Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Legend of Osiris

The Ancient Egyptians believed in a great many gods. They tried to please the gods because then good things would happen to them. They had Sobek, the god of crocodiles and water supplies. Then they had Bes, the dwarf god of happiness. They also had Re, the sun god. I'm going to talk about a few of the gods. This is an Egyptian legend which I'm sure I've mentioned somewhere. I just hope I didn't tell the entire story.

There once was an Egyptian king named Osiris. He was popular and everyone liked him. Well, almost everyone. His sweet, loving brother, Set, was fairly up-set with the fact everyone liked his brother. Set, being his kind, loving self, had a coffin made. He said that anyone who could fit in it could have it. Of course, Osiris tried to fit in. (And the coffin had been specially built to fit someone. One wonders who, eh?) Take a guess... Do we have a answer? Yes we do! It was Osiris who was supposed to fit the thing. When Osiris climbed in, his brother put the lid on and sealed it with boiling lead. Set, being a thoughtful, caring type, cooled the coffin down by throwing it into the Nile.

Osiris had himself a wife named Isis. She loved him as much as the people loved him. And yes, even more than Set. Isis decided to find the casket so she could bury her beloved husband. That was like looking for a needle in a haystack. But people have found thimbles in burned down houses before!!!!! As usually happens in this sort of story, she found the body. She hid it in the rushes of the Nile before she burried it. Wrong move. Set found it, took the body out, chopped it into pieces, and scattered the bits everywhere- all over the world, in fact. Isis, being the amazing wife she was, located all the pieces and wrapped them in linen. Ta-da! The world's first mummy was made. And Isis, being a good friend of the god Anubis, had the god breathe life into her husband, who entered the afterlife as the god of death, rebirth, the earth and the Underworld.

Unfortunately for the horrid Set, Osiris was a daddy, (although not the world's first.)
His son's name was Horus, and he loved his daddy as much as his mother did. He decided to kill Set. There was a group of battles. Set plucked Horus's eye out! What an evil uncle! But no one really won. And they all got to be gods in the end. Horus became the god who looked after the pharaoh. Isis became the godess who protected the dead. Set became the god of the deserts and storms. So they all got pretty good positions at the end.

Here's some food for thought. The Egyptians believed that at one point the gods had ruled the earth. A few of the gods that could be in this catagory are Osiris, Set, Horus, Shu, Geb, Re, and Ptah. Could the Egyptian gods have been humans at one point, but the information about them had become distorted? Could their graves be waiting for us to uncover them? Osiris's tomb was almost discovered in the 1820's, but the discoverers of the tomb vanished before they got the word out. If you want a little more information on this topic, you can read my blog about King Tut. Or you can read the book "Egyptology" published by Candlewick Press.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Death in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians often died before the age of thirty, and they wanted to continue living. So it's not surprising that they believed in an afterlife. The most important parts of your spirit, the Egyptians believed, were your ka and your ba. Your ka was a spirit who looked like you. Your ba was your life force. If you ever see a ba, let me know, and get a picture if you can. I'd love to see it. It's a bird with a man's head so you can be sure if you've seen one. Don't forget to take a picture! And if you didn't have a name, it was as if you had never exsisted. (One wonders about babies who died while being born. What about them?)

The early mummies weren't embalmed: they were buried in the desert sands. This preserved them well. A museum wanted a mummy like this and a clever antique dealer provided one. The mummy had red hair and was nicknamed Ginger. But the dealer was known for providing fakes when he couldn't get the real thing. And the dealer's brother vanished around the same time the mummy appeared. Surely he didn't- I hope.

I think I'll skip over the mummifying process because that stuff was just plain gross. I'll bet grown men faint after seeing brains being forced out through the nostrils. I would. I'll skip over it to a part about tombs, which are, along with pyraminds, the sphinx, mummies and King Tut, a famous part of Ancient Egypt. The rich would have their mummies placed inside a coffin. The very rich would have several coffins. The coffins would be placed in tombs, which were only for the rich. They had burial chambers, and sometimes other chambers, such as chapels where food could be left for the dead person's ka.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the next life would be like this life. They were buried with food, clothes, and furniture. The pictures on the sides of the walls, actually, served a purpose. They were supposed to be part of what the dead would need in the afterlife. A picture of someone riding, for example, was drawn to ensure that the dead would be able to ride during the afterlife. Also, since the Egyptians believed they would have to work in the afterlife, they were buried with ushabtis, who would do all the work for them.

Well, now you know more about the Ancient Egyptian burial stuff than you thought you'd ever know. But you don't know it all, now, do you? If you find this stuff interesting, you always could look it up. Or, when you die, you can find out whether they were right or not. (I'm leaning toward the "not" side.)