the Eye of Horus, made either of lapis-lazuli or Mak stone, and over another made of jasper. During the recital of the Chapter four altars were to be lighted for RĀ-Tem, and four for theUtchat, and four for the gods who were mentioned therein.
Chap. CXLIV. The seven sections of this Chapter were to be recited over a drawing of the Seven Årits, at each of which three gods were seated; by these means the deceased was prevented from being turned back at the door of any one of the seven mansions of Osiris.
Chap. CLXII. This Chapter was to be recited over the figure of a cow made of fine gold which was to be placed at the neck of the deceased; during the performance of this ceremony the priest is ordered to say, “O Åmen, O Åmen, who art in heaven, turn “thy face upon the dead body of thy son and make “him sound and strong in the underworld.”
Chap. CLXIII. This Chapter was to be recited over a serpent having legs and wearing a disk and two horns, and over two utchats having both eyes and wings.
Chap. CLXIV. This Chapter was to be recited over a three-headed, ithyphallic figure of Mut painted upon a piece of linen, and over the figures of two dwarfs painted one on each side of the goddess.
Chap. CLXV. This Chapter was to be recited over the figure of the “god of the litted hand,” who had a body in the form of that of a beetle.
Besides these a number of Chapters have Rubrics, varying in length from two to twenty lines, which declare that if the deceased be acquainted with their contents or if they be inscribed upon his coffin, they will enable him to attain great happiness and freedom in the world beyond the grave. Seven other Chapters consist of texts which were written upon the amulets that were usually laid upon the mummy, namely, Nos. XXXB., LXXXIX., CLV.; CLVI., CLVII., CLVIII., and CLIX.
Finally, mention must be made here of the great importance attached by the Egyptians to the knowledge of the names of gods, supernatural beings, etc., and it seems that the deceased who was ignorant of them must have fared badly in the underworld. Thus in Chapter IB. it is said that the deceased knoweth Osiris and his names; in Chapter XCIX. the deceased is obliged to tell the names of every portion of the boat wherein he wishes to cross the great river in the underworld; in Chapter CXXV. Anubis makes him declare the names of the two leaves of the door of the Hall of Osiris before he will let him in, and even the bolts, and bolt-sockets, and lintels, and planks will not allow him to enter until the deceased has satisfied them that he knows their names. Entrance into the seven A¯rits or mansions could not be obtained without a knowledge of the names of the doorkeeper, watcher, and herald who belonged to each; and similarly, the pylons of the domains of Osiris could not be passed through by the deceased without a declaration by him of the name of each. The idea underlying all such statements is that the man who knows the name of a god could invoke and obtain help from him by calling upon him, and that the hostility of a fiend could be successfully opposed by the repetition of his name. The knowledge of the names of fiends and demons constituted the chief power of the magicians of olden times, and the amulets of the Gnostics which were inscribed with numbers of names of supernatural powers are the practical expression of the belief in the efficacy of the knowledge of names which existed in Egypt from time immemorial.