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Demons in the Book of the Dead

Rita Lucarelli, Leiden

The texts and vignettes of the Book of the Dead provide us with strong evidence for the fact that the ancient Egyptian Realm of the Dead was populated by supernatural creatures which do not belong exactly to the category of the gods but seem to be ranked between them and humankind. We call them 'demons', although in ancient Egyptian there is no term that could be literally translated in the same way, neither is it an easy task to distinguish them from other classes of supernatural beings such as personifications, minor deities and genii 1 . Nevertheless, I would rather interpret the demons of the Realm of the Dead as beings made of flesh and blood, as already proposed by Matthieu Heerma van Voss 2 , than as daimonen in the Greek sense of the term. As a matter of fact, the legions of demons mentioned and occasionally depicted in the Book of the Dead seem to find in their physicality a main reason to exist and to show their power. It is very probably for the same reason that many names and epithets of demons refer to physical attributes. Moreover, when the evidence given by the Book of the Dead is examined, the potentially dangerous nature and general disposition of demons to threaten the created order in the netherworld must be pointed out. At the same time, the status and raison d'tre of demons can be defined as rather amoral than absolutely evil. If on the one hand their outward appearance and behaviour may seem to be a menace to human beings, on the other they may have a protective function as guardians of sacred places or act as emissaries of the deities and be an instrument of either punishment or reward for humankind. We can easily collect lists of names and epithets of demons and in some cases also define a sort of typology for categories of demons and for their iconography as shown in the vignettes of the Book of the Dead recorded in papyri, tomb walls and other funerary objects. However, the true function and nature of these beings remain mostly obscure and still wait to be investigated in more depth. First of all, it is important to note that in the Book of the Dead we find not only individual demons occurring in isolated spells or vignettes, but also classes of demons having collective names. Unlike the individual demons, which seem to be exclusive
1 For a definition of demons in the ancient Egyptian world and literature, see H. TE VELDE, "Dmonen", in: L I, 980-984, and D. MEEKS, "Demons", in: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt I, Oxford 2001, 375-378. 2 M. HEERMA VAN VOSS, Vijf dekaden Demonen da capo, Leiden 1983, 7.


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inhabitants of the Realm of the Dead, the terms for collective demons refer to creatures which operate not only in the netherworld but also on earth. As a matter of fact, they are not only mentioned in the funerary texts but also in the magical texts of the New Kingdom and later, which are concerned with daily magic and the world of the living. This basically means that, although it is true that two different realties must be distinguished when discussing demons in ancient Egypt the world of the dead and the world of the living these realties however seem to complement each other in the religious belief in evil spirits. The demons of daily religion and those mentioned in amuletic and magical texts may occasionally be the same as those appearing in funerary texts; the idea of seeking divine intervention and protection for deflecting those demonic forces stays the same in both the world of the dead and of the living. For instance, the class xAty.w "the slaughterers" whose earliest occurrence is found in the Pyramid Texts 3 and therefore they can be considered of funerary origin, occurs in a variety of other categories of documents, from the magical texts of the New Kingdom 4 to the temple texts of the Ptolemaic period 5 . In these non-funerary texts the xAty.w are clearly described as evil-bringers probably in connection with the similarity of their name to the term xAyt "disease" and they are mainly related to Sekhmet in her aggressive and potentially destructive aspect. From the New Kingdom onwards and in particular in the Saite redaction of the Book of the Dead, these demons begin to be mentioned as xAty.w %xmt, as to better stress their close relationship with the goddess 6 . In the last section of Ch. 145 (Saite version), while describing the actions he carried out in the places which he has been visiting, the deceased declares that he "has praised the demons of Sekhmet in the house of the Elders" 7 . In Ch. 149 (6th mound), the deceased claims instead that the xAty.w, which here are explicitly mentioned also as opponents (DAyty.w), will not pursue him 8 . From the passages mentioned above it appears that the role of the slaughterers in relation to the deceased of the Book of the Dead is a rather terrifying one: he attempts to make them content by praising them (Ch. 145) and does not want them to follow him (Ch. 149). It is the dangerous aspect of the demons which is stressed here, which reminds one of the similarly negative function the slaughterers have in most of the magical texts of the New Kingdom 9 . Also the wpwty.w "the
3 Cf. list of occurrences in LGG V, 635-637. 4 See CHR. LEITZ, Tagewhlerei. Das Buch HAt nHH pH.wy Dt und verwandte Texte, A 55, Wiesbaden 1994, 244-255, and M. BOMMAS, Die Mythisierung der Zeit. Die beiden Bcher ber die altgyptischen Schalttage des magischen pLeiden I 346, GOF IV.37, Wiesbaden 1999, 35-37. 5 Cf. A. VON LIEVEN, Der Himmel ber Esna. Eine Fallstudie zur Religise Astronomie in gypten, A 64, Wiesbaden 2000, 50-55. 6 See LGG V, 638. 7 R. LEPSIUS, Das Todtenbuch der gypter nach dem hieroglyphischen Papyrus in Turin, Leipzig 1842, pl. 65.82 and 86: swh.n=i xAty.w %xmt m-Xnw Hw.t iAw.w. 8 Cf. in pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu (BM EA 10477), Catalogue of the Books of the Dead in the British Museum Vol. I, London 1997, pl. 83.44-45: nn iwi xAty.w m-sA=i, nn iwi dAty.w m-sA=i. 9 However, mention must be made of a singular demotic text of the Roman period which looks like a glorification of the dead and contains an invocation to the xAty.w to welcome the deceased under their

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messengers" are often associated with Sekhmet both in funerary, magical and temple texts 10 . In the Book of the Dead, the messengers are also related to Osiris in Ch. 125, where the deceased invokes Osiris, the Lord of the Atef crown, in order to be rescued from them. In the CT they are mentioned as wpwty.w Wsir "the messengers of Osiris" 11 . Moreover, in the Late Period we find an interesting rubric at the end of Ch. 163 of the Book of the Dead: "If this book is used on earth, he (i.e. the deceased) shall not be seized by the messengers who attack those who commit wrong in the whole earth" 12 . As noted by Paul Barguet 13 , also this passage refers to the messengers of Osiris, who were related to the judgment of the dead and consequently one of their functions was to punish the sinners and evildoers in the Realm of the Dead. From the Ramesside period onwards but especially in the 21st Dynasty, the demonic nature of these punishers is especially clear in a scene occurring in some papyri, between others in pLeiden T 3 14 and in pGreenfield 15 . Sometimes accompanied by a text associated with a negative confession and attested also in the papyrus of Ani 16 , which Terence DuQuesne named Ch. 194 17 , this scene sees Anubis in the company of seven or more demons called Ax.w, holding snake-like wands and occasionally also feathers and anx-signs. That these demons are related to the judgment is clear also from the text passage in which they are named: iw DADA.t n.t sbx.wt m Ax.w "the tribunal of the gates (is made of) Ax.w". Interestingly, the Ax.w sfx "the seven Ax.w" 18 are mentioned in Ch. 17 as well as part of the "Tribunal of Osiris", comprising the four Sons of Horus and headed by Anubis. In the singular form, Ax-demons are also known from magical and temple texts of the New Kingdom and Late Period 19 . As a matter of fact, it seems that the gangs of demons may occasionally have also been operating individually; also the class of the wpwty.w "the messengers" have two of their representatives acting separately from the gang in the Realm of the Dead and occurring in Ch. 29 and 31 of the Book of the Dead. In Ch. 29 an wpwty n nTr nb "a messenger of any god" threatens to
protection: cf. M. CHAUVEAU, Glorification d'une morte anonyme. P. dm. Louvre N 2420, in: RdE 41 (1990), 3-8. See references in LGG II, 364f. Cf. CT III, 304f and V, 331g-h. R. LEPSIUS, Todtenbuch [see note 7], pl. 77.17-18: ir ir=tw mDAt tn Hr tp tA nn in ipwty.w th nty(.w) irr(w) swAw n tA Dr=f. P. BARGUET, Le Livre des morts des anciens Egyptiens, LAPO 1, Paris 1967, 235, n. 23. M. HEERMA VAN VOSS, Zwischen Grab und Paradies, Basle 1971, pls. 18-19. E.A.W. BUDGE, The Greenfield Papyrus in the British Museum. The Funerary Papyrus of Princess Nesitanebtshru, Daughter of Painetchem II and Nesi-Khensu, and Priestess of men-R at Thebes, about B.C. 970, London 1912, pls. 75 and 90-91. E.A.W.BUDGE, The Book of the Dead. The Papyrus of Ani, New York 1913, pls. 29-30; see remarks in K. SETHE, Kosmopolitische Gedanken der gypter des Neuen Reichs in Bezug auf das Totenreich, in: S.R.K. GLANVILLE (ed.), Studies presented to F.LL.Griffith, London 1932, 432-433. T. DUQUESNE, At the Court of Osiris. Book of the Dead Spell 194, Oxfordshire Communications in Egyptology 4, London 1994. Cf. LGG I, 45. Ibidem, 35.

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take away the heart of the deceased and therefore is ordered to go back 20 , while in Ch. 31 wpwty is the name of one of the two crocodile demons who attempt to take the deceased's magic 21 . Both these spells have antecedents in the Coffin Texts 22 ; similarly, gangs of demons and their individual correspondents, especially the xAty.w and the wpwty.w, are more widely attested in the funerary texts composed in the Old and Middle Kingdom, in particular the Coffin Texts, while in the New Kingdom and later they are more frequently encountered in the magical and temple texts. This evidence may signify that in the later periods of Pharaonic history these demons were considered as having a stronger influence on earth hence the many occurrences in the magical papyri and temple texts than in the netherworld. Conversely, there are also categories of demons which seem to inhabit exclusively the Realm of the Dead, such as the mysterious aHA.w m Iwnw "the Fighters in Heliopolis" 23 who threaten to take away the heart of the deceased in Ch. 28 of the Book of the Dead. These fighter-demons do not have parallels in other texts and the only hint given for understanding their origin comes from the quite unique vignette occurring in pNeferubenef of the 18th Dynasty, which represents the deceased holding his heart and kneeling in front of a creature resembling Bes, who is equipped with a knife. This being, who is curiously also reproduced in smaller scale in the hieroglyph functioning as determinative for the name of the demons in the text of pNeferubenef, may represent one of the "fighters" and be a later development of the iconography of the ancient god Aha, well-known from Middle Kingdom texts and illustrations 24 . In particular, the mention of the fighter-demons of Ch. 28 of the Book of the Dead derives from the CT spell 388, where however a "fighter against Heliopolis", aHA r Iwnw, is mentioned 25 . Clearly, the redactor(s) of the spell from the Book of the Dead has elaborated the earlier source by transforming the lonely fighter of the Coffin Texts in a gang of demons based in the cultic town of the sun. Since the vignette of pNeferubenef has no parallels in other documents of the Book of the Dead, it may be assumed that its source must to be found outside this corpus, probably in the magical and apotropaic texts and illustrations of the earlier periods; once again, a group of demons populating the netherworld may imply a connection with the world of the living and their popular beliefs.

20 Cf. in pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu [see note 8], pl. 34.2: HA=k wpwty n nTr nb "back, oh messenger of any god!". 21 Ibidem, pl. 15.3: wpwty rn n wa "Messenger is the name of one (of the two)". 22 BD 29 = CT 387; BD 31 = CT 342. 23 See pNeferubenef (pLouvre N. 3092) published by S. RATI, Le papyrus de Neferoubenef (Louvre III 93), BdE 43, Cairo 1968, pl. XIII, cols. 402-403: HAty=i pn m-a=i in aHA.w m Iwnw "my heart (should not be taken) away from me by the fighters in Heliopolis". 24 See H. ALTENMLLER, Die Apotropaia und die Gtter Mittelgyptens I, Dissertation Mnchen 1965, 36ff. and 152ff. Cf. also G. ROSATI, Su Besa e Antinoe, in: Comunicazioni Istituto Papirologico "G. Vitelli", Firenze 1995, 51-62, in particular 56f. 25 CT 338, CT V 58a-b: "this heart of mine shall not be taken away to him who fights against Heliopolis".

Demons in the Book of the Dead


All the spells mentioned until now are related to an extremely important topic of the ancient Egyptian funerary literature of the New Kingdom, namely the protection of the heart, which indirectly recalls the final judgment. The latter was considered indeed the moment in which destructive forces and dangers in general, as symbolised by demons, reached their apex in the Realm of the Dead and therefore the deceased needed the protection of funerary magic. However, gangs of demons occur occasionally also in other contexts in the Book of the Dead, for instance in Ch. 153A and B, where the socalled HAm.w 26 attempt to catch the deceased in their nets 27 , the deceased having to show his knowledge of the parts of the nets and of the names of the demons in order to avoid the danger. If the gangs of demons, as mentioned above, are more numerous in the magical texts of daily religion than in the funerary text, the situation is different when considering the occurrence of individual demons instead. The world of the dead is overwhelmed by individual demons, especially when according to the evidence given by the Book of the Dead. There are hundreds of names and epithets of demons in the Book of the Dead, and the meaning of a great number of these epithets remains difficult to grasp because of the many variants and corruptions of the texts. Nevertheless, it is possible to group some names and epithets which have the same or a similar meaning. For instance, the "devourers" (wnm) or "swallowers" (am) are found rather often in the Book of the Dead. It seems indeed that the act of devouring (human beings, animals or dead persons) was a threat especially employed by demons of the ancient Egyptian netherworld and this tradition continues in the Coptic apocalyptic texts, where many demons occur, which threaten to devour their victims 28 . The most famous creature mentioned in the Book of the Dead and belonging to the devourers is certainly the am.t-mwt.w or amm.y.t "the devourer of the dead" which appears in the vignette of Ch. 125 with a hybrid animal form and is said to swallow the deceased's heart 29 . This creature shows the main feature characterising most of the demons of the Book of the Dead: she directs her aggressive behaviour only to the damned, the sinners who are not absolved by the divine tribunal, while the justified deceased whose declaration of innocence is considered to be true are automatically out of her reach. This is the main difference from the demons appearing in non-funerary, magical texts which potentially can be a danger for anyone, good or evil. Therefore, the various devourers of the Book of the Dead are demons whose intention is generally
26 In pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu [see note 8], pl. 57.3, and in further in the text of Ch. 153A and 153B. 27 For the CT antecedents of these spells see D. BIDOLI, Die Sprche der Fangnetze in den altgyptischen Sargtexten, ADAIK 9, Glckstadt 1976. 28 Cf. J. ZANDEE, Death as an Enemy According to Ancient Egyptian Conceptions, Studies in the History of Religions (Supplements to Numen) 5, Leiden 1960, 337. 29 On the different forms and names of the "devourer of the dead" in Ch. 125 of the Book of the Dead cf. CHR. SEEBER, Untersuchungen zur Darstellung des Totengerichts im alten gypten, MS 35, Munich 1976, 163-184.


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known; they do not act at random but follow what we could call a 'logic of punishment', which is directed only against evil-doers and those who have no knowledge of the mysteries of the netherworld. For instance, once again in Ch. 125 of the Book of the Dead, the fourth of the 42 judges of the dead is called am Sw.wt "swallower of shadows" 30 or in pNeferubenef am XA.wt "swallower of corpses" 31 to whom the deceased declares, in order to get his clemency, that he has not stolen or slaughtered people. The "swallower of corpses" is mentioned also in Ch. 17 32 , where it is said that he has the face of a greyhound and ravishes hearts. The deceased invokes Re-Atum to be rescued from this demon, who in the following glossa is also said to be the am HH.w "the swallower of millions" 33 . By comparing those spells, it appears that the epithets given to the swallowers are interchangeable in the funerary texts, and therefore we may conclude that whatever they are meant to swallow (corpses, shadows, dead or millions of people), it is their main function of devouring which characterises them as demons rather than who their victims are. It is also important to note that, in the examples mentioned above, the object following the participial form am is always a plural. It is as if the demonic act of devouring involves always a multitude in front of which the deceased, who has to face the demon, stands out as a distinguished individual, who has the skill to avoid the demon's destructive power. However, there is a special occurrence of a swallower occurring only in one spell of the Book of the Dead, which is notable for being a devourer of only one creature and who has the appearance of an ass. This is the am aA "the swallower of the ass" which occurs in Ch. 40, a "spell for warding off the swallower of the ass" 34 . Accordingly to the vignette of this spell, the demon has the form of a snake which bites an ass 35 or, in a later, simplified variant, of the ass itself 36 . To me it seems that the iconography and name of this demon in the Book of the Dead are a misinterpretation of an earlier figure of a guardian-demon, called am aA as well and occurring in a Guide of the Netherworld of the Middle Kingdom, the so-called pGolenischeff 37 , the original of which has
30 31 32 33 34 See in pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu [see note 8], pl. 66.4. S. RATI, Neferoubenef [see note 23], pl. 17.684. See in pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu [see note 8], pl. 7.4. Ibidem, pl. 7.5. From other occurrences of the am HH.w, which must be differentiated from the am HH ("the swallower of one million", more used as epithet of gods), see LGG II, 111. A paper devoted to this spell and to the swallower mentioned in the text is forthcoming in J.-CL. GOYON / CHR. CARDIN (eds.), Proceedings of the IX International Congress of Egyptologists, Grenoble 2004, OLA 150, Leuven 2006. Cf. in pLeiden T 4 reproduced in E. NAVILLE, Das aegyptische Todtenbuch der XVIII. bis XX. Dynastie I, Berlin 1886, pl. LIV. Cf. M. MOSHER, The Papyrus of Hor (BM EA 10479) with Papyrus MacGregor: The Late Period Tradition at Akhmim, Catalogue of the Books of the Dead in the British Museum Vol. II, London 2001, pl. 24.4. J.F. BORGHOUTS, A New Middle Kingdom Netherworld Guide, in: S. SCHOSKE (ed.), Akten des Vierten Internationalen gyptologen-Kongresses Mnchen 1985, Beihefte SAK 3, Munich 1989, 131-139, in particular fig. 1, n. 31.

35 36


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recently been rediscovered in the Pushkin Museum by Irmtraut Munro 38 . This earlier "swallower" very probably belongs to the Sethian sphere and the ass which he is supposed to have swallowed in the New Kingdom version of the spell is in fact one of the manifestations of the demon itself and not its victim, as shown in the later variants of the vignette of Ch. 40, whose title also becomes "spell for warding off the ass" 39 . Yet, apart from his true identity, what is interesting to point out is the subtle function of this demon, which is the same as that of the other devourers mentioned above: the "swallower of the ass" has to punish the evil-doers and for this reason the deceased has to declare that he does not belong to them: "Don't eat me, since I am pure", says the deceased in Ch. 40 40 . In opposition to the declaration of pureness of the deceased, in the same spell the demon is also called am isft.y.w "swallower of sinners" 41 . If we compare these with the epithets of the swallowers occurring in Ch. 17 and 125, it appears clear that the am-demons are especially related to the declaration of innocence of the deceased and to the final judgement occurring in the Book of the Dead. Last but not least, it must be noted that a few gods also take the epithet of swallower, as in the Amduat, where the am mwt.w, am aA itself and an am irw occur as well 42 ; a "swallower of millions" is also the name given to one of the 77 genii of Pharbaetos 43 . In all these cases, we are however confronted with gods having a demonic nature since their function of guardian and warriors (as for the genius of Phaerbaetos) or of followers and protectors of a main god (as for the "swallower" of the Amduat) shows once again that the act of devouring was meant to be a symbol of terrifying power. In this line, it will be interesting to investigate the divine aspects of these demons and the origin of their name in relation to the often similar epithets of the gods, which is indeed an issue not yet discussed in ancient Egyptian religion. In the Book of the Dead the various devourers-demons are not represented in the vignettes, with the exception of the already-mentioned "swallower of the ass" of Ch. 40. Conversely, there is a special group of demons presenting a rich iconography and depicted not only in the papyri of the Book of the Dead but also on the tomb walls from the New Kingdom onwards, on coffins and on mummy bandages. These are the demons belonging to the chapters of the Book of the Dead dealing with the secret knowledge of the netherworld and in particular of the names of its doors and inhabitants, namely Ch. 144 to 150. In particular, Ch. 144-147 show a series of creatures guarding the doors of the netherworld, which may be defined as more than genii, and as demons in the very Egyptian sense of the term: potentially they are harmful for whoever is not provided with the appropriate knowledge to face them, and at the same time they have a protec38 39 40 41 42 43 I wish to thank Irmtraut Munro for the information. For an in-depth analysis of the identity of the swallower see my forthcoming paper (cf. note 34). Cf. in pNu, G. LAPP, The Papyrus of Nu [see note 8], pl. 21.2: m wnm=wi Hr wab=i. Ibidem, pl. 22.5. Cf. references in LGG II, 109-114. J.-CL. GOYON, Les dieux-gardiens et la gense des temples (d'aprs les textes de lpoque grcoromaine), BdE 93, Cairo 1985, 342ff.


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tive, positive function for the sacred place they guard, namely the doors and portals of the netherworld (arr.wt and sbx.wt). In an in-depth study some time ago, Nataline Guilhou attempted to analyse their iconography in order to define a typology of the different implements they generally hold (knifes, spears, plants or sceptres) 44 . As a matter of fact, the doorkeepers of the Book of the Dead are depicted in many different ways as far as their appearance (with animal head and human body) and implements are concerned. The many variants occurring on papyri and in epigraphic versions do not really give a homogeneous imagery of them, and their names also provide only a general glimpse of their function. This seems to be primarily a terrifying one, although they may also play a positive role in granting the survival of the deceased through nourishment and being his intercessors in the Realm of the Dead, as symbolised by the fecundity symbols they may hold. Yet, what is interesting is that, within such a variety of epithets and depictions of these guardian demons, there is a feature they have in common: none of them is ever shown in action but they are always represented in a static position, either standing or sitting in front or outside the door they guard. This seems to me to be a characteristic of all the demonic creatures depicted in the Book of the Dead. The demons of the Book of the Dead seem to symbolise a static power which belongs, also physically speaking, only to the place where the deceased encounters them. A striking example is that of the creatures populating the mounds of Ch. 149, many of which can be seen as demons as well and the existence of which seems not be valued once outside the mound to which they are connected. Especially in the papyri of the Late Period, where many figures of demons not attested in earlier papyri are represented 45 , this sort of genii loci show a feature which characterises spirits and demons in worldwide religions, namely that their effectiveness works only in the place to which they belong to. In particular for the guardian demons of the Book of the Dead, we may however see in the weapons they often hold (mainly knifes), an iconographical symbol of their potentially active force, which however is never explicitly shown in the vignettes of the Book of the Dead. The reason for that may be seen in the fact that in the vignettes of the Book of the Dead the demons generally face the deceased, who is the one possessing the knowledge and skills to pass safely through the places they guard and against whom they cannot make their aggressive power effective. Therefore, in the vignette we see only the symbol of the power, but not the dynamic of it. An interesting article has been devoted by Laure Pantalacci to one of the guardian demons, otherwise funerary genii, depending on the interpretation we prefer; this is the wnm-HwA.t n.t pH=f "the eater of the excrement of his posteriors" which is mentioned in
44 N. GUILHOU, Gnies funraires, croque-mitaines ou anges gardiens? Etude sur les fouets, balais, palmes et pis en guise de couteaux, in: S. AUFRRE (ed.), Encyclopdie religieuse de l'univers vegetal I, OrMonsp 10, Montpellier 1999, 365-417. 45 Cf. examples in T.G. ALLEN, The Egyptian Book of the Dead Documents in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, OIP 82, Chicago 1960, pls. XLVII (pRyerson) and XCIII (pMilbank).

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Ch. 144 and 147 of the Book of the Dead beside occurring in a various number of other documents and on funerary objects throughout the Pharaonic and Late Period 46 . According to Pantalacci, the originally terrifying nature of this devourer was gradually transformed in a beneficent one in the Late Period. As a matter of fact, not only in the BD but in general also in magical and ritual texts, demons seem to have a double nature according to which their negative influence is directed against the enemies of someone for whom, as a logical consequence, the demon plays instead a beneficent role and in that sense can be considered a genius. The positive influence of demons, when present, is rather a consequence of the overall context in which they appear and where the funerary magic is employed in favour of the deceased and never against him. Moreover, it must be remembered that the demons of the Book of the Dead are derived mostly from those of the Coffin Texts, from where many of their epithets and names are taken and which, in the New Kingdom redaction of the spells, acquire an iconography as well. The Book of the Two Ways in particular, and other Guides of the Netherworld of the Middle Kingdom in general, are main sources of demonic creatures, most of which play the role of doorkeepers 47 . Compared to the guardian demons of the Coffin Texts, the doorkeepers of the Book of the Dead seem to have been grouped in a more fixed way and occasionally they seem to play more subtle roles, as in Ch. 147 where the triads of demons watching each portal always include one ir.y-aA "doorkeeper", one sAw "watcher" and one smi "herald" which looks like a sort of bureaucracy of demons, each having to stick to his own specific function. Finally, among the demonic beings of the Book of the Dead there are also animals, not the monstrous ones such as the am-mwt.w of the vignette of Ch. 125 but some of the animals which also populate the earth. It is well known that, starting from the Pyramid Texts and continuing with the magical and funerary texts of the Middle and New Kingdom, certain kinds of animals were considered particularly dangerous and therefore associated with demonic forces. These were mainly reptiles and some mammals like the pig, the donkey, the dog and the jackal, which were seen as negative manifestations of Seth. We have already mentioned a demon, "the swallower of the ass", which in the vignette of Ch. 40 takes the form of a snake or of an ass. Ch. 40 is indeed part of a group of spells occurring often as a cluster which includes those spells meant to repel dangerous creatures, most of which have an animal form. These are spells 31 to 42, the vignettes of which often accompany the texts and depict the animals to be warded off, such as the SAi "pig" (in other variants apSAi, an insect probably corresponding to a kind of beetle) of Ch. 36, the crocodile/s of Ch. 31 and 32, various sorts of snakes (HfAw/Rerek of Ch. 33, 34 and 35, the mrt.y-snake of Ch. 37). The papyrus of Nakht is
46 L. PANTALACCI, Compagnie de gardiens au temple d'el-Qalaa, in: D. KURTH (ed.), 3. gyptologische Tempeltagung. Hamburg, 1-5. Juni 1994. Systeme und Programme der gyptischen Tempeldekoration, AT 33.1, Wiesbaden 1995, 187-198. 47 Especially full of demons is the fifth section of the Book of the Two Ways, including Rosetau; cf. L.H. LESKO, The Ancient Egyptian Book of Two Ways, University of California Publications. Near Eastern Studies 17, Berkeley 1972, 77-92.


Rita Lucarelli

one of the New Kingdom papyri in which these spells are more widely illustrated 48 . In these vignettes it is possible to stress a main feature which varies the representation of the deceased from that occurring in the vignettes concerning the chapters of the doorkeepers. While in the latter the deceased is not represented in action but just standing in front of the demon his power is in the knowledge of the names in the vignettes of the spells for warding off dangerous animals the deceased is always represented in the attitude of physically repelling the animals with the help of a weapon, generally a knife or spear. Therefore, if we consider these dangerous animals as belonging to the world of the demons of the beyond, we may however note that the way to fight them remains the same as that of repelling them on earth, namely not by means of the word but through physical strength. The texts which accompany these vignettes support this interpretation since they all contain expressions of physical repulsion of the deceased towards the animals, such as "keep away from me" or "don't move", "back, go away, don't come against me!" 49 . Therefore, unlike the doorkeepers and the demons inhabiting certain places of the Realm of the Dead, such as the already-mentioned mounds of Ch. 149, the demonic animals were not tied to a place. Instead, the main danger for the deceased was that they could move and try to get near to him, instead of the deceased moving to the place where they lived, as happened with the doorkeepers. We may see in Apopis the prototype of this demonic physical menace; although the role and nature of this snake, as cosmic enemy, goes beyond both the category of the gods and of the demons 50 , Apopis symbolises the uncontrolled will of the demonic beings in the form of animals, which have no voice to speak out their intention but simply move against the target of their destructive power. The types of demons mentioned until now represent only a minimal part of the world of demons populating the spells and vignettes occurring in the Book of the Dead. Besides, the demons of the Book of the Dead exhibit some very interesting correspondences in names, hypostases and function with the demonic creatures appearing in other genres of funerary papyri such as the Mythological papyri and the Amduat papyri, with which they must be compared in order to deepen our understanding of demonology in ancient Egypt 51 .

48 See R.O. FAULKNER (transl.) / C. ANDREWS (ed.), The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, London 2 1985, 58-62. 49 See texts of Ch. 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41b. 50 On the role of Apopis in the Book of the Dead, see J.F. Borghouts's contribution in this volume. 51 The writer will shortly work on a research project on demons in funerary and magical papyri of the New Kingdom (under the financial support of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung), which will investigate further the issues presented in this paper.