Egypt: Osiris

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


WHEN Osiris was born, a voice from out of the heavens proclaimed: "Now hath come the lord of all things." The wise man Pamyles had knowledge of the tidings in a holy place at Thebes, and he uttered a cry of gladness and told the people that a good and wise king had appeared among men.

When Ra grew old and ascended unto heaven, Osiris sat in his throne and ruled over the land of Egypt. Men were but savages when he first came amongst them. They hunted wild animals, they wandered in broken tribes hither and thither, up and down the valley and among the mountains, and the tribes contended fiercely in battle. Evil were their ways and their desires were sinful.

Osiris ushered in a new age. He made good and binding laws, he uttered just decrees, and he judged with wisdom between men. He caused peace to prevail at length over all the land of Egypt.

Isis was the queen consort of Osiris, and she was a woman of exceeding great wisdom. Perceiving the need of mankind, she gathered the ears of barley and wheat which she found growing wild, and these she gave unto the king. Then Osiris taught men to break up the land which had been under flood to sow the seed, and, in due season, to reap the harvest. He instructed them also how to grind corn and knead flour and meal so that they might have food in plenty. By the wise ruler was the vine trained upon poles, and he cultivated fruit trees and caused the fruit to be gathered.

A father was he unto his people, and he taught them to worship the gods, to erect temples, and to live holy lives. The hand of man was no longer lifted against his brother. There was prosperity in the land of Egypt in the days of Osiris the Good.

When the king perceived the excellent works which he had accomplished in Egypt, he went forth to traverse the whole world with purpose to teach wisdom unto all men and prevail upon them to abandon their evil ways. Not by battle conquest did he achieve his triumphs, but by reason of gentle and persuasive speech and by music and song. Peace followed in his footsteps, and men learned wisdom from his lips.

Isis reigned over the land of Egypt until his return. She was stronger than Set, who regarded with jealous eyes the good works of his brother, for his heart was full of evil and he loved warfare better than peace. He desired to stir up rebellion in the kingdom. The queen frustrated his wicked designs. He sought in vain to prevail in battle against her, so he plotted to overcome Osiris by guile. His followers were seventy and two men who were subjects of the dusky queen of Ethiopia.

(500 words)

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