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A HYMN TO OSIRIS

 

Background

 

          According to his priests, Osiris was the king of the Egyptian pantheon and embodied the gods Ra, Apis, Ptah, Horus, Thoth, and Khnum.  Unlike his predecessors, however, Osiris, as in the case of Ra (who was also considered the King of the Gods), Isis, Horus, and Seth, is thought by many Egyptologists to be a foreign god.  Proof of his origins lie in the fact that an ancient cult object associated with his worship was a Syrian cedar with its branches lopped off.   The same Egyptologists believe that Osiris had in fact been an ancient corn diety of Syria brought to Egypt in Predynastic times but not found in Egyptian hieroglyphics until the Old Kingdom (2658-2135 BC).  By that time, most of gods he allegedly embodied were well established in Egyptian mythology.  Moreover, Osiris was probably a legendary outgrowth of a real-life ruler. 

          In accordance with the Osiris myth that began in the Egyptian delta city of Busiris, he gave Egypt its civilization.  From him, the north wind sprang.  All heaven was his dominion, the stars were his ministers, and the doors of the sky opened before him of their own accord.  In his person he united endless time in the past and endless time in the future.  He had an evil brother, Seth, who was jealous of the devotion of his brother's subjects.  As Cain had slain Able, Seth slew Osiris.  Then Osiris was resurrected by his wife Isis, who roamed the earth in search of his dismembered parts until she had collected them all.  Their son, Horus, later avenged his father's murder by defeating Seth and taking command of the earth.  As in the case of Osiris, Seth, Isis, and Horus, could have been based upon real life characters during the reign of this ancient god-king.

          The Hymn to Osiris depicted was originally inscribed on an Eighteenth Dynasty stele.  In spite of its general accuracy, the hieroglyphic board linked to this document is an artistic inscription rather than an exact copy of an existing artifact.  Note the numbered portions of the translated text, which correspond to the subsequent diagram (Key) also linked to this document.  To follow the flow of hieroglyphic text (left to right), match the numbers of the translation to the linked hieroglyphic key and board. 

 

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                          Hieroglyphic Board (Refer to text below.)                                                         Translation (Refer to text below.)

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Translation

 

          [1] Homage to thee, Osiris, Lord of Eternity, King of the Gods, whose names are manifold, whose transformations are sublime, whose form is hidden in the temples, whose Ka is holy, the Governor of Tetut, the mighty one of possessions [2] in the shrine, the Lord of Praises in the Nome of Anetch, President of the divine food in Anu, Lord who art commemorated in the town of Maati, the mysterious Soul of Re and his very body, who hast thy dwelling in [3] Henensu, the beneficent one, who art praised in Nart, who makest to rise up thy Soul, Lord of the Great House in the city of the Eight Gods, who inspirest great terror in Shas-hetep, Lord of Eternity, Governor of Abydos.  Thy domain reacheth far into the Other World and thy name is firmly established in the mouths of men.  [4] Thou art the two-fold substance of the Two Lands everywhere, and the divine food of the Ka, the Governor of the Companies of the Gods, and the perfect Spirit-soul.  The god Nu draweth his waters from thee, and thou bringest forth the north wind at eventide, and wind from thy nostrils to the satisfaction of thy heart.  [5] Thy heart flourishes, and thou bringest forth the splendor of divine food.  The height of heaven and the stars thereof are obedient unto thee, and thou makest to be opened the great gates of the sky.  Thou art the lord to whom praises are sung in the southern heaven.  Thou art he to whom thanks are given in the northern heaven.  The stars which never [6] diminish are under the place of thy face, and thy seats are the stars which never rest.  The Companies of the Gods ascribe praise unto thee, the Star-gods of the Tuat smell the earth before thee, the domains make bowings before thee, and the ends of the earth make supplication to thee [7] when they see thee.  Those who are among the holy ones are in terror of him, and the Two Lands, all of them, make acclamations to him when they meet His Majesty.  Thou art a shining noble at the head of the nobles, permanent in thy high rank, established in thy sovereignty, the beneficent Power of the Company of the Gods.  Well-pleasing is thy face, [8] and thou art beloved by him that seeth thee.  Thou settest the fear of thee in all lands, and because of their love for thee men hold thy name to be pre-eminent.  Every man maketh offerings unto thee, and thou art the Lord who is commemorated in heaven and upon earth.  Manifold are the cries of acclamation to thee in the Uak festival, and the [9] Two Lands shout joyously to thee with one accord.  Thou art the eldest, the first of thy brethren, the Prince of the Company of the Gods, and the establisher of Truth throughout the Two Lands.  Thou settest thy son upon the great throne of his father Keb.  Thou art the beloved one of thy mother Nut, whose valor is most mighty when thou overthrowest the Seba Fiend.  [10] Thou hast slaughtered thy enemy, and hast put the fear of thee into thy Adversary.

 






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