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Sothis

(168 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (σωθίς/ sōthis according to Heph. [5] 1,1). Constellation (Egyptian śpd.t, from śpd 'sharp'), essentially corresponding to Sirius (its main star). Identified with Isis, it appeared in a prominent role as early as the Pyramid texts (Funerary literature) [1]. It retained this role until the end of the Egyptian religion. S. is one of the 36 decan stars (Astronomy B.2.). Its first heliacal rising was thought to introduce a new  year and forebode the flooding of the Nile. Its 70-day phase of invi…

Hathor

(245 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Egyptian Ḥw.t-ḥrw, ‘house of Horus’; Greek Ἀθωρ/ Áthōr [4]). The Egyptian goddess H. - in human or cow shape - is regarded as the daughter of  Re and as the mother of the music god Iḥy. She is often matched with  Horus of Edfu as a partner. H.'s areas of competence cover love, music, as well as the realm of the dead. In the   interpretatio [2] Graeca she is identified with  Aphrodite [4]. At birth, seven H.s determine the baby's destiny [5. 41 f.]. As an aspect of the ‘dangerous goddess’, H. usually represents the appeased sid…

Thot

(466 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Θωύθ/ Thōýth and similar; Latin Theuth; Egyptian Ḏḥwtj). Egyptian god of wisdom, knowledge and writing and moon god. The cult of T. was practiced mainly in Hermupolis (magna); however, there were also cults of T. in numerous other places. T. has probably been worshipped since the Early Period; reliable documentation is extant from the period of the Old Kingdom ( c. 2700-2190 BC). He is mostly represented as a man with the head of an ibis; the ibis and the baboon are sacred to him. T. is supposed to be either a son of Neith or, having no m…

Wepwawet

(207 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] ( Wp-w.wt/Upuaut, 'Opener of the Ways') is represented as a standing jackal or a jackal-headed man. He is a god of the dead (cf. Anubis), but his standard also leads the king's 'Horus escort', when he walks in public. This is reflected in Hdt. 2,122, where a priest is led by two jackals to the Sanctuary of Demeter [3. 58 f.]. Presumably W. is also the Macedon mentioned in Diod. Sic. 1,18 as a companion of Osiris [1. 83]. Clem. Al. Strom. 5,7,43 suggests an astronomical interpretat…

Soknopaiou Nesos

(110 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Σοκνοπαΐου νῆσος/ Soknopaïou Nêsos; Egyptian paj, later t mj(.t), modern Dīmā). Town in the Faiyum; the chief god was Sobek. Like Tebtynis, S. is primarily significant because of its papyri (Greek documents, temple library with Hieratic and a large number of Demotic religious, literary and scientific papyri, c. 1st-2nd cent. AD) [2]. Their edition is still in progress [4]. von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) Bibliography 1 A. E. R. Boak, S. N., 1935 2 E. A. E. Reymond, Demotic Literary Works of Graeco-Roman Date, in: FS zum 100jährigen Bestehen der …

Phthas

(566 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (Φθᾶς, Φθάς; äg. Ptḥ, Ptah) war zunächst der Schöpfergott von Memphis, erhielt jedoch später auch andernorts, z.B. im äg. Theben, Kulte [10]. Wie Thot der Schreiber und Gelehrte par excellence war, galt Ph. als der Handwerker, speziell Metallbearbeiter [4]; die interpretatio Graeca kennt ihn als Hephaistos. Zusammen mit seiner Gemahlin Sachmet, einer löwenköpfigen Seuchengöttin, und beider Sohn Nefertem (mit dem Lotos verbunden) bildete Ph. die memphitische Götter-Triade. V.a. in der Spätzeit (1. Jt. …

Pornographie

(2,901 words)

Author(s): Renger, Johannes (Berlin) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Henderson, Jeffrey (Boston) | Obermayer, Hans-Peter (München)
[English version] I. Alter Orient P. ist aus dem Alten Orient nicht überl., es sei denn, man betrachtet zahlreiche Darstellungen des Geschlechtsaktes auf Terrakottareliefs und Bleiplaketten - von denen möglicherweise viele als magische Amulette dienten oder ex-voto-Gaben darstellten [1. 265] - als P. Explizite verbale, auf Sexuelles Bezug nehmende Schilderungen stammen aus lit. Texten (z. T. Hymnen auf Ištar, die u. a. als Göttin der geschlechtlichen Liebe galt) und sind so eher ein Zeugnis für eine unvoreingenommene Einstellung z…

Osiris

(400 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] (Ὄσιρις, äg. Wsr). Der Jenseitsherrscher, eine der zentralen Gestalten der äg. Mythologie seit dem AR; gilt als Sohn von Geb und Nut, Brudergemahl der Isis und postumer Vater des Horus; weitere Geschwister sind Seth und Nephthys. Erst Plutarch ( De Iside et Osiride, [7]) überliefert eine zusammenhängende Fassung des O.-Mythos, doch in Anspielungen und Auszügen ist er bereits in den ältesten Texten faßbar. O. galt als myth. König zu einer Zeit, als die Götter auf Erden herrschten und das Böse noch nicht existierte. Pluta…

Mondgottheit

(1,060 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[English version] I. Allgemeines Die Stellung des Mondes in der ant. myth. Spekulation und kultischen Verehrung reflektiert seine zentrale Position in den kalendarischen, agrarischen und Monatszyklen in ihren unterschiedlichen Aspekten. Adressat von Kult kann der (personifizierte) Mond sein; Kult gilt auch den in ihrem Aspekt als M. mit dem Mond assoziierten männl. oder weibl., in den traditionellen Panthea verankerten Gottheiten. Während z.B. Selene/Luna ebenso wie Helios/Sol in der öffentl. Rel. d…

Osiris

(483 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Ὄσιρις/ Ósiris, Eg. Wsr). The ruler of the afterlife, one of the central figures in Egyptian mythology from the Old Kingdom; he was regarded as the son of Geb and Nut, brother and husband of Isis and the posthumous father of Horus; additional siblings were Seth and Nephthys. There was no coherent version of the myth of O. until Plutarch ( De Iside et Osiride, [7]), although it is already attested in allusions and extracts in the oldest texts. O. was regarded as the mythological king at a time when the gods reigned on earth and evil did not y…

Moon deities

(1,252 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | Röllig, Wolfgang (Tübingen) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] I. General The status of the moon in ancient mythological speculation and cult worship reflected its central position in the calendar cycles, agricultural cycles and monthly cycles with respect to their various aspects. The moon (personified) could be the addressee of the cult; the cult also included the male and female deities embedded in the traditional panthea and associated with the moon as moon deities (MD) with regard to their particular aspect. Whilst e.g. Selene/Luna just li…

Nut

(225 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Eg. Nwt). The Egyptian goddess of the sky, daughter of Shu (air) und Tefnut (fire; Tefnut, legend of), wife of the earth-god Geb und mother of Osiris, Seth, Isis and Nephthys as well as the sun god Re and the 36 decan stars. N. appears either in a purely human form with a nw-jar on her head or as a cow. She is depicted frequently in cosmological representations, which show Geb on the earth, separated from N. who is held over him by Shu. According to the so-called ‘Book of Nut’,  a cosmological treatise about the course of the heave…

Ritual

(8,221 words)

Author(s): Bendlin, Andreas (Erfurt) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Böck, Barbara (Madrid) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Podella, Thomas (Lübeck) | Et al.
[German version] I. Term Ritual refers to an elaborate sequence of individual rites which, following an established ritual syntax, are logically connected within a certain functional context. Rituals are not limited to religious contexts but exist in other cultural contexts, political as well as social. The significance of rituals for those who participate in them can be reduced neither to an integrative function (legitimation ritual) nor to a temporary disabling of the regular structure - the two e…

Bastet

(193 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Egyptian Bst.t). Chief goddess of  Bubastis, represented as a cat or a cat-headed woman. B. is syncretistically associated with  Sachmet,  Hathor,  Isis and similar goddesses [1. 11-69]. In the   interpretatio [2] graeca she is seen as  Artemis (e.g. Hdt. 2,137), infrequently also as  Aphrodite (e.g. Pistis Sophia 139-140, [5]). B. can be understood as a more benign aspect of Sachmet, but she herself may be said to be mistress of a particular class of demon. In this capacity, she is assigned the lion god Maih…

Ptah

(628 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] (Φθᾶς/ Phthâs, Φθάς/ Phthás; Egyptian Ptḥ, Ptah) was initially the creator god of Memphis, but later he also had cults in other places, e.g. in Egyptian Thebes [10]. Just as Thot was the scribe and scholar par excellence, so P. was considered the artisan, especially the metal worker [4]; the interpretatio Graeca (Interpretatio II. Religion) calls him Hephaestus. P., his wife Sekhmet, a lion-headed goddess of the plague, and their son Nefertem (connected with the lotus) formed the Memphitic Triad of Gods. Particularly…

Scetic desert

(57 words)

Author(s): von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] Region beyond the western edge of the Egyptian delta, esp. in the area which today is referred to as Wādī n-Naṭrūn. Christian monks retreated there beginning in the 4th cent. AD, four monasteries are still occupied today. von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) Bibliography A. Cody, in: A. S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 7, 1991, 2102-2106.

Dead, cult of the

(3,539 words)

Author(s): S.LU. | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin) | Prayon, Friedhelm (Tübingen) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton) | Doubordieu, Annie (Paris) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The cult of the dead in Mesopotamia is documented in written as well as archaeological sources. In the written sources, the term kispum is used for the act of supplying the dead with food and drink (monthly or bimonthly). An important part of the ritual was the ‘calling of the name’ [3. 163] ─ kispum thus served to ensure not only the existence but also the identity of the dead in the  Underworld. In the absence of the cult of the dead, the Underworld changed into a dark, inhospitable place. The living also had an inter…

Bes

(330 words)

Author(s): Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover) | von Lieven, Alexandra (Berlin)
[German version] [1] Roman coinage In the Roman system of weights and measures the bes ( binae partes assis) represents 2/3 (8/12) of the as and, on the basis of the Roman pound (327.45 g), weighs 218.30 g [1. 72]. In Roman minting the bes was stamped with S as its symbol of value; only issued by C. Cassius in 126 BC in bronze (with the head of Liber/ prora) [2. 290].  As;  Small coin, shortage of;  Libra Mlasowsky, Alexander (Hannover) Bibliography 1 Schrötter, s.v. Bes 2 M. H. Crawford, Roman Republican Coinage, 21987. [German version] [2] Dwarfish Egyptian god with hideous face (Egyptia…
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