Egypt: King of the Dead

This story is part of the Ancient Egypt unit. Story source: Egyptian Myth and Legend by Donald Mackenzie (1907).

King of the Dead

Set continued to rule over Egypt, and he persecuted the followers of Osiris and Isis in the Delta swamps and along the seacoast to the north. But Horus, who was rightful king, grew into strong manhood. He prepared for the coming conflict and became a strong and brave warrior. Among his followers were cunning workers in metal who were called Mesniu (smiths), and bright and keen were their weapons of war. The sun hawk was blazoned on their battle banners.

One night there appeared to Horus in a. dream a vision of his father Osiris. The ghost urged him to overthrow Set by whom he had been so treacherously put to death, and Horus vowed to drive his wicked uncle and all his followers out of the land of Egypt. So he gathered his army together and went forth to battle.

Set came against him at Edfu and slew many of his followers. But Horus secured the aid of the tribes that remained faithful to Osiris and Isis, and Set was again attacked and driven towards the eastern frontier. The usurper uttered a great cry of grief when he was forced to take flight. He rested at Zaru, and there was the last battle fought. It was waged for many days, and Horus lost an eye. But Set was still more grievously wounded, and he was at length driven with his army out of the kingdom.

It is told that the god Thoth descended out of heaven and healed the wounds of Horus and Set. Then the slayer of Osiris appeared before the divine council and claimed the throne. But the gods gave judgment that Horus was the rightful king, and he established his power in the land of Egypt, and became a wise and strong ruler like to his father Osiris.

Another version of the legend relates that when the fragments of the body of Osiris were recovered from the Nile, Isis and Nepthys lamented over them, weeping bitterly. In one of the temple chants Isis exclaims:

Gods, and men before the face of the gods, 
are weeping for thee 
at the same time when they behold me!
Lo! I invoke thee with wailing 
that reacheth high as heaven--
Yet thou hearest not my voice. 
Lo! I, thy sister, 
I love thee more than all the earth
And thou lovest not another 
as thou dost thy sister!

Nepthys cries,

Subdue every sorrow 
which is in the hearts of us, thy sisters . . .
Live before us, desiring to behold thee. 

The lamentations of the goddesses were heard by Ra, and he sent down from heaven the god Anubis, who, with the assistance of Thoth and Horus, united the severed portions of the body of Osiris, which they wrapped in linen bandages. Thus had origin the mummy form of the god.

Then the winged Isis hovered over the body, and the air from her wings entered the nostrils of Osiris, so that he was imbued with life once again. He afterwards became the Judge and King of the Dead.

(500 words)

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