gods of ancient egypt



We explain what the main gods of Ancient Egypt were, the characteristics of each one and the myths that they starred in.

The gods of Ancient Egypt embodied various aspects of nature and society.

What were the main gods of Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egypt was one of the main civilizations agricultural Antiquity, originated along the middle and lower reaches of the Nile River, in northeastern Africa.

Its rich and complex history It spans more than three millennia (3100-332 BC), throughout which its territorial extension varied significantly, in an area between the delta of the Nile River in the Mediterranean Sea and its fourth cataract in the south, as well like the vast desert areas east and west of the same river.

At its greatest moment, Ancient Egypt exerted an important area of ​​influence in the region, including the remote coasts of Anatolia, Cyprus and the Hellenic Peninsula. It was famous for its architectural legacy, whose emblem is made up of the pyramids and sphinxes, inside which numerous mummies of rulers have been found.

Ancient Egyptian society was deeply religious and clearly hierarchical. It ruled itself through a monarchy theocratic absolutist, at whose head sat the pharaoh (or exceptionally, the pharaoh), revered by his subjects as a god (rather, as the very incarnation of the god Horus) and charged with imparting Justice, command the military forces and direct the worship religious.

The religion Ancient Egypt was solar, cyclical, polytheistic, and was based on the notion of maat, that is, the balance or Balance cosmic, the force that allowed the world to exist as such and that depended largely on the satisfaction of its many gods. The latter were complex, with diverse aspects that could often be combined, resulting in a kind of fusion of gods and cults.

Otherwise, they embodied different aspects of the nature and the society, and were available to help the people in their private affairs, through prayer or offering, although the cult was formally directed from the institutions of the Condition. The resurrection and the rites funeral homes played a key role in the Egyptian view of the world. Among the main Egyptian gods were those that we will detail below.


Ra traveled in his barge through the skies, from East to West.

Egyptian god of the sun, giver of the life and symbol of the sunlight, is responsible for the eternal cycle of birth, death and resurrection, and one of the most important figures of the late Egyptian cult, associated with the pharaohs, who were his descendants.

Ra was supposed to travel in his barge through the heavens, from East to West, and depending on his location in the sky he was given a name: Horajti at midday, Jepri at dawn, and Atum at dusk.

Initially, Ra was just one more solar deity of many in early Egyptian religion, but his association with the official cult of the pharaohs and his assimilation with the Theban god Amun (thus becoming Amun-Ra) during Dynasty V (2500 -2350 BC), gave him a leading place within the Egyptian pantheon. He was especially worshiped in Heliopolis, the main seat of his cult, and in the Abu Gurab region, on the west bank of the Nile.

Ra was represented as a man with the head of a hawk, on which the solar disk floats. Its origins date, according to the myth, at the time of creation itself, when the world was a dark place in which there was only a large body of water (Nun).

From the interior of the waters a large and bright egg emerged, from whose interior Ra was born, whose first action was to create the sun and illuminate the horizons. With his word the wind (Shu), the rain (Tefnut) and the Nile (Hapi) were also formed, and then one by one the other things on earth, including the first Humans. Then, Ra took human form and ruled Egypt as the first pharaoh in history.


Osiris was killed by his brother Seth, but Isis and Nephthys helped him resurrect.

One of the main figures in Egyptian mythology is the god and ancient king Osiris, who was considered to be the inventor of the farming, religion and Egyptian civilization itself. His mythological tale shaped numerous traditions and celebrations of the Egyptian religion, such as the New Year holidays.

His cult lasted from the XXV century BC. C., until VI d. C., when the last temple consecrated in his honor was closed by order of the Emperor Justiniano.

According to myth, Osiris is the son of Nut, the Egyptian goddess of the sky, and his brother Geb, the god of the earth. His brothers from birth were Seth, Nephthys and Isis, and with the latter they were deeply in love from the womb itself.

Of all, Osiris was the favorite son and that led him to the throne of Egypt, which he received from Geb himself, and according to the Book of the Dead he was crowned by Atum-Ra himself in the city of Nen-nesu. Thus began the Egyptian civilization and religion, as Osiris taught humanity how to venerate the gods and distinguish themselves from the beasts.

However, his brother Seth, ruler of the desert regions, hostile and foreign, planned his assassination and drowned him in the waters of the Nile, later dismembering him and distributing his corpse throughout Egypt.

Seth thus usurped the Egyptian throne, while Isis and Nephthys, with the help of the god Toth, collected the parts of Osiris's body and proceeded to gather and embalm it, the latter with the help of the god Anubis. Once mummified, Osiris was resurrected and became the ruler of the realm of the dead, that is, the god of death and resurrection.

Osiris was represented as a human pharaoh, although often green or blue skinned, to indicate his cadaverous condition, or as a mummified pharaoh. His figure was strongly linked to the idea of ​​rebirth, of the restart of the cycles natural, as well as with the birth of plant stems from the ground, after having buried the seed.


Seth or Set is the Greek name for Suty or Sutej, the Egyptian god of chaos, the irrepressible, brute force and the drought of the desert African. He was the brother of Osiris, Isis and Nephthys, and husband in some mythological versions of the latter, and he was the murderer of his brother, thus unleashing the mythological cycle of mummification and resurrection, central in the world view proposed by the Egyptian religion.

However, he was a revered god and a possible protector of the Egyptian people, especially in times of war. Its main sanctuaries were in Avaris, Abydos and Pi-Ramses.

Seth was represented as a man with the head of a greyhound or desert dog (as he is described in the hieroglyphs). However, his animal traits are unclear and can be associated with pigs, sighthounds, donkeys, oryx, crocodiles, hippos, snakes and fish, all animals that were consecrated to him.

There are even those who interpret Seth's animal face as that of an imaginary beast. He was also represented carrying a was scepter (a straight rod forked at the end and with a fantastic animal head at the other end), and in the other hand an ankh (crux ansata), the Egyptian symbol of life.

Despite playing an antagonistic role in the mythological story, Seth was not an evil god, but a chaotic one: his motives for murdering his brother were due to the unjust distribution of the Egyptian lands, which the deserts gave him and left him to Osiris. the fertile territories near the river. As punishment for his actions, he was banished by Horus and sentenced to live in the desert.


Isis (Iset in Coptic) is the main goddess of the Egyptian religion, whose cult extended even to the Greco-Roman world, in syncretism with other local deities and with other names, and whose role in the myth of Osiris is decisive. Not only did she help reunite her husband's corpse and bring him back to life, but she fathered him an important heir, Horus, ruler of mankind.

Isis was invoked in most of the rituals Egyptian funerals, as it was expected that she would help the deceased to descend to the underworld just as she helped her own husband, and at the same time she was the goddess of motherhood and marriage, and protector of humanity. It was associated with Magic, wisdom, and her actions in protection of Horus and the corpse of Osiris depicted her as a fierce defender of the sacred.

The figure of Isis is complex and goes through many stages throughout Egyptian history, as her popularity led her to assume traits of other local goddesses, and even to hybridize with goddesses of other neighboring religions, especially after the Greek colonization of Egypt. .

In this way, her modes of representation can vary substantially, although in general the Egyptians drew her as a woman with the throne hieroglyph on her head, carrying a staff and an Egyptian cross or ankh.


Horus acts as the ambassador of the deceased to his father, Osiris.

Son of Isis and Osiris, Horus (Hor, in Coptic) was a celestial god, associated with war and hunting, but also the formal initiator of Egyptian civilization, after inheriting the throne from his late father. He is often compared to the Greek god Apollo.

He is depicted as a hawk-headed man, wearing the double crown of the Egyptian Empire, and sometimes simply as a hawk (Edfu) or as a solar disk with two outstretched wings. It could even be represented in the form of a sphinx, known as Harmajis.

According to Egyptian myth, Horus at birth was hidden and protected by Isis, and left in the care of the god Thot, to make him a formidable and wise warrior. Thus, upon coming of age, Horus defeated Seth and regained his father's throne, although the fierce fight cost him his left eye, which he presented to his father as an offering to restore his sight.

Initially, Seth was the god of Upper Egypt and Horus that of Lower Egypt, as a symbol of the struggle between the peoples of the Nile and those of the desert. But finally Horus won and was awarded the double crown, taking Isis-Hathor as queen.

In some way, Horus becomes the Egyptian god closest to human beings, and it is said that he acts as an ambassador of the deceased to his father, in the underworld. In addition, he defends together with Seth the boat of the sun, Ra, from the serpent Apep who represents the evil forces of darkness.


The origin of the goddess Nephthys is not very clear. Her name translates something similar to "Priestess", and she was often assimilated to other deities such as Seshat and Anukis, despite the fact that in the Osiris myth she is described as the sister of Isis and the wife of Seth, with whom she fathered the god Anubis.

In other mythological versions he was also the lover of Osiris, although to do so he had to deceive him by disguising himself as his sister, and such a betrayal would have motivated Seth to murder his brother.

In any case, after the dismemberment of Osiris, Nephthys mourns her dead brother and works together with Isis to find and gather his fourteen pieces, as well as the rites destined to bring him back to life.

Like Isis and Selket, Nephthys was a death goddess, but she was distinguished by being at the same time a festive deity, celebrated with beer, and it was not unusual to invoke her help during labor. His main places of worship were Hut-Sechem (Diospolis Parva, in Greek), Komir, Sepermeru and Memphis.


Thot is usually represented with a brush, creating hieroglyphs.

Egyptian god of wisdom, hieroglyphic writing, science, magic, Arts and the law, it is a very ancient deity in Egyptian tradition, whose female equivalent is Seshat. According to mythology, Thot was paired with the goddess Ma’at, who symbolized balance, harmony and cosmic justice, and together they enjoyed authority above the other gods of the pantheon.

Unlike the Egyptian warrior gods, Thot was a lunar god, who served as a sacred scribe and lord of inventors. He was depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, two of his consecrated animals, and often carrying a brush or a tablet with hieroglyphics, as well as an ankh in one of his hands.

Thoth was enshrined in the first month of the lunar calendar, and was worshiped in the cities of Khemnu (Hermopolis Magna, in Greek), Bah (Hermopolis Parva, in Greek), Sarabit al-Khadim and Tuna el-Yebel.


Anubis receives the deceased and evaluates their fate.

Anubis (Anoup in Coptic) is the Greek name of the Egyptian god who guarded the tombs and the underworld, as well as life after death, and who was commonly represented as a man with the head of a jackal, typical scavengers of the region. He was an important funerary deity, worshiped throughout Egypt, during the three millennia that his religion lasted.

The mythological origins of the god are uncertain: he is accused of being the illegitimate son of Nephthys and Osiris, or of being the son of her and her husband Seth, or even of being the fruit of the union of Netfis with the god Ra.

In any case, Anubis participated in the embalming of Osiris and thus inaugurated the practice of mummification, so important in the Egyptian tradition. Since then he has been considered the guardian of the deceased, who welcomes them once they have expired, evaluating their fate by placing his heart on a scale and a feather on the opposite plate.


Worshiped since the years of the Second Dynasty (around 2890 BC), this is the goddess of love, harmony and protection, invoked to guard homes and temples, and usually represented as a woman with the head of a cat. or as a lioness, carrying an ankh in one hand and a musical instrument (a sistrum) in the other, or simply as a cat, since these animals were consecrated to him.

Associated with the moon and the warm rays of the sun, she was a beneficial but unpredictable goddess, oscillating between amorousness and ferocity, often in assimilation with other goddesses such as Sekhmet or the Sumerian deity Inanna. Mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and in the Book of the Dead, she was patron of the city of Bubastis, in the Nile delta, where her temples were inhabited by cats.

It is said that these animals were so revered by the ancient Egyptians that the Persian invaders drew them on their shields, knowing that doing so would make it much more difficult for them to land a blow.


The Egyptian lord of magic, Ptah was a creator god, patron of craftsmen, masons, architects, and builders, also credited with powers of healing. Roughly equivalent to the Greek Hephaestus, Ptah was depicted as a straight bearded man wrapped in a shroud, standing on the pedestal symbolizing the maat and dressing in a typically Egyptian manner.

Husband of Sekhmet and father of Nefertum, Ptah occupied a very important place in Egyptian worship during the Old Kingdom, as he was considered the maker of the other gods, builder of cities and temples, and the organizer of the places of worship of each deity. However, he soon lost importance to Ra and Amun, with whom he formed a great triad of the kingdom during the Ramésida period (Dynasties XIX-XX).


Hathor had more temples built in the Old Kingdom than any other goddess.

Another of the great Egyptian goddesses, linked to the celestial vault and with very different roles in each period of Ancient Egypt. It was associated with music, the dance, joy, love and sexuality.

She was at the same time consort of different gods (among them Ra and Horus) and mother of their children, or mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs. Usually she was represented as a woman with cow horns on her head, and between them a solar disk; or directly like a cow, a lioness or a sycamore.

Hathor had more temples built in the Old Kingdom than any other goddess, and she often had dedicated spaces in the temples of her male consorts. On the other hand, during the New Kingdom her place was occupied by other deities such as Isis or Mut, although without managing to completely displace her from the popular religious imaginary. It was especially revered by women who wanted to get pregnant.

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