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Doctrine of Eternal Life


The Papyrus of Ani



Late keeper of Assyrian and Egyptian Antiquities
in the British Museum



Egyptian belief in a future life.
The doctrine of eternal life in the VIth dynasty.

The ideas and beliefs which the Egyptians held in reference to a future existence are not readily to be defined, owing to the many difficulties in translating religious texts and in harmonizing the statements made in different works of different periods. Some confusion of details also seems to have existed in the minds of the Egyptians themselves, which cannot be cleared up until the literature of the subject has been further studied and until more texts have been published. That the Egyptians believed in a future life of some kind is certain; and the doctrine of eternal existence is the leading feature of their religion, and is enunciated with the utmost clearness in all periods. Whether this belief had its origin at Annu, the chief city of the worship of the sun-god, is not certain, but is very probable; for already in the pyramid texts we find the idea of everlasting life associated with the sun's existence, and Pepi I. is said to be "the Giver of life, stability, power, health, and all joy of heart, like the Sun, living for ever." The sun rose each day in renewed strength and vigour, and the renewal of youth in a future life was the aim and object of every Egyptian believer. To this end all the religious literature of Egypt was composed. Let us take the following extracts from texts of the VIth dynasty as illustrations:--

1. ha Unas an sem-nek as met-th sem-nek anxet Hail Unas, not hast thou gone, behold, [as] one dead, thou hast gone [as] one living hems her xent Ausar. to sit upon the throne of Osiris.

2. O Ra-Tum i-nek sa-k i-nek Unas . . . . . . sa-k pu en O Ra-Turn, cometh to thee thy son, cometh to thee Unas . . . . . thy son is this of t'et-k en t'etta thy body for ever.

3. Tem sa-k pu penen Ausar ta-nek set'eb-f anx-f anx-f O Turn, thy son is this Osiris; thou hast given his sustenance and he liveth; he liveth, anx Unas pen an mit-f an mit Unas pen and liveth Unas this; not dieth he, not dieth Unas this.

4. hetep Unas em anx em Amenta Setteth Unas in life in Amenta.

5. au am-nef saa en neter neb ahau pa neheh t'er-f He hath eaten the knowledge of god every, [his] existence is for all eternity pa t'etta em sah-f pen en merer-f ari-f mest'et'-f and to everlasting in his sah this; what he willeth he doeth, [what] he hateth an ari-nef not doth he do.

6. anx anx an mit-k Live life, not shalt thou die.

The doctrine of eternal life in the XVIIIth dynasty.

In the papyrus of Ani the deceased is represented as having come to a place remote and far away, where there is neither air to breathe nor water to drink, but where he holds converse with Tmu. In answer to his question, "How long have I to live?", the great god of Annu answers:-- auk er heh en heh aha en heh Thou shalt exist for millions of millions of years, a period of millions of years.

In the LXXXIVth Chapter, as given in the same papyrus, the infinite duration of the past and future existence of the soul, as well as its divine nature, is proclaimed by Ani in the words:-- nuk Su paut ba-a pu neter ba-a pu heh I am Shu [the god] of unformed matter. My soul is God, my soul is eternity.

When the deceased identifies himself with Shu, he makes the period of his existence coeval with that of Tmu-Ra, i.e., he existed before Osiris and the other gods of his company. These two passages prove the identity of the belief in eternal life in the XVIIIth dynasty with that in the Vth and VIth dynasties.

But while we have this evidence of the Egyptian belief in eternal life, we are nowhere told that man's corruptible body will rise again; indeed, the following extracts show that the idea prevailed that the body lay in the earth while the soul or spirit lived in heaven.

1. ba ar pet sat ar ta Soul to heaven, body to earth. (Vth dynasty.)

2. mu-k er pet xa-k er ta Thy essence is in heaven, thy body to earth. (VIth dynasty.)

3. pet xer ba-k ta xeri tut-k Heaven hath thy soul, earth hath thy body. (Ptolemaic period.)

Constancy in the belief in the resurrection.

There is, however, no doubt that from first to last the Egyptians firmly believed that besides the soul there was some other element of the man that would rise again. The preservation of the corruptible body too was in some way connected with the life in the world to come, and its preservation was necessary to ensure eternal life; otherwise the prayers recited to this end would have been futile, and the time honoured custom of mummifying the dead would have had no meaning. The never ending existence of the soul is asserted in a passage quoted above without reference to Osiris; but the frequent mention of the uniting of his bones, and of the gathering together of his members, and the doing away with all corruption from his body, seems to show that the pious Egyptian connected these things with the resurrection of his own body in some form, and he argued that what had been done for him who was proclaimed to be giver and source of life must be necessary for mortal man.

The khat or physical body.

The physical body of man considered as a whole was called khat, a word which seems to be connected with the idea of something which is liable to decay. The word is also applied to the mummified body in the tomb, as we know from the words "My body (khat) is buried." Such a body was attributed to the god Osiris;" in the CLXIInd Chapter of the Book of the Dead "his great divine body rested in Annu." In this respect the god and the deceased were on an equality. As we have seen above, the body neither leaves the tomb nor reappears on earth; yet its preservation was necessary. Thus the deceased addresses Tmu: "Hail to thee, O my father Osiris, I have come and I have embalmed this my flesh so that my body may not decay. I am whole, even as my father Khepera was whole, who is to me the type of that which passeth not away. Come then, O Form, and give breath unto me, O lord of breath, O thou who art greater than thy compeers. Stablish thou me, and form thou me, O thou who art lord of the grave. Grant thou to me to endure for ever, even as thou didst grant unto thy father Tmu to endure; and his body neither passed away nor decayed. I have not done that which is hateful unto thee, nay, I have spoken that which thy ka loveth: repulse thou me not, and cast thou me not behind thee, O Tmu, to decay, even as thou doest unto every god and unto every goddess and unto every beast and creeping thing which perisheth when his soul hath gone forth from him after his death, and which falleth in pieces after his decay . . . . . Homage to thee, O my father Osiris, thy flesh suffered no decay, there were no worms in thee, thou didst not crumble away, thou didst not wither away, thou didst not become corruption and worms; and I myself am Khepera, I shall possess my flesh for ever and ever, I shall not decay, I shall not crumble away, I shall not wither away, I shall not become corruption."

The sahu or spiritual body.

But the body does not lie in the tomb inoperative, for by the prayers and ceremonies on the day of burial it is endowed with the power of changing into a sahu, or spiritual body. Thus we have such phrases as, "I germinate like the plants," "My flesh germinateth," "I exist, I exist, I live, I live, I germinate, I germinate," "thy soul liveth, thy body germinateth by the command of Ra himself without diminution, and without defect, like unto Ra for ever and ever." The word sahu though at times written with the determinative of a mummy lying on a bier like khat, "body," indicates a body which has obtained a degree of knowledge and power and glory whereby it becomes henceforth lasting and incorruptible. The body which has become a sahu has the power of associating with the soul and of holding converse with it. In this form it can ascend into heaven and dwell with the gods, and with the sahu of the gods, and with the souls of the righteous. In the pyramid texts we have these passages:--

1. Thes-thu Teta pu un-thu aaa peh-tha hems-k Rise up thou Teti, this. Stand up thou mighty one being strong. Sit thou xent neteru ari-k ennu ari en Ausar em Het-aa amt Annu with the gods, do thou that which did Osiris in the great house in Annu. sesep-nek sah-k an t'er ret-k em pet an Thou hast received thy sah, not shall be fettered thy foot in heaven, not xesef-k em ta shalt thou be turned back upon earth.

2. anet' hra-k Teta em hru-k pen aha tha xeft Ra Hail to thee, Teta, on this thy day [when] thou art standing before Ra [as] per-f em aabt t'eba-tha em sah-k pen am baiu he cometh from the cast, [when] thou art endued with this thy sah among the souls.

3. ahau pa neheh t'er-f pa t'etta em sah-f [His] duration of life is eternity, his limit of life is everlastingness in his sah.

4. nuk sah em ba-f I am a sah with his soul.

In the late edition of the Book of the Dead published by Lepsius the deceased is said to " look upon his body and to rest upon his sahu," and souls are said "to enter into their sahu"; and a passage extant both in this and the older Theban edition makes the deceased to receive the sahu of the god Osiris. But that Egyptian writers at times confused the khat with the sahu is clear from a passage in the Book of Respirations, where it is said, "Hail Osiris, thy name endureth, thy body is stablished, thy sahu germinateth"; in other texts the word "germinate" is applied only to the natural body.

The ab or heart.

In close connection with the natural and spiritual bodies stood the heart, or rather that part of it which was the seat of the power of life and the fountain of good and evil thoughts. And in addition to the natural and spiritual bodies, man also bad an abstract individuality or personality endowed with all his characteristic attributes. This abstract personality had an absolutely independent existence. It could move freely from place to place, separating itself from, or uniting itself to, the body at will, and also enjoying life with the gods in heaven.This was the ka, a word which at times conveys the meanings of its Coptic equivalent {Coptic kw}, and of {Greek ei?'dwlon}, image, genius, double, character, disposition, and mental attributes. The funeral offerings of meat, cakes, ale, wine, unguents, etc., were intended for the ka; the scent of the burnt incense was grateful to it. The ka dwelt in the man's statue just as the ka of a god inhabited the statue of the god. In this respect the ka seems to be identical with the sekhem or image. In the remotest times the tombs had special chambers wherein the ka was worshipped and received offerings. The priesthood numbered among its body an order of men who bore the name of "priests of the ka and who performed services in honour of the ka in the "ka chapel".

The ka or double.

In the text of Unas the deceased is said to be "happy with his ka" in the next world, and his ka is joined unto his body in "the great dwelling"; his body having been buried in the lowest chamber, "his ka cometh forth to him." Of Pepi I. it is said:-- ai su ka-k hems ka-k am ta hena-k at ur Washed is thy ka, sitteth thy ka [and] it eateth bread with thee unceasingly en t'et t'etta forever.' aha uab-k uab ka-k uab ba-k uab sexem-k Thou art pure, thy ka is pure, thy soul is pure, thy form is pure.

The ka, as we have seen, could eat food, and it was necessary to provide food for it. In the XIIth dynasty and in later periods the gods are entreated to grant meat and drink to the ka of the deceased; and it seems as if the Egyptians thought that the future welfare of the spiritual body depended upon the maintenance of a constant supply of sepulchral offerings. When circumstances rendered it impossible to continue the material supply of food, the ka fed upon the offerings painted on the walls of the tomb, which were transformed into suitable nourishment by means of the prayers of the living. When there were neither material offerings nor painted similitudes to feed upon, it seems as if the ka must have perished; but the texts are not definite on this point.

A prayer of the ka.

The following is a specimen of the ka's petition for food written in the XVIIIth dynasty:--

"May the gods grant that I go into and come forth from my tomb, may the Majesty refresh its shade, may I drink water from my cistern every day, may all my limbs grow, may Hapi give unto me bread and flowers of all kinds in their season, may I pass over my estate every day without, ceasing, may my soul alight upon the branches of the groves which I have planted, may I make myself cool beneath my sycamores, may I eat the bread which they provide. May I have my mouth that I may speak therewith like the followers of Horus, may I come forth to heaven, may I descend to earth, may I never be shut out upon the road, may there never be done unto me that which my soul abhorreth, let not my soul be imprisoned, but may I be among the venerable and favoured ones, may I plough my lands in the Field of Aaru, may I arrive at the Field of Peace, may one come out to me with vessels of ale and cakes and bread of the lords of eternity, may I receive meat from the altars of the great, I the ka of the prophet Amsu."

The ba or soul.

To that part of man which beyond all doubt was believed to enjoy an eternal existence in heaven in a state of glory, the Egyptians gave the name ba, a word which means something like "sublime," "noble," and which has always hitherto been translated by "soul." The ba is not incorporeal, for although it dwells in the ka, and is in some respects, like the heart, the principle of life in man, still it possesses both substance and form: in form it is depicted as a human-headed hawk, and in nature and substance it is stated to be exceedingly refined or ethereal. It revisited the body in the tomb and re-animated it, and conversed with it; it could take upon itself any shape that it pleased; and it had the power of passing into heaven and of dwelling with the perfected souls there. It was eternal. As the ba was closely associated with the ka, it partook of the funeral offerings, and in one aspect of its existence at least it was liable to decay if not properly and sufficiently nourished. In the pyramid texts the permanent dwelling place of the ba or soul is heaven with the gods, whose life it shares

1. sek Unas per em hru pen em aru maa en Behold Unas cometh forth on day this in the form exact of ba anx a soul living.

2. ba-sen met Unas Their soul[1] is in Unas.

3. aha ba-k emma neteru Standeth thy soul among the gods.

4. ha Pepi pu i-nek maat Heru metu-s thu Hail, Pepi this! cometh to thee the eye of Horus, it speaketh with thee. i-nek ba-k am neteru Cometh to thee thy soul which is among the gods.

5. uab ba-k am neteru Pure is thy soul among the gods.

6. anx Ausar anx ba din Netat anx Pepi pen As liveth Osiris, and as liveth the soul in Netat, so liveth Pepi this.

7. ta-s baiu-k Pepi pen xent paut neteru em It placeth thy soul Pepi this among the greater and lesser cycles of the gods in tut arat am-tha hat-k the form of the uræi [which] are on thy brow.

8. ha Pepi pen ba-k baiu Annu as ba-k baiu Behold Pepi this, thy soul is the soul of Annu; behold thy soul is the soul Nexen as ba-k baiu Pe as ba-k seb anx as of Nekhen; behold thy soul is the soul of Pe; behold thy soul is a star living, behold, xent senu-f among its brethren.

The khaibit or shadow.

In connection with the ka and ba must be mentioned the khaibit or shadow of the man, which the Egyptians regarded as a part of the human economy. It may be compared with the {Greek skia'} and umbra of the Greeks and Romans. It was supposed to have an entirely independent existence and to be able to separate itself from the body; it was free to move wherever it pleased, and, like the ka and ba, it partook of the funeral offerings in the tomb, which it visited at will. The mention of the shade, whether of a god or man, in the pyramid texts is unfrequent, and it is not easy to ascertain what views were held concerning it; but from the passage in the text of Unas, where it is mentioned together with the souls and spirits and bones of the gods, it is evident that already at that early date its position in relation to man was well defined. From the collection of illustrations which Dr. Birch appended to his paper On the Shade or Shadow of the Dead, it is quite clear that in later times at least the shadow was always associated with the soul and was believed to be always near it; and this view is supported by a passage in the XCIInd Chapter of the Book of the Dead, where it is said:-- em xena ba-a sauti xaibit-a un uat Let not be shut in my soul, let not be fettered my shadow, let be opened the way en ba-d en xaibit-a maa-f neter aa for my soul and for my shadow, may it see the great god.

And again, in the LXXXIXth Chapter the deceased says: maa-a ba-a xaibit-a May I look upon my soul and my shadow.

the khu or intelligence.

Another important and apparently eternal part of man was the khu, which, judging from the meaning of the word, may be defined as a "shining" or translucent, intangible casing or covering of the body, which is frequently depicted in the form of a mummy. For want of a better word khu has often been translated "shining one," "glorious," "intelligence," and the like, but in certain cases it may be tolerably well rendered by "spirit." The pyramid texts show us that the khu's of the gods lived in heaven, and thither wended the khu of a man as soon as ever the prayers said over the dead body enabled it to do so. Thus it is said, "Unas standeth with the khu's," and one of the gods is asked to "give him his sceptre among the khu's; " when the souls of the gods enter into Unas, their khu's are with and round about him. To king Teta it is said:-- nehem-nef maat-f maf er ta-nef nek seba-k He hath plucked his eye from himself, he hath given it unto thee to strengthen thee am-s sexem-k am-s xent xu therewith, that thou mayest prevail with it among the khu's.

And again, when the god Khent-mennut-f has transported the king to heaven, the god Seb, who rejoices to meet him, is said to give him both hands and welcome him as a brother and to nurse him and to place him among the imperishable khu's. In the XCIInd Chapter the deceased is made to pray for the liberation of his soul, shadow, and khu from the bondage of the tomb, and for deliverance from those "whose dwellings are hidden, who fetter the souls, who fetter souls and khu's cc and who shut in the shadows of the dead"; and in the XC Ist Chapter is a formula specially prepared to enable the khu to pass from the tomb to the domains where Ra and Hathor dwell.

The sekhem or form.

Yet another part of a man was supposed to exist in heaven, to which the Egyptians gave the name sekhem. The word has been rendered by "power," "form," and the like, but it is very difficult to find any expression which will represent the Egyptian conception of the sekhem. It is mentioned in connection with the soul and khu, as will be seen from the following passages from the pyramid texts :

1. i-nek sexem-k am xu Cometh to thee thy sekhem among the khu's.

2. Uda sexem-k am xu Pure is thy sekhem among the khu's.

3. aha uab-k uab ka-k uab ba-k uab Thou art pure, pure is thy ka, pure is thy soul, pure is sexem-k thy sekhem.

A name of Ra was sekhem ur, the "Great Sekhem," and Unas is identified with him and called:-- sexem ur sexem em sexemu Great sekhem, sekhem among the sekhemu.

The ren or name

Finally, the name, ren, of a man was believed to exist in heaven, and. in the pyramid texts we are told that nefer en Pepi pen hena ren-f anx Pepi pen hena ka-f Happy is Pepi this with his name, liveth Pepi this with his ka.

Thus, as we have seen, the whole man consisted of a natural body, a spiritual body, a heart, a double, a soul, a shadow, an intangible ethereal casing or spirit, a form, and a name. All these were, however, bound together inseparably, and the welfare of any single one of them concerned the welfare of all. For the well-being of the spiritual parts it was necessary to preserve from decay the natural body; and certain passages in the pyramid texts seem to show that a belief in the resurrection of the natural body existed in the earliest dynasties.

The texts are silent as to the time when the immortal part began its beatified existence; but it is probable that the Osiris of a man only attained to the full enjoyment of spiritual happiness after the funeral ceremonies had been duly per formed and the ritual recited. Comparatively few particulars are known of the manner of life of the soul in heaven, and though a number of interesting facts may be gleaned from the texts of all periods, it is very difficult to harmonize them. This result is due partly to the different views held by different schools of thought in ancient Egypt, and partly to the fact that on some points the Egyptians them selves seem to have had no decided opinions. We depend upon the pyramid texts for our knowledge of their earliest conceptions of a future life.

The existence in heaven.

The life of the Osiris of a man in heaven is at once material and spiritual and it seems as if the Egyptians never succeeded in breaking away from their very ancient habit of confusing the things of the body with the things of the soul. They believed in an incorporeal and immortal part of man, the constituent elements of which flew to heaven after death and embalmment; yet the theologians of the VIth dynasty had decided that there was some part of the deceased which could only mount to heaven by means of a ladder. In the pyramid of Teta it is said, "When Teta hath purified himself on the borders of this earth where Ra hath purified himself, he prayeth and setteth up the ladder, and those who dwell in the great place press Teta forward with their hands." In the pyramid of Pepi I.

The king is identified with this ladder: "Isis saith, 'Happy are they who see the 'father,' and Nephthys saith, 'They who see the father have rest,' speaking unto the father of this Osiris Pepi when he cometh forth unto heaven among the stars and among the luminaries which never set. With the urĉus on his brow, and his book upon both his sides, and magic words at his feet, Pepi goeth forward unto his mother Nut, and he entereth therein in his name Ladder." The gods who preside over this ladder are at one time Ra and Horus, and at another Horus and Set. In the pyramid of Unas it is said, "Ra setteth upright the ladder for Osiris, and Horus raiseth up the ladder for his father Osiris, when Osiris goeth to [find] his soul; one standeth on the one side, and the other standeth on the other, and Unas is betwixt them. Unas standeth up and is Horus, he sitteth down and is Set." And in the pyramid of Pepi I. we read, "Hail to thee, O Ladder of God, hail to thee, O Ladder of Set. Stand up, O Ladder of God, stand up, O Ladder of Set, stand up, O Ladder of Horus, whereon Osiris went forth into heaven . . . . . . This Pepi is thy son, this Pepi is Horus, thou hast given birth unto this Pepi even as thou hast given birth unto the god who is the lord of the Ladder. Thou hast given him the Ladder of God, and thou hast given him the Ladder of Set, whereon this Pepi hath gone forth into heaven . . . . . . Every khu and every god stretcheth out his hand unto this Pepi when he cometh forth into heaven by the Ladder of God . . . . that which he seeth and that which he heareth make him wise, and serve as food for him when he cometh forth into heaven by the Ladder of God. Pepi riseth up like the urĉus which is on the brow of Set, and every khu and every god stretcheth out his hand unto Pepi on the Ladder. Pepi hath gathered together his bones, he hath collected his flesh, and Pepi hath gone straightway into heaven by means of the two fingers of the god who is the Lord of the Ladder." Elsewhere we are told that Khonsu and Set "carry the Ladder of Pepi, and they set it up."

When the Osiris of a man has entered into heaven as a living soul, he is regarded as one of those who "have eaten the eye of Horus he walks among living ones, he becomes "God, the son of God," and all the gods of heaven become his brethren. His bones are the gods and goddesses of heaven; his right side belongs to Horns, and his left side to Set; the goddess Nut makes him to rise up as a god without an enemy in his name "God"; and God calls him by his name. His face is the face of Ap-uat, his eyes are the great ones among the souls of Annu, his nose is Thoth, his mouth is the great lake, his tongue belongs to the boat of right and truth, his teeth are the spirits of Annu, his chin is Khert-khent-Sekhem, his backbone is Sema, his shoulders are Set, his breast is Beba. etc.; every one of his members is identified with a god. Moreover, his body as a whole is identified with the God of Heaven. For example it is said concerning Unas:-- t'et-k t'et ent Unas pen af-k af en Unas pen Thy body is the body of Unas this. Thy flesh is the flesh of Unas this. kesu-k kesu Unas pen seb-k seb Unas pen Thy bones are the bones of Unas this. Thy passage is the passage of Unas this. seb Unas pen seb-k The passage of Unas this is thy passage.

Further, this identification of the deceased with the God of Heaven places him in the position of supreme ruler. For example, we have the prayer that Unas "may rule the nine gods and complete the company of the nine gods," and Pepi I., in his progress through heaven, comes upon the double company of the gods, who stretch out their hands, entreating him to come and sit down among them.

Identification with Horus.

Again, the deceased is changed into Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis. It is said of Pepi I., "Behold it is not Pepi who entreateth to see thee in the form in which thou art ###, O Osiris, who entreateth to see thee in the form in which thou art, O Osiris; but it is thy son who entreateth to see thee in the form in which thou art, O Osiris, it is Horus who entreateth to see thee in the form in which thou art"; and Horus does not place Pepi at the head of the dead, but among the divine gods. Elsewhere we are told that Horus has taken his Eye and given it to Pepi, and that the odour of Pepi's body is the odour of the Eye of Horus. Throughout the pyramid texts the Osiris of the deceased is the son of Tmu, or Tmu-Ra, Shu, Tefnut, Seb, and Nut, the brother of Isis, Nephthys, Set, and Thoth, and the father of Horus; his hands, arms, belly, back, hips and thighs, and legs are the god Tmu, and his face is Anubis. He is the brother of the moon, he is the child of the star Sothis, he revolves in heaven like Orion and Sothis, and he rises in his place like a star. The gods, male and female, pay homage to him, every being in heaven adores him; and in one interesting passage it is said of Pepi I. that "when he hath come forth into heaven he will find Ra standing face to face before him, and, having seated himself upon the shoulders of Ra, Ra will not let him put himself down again upon the ground; for he knoweth that Pepi is more shining than the shining ones, more perfect than the perfect, and more stable than the stable ones . . . . . When Pepi standeth upon the north of heaven with Ra, he becometh lord of the universe like unto the king of the gods." To the deceased Horus gives his own ka, and also drives away the ka's of the enemies of the deceased from him, and hamstrings his foes. By the divine power thus given to the deceased he brings into subjection the ka's of the gods and other ka's, and he lays his yoke upon the ka's of the triple company of the gods. He also becomes Thoth, the intelligence of the gods, and he judges hearts; and the hearts of those who would take away his food and the breath from his nostrils become the prey of his hands.

The heavenly life of the blessed.

The place of the deceased in heaven is by the side of God in the most holy place, and he becomes God and an angel of God; he himself is triumphant, and his ka is triumphant. He sits on a great throne by the side of God. The throne is of iron ornamented with lions' faces and having the hoofs of bulls. He is clothed in the finest raiment, like unto the raiment of those who sit on the throne of living right and truth. He receives the urerit crown from the gods, and from the great company of the gods of Annu. He thirsts not, nor hungers, nor is sad; he eats the bread of Ra and drinks what he drinks daily, and his bread also is that which is spoken by Seb, and that which comes forth from the mouth of the gods. He eats what the gods eat, he drinks what they drink, he lives as they live, and he dwells where they dwell; all the gods give him their food that he may not die. Not only does he eat and drink of their food, but he wears the apparel which they wear, the white linen and sandals; he is clothed in white, and "he goeth to the great lake in the midst of the Field of Peace whereon the great gods sit; and these great and never failing gods give unto him [to eat] of the tree of life of which they themselves do eat that he likewise may live." The bread which he eats never decays and his beer never grows stale. He eats of the "bread of eternity" and drinks of the "beer of everlastingness" which the gods eat and drink; and he nourishes himself upon that bread which the Eye of Horus has shed upon the branches of the olive tree. He suffers neither hunger nor thirst like the gods Shu and Tefnut, for he is filled with the bread of wheat of which Horus himself has eaten; and the four children of Horus, Hapi, Tuamautef, Qebhsennuf and Amset, have appeased the hunger of his belly and the thirst of his lips. He abhors the hunger which he cannot satisfy, and he loathes the thirst which he cannot slake; but he is delivered from the power of those who would steal away his food. He is washed clean, and his ka is washed clean, and they eat bread together for ever. He is one of the four children of Horus who live on right and truth, and they give him his portion of the food with which they have been so abundantly supplied by the god Seb that they have never yet known what it is to hunger. He goes round about heaven even as they do, and he partakes of their food of figs and wine.

Those who would be hostile to the deceased become thereby foes of the god Tmu, and all injuries inflicted on him are inflicted on that god; he dwells without fear under the protection of the gods, from whose loins he has come forth. To him "the earth is an abomination, and he will not enter into Seb; for his soul hath burst for ever the bonds of his sleep in his house which is upon earth. His calamities are brought to an end, for Unas hath been purified with the Eye of Horus; the calamities of Unas have been done away by Isis and Nephthys. Unas is in heaven, Unas is in heaven, in the form of air, in the form of air; he perisheth not, neither doth anything which is in him perish. He is firmly stablished in heaven, and he taketh his pure seat in the bows of the bark of Ra. Those who row Ra up into the heavens row him also, and those who row Ra beneath the horizon row him also." The life which the deceased leads is said to be generally that of him "who entereth into the west of the sky, and who cometh forth from the east thereof." In brief, the condition of the blessed is summed up in the following extract from the pyramid of Pepi I.:--

"Hail, Pepi, thou hast come, thou art glorious, and thou hast gotten might like the god who is seated upon his throne, that is Osiris. Thy soul is with thee in thy body, thy form of strength is behind thee, thy crown is upon thy head, thy head-dress is upon thy shoulders, thy face is before thee, and those who sing songs of joy are upon both sides of thee; those who follow in the train of God are behind thee, and the divine forms who make God to come are upon each side of thee. God cometh, and Pepi hath come upon the throne of Osiris. The shining one who dwelleth in Netat, the divine form that dwelleth in Teni, hath come. Isis speaketh unto thee, Nephthys holdeth converse with thee, and the shining ones come unto thee bowing down even to the ground in adoration at thy feet, by reason of the writing which thou hast, O Pepi, in the region of Saa. Thou comest forth to thy mother Nut, and she strengtheneth thy arm, and she maketh a way for thee through the sky to the place where Ra abideth. Thou hast opened the gates of the sky, thou hast opened the doors of the celestial deep; thou hast found Ra and he watcheth over thee, he hath taken thee by thy hand, he hath led thee into the two regions of heaven, and he hath placed thee on the throne of Osiris. Then hail, O Pepi, for the Eye of Horus came to hold converse with thee; thy soul which was among the gods came unto thee; thy form of power which was dwelling among the shining ones came unto thee. As a son fighteth for his father, and as Horus avenged Osiris, even so doth Horus defend Pepi against his enemies. And thou "standest avenged, endowed with all things like unto a god, and equipped with all the forms of Osiris upon the throne of Khent-Amenta. Thou doest that which he doeth among the immortal shining ones; thy soul sitteth upon its throne being provided with thy form, and it doeth that which thou doest in the presence of Him that liveth among the living, by the command of Ra, the great god. It reapeth the wheat, it cutteth the barley, and it giveth it unto thee. Now, therefore, O Pepi, he that hath given unto thee life and all power and eternity and the power of speech and thy body is Ra. Thou hast endued thyself with the forms of God, and thou hast become magnified thereby before the gods who dwell in the Lake. Hail, Pepi, thy soul standeth among the gods and among the shining ones, and the fear of thee striketh into their hearts. Hail, Pepi, thou placest thyself upon the throne of Him that dwelleth among the living, and it is the writing which thou hast [that striketh terror] into their hearts. Thy name shall live upon earth, thy name shall flourish upon earth, thou shalt neither perish nor be destroyed for ever and for ever."

Corporeal pleasures.

Side by side, however, with the passages which speak of the material and spiritual enjoyments of the deceased, we have others which seem to imply that the Egyptians believed in a corporeal existence, or at least in the capacity for corporeal enjoyment, in the future state. This belief may have rested upon the view that the life in the next world was but a continuation of the life upon earth, which it resembled closely, or it may have been due to the survival of semi-savage gross ideas incorporated into the religious texts of the Egyptians. However this may be, it is quite certain that in the Vth dynasty the deceased king Unas eats with his mouth, and exercises other natural functions of the body, and gratifies his passions. But the most remarkable passage in this connection is one in the pyramid of Unas. Here all creation is represented as being in terror when they see the deceased king rise up as a soul in the form of a god who devours "his fathers and mothers"; he feeds upon men and also upon gods. He hunts the gods in the fields and snares them; and when they are tied up for slaughter he cuts their throats and disembowels them. He roasts and eats the best of them, but the old gods and goddesses are used for fuel. By eating them he imbibes both their magical powers, and their khu's. He becomes the "great Form, the form among forms, and the god of all the great gods who "exist in visible forms," and he is at the head of all the sahu, or spiritual bodies in heaven. He carries off the hearts of the gods, and devours the wisdom of every god; therefore the duration of his life is everlasting and he lives to all eternity, for the souls of the gods and their khu's are in him. The whole passage reads:--

"The heavens drop water, the stars throb, the archers go round about, the bones of Akeru tremble, and those who are in bondage to them take to flight when they see Unas rise up as a soul, in the form of the god who liveth upon his fathers and who maketh food of his mothers. Unas is the lord of wisdom, and his mother knoweth not his name. The gifts of Unas are in heaven, and he hath become mighty in the horizon like unto Tmu, the father that gave him birth, and after Tmu gave him birth Unas became stronger than his father. The ka's of Unas are behind him, the sole of his foot is beneath his feet, his gods are over him, his uræi are [seated] upon his brow, the serpent guides of Unas are in front of him, and the spirit of the flame looketh upon [his] soul. The powers of Unas protect him; Unas is a bull in heaven, he directeth his steps where he will, he liveth upon the form which each god taketh upon himself, and be eateth the flesh of those who come to fill their bellies with the magical charms ill the Lake of Fire. Unas is equipped with power against the shining spirits thereof, and he riseth up in the form of the mighty one, the lord of those who dwell in power (?). Unas hath taken his seat with his side turned towards Seb. Unas hath weighed his words with the hidden god (?) who hath no name, on the day of hacking in pieces the firstborn. Unas is the lord of offerings, the untier of the knot, and he himself maketh abundant the offerings of meat and drink. Unas devoureth men and liveth upon the gods, he is the lord to whom offerings are brought, and he counteth the lists thereof. He that cutteth off hairy scalps and dwelleth in the fields hath netted the gods in a snare; he that arrangeth his head hath considered them [good] for Unas and hath driven them unto him; and the cord-master hath bound them for slaughter. Khonsu the slayer of [his] lords hath cut their throats and drawn out their inward parts, for it was he whom Unas sent to drive them in; and Shesem hath cut them in pieces and boiled their members in his blazing caldrons. Unas hath eaten their magical powers, and he hath swallowed their spirits; the great ones among them serve for his meal at daybreak, the lesser serve for his meal at eventide, and the least among them serve for his meal in the night. The old gods and the old goddesses become fuel for his furnace. The mighty ones in heaven shoot out fire under the caldrons which are heaped up with the haunches of the firstborn; and he that maketh those who live in heaven to revolve round Unas hath shot into the caldrons the haunches of their women; he hath gone round about the two heavens in their entirety, and he hath gone round about the two banks of the celestial Nile. Unas is the great Form, the Form of forms, and Unas is the chief of the gods in visible forms. Whatever he hath found upon his path he hath eaten forthwith, and the magical might of Unas is before that of all the sahu who dwell in the horizon. Unas is the firstborn of the first born. Unas hath gone round thousands and he hath offered oblations unto hundreds; he hath manifested his might as the Great Form through Sah (Orion) [who is greater] than the gods. Unas repeateth his rising in heaven and he is the crown of the lord of the horizon. He hath reckoned up the bandlets and the arm-rings, he hath taken possession of the hearts of the gods. Unas hath eaten the red crown, and he hath swallowed the white crown; the food of Unas is the inward parts, and his meat is those who live upon magical charms in their hearts. Behold, Unas eateth of that which the red crown sendeth forth, he increaseth, and the magical charms of the gods are in his belly; that which belongeth to him is not turned back from him. Unas hath eaten the whole of the knowledge of every god, and the period of his life is eternity, and the duration of his existence is everlastingness, in whatsoever he wisheth to take; whatsoever form he hateth he shall not labour in in the horizon for ever and ever and ever. The soul of the gods is in Unas, their spirits are with Unas, and the offerings made unto him are more than those made unto the gods. The fire of Unas is in their bones, for their soul is with Unas, and their shades are with those who belong unto them. Unas hath been with the two hidden (?) Kha (?) gods who are without power (?) . . . . . . . . ; the seat of the heart of Unas is among those who live upon this earth for ever and ever and ever."

The notion that, by eating the flesh, or particularly by drinking the blood, of another living being, a man absorbs his nature or life into his own, is one which appears among primitive peoples in many forms. It lies at the root of the widespread practice of drinking the fresh blood of enemies--a practice which was familiar to certain tribes of the Arabs before Muhammad, and which tradition still ascribes to the wild race of Cahtâm-and also of the habit practised by many savage huntsmen of eating some part (e.g., the liver) of dangerous carnivora, in order that the courage of the animal may pass into them. The flesh and blood of brave men also are, among semi-savage or savage tribes, eaten and drunk to inspire courage. But the idea of hunting, killing, roasting and eating the gods as described above is not apparently common among ancient nations; the main object of the dead king in doing this was to secure the eternal life which was the peculiar attribute of the gods.

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Main Index

Preface Contents Intro The Legend of Osiris Doctrine of Eternal Life Ideas of God Legend of Ra and Isis Abode of the Blessed Gods of Book of Dead Places In The Book Funeral Ceremonies The Papyrus of Ani Book of Dead Plate 1 Book of Dead Plate 2 Book of Dead Plate 3 Book of Dead Plate 4 Book of Dead Plates 5 - 6 Book of Dead Plates 7 - 10 Book of Dead Plates 11 - 12 Book of Dead Plate 13 Book of Dead Plate 14 Book of Dead Plate 15 Book of Dead Plate 16 Book of Dead Plate 17 Book of Dead Plate 18 Book of Dead Plate 19 Book of Dead Plate 20 Book of Dead Plate 21 Book of Dead Plate 22 Book of Dead Plate 23 - 24 Book of Dead Plate 25 Book of Dead Plate 26 Book of Dead Plate 27 Book of Dead Plate 28 Book of Dead Plate 29 - 30 Book of Dead Plate 31 Book of Dead Plate 32 Book of Dead Plate 33 Book of Dead Plate 34 Book of Dead Plate 35 - 36 Book of Dead Plate 37

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