Osiris: The God of the Dead in Egyptian Mythology


     Osiris is, in Egyptian Mythology, the God of the Dead and also the God of Judgment. Nobody better represents Osiris as God and guardian of the dead, because... in his representation, Osiris is a dead man.

Osiris in Egyptian Mythology:

     Osiris is a god unique to Egyptian Mythology. Known as the God of the Dead, as well as being the deity of vegetation, judgment and the beyond. In other cultures, his name is variously transcribed into Asar, Ausir, Wesir, Ausare, Hagir, Heinir, Higor, Hermes, Antar, Varor, among others.

     Coming from Busiris, in Lower Egypt, it was, primitively, the deification of the force of the soil, which makes the vegetation grow; from this derived his later attributes, which extol him as the inventor of agriculture and consequently the propitiator of civilization, of which he became a kind of patron. Later, myths of him came to represent him as a mythical pharaoh who would have ruled Egypt in time immemorial, being betrayed by his own brother, Seth, who kills him to obtain the throne. Osiris, conquering death, is reborn in the Beyond, becoming the Lord of the afterlife and judge of the spirits that arrive there.

     Although the trajectory from god of vegetation to god of the afterlife seems disjointed and incoherent, what is common to these attributions is the concept of cycles of life and rebirth that both vegetation and the passage to the beyond carry. Thus, it can be said that, in short, Osiris is the god of rebirth.

Osiris is one of the most popular and worshiped gods of Ancient Egypt. It was Osiris who judged the dead! In short, he decided whether the souls of mortals went to heaven or... to hell.

Osiris was very popular!

     Osiris was one of the most popular gods of Ancient Egypt, whose worship dates back to remote times in Egyptian history and continued until the Greco-Roman era, when Egypt lost its political independence. Husband of Isis and father of Horus, he was the one who judged the dead in the "Room of Two Truths", where the weighing of the heart or psychostasis was carried out.

     Osiris, is undoubtedly the best known god of Ancient Egypt, due to the large number of temples that were dedicated to him throughout the country, however, his beginnings were those of any local deity and he is also a god who judged the soul of the Egyptians. if they were going to paradise (a place where there is only plenty).

     For his first worshipers, Osiris was just the incarnation of the forces of the earth and plants. As his cult spread throughout the space of Egypt, Osiris was enriched with the attributes of the deities he supplanted, until he finally replaced the solar religion. On the other hand, mythology engendered a legend around Osiris, which was faithfully collected by some Greek writers, such as Plutarch.

     The double image that has come down to us from both sources of this god, whose head appears to be covered with the white miter, is that of a kind being who suffers a cruel death and who by it assures life and eternal happiness to all his proteges. , as well as that of a deity who embodies the Egyptian land and its vegetation, destroyed by the sun and drought, but always resurrected by the waters of the Nile.


     Osiris is represented in his most developed form of iconography wearing the Atef crown, which is similar to the white crown of Upper Egypt, but with the addition of two ostrich feathers curled on each side. He also carries the staff and flail. The staff is believed to represent Osiris as a shepherd god. The symbolism of the flail is more uncertain with the shepherds' whip, the whip of flies, or the association with the god Andjety of the proposed ninth nome of Lower Egypt.

     He was commonly depicted as a pharaoh with a complexion green (the color of rebirth) or black (alluding to the fertility of the Nile floodplain) in mummification (using mummification traps from the chest down).

Osiris Myth:

     Plutarch relates a version of the Osiris Myth in which Set (Osiris' brother), along with the Queen of Ethiopia, conspired with 72 accomplices to plan the assassination of Osiris. Set tricked Osiris into entering a box, which Set then closed, sealed with lead, and threw into the Nile. Osiris' wife, Isis, searched for his remains until she finally found him embedded in a tamarisk trunk, which supported the roof of a palace at Byblos on the Phoenician coast. She managed to remove the coffin and retrieve her husband's body.

     In one version of the myth, Isis used a spell to briefly revive Osiris so he could impregnate her. After embalming and burying Osiris, Isis conceived and gave birth to her son, Horus. After that, Osiris lived as the god of the underworld. Because of his death and resurrection, Osiris was associated with the flooding and retreat of the Nile, and therefore with the annual growth and death of crops along the Nile valley.

Osiris in Greek Mythology:

     The early Ptolemaic kings promoted a new god, Serapis, who combined traits of Osiris with those of various Greek gods and was portrayed in a Hellenistic fashion. Serapis was often treated as the consort of Isis and became the patron deity of the Ptolemies' capital Alexandria.

     Serapis' origins are not known. Some ancient authors claim that the cult of Serapis was established in Alexandria by Alexander the Great himself, but most who discuss the subject of Serapis' origins tell a story similar to Plutarch's. Writing some 400 years after the fact, Plutarch claimed that Ptolemy I established the cult after dreaming of a colossal statue in Sinopena Anatolia.

     His advisers identified the statue as the Greek god Hades and said Hades' Egyptian name was Serapis. This name may have been a Hellenization of "Osiris-Apis". Osiris-Apis was a patron deity of the Necropolis of Memphis and the father of the bull Apis that was worshiped there, and texts from Ptolemaic times treat "Serapis" as the Greek translation of "Osiris-Apis".

     But little evidence for the cult of Serapis comes from Memphis, and much of it comes from the Mediterranean world with no reference to an Egyptian origin for Serapis, so Mark Smith expresses doubts that Serapis originated as a Greek form of Osiris-Apis.

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