Egypt Exploration Society

A Note on the Origin of Osiris Author(s): T. J. Colin Baly Source: The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 17, No. 3/4 (Nov., 1931), pp. 221-222 Published by: Egypt Exploration Society Stable URL: Accessed: 09/08/2009 18:03
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819. 2 Frazer.t are the same place. The identifications may be worthless-they belong to that period of identification when the doors of a shrine holding a god were called the jaws of Set. Arch. where he points out that it may be identical with s8't. 721. In the second case three localities are mentioned as the scene of the murder. which has so often been claimed as showing that Osiris was originally a tree deity2. in. Adonis. from Andjety. that is.). of Egypt. Glths. The Ramesseum Papyrus referred to above shows Osiris as an iin. 134).t-iti in Lower Egypt. 1 Sethe. Dram. Memph.) or by being knocked down by his brother Set (Pyr. The dd-pillar. History of Assyria (1928). COLIN BALY The legend of Osiris as we find it at the date of the Pyramid Texts is not that of Plutarch.and.vte. J. Yet it is hardly likely that a king would shed his own attributes entirely and absorb those of another. Unters. who inherited his kingdom. Sethe points out in his Urgeschichte (81) that Osiris apparently took his insignia of royalty.t(972. In all probability idb and the wdb Ndi. The did-pillar itself opens up very interesting lines of thought.ti is mentioned in connection with the death of Osiris in line 137 of the apparently early Ramesseum Coronation Papyrus 1. Another usually accepted statement about Osiris is that he was originally a king. Osiris was a king. but it is of no particular importance in the study of Osirian origins. not the least of which touches the story of Bata. Ghs. 1761. and to have been later absorbed by Osiris (Sethe. Te. but they at least show that the dd-pillar cannot have been identified with Osiris until after the latter had become the victim of Set. In the first case Set is apparently not the cause of the disaster. which is spoken of as Set. until a comparatively late period in his development. has long since been shown to have originally been a separate god.ti. since the mentions of that aspect appear to be later than his identification with cnd. 3 The Upper Egyptian crown is ignored here as being palpably a later intrusion. Ndit (Pyr..-tree placed upon a dd. There is no definite evidence for this. 1799) and idb (2115). indeed. 29 Journ. whence Osiris comes in Pyr. 2188). 123ff. is it a single whole. while the shrine itself was Set bearing Osiris. Theol. and so forth. nor. at Memphis. 1256. In this version Osiris is buried at H. . The "Bank of Nedit" suggests the drowning story. the father of Horus. probably totemic. 242. and he was killed either by drowning (Denkm.221 A NOTE ON THE ORIGIN OF OSIRIS BY T. Attis. 197) remarks "Vielleicht verdankt also Osiris ihm [cnd-ti] die starke Auspragung seiner Charakterziige als Konig. xvii.ii. so that there are merely two variants. which includes a bank (wdb) of Nedit (1008). Sidney Smith. but there is no actual mention of it. which has the appearance of an accident in which Isis and Nephthys made an unsuccessful attempt at rescue. with an exception to be commented on below3. 1033. more convincingly. and Kees (Totenglauben." but no one seems to have pointed out the possibility of his having taken his kingship entirely from this source. and Osiris.

and Sethe's suggestion1 of s. in Pyr. "The place of the Eye. Note also that at a very early period a beard. L. however.t ir. . 251-2) not unlike a matted goat's beard. If Osiris is "The Place of (Horus') Eye" there must have been some connexion between them prior to the date at present supposed. and thou takest thy wrr-t-crown thereby among the gods." is preferable. 69 ff.. Now the most important "Eye" in early Egyptian religion is that of Horus. xv. 1 Rechtsund Links." There is no further information in this passage but it is at least possible that the dnw-bush is the Gum-cistus and that the weeping of the Eye is the exudation of the Ladanum.) has pointed out that the goats' beards got matted with Ladanum and that this was one way of collecting it. 233.t.. The reading irw 4. J. and it is of interest in this connexion that incense was considered as an exudation of Osiris2. COLIN BALY Osiris' name is of some interest in the study of origins. Its perfume is on thee." The first part of this passage assumes that the Eye is sweet smelling and the second part may well refer to incense in view of its divinizing qualities. 86 if. If this is so it follows that Osiris must originally have been this Gum-cistus. not . 2075 we find: "Ho N. and thou art a ba thereby. despite the parallel of s. Further. and the sense may well be quite literal. Ladanum was used in making incense and incense is closely connected with the Eye. It is not difficult to imagine the importance. "He who makes (his) throne.t. and even the deification. Osiris brought in as part of his insignia goat's-horns (Sethe.. 2 Blackman. 0 N. Its perfume is on thee. explain why an Osiris.222 T." ignores the fact that in early times it is usually written A. and a study of this problem in the early texts has led me to the conclusion that it may have been originally connected with that Ladanum to which Newberry refers in Journal. I have come. and hence the deification of the goat itself.. thou rulest thereby. is not so attractive. 133 and 695 we read: "The Horus-eye weeps upon the dnw-bush. 97). 81) and is early connected with a goat or ram at Mendes. presumably the king's. and the two stories of his death would be quite normal." however. of an object so impregnated with a sacred substance. It is noted above that in the Shabako Stone Osiris is apparently drowned accidentally and Horus and Set are still at peace. 0 N. was deified (Borchardt. his later development of "Augenfreude. Urgesch. I have brought the Horus-eye which is in its t. and that it was so important that despite the habit of clean shaving both the kings and the gods wore long thin false beards with curled tips (Erman-Ranke. is already in alliance with Horus while the latter is still at peace with Set. and hence his kingship. murdered by Set. and in Pyr. is easy to explain when one considers the latter's connection with Ladanum. The perfume of the Horus-eye is on thee. and what is more natural for a tree-god than that his death should be spoken of as "felling"? His identification with Andjety. and Urgesch. If Osiris were originally the Ladanum-bearing Cistus he would naturally be of the ordinary vegetation type. An early connexion would. What more natural than that when Horus and Set became enemies the latter should become the cause of Osiris' death? In further explaining the meaning of Osiris' name on this assumption the nature of the Horus-eye comes into question..79. Aegypten. A.Z. Sahure. A vegetation god is frequently spoken of as drowned. Horus fumigates himself over the Eye. Now Newberry (ibid. i.t ib.

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