Osiris


Osiris

Osiris

In Ancient Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the god of the beyond whose death and resurrection brought a guarantee of an afterlife to mortals. He was a kindly Pharaoh, teaching agriculture, music, arts, and religion to his people. Jealous of his successful reign, his brother Seth killed him with the help of many accomplices and took control of Egypt. However, Seth's reign was foreshortened by Isis's great love for her husband and brother Osiris, whom she brought back from the dead. A skillful magician, she gave Osiris breath by flapping her wings above him while she transformed into a bird. Osiris and Isis then conceived Horus, their beloved son. Seth, seething in anger, killed Osiris once again, this time by cutting his body to pieces and throwing them into the Nile River. Isis, with the help of Anubis, the god with the jackal head, reconstituted Osiris's body with bandages and embalming rites, thus creating the first mummy. During this act, the god Thoth recited an incantation. Finally, Horus avenged his father Osiris in a bloody duel with Seth in which Horus lost his eye, which was then given as a food offering to Osiris.

Each of the ceremonies which were followed after Osiris' death, became the actual rituals that the Egyptians performed to ensure access to the eternal life after death. Egyptians performed mummification of the body to preserve it eternally, recited incantations to facilitate access to the hereafter and provide gifts to help them on their voyage. The deceased's soul proceeds to Hell and must appear before Osiris's Court, which weighs the soul's good and bad actions; the heart must be light as a feather to obtain salvation. Otherwise, the consequence is torment and destruction.

In pictorial representations, Osiris is portrayed wearing the white clothes used in mummification; he typically holds the king's scepter and the judge's whip, symbols of supreme authority.

See also: Cannibalism; Gods and Goddesses of Life and Death; Jesus; Sacrifice

Bibliography

Coulter, Charles R., and Patricia Turner. Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, 2000.

Griffiths, John Gwyn. The Origins of Osiris and his Cult. Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1980.

Mercatante, Anthony S. Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

ISABELLE MARCOUX

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MARCOUX, ISABELLE. "Osiris." Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 1 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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MARCOUX, ISABELLE. "Osiris." Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. 2002. Retrieved November 01, 2014 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407200221.html

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Osiris

Osiris (ōsī´rĬs), in Egyptian religion, legendary ruler of predynastic Egypt and god of the underworld. He was the son of the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb. The great benefactor of mankind, Osiris brought to the people knowledge of agriculture and civilization. In a famous myth he was treacherously slain by his evil brother Set, who cut his body into 14 pieces and spread the fragments throughout Egypt. Thereupon, Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, sought and found his scattered body. She buried the pieces, making each burial place a sacred spot. According to another legend Isis did not bury Osiris, but collected the pieces of her dead husband and miraculously brought him back to life. Osiris' son Horus later killed Set and became the new king of Egypt, while Osiris became ruler and judge of the underworld. The worship of Osiris, like that of the sun god Ra, was one of the great cults of ancient Egypt. It gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean world and, with that of Isis and Horus, was especially vital during the time of the Roman Empire. Identified variously with the waters of the Nile, the grain of the earth, the moon, and the sun, Osiris was the great symbol of the creative forces of nature and the imperishability of life. He was commonly represented as swathed in mummy wrappings, wearing the crown of Upper Egypt (a dome-shaped hat with a papyrus tuft) and holding a whip and a crook.

See J. G. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris (1907, new ed. 1961); E. A. W. Budge, Osiris (1911, new ed. 1961, repr. 1973); J. G. Griffiths, The Origins of Osiris (1966).

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Osiris

Osiris

One of the most important deities of ancient Egypt, Osiris was god of the underworld and judge of the dead. He also represented the idea of renewal and rebirth in the afterlife. Osiris appears in many Egyptian myths and legends, and his cult spread beyond Egypt.

Little is known about the origin of Osiris in Egyptian mythology. In very ancient times, he may have been a local god of the city of Busiris in Lower Egypt. It is possible that he was originally an underworld or fertility deity or a legendary hero. By about 2400 b.c., his cult had become firmly established and began to spread throughout much of Egypt.

In Egyptian mythology, Osiris was the son of the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb, brother and husband of Isis* and father of Horus. He supposedly served as a ruler of early Egypt, where his followers honored him as both god and man. Credited with civilizing the country, Osiris introduced agriculture and various crafts, established laws, and taught Egyptians how to worship the gods.

deity god or goddess

underworld land of the dead

cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god

Osiris traveled to other parts of the world to civilize people there as well. Upon his return to Egypt, his jealous brother Set* plotted with others to kill him. They built a beautifully decorated box, tricked Osiris into getting into it, sealed the box, and then threw it into the Nile River. The box floated into the Mediterranean Sea and to the land of Byblos in Phoenicia*.

Overcome with grief at the loss of her husband, Isis searched high and low for his body Eventually she found it. Bringing the body back to Egypt, she magically restored Osiris to life long enough to conceive a son, Horus. Isis then hid the body in a secluded spot. Set discovered it, cut it into pieces, and scattered them throughout Egypt. Isis gathered up the pieces, reassembled them, and restored Osiris to life once again.

Instead of staying on earth, he chose to become lord of the Egyptian underworld. As king of the dead, he sat in judgment of dead souls, measuring the worth of their lives and determining their punishment or reward. The gods Anubis and Thoth assisted him. In his role as god of the dead, Osiris became associated with the Egyptian practices of embalming and mummification and was the object of intense worship.

When Osiris became lord of the underworld, his son Horus became ruler of Egypt. The Egyptians believed that when a pharaoh, or king, died, he became the god Osiris. The new pharaoh represented Horus, the god of the living.

embalm to treat a corpse with oils or chemicals to prevent or slow down the process of decay

mummification preservation of a body by removing its organs and allowing it to dry

amulet small object thought to have supernatural or magical powers

flail tool for threshing grain

In ancient Egyptian art, Osiris is usually portrayed as a bearded king wrapped in cloth like a mummy. He generally wears the crown of Upper Egypt, has an amulet around his neck, and holds a crook and a flail, symbols of his powers as god of fertility and the underworld. Although Osiris's main cult center was at the city of Abydos, the god was worshiped intensely throughout Egypt. The appeal of a god who offered the promise of life after death was so strong that worship of Osiris also spread to other parts of the ancient world, most notably Greece and Rome.

See also Afterlife; Anubis; Book of the Dead, The; Egyptian Mythology; Horus; Isis; Nut; RΑ (RE); Set; Thoth; Underworld.

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Osiris

Osiris in Egyptian mythology, a god originally connected with fertility, husband of Isis and father of Horus. He is known chiefly through the story of his death at the hands of his brother Seth and his subsequent restoration to a new life as ruler of the afterlife. Under Ptolemy I his cult was combined with that of Apis to produce the cult of Serapis.

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ELIZABETH KNOWLES. "Osiris." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 2006. Encyclopedia.com. 1 Nov. 2014 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Osiris

Osiris In Egyptian mythology, the god of the dead. He is generally depicted wearing a feathered crown and bearing the crook and flail of a king. In the myths, Osiris was killed by his brother Seth. His sister and wife, Isis, retrieved the corpse, and Osiris' son Horus avenged his death.

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Osiris

Osirisarris, Clarice, Harries, Harris, Paris •mattress • actress • benefactress •Polaris • enchantress •derris, Nerys, terrace •Emrys • empress •directress, Electress •temptress • sempstress •Apollinaris, heiress •waitress • seamstress • ex libris •headmistress, mistress •housemistress • toastmistress •schoolmistress • ancestress •dentifrice •iris, Osiris •tigress, Tigris •cypress •Boris, doch-an-dorris, Doris, Horace, Maurice, Norris, orris •cantoris, Dolores, loris •laundress • fortress • jointress •hubris • buttress •conductress, instructress, seductress •huntress • peeress • Beatrice •arbitress • berberis • anchoress •ephemeris • ambassadress •adventuress • clitoris • authoress •avarice

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Osiris. (Image by Jastrow, GFDL)