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File:St osiris.jpg


The Egyptians had quite a lot of deities, many of whom have "turned up" in fiction, especially in the Stargate Verse as Goa'uld. They show up in The Bible, especially in the book of Exodus, most of which takes place in ancient Egypt. [1]

The history of ancient Egypt is reflected in the history of their gods. And of course, Egyptian Mythology contains the Older Than Dirt examples of many a trope. See the character sheet for a listing of the major gods and associated tropes.

As with many other mythologies around the world there are different versions of many Egyptian myths, which results in a highly confusing mythology. Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt.[2] When the formerly-two kingdoms started to merge the pantheons into one things became a mess. Some deities were merged, renamed, or outright changed to try to keep the newly united kingdom's religion straight.


Tropes: Edit

  • Action Girl: Many of the goddesses became one, particularly Isis, Sekhmet, and Hathor, plus Neith, goddess of war.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Set, although an ambiguous deity in the earliest version of his myths, was worshipped like the other gods and protected Ra from Apep. After the division of Egypt, he became a God of Evil in the Lower Kingdom and even more so after the Hyksos invasion.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: That is one version of how Atum created Shu and Tefnut (the other is by spitting).
    • Some versions have it as both. It wasn't really a date with Rosie Palms, so much as a date with ... his own mouth.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: For the most part, the followers of Egyptian Mythology understood that the various forms ascribed to their various gods weren't supposed to be how the gods actually were. Those forms were supposed to be symbolic of concepts and traits found in the gods, with the actual gods themselves being thought to exist as abstract forces.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Happened a lot in Egypt; each city and area seemed to have their own take on the Egyptian religion, so as a result there are several sun gods and many other gods whose jobs and areas of expertise overlap.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Osiris had greenish-blue skin. Though that might have something to do with the fact that he's dead.
  • Animorphism
  • Anthropomorphic Personification
  • Ax Crazy: When Sekhmet was sent to Egypt to punish traitors of Ra, she slaughtered half the population, mauling them and drinking their blood.
  • Back From the Dead: Osiris, after being killed and cut into pieces by Seth.
  • Badass: Seth and Hathor qualify, as they are the only deities able to overcome the chaos demons.
  • Badass Bookworm: Thoth. The book of spells he wrote had to be dumped in the deepest part of the Nile, guarded by scorpions and an immortal serpent, and put inside a gold box inside a silver box inside an ebony/ivory box inside a wooden box inside a bronze box inside an iron box. The person who recovered it turned into a living god until Thoth wiped him out.
    • Also, said book was made from Emerald...
  • Beware the Nice Ones: See below regarding the connection between Hathor and Sekhmet.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Even though she still is a benevolent goddess, Isis convinced Ra to tell her his secret name by poisoning him. She's also well known to be clever and deceptive.
  • Bottle Fairy: Hathor, at times.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: A lot. Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys were all siblings, who fell in love while still in the womb. This aspect of Egyptian mythology reflected on the marriage habits of the Pharaohs.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aten, the disc-shape sun god.
  • Canon Immigrant: Bes, who is drawn in a completely different style than the other gods, and came from Nubia. It's also possible that Hathor's following originated further south as well.
  • Cain and Abel: Set and Osiris. One of the few examples older than the Trope Namer.
  • Came Back Wrong: Less wrong than most versions, but Osiris came back green. Some myths have this due to him turning into a vegetable or something. Also, he might be missing some bits, especially after that incident with Set throwing a certain body part of his into the Nile where a fish ate it.
  • Cessation of Existence: If a dead person's heart is heavier than Ma'at's feather, it's fed to the beast Ammit and the dead person ceases to exist. [3]
  • Continuity Snarl: Best describes the contradictory nature of Egyptian mythology.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Osiris once he became the god of death. Anubis as well, being portrayed as a black jackal.
  • Depending on the Writer: There was little uniformity in Egyptian mythology, and several different versions of the legends and tales of the gods. The most prominent example is the backstory of Anubis. Originally he was just another of Ra's spontaneously birthed children. Then he became the son of Set and Nepthys. Then later myths tried to degrade Set by implying he was impotent, so Anubis became the secret child of Nepthys and Osiris. Who said soap operas weren't high art?
  • Did Not Do the Research: Many works of fiction revolving around Egyptian mythology tend to get the role of Anubis way off. He's usually referred to as "the Lord of the Dead" or as "the God of Death," when that title in fact refers to his father, Osiris. Anubis was a deity whose role revolved around the dead, but he was actually more of a guardian of the dead than the Grim Reaper type figure often shown. More egregiously, he is often, in addition to being referred to as a god akin to Hades from Greek Mythology, misconstrued as being an evil or malevolent god, sometimes even serving as the Egpytian stand in for Satan. In reality, the Egyptians considered him to be an all-around pretty cool guy.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ra (or Aten, sometimes) fights Apep every single night. However, Apep eats souls, so he's dangerous to humans as well. The solution? Guides to fighting Apep, with such tactics as Spitting Upon Apep, Defiling Apep with the Left Foot, Taking a Lance to Smite Apep, Fettering Apep, Taking a Knife to Smite Apep and Laying Fire Upon Apep.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Apep, or Apophis, a gigantic serpent-demon that embodied chaos and darkness. Every night it tried to eat Ra as he passed through the underworld. Prior to the demonization of Set, Apep was considered the ultimate evil. Set's punishment for murdering Osiris is to guard Ra's sun barge from Apophis and kill him twice a day until his punishment is fulfilled.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Anubis, in more modern times. For the common layman he may be the only Egyptian god they can name. This is despite the fact that although he was always among the major gods in ancient Egypt he was by no means the most widely worshipped.
    • For a lot of nerds/geeks with a passing interest in Egyptian mythology, Thoth is popular mostly because he's a Badass Bookworm.
  • Evil Uncle: Set was one to Horus.
  • Eye Scream: During their battle Set plucked out one of Horus' eyes. Additionally, after Horus decapitated Isis and escaped, Seth found him and did it again, but with both eyes.
  • Face Heel Turn: Set.
  • Foe Yay: In the original version of the myth, Set asserts his dominance over Horus by seducing him, getting him drunk, and then raping him. Egyptian attitudes to this story varied wildly, some using it as a justification for homophobia (since clearly only a Depraved Homosexual would do such a thing), and others telling a different version where Horus is totally not gay from the experience because he actually received Set's semen in his hands and not in his...you know.
    • And then there's the addition that Horus put some of his own semen on some of Set's favorite vegetables and invited him over for a snack. When Set tried to tell the other gods about last night's events, Horus told him to prove it by "calling" their respective ejaculate. Set's answered from wherever Horus wiped his hand off, and Horus's answered from Set's stomach.
    • Another interpretation of the myth is simply that Set and Horus were simply trying to outsmart each other, as this myth predates the demonization of Set, and that Horus let Set have sex with him as part of a Xanatos Gambit. The series of myths this story comes from includes several different contests that Set and Horus had with each other, the point of them being to see who was superior in order to decide who had claim to rule over both Lower and Upper Egypt. Set lost most of the contests due to his Chaotic Stupid nature, whereas Horus won most of them by outsmarting Set and making him look like an idiot.
  • Furry Fandom: Because they have animal heads, Anubis, Bast and Sekhmet are particularly popular here. Especially Anubis.
  • God of Evil: Set, though he wasn't always: originally, he was the god of the desert and storms. He was designated as evil after Egypt was invaded by a people who favored him. He even helped Ra fight against Apep the serpent every night (which doesn't change the fact that he ruthlessly killed Osiris). Apep on the other hand was the god of darkness and chaos but is oddly never really used in fiction as much as Set.
  • Going to Give It More Energy: Sekhmet is let loose (in the form of a lioness) upon a sinful population. She gets out of control and the gods, taking pity on the humans, show them the way to stop her: they exploit her insatiable thirst for blood by flooding a nearby field with bloodred wine. When the crazed goddess passes by on her way to eat more people, she pounced on the lake of "blood" and drank it all. This results in the most severe hangover ever -- Sekhmet passes out and wakes up as a cow. This peaceful form of her is named Hathor.
  • Hell Hound: Egypt was in love with these: Anubis is the most well-known, but there were also Wepwawet, a white wolf war god that got associated with Anubis; Duamutef, a jackal-headed god and one of Horus' children who guards the canopic jars, also has ties with Anubis; Khenti-Amentiu, a jackal god of the dead that's even more ancient than Anubis and Osiris, likely connected to the former; and Sed, a jackal god with a ritual named after him celebrating the anniversary of the current Pharaoh's rule, closely connected to Wepwawet. Oh, and Hermanubis, a Fusion Dance between Anubis and Hermes created after the Greeks invaded.
  • I Ate What?: During the battle between Horus and Set, Horus does something very naughty over Set's salad at one point...
  • I Love the Dead: Isis and the corpse of Osiris.
  • Kill All Humans: In one myth Ra becomes angry with humanity for disrespecting him, so he turns Hathor into Sekhmet (depending on which version of the myth you're reading) and sends her on a bloody rampage. She nearly wipes humanity out before Ra decides she's over-doing it and sends Thoth to lull her with tales and blood-colored wine. When she becomes drunk she reverts back to Hathor again, and the Egyptians celebrated this every year during the Festival of Hathor by getting really drunk.
  • Killed Off for Real: Whoever's heart doesn't weigh the same as the Feather of Truth on the scales in the afterlife gets their heart fed to Ammit, after which the person the heart belonged to ceases to exist.
  • Lost Forever: Nobody knows what kind of animal Set's head was based on. One might say its form is no longer Set in stone.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Ammit, the demon that devoured the hearts of the unworthy, was made up of the scariest animals in Egypt: head of a crocodile, body of a lion, hindquarters of a hippo.
    • Contrary to popular belief, hippopotamuses are in fact very dangerous. They can kill lions. Steve Irwin was recorded as saying that the one time he felt close to death was when he was working with wild hippos. They are very aggressive and responsible for a considerable amount of deaths in Africa each year -- something the Ancient Egyptians would have been aware of (their entire civilization being on a river and all...)
    • Some of the protection gods were also made of the scariest bits of the scariest animals. Made it easier to frighten those evil spirits away.
    • One possibility of what the Set animal is.
    • Another possibility.
  • My Beloved Smother: Nut does this literally, as the goddess of the sky.
  • Necromantic: Isis trying to resurrect Osiris.
  • Off with His Head: Horus beheads his mother Isis at one point for her intervening in a fight between him and Set.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Sekhmet doesn't care who or what you are. If she sees you, you're dead.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The primary division of the Ancient Egyptian religion was not Good versus Evil, but Order Versus Chaos. The concept of balance, or Ma'at, was the central theme of the whole religion with the Pharaoh as the "Lord of Ma'at." Depending on the version of the story, several gods such as Ra, Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and Benu were all considered beyond the concepts of good or evil; instead, their main responsibility was to keep the universe from spiraling into chaos.
  • Petting Zoo People: The deities with animal heads and human bodies.
    • Though the Egyptians didn't actually believe those deities had animal heads; the animals symbolized aspects of the deity or were sacred to them, as the ibis to Thoth.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The Egyptian gods are immortal in this way. Although they are depicted as being killed, and aging, in several myths, they always come back to life. Re dies each and every evening, and is reborn every morning. Though the evidence isn't entirely clear, it appears that all gods were thought to age, die, and resurrect.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In some versions, Seth murdered Osiris as revenge for having slept with his wife.
  • Shapeshifting: Nearly all the gods and goddesses could do it.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Most of the names in Ancient Egyptian. Because Egyptians didn't write vowels in their language, Egyptologists generally use an arbitrary transcription where certain vowels (usually "e") are inserted to make pronunciation easier. This results in a god's name being spelled in several different ways, most of which have little to do with how it was pronounced in the actual language. [4]
  • Twincest
  • Twin Switch: Apparently this is how Anubis was conceived; Nephthys disguised herself as Isis and slept with Osiris. Though after everyone found out Isis and Osiris never seemed to hold it against her. Indeed, Osiris treated Anubis as a second son and co-ruler of the Underworld. Set, however, disowned Anubis.
  • You Killed My Father: The bloody and drawn out battle between Horus and Set happened because Set killed his father and took over the kingdom.
    • Although his role was more subdued, Anubis aided his half brother Horus and helped his dad Osiris enter the underworld.

Notes

  1. Most of the early story involves the Hebrew god and the Egyptian gods trying to show each other up with bigger or mutually-exclusive miracles... guess who wins?
  2. That is, the kingdom in the South, which had a higher elevation and was upstream on the Nile, conquered the one in the North.
  3. The very idea of a cessation of existence was one of the most terrifying things imaginable in ancient Egyptian religion, and even being forgotten after death is a big deal. One of the most common ways to strike at the legacy of a dead Pharaoh was to erase said Pharaoh's name anywhere one could find it, thereby invalidating their existence.
  4. For example, Anubis's name is variously transliterated as Anpu, Anup, Inpu, or using the Greek name Anubis. His actual name is thought to have been pronounced *Yanāpaw and later *’Anūbə, though nobody seems to use actual reconstructed names.

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