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The Gods
Ancient Egypt

(This is by no means an exhaustive list)

Ammut was a creature which devoured those souls who proved unworthy to dwell in the Afterlife.

The goddess was depicted with the head of a crocodile, the forequarters of a lion, and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus.

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A god of Thebes, he was usually shown as human and viewed in later times as one of the gods of creation.

Where several localities were combined in one city the local gods might be combined in a divine family. In Thebes Amun was paired with the vulture-goddess Mut and the local moon-god, Khonsu, was said to be their son.

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The god of mummification, he assisted in the rites by which a dead man was admitted to the underworld.

Anubis was depicted with the head of the jackal.

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Bes was the god of music and dance, the god of war and slaughter, and a destroying force of nature. He was also a protector of children.

Bes was usually portrayed as a dwarf with a large head. He is bearded with his tongue sticking out.

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Geb was the son of Shu and Tefnut and the brother and husband of Nut. Through Nut he had four children, Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. Geb was the god of the earth.

He is usually shown as a man wearing either the crown of the North or of the South. Added is either the Atef crown or a goose. The goose was a sacred animal to Geb, as such he was sometimes called "The Great Cackler" It was said that Geb's laughter was the source of earthquakes.

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Hapi is the ancient Egyptian god of the Nile. He is ancient not only to us of the modern world, but to the Egyptians as well.

Hapi was portrayed as a man with women's breasts. The full breasts indicate fertility and his ability to nourish the land through the Nile's annual floods.

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Hapy is one of the four sons of Horus, he was portrayed as a mummy with the head of a baboon. Horus had numerous wives and children, and his 'four sons' were grouped together and were generally said to be born of Isis. The other three were Imsety (with a human head), Duamutef (with jackal's head) and Qebehsenuef (with a falcon's head).

Most commonly they are remembered as the protectors of the internal organs of the deceased. Each son protected an organ. Hapy's role was to protect the lungs of the deceased. He is sometimes confused with the Nile-god "Hapi".

The Four Sons of Horus
depicted on canopic jars

The role of Imsety was to protect the liver of the deceased, Duamutef the stomach and Qebehsenuef the intestines.

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The horned cow-goddess of love, she was also the deity of happiness, dance and music, and a protector of women. Early in Egyptian mythology she was known as Horus ' mother (later Isis assumed this role). Proof of this is seen in her name, "Hathor" which means the "House of Horus".

She is depicted as a woman with the head of a cow, or as a woman who wears the stylized cow-horns which hold in them the solar disk.

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The falcon-headed god, the kings of Egypt associated themselves with Horus. Horus was among the most important gods of Egypt. He is now believed to be a mixture of the original deities called "Horus the Child" and "Horus the Elder." The worship of the two gods became confused early in egyptian history and the two gods merged.

As Horus the Child, Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris. He is represented in this form as a young boy with a sidelock of hair, sucking on his finger. As Horus the Elder, he was the patron deity of Upper (Southern) Egypt. Early traditions view him as the twin brother of Seth (the patron of Lower Egypt), but he became the conquerer of Seth c. 3000 BC when Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt and formed the united kingdom of Egypt.

He was depicted as a falcon-headed man, sometimes wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.

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Isis was the sister of Osiris (who was also her husband), Nephthys and Seth, the daughter of Nut and Geb and the mother of Horus the Child. From the beginning of Egypt's history to the end, Isis was the greatest goddess of Egypt. She was the beneficial goddess and mother whose love encompassed every living creature.

Isis is depicted as a woman wearing a vulture head-dress and the solar disk between a pair of horns (which is sometimes underneath the symbol of her name, the throne). Occasionally she wears the double-crowns of the North and the South with the feather of Maat, or a pair of ram's horns. Isis as a woman (not a goddess) is portrayed with the ordinary head-dress of a woman, but with the uraeus over her forehead.

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Ma'at was the goddess of the physical and moral law of Egypt, of order and truth. She was the female counterpart of Thoth and had eight children with him. The most important of her children was Amun.

She is depicted in the form of a woman seated or standing. She holds the sceptre in one hand and the ankh (the symbol of "life") in the other. The symbol of Ma'at was the ostrich feather and she is always shown wearing it in her hair. The feather was her symbol, and as such, when the dead are judged, it is this feather their hearts are weighed against. If their hearts are as "light as a feather", they are granted eternal life. The near-weightlessness of their hearts indicated that their souls were not burdened with sin and evil. If their hearts did not "measure up", the soul of the deceased was consumed by Ammut.

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Nephthys was the daughter of Geb and Nut and the sister of Osiris, Isis and Seth. She was also the wife of Seth.

Nephthys was portrayed as a woman wearing on her head the symbol of her name, or the symbol on top of a pair of horns. Her son was Anubis, either by Osiris or Seth. Various myths describe Anubis as the son of Seth. Some however, assert that Nephthys intoxicated Osiris and seduced him, thus creating Anubis. Yet others say that she disguised herself as her sister Isis, Osiris ' wife, and became pregnant by him. It was Nephthys' affair with Osiris which enraged Seth and was the motive for his murder of Osiris.

Since the earliest of times, Nephthys was considered to be Seth 's counterpart and wife. She was always associated with him. Even so, she was depicted as the loyal friend and sister to Isis. It was Nephythys who helped Isis search for and rebuild Osiris' body.

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The goddess Nut was the daughter of Shu and Tefnut and the wife of Geb, the earth god and she was the goddess of the sky.

The goddess was typically portrayed as a woman who wears on her head a vase of water. Many times she is shown as a woman whose hands and feet touch the ground so that her body forms a semi-circle.

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A god of the earth and vegetation, he symbolized in his death the yearly drought and in his miraculous rebirth the periodic flooding of the Nile and the growth of grain. He was a god-king who was believed to have given Egypt civilization.

The oldest religious texts refer to Osiris as the great god of the dead and that he once possessed human form and lived on earth. Also, that by some unusual powers he was able to bestow upon himself after his death a new life and a new body and ruled as king over the Afterlife.

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PTAH A local god of Memphis since the earliest dynastic times (c.3000 BC), he was the patron of craftsmen and the husband of Sekhmet. Some legends say he spoke the names of all the things in the world and thereby caused them to spring to existence and also built the bodies in which the souls of men would dwell in the afterlife. Other myths say he worked under Thoth's orders, creating the heavens and earth as Thoth specified.

Ptah is depicted as a bearded man wearing a skullcap and shrouded as a mummy. His hands emerge from wrappings in front of his body and hold the Uas (phoenix-headed) scepter, an Ankh (hieroglyph meaning "Life") and a Djed (sign of stability).

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The sun god of Annu (Heliopolis, modern-day Cairo), he became a state deity in the 5th Dynasty. Some traditions made him the creator of men, and the Egyptians called themselves "the cattle of Ra". His name is thought to mean "creative power", and as a proper name "Creator". Very early in Egyptian history, Ra was identified with Horus, who as a falcon-god represented the loftiness of the skies. He was represented as a hawk-headed man or as a hawk. A combination of the two, Ra-Harakhty, "Ra, who is Horus of the Horizons" showed the two as manifestations of the singular Solar Force.

Ra was the father of Shu and Tefnut, grandfather of Nut and Geb, great-grandfather of Osiris, Seth, Isis, Nephthys and great-great-grandfather of Horus. In later periods when Isis and Osiris overtook him in popularity, he remained "Ra retjer-aa neb-pet" ("Ra, the great God, Lord of Heaven") whether worshipped in his own right or later on, as half the Lord of the Universe, Amun-Ra.

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Regarded as the Lord of Lower (Northern) Egypt he was associated with the desert and storms. When Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt, Seth became known as the evil enemy of Horus (deity of Upper Egypt).

Seth was represented by a big-eared imaginary animal resembling a donkey or maybe an aardvark. He was the brother of Osiris, Isis as well as Nephthys who was also his wife. Seth is most famous for the fratricide of his brother Osiris and the attempted murder of his brother's son, Horus. Horus survived though and avenged his father's death by ruling all of Egypt and exiling Seth to the desert for all time.

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His name means "dry, parched, withered." He was associated with the heat of the sunlight and the dryness of the air. Shu was considered to be the god of the space and light between the sky and the earth. Shu was believed to also hold power over snakes and he was the one that held the Ladder the deceased used to climb to heaven. He was the brother and husband of Tefnut and they were usually mentioned together. He was also the son of Ra and father to Geb and Nut.

Shu is shown as a man who wears on his head one to four feathers. Some figurines show him holding up the sky with his two hands.

As Lord of the Air it was Shu's duty to separate the sky (the goddess Nut) and the earth (Nut's husband, Geb). His eternal occupation was holding Nut up above Geb. It was said that if he ever was removed from his place, Chaos would come to the Universe. Many images show him holding up his daughter, while his son reclines beneath him.

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The goddess' name is related to the word tef, "to spit, be moist" and nu, "sky". Appropriately, she was the personification of the moisture of the sky. Tefnut was the counterpart to Shu and the mother of Geb and Nut.

Tefnut was depicted in the form of a woman who wears on her head the solar disk circled by two cobras. She holds in her hands the sceptre and ankh. Many times she has the head of a lioness or is shown as one.

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The god of wisdom and learning. He was said to be self-created in the beginning along with his consort, the goddess Ma'at (truth). The two produced eight children, the most important being Amun.

He has been depicted as an ibis-headed human, an ibis, or a baboon (or dog-headed ape). He carries a pen and scrolls with which he records all things. It was believed that he invented writing and was the vizier and official scribe of the afterworld, and that the Book of the Dead was written by him. Thoth is shown attending all major scenes involving the gods, but most especially at the judgement of the deceased. It is here that he (shown as a dog-headed ape) sits on the top of the balance that weighs the heart of the deceased to determine if it is as light as ma'at. The concept of ma'at is one of truth, justice, and "that which is straight". It may even be related to "cosmic order". The baboon Thoth informs the ibis-headed Thoth when the balance is at equilibrium. The ibis-headed Thoth then makes his report to the other gods who then pass judgement on the deceased.

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