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A Hymn to Osiris in the Pyramid Texts

Author(s): Jean Sainte Fare Garnot

Source: Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr., 1949), pp. 99-103
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
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3. The gods of the East and the West are

A IPASSAGE in the Pyramid Texts con-
satisfied with this great (event),
tains a hymn to the deceased king
which has happened in the arms of the
in which it is possible to recog-
divine progeny.
nize the adaptation of a hymn to Osiris.
B. Exhortations
It is thus the earliest such composition as (?? 259-60)
4. 0 this (Osiris), (Osiris), see!
yet discovered. A very brief text-it oc-
O this (Osiris), (Osiris), behold!
cupies but a single section in Sethe's edi-
5. 0 this (Osiris), (Osiris), hear!
tion (? 258)--it is complemented by Osev-
this (Osiris), (Osiris), be (present)
eral exhortations (?? 259-60) devoted here!
ritual acts and by a sort of final statement
6. 0 this (Osiris), (Osiris), lift thyself
(? 261) which should by no means be dis- upon thy side!
sociated from it. The pyramids of the Old mine order!
Kingdom have transmitted but one 7. Over-
foe of sleep! 0 torpid one!
sion of the text-included in the formulas Rise up, thou who wert in Nedit!
belonging to the pyramid of Unis (cols. 8. Take thy good bread in Pe!
381-89)-but the mastaba of Senusert- Receive (again) thy sekhem-scepter in
cAnkh at Lisht, dating from the Middle Heliopolis!
Kingdom, has supplied a duplicate.2 The C. Statement (? 261)
text is reproduced in Figure 1. Erman,3 9. This Horus, he has ordered action for
his father.
Sethe,4 Hayes,' and others8 have trans-
The master of the tempest, he has neu-
lated it. I offer the following render-
tralized the saliva of Seth,
ing; my reasons for replacing the name of
10. In order that he (Seth) may carry thee,
the dead king by that of Osiris (in paren- For it is he that carrieth the one who
theses) are indicated below in the com- is (again) complete.
A. Hymn to Osiris (? 258) PHILOLOGICAL NOTES
1. Hail to thee, 0 Sage!
Gebeb has created thee (anew); the ? 258c, ` ==q . Sethe's transla-
Ennead has brought thee forth tion, "Atum ist zufrieden uiber seine
(anew). Jahre," while grammatically unimpeach-
2. Horus is satisfied with his father.
able, does not yield a plausible mean-
AtOm is satisfied with his offspring. ing, for the fact of being very aged is
1 K. Sethe, Die altaegyptischen Pyramidentexte, I
(Leipzig, 1908), 142-43 (Spruch 247).
nothing specially agreeable even for a
2 w. C. . Hayes, Texts in the Masfabeb of
god! On the other hand, it breaks the
Wosret-'Ankh at Lisht (New York, 1937). chain of thought and is unharmonious
3 ZXS, XXXII (1894), 4-7. with both the preceding and the following
4 cbersetzung utnd Kommentar zu den altaegypt-
ischen Pyramidentexten, I (Hamburg-Gltickstadt-New context. The parallelism of the two mem-
York), 251 frt. bers which constitute verse 2 is obvious,
5 Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and their identity of structure striking.
XXVIII (1933), 34-36.
6 E.g., L. Speleers, Traduction des Textes des logically
Pyra- expects at the end of the
mides (Brussels), p. 41. second member a term of relationship to

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balance the word it.f while at the thePyramid

same Texts m hnw Cwi is never
time applying to Osiris. Since used Horus as aand
substitute for m hnw. It must
Atum were, respectively, the son therefore
and the be rendered not "in the midst of
ancestor of Osiris, it is natural that, the divine
after offspring" but "in the arms of
a substantive defining the relationship the divineinoffspring." It is very probable
line of descent (Osiris, father of thatHorus),
the resurrection of Osiris was consid-
one should then encounter a second ex- ered to take place "in the arms" of Ho-
pressing this relationship in line of ascentrus, who held the body of the god in his
(Osiris, great-grandson of Atum). I pro- embrace.

pose to see, in the group fff , a deriva- ? 259a: m3, ptr, sdm, etc. Were these
perfective participles in the original draft?
tive in wti of the root rnp, "to be re-
newed, to be young," with the meaning Such is Sethe's opinion, but the transla-
"offspring." For the suffix wti (pointed tion resulting from his interpretation
out by Lacau, Annuaire du Collge de ("der du gesehen hast," etc.)' is not at all
France pour 1947-1948, p. 137) added to a satisfactory, and the fact that it was so
triliteral verbal root see rmnwti (Ermaninterpreted in the Middle Kingdoms is a
and Grapow, Worterbuch der dgyptischen matter of secondary importance. The
Sprache [= WB], II, 420, and Pyr. presence of the imperatives tz in ? 260a
?? 141a, 251b, 531b, 882b). For the writ- and gzp in ? 260c as well as the general
tenor of the passage, which is a summons
ting see ~ , wpwt(i) "messenger," (cf. especially at the beginning: ind hr.k)
(Pyr. ? 136b [W 208: three examples]). suggests that m., ptr, etc., are also im-
The existence of this substantive *rnpwti peratives. Erman and Hayes are of this
is admittedly not attested elsewhere, but opinion. The question of the imperatives
the interpretation-suggested with all re- of second geminating verbs is a delicate
serve-is the only one which suits the con-one, the reduplicated consonant being ar-
bitrarily omitted (e.g., m-, "Shipwrecked
? 258d. Ms(i)wt, the complete reading of
Sailor," 179) or included (e.g., m33, "Elo-
which is given by Neit 24 (Jequier, Les quent Peasant," BI, 247),9 but nothing is
Pyramides des reines Neit et Apouit against taking A as the imperative of
[Cairo, 1933], P1l. VII) = Pyr. ? 2078c,

? 260b. The phrase im(i) Ndit does n

S 1)1-,
ably is a collective
vocalized in wet
twet) meaning (prob-
necessarily mean "he who is in Nedit'o a
progeny" (cf. WB, II, 140, s.v. "mswt"undoubtedly refers to the past. Com
and Pyr. ?? 141b, 647b, 1333a, 1339b). Pyr. ? 632d: 1Hr imi Spdt, which Se
This formation in 'wt (vocalized eitherrenders, "Horus, der in der Sothis wa
6wet [Coptic w] or twet [Coptic n], with ? 260c. Literally, "make thy brea
the sense of the word depending on the that is, "obtain thy meal consistin
alternative vocalizations) was already7Sethe, op. cit.
analyzed by Lacau in his "Notes de
s This is proved by a copy of this text (1B 3) dating
phondtique et d'etymologie 6gyptiennes"
from the Middle Kingdom in which the verb forms in
question are feminine.
(Rec. de tray., XXXI [1909], 73-90) and
9 On this subject cf. G. Lefebvre, Grammaire de
has been studied again more recentlyI'?gyptien
by classique (Cairo, 1940), ? 359c.
the same scholar in his course at the 10 At the time when our hymn is being recited,
Osiris has long ceased to be at Nedit.
CollAge de France (cf. Annuaire du Collhge
11 Op. cit., III, 176. Cf. also Kees, Gotterglaube, p.
de France pour 1947-1948, pp. 136-37).
n. 7.

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bread." Compare ir.f st.f, "hebieten)."13

makes his Since the word isd, "saliv
place" = "he obtains a place never
for him-
determined in the Pyramid Text
the Seth
self," Pyr. ? 651d. The parallelism animal,14 I prefer to consid
of the
members and the presence of the as an ideographic writing (word sig
tive gzp in the second one call the
for name of Seth. To be precise, thi
the in-
terpretation of ir as an imperative only in the texts of Unis, whe
is common:
than as a passive sdm.f.12 Admittedly, the ?? 17a, 26d, 27a, 28a,
noun sbm in the Pyramid Texts many others. The meaning of the w
has the sense of "power," but isd, "Geifer"
here we (Sethe), "Speichel" (W
undoubtedly meet the old word 134), shm,
i.e., apparently, "venomous sal
"sekhem-scepter," the existence is of
which at once by the ideogra
is guaranteed by the word sign human
itself,headas in the act of expectora
well as by its appearance in the lists preceded by its phonetic elem
of ob-
serves to
jects in the Middle Kingdom coffins write the word in ?? 850a (
and 1628c (M, N), and also by the pa
JRquier, Les Frises d'objets des sarcophages
du Moyen Empire [Cairo, 1921], lel p.
of the substantives is?(w) and
n. 1). Since the verb gzp has ain very
? 850a.
con- In ? 26d Seth is likewise p
crete significance, it is normal thatas
sented itsa spitting god. It would be in
direct object should be the name estingof to aknow which quadrupeds
thing rather than the expression of anof ejecting their saliva at t
the habit
abstract idea; besides, the word t, "bread,"
enemies and for what purpose they d
the direct object of the verb in In the
any first
case, this information would
member, is also a concrete term. no great importance for the interpreta
? 261a. Irt n, "action for, in of ? 261a,
favor since, as Roeder long ago
technical meaning, "perform pointedrites out,
for." the animal of Seth is unques-
Nb kr(r), "master of the tempest"; a fabulous creature.
vanquisher of Seth, is henceforth ? 261b.
theI one
regard wtz.f tw as a subordi-
nate to
who presides over storms, in order clause
hold(purpose rather than tem-
them in check. The writing of the and not as an independent sen-
tive kr(r), with but a single r,tence.
is Horus
found neutralizes the saliva of Seth
in order
again in the text supplied by the mastabathat the latter may be a safe
of Senusert-cAnkh (col. 381; cf.mount for Osiris to ride when the time
comes for
op. cit., P1. VII). Krr being here in him
theto play this role. The inde-
absolute state, the vocalizationpendent
must have pronoun swt can refer only to
been k'rr; since the second and Seth.
theIn third
consequence, is certainly not
consonant were not separated aby writing
a vowel,of the name of Atum but a
one r only was written. However,periphrastic
in Pyr. designation of Osiris-"the
? 281a, where we find the reading krr Complete,"
n pt, that is, the reconsti-
the word is in the construct state, one the
(rather than "the All, the To-
two r's are indicated in the writing to
point to a vocalization such as kr'r. As

Sethe has correctly seen, is3h (or sBh)

That fol-
?? 258-61 are of distinctly Helio-
lowed by a club (word sign) ispolitan
a verbinspiration
de- is indicated by the
fining an inhibitory action, "to inention
of Atuim (? 258c), the Ennead
turn aside," rather than "to prevent
13 Ibid., p. (ver-
12 Op. cit., I, 258: "dir ist Brot gemacht." 14 Cf. ?? 850a and 1628c.

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(? 258b), and Heliopolis itself

Osiris is not yet fully con-
scious ofexcept
They reveal no traces of revision his existence, and the recitation
for the elimination of the nameofof
? 259 andin
Osiris ? 260a probably coincides
favor of the king's name. The withusea series
of the
of gestures of the hand (to-
dependent pronoun tw (instead ward theof the sense organs?), the suc-
archaic kw) does not suggest cession and effects
a very an- of which are reflected
cient date of composition, but in these
the paragraphs.
hymn The god, torpid
was written at a time when (? an260b), though the enemy of sleep, is
independent Osirian religionroused hadby already
a challenge at once forcible and
been strongly integrated in complimentary: Heliopolitan"Hail to thee, O Sage!"
theology. This is clearly established (? 258a).by
He then
the recovers the power of
mythological allusions: Osiris at Nedit seeing, considered as one of the senses
(? 260b), the punishment of Seth (? 261b), (m)3, "to see"), that of perception (ptr,
and the role of Horus as coadjutor and "to behold, learn"; cf. the nuance of
funerary-priest of his father. meaning which exists between French
As I have mentioned above, this hymn entendre and &couter), and then that of
to the dead king is the transposition of'a hearing. He thus becomes actually present
fragment composed originally for Osiris. (? 259b: "be thou here!"); and finally he
All its ideas apply precisely to Osiris: ties rises and takes his seat (? 260a-b). He is
of kinship with Atfim and Horus (? 258- next invited to receive nourishment
b-c), murder at Nedit (? 260b), resurrec- (? 260c) and to grasp in his hand (gzp) the
tion (? 258b-d), triumph over Seth and sekhem-scepter, the insignia of authority.
immunization against the violence of the The recitation of ? 260c must have been
latter (? 261). There is not a single ele- accompanied by the double presentation
ment in the composition which refers to of (1) the bread of Buto and (2) the
the pharaoh considered in his exclusive scepter of Heliopolis. These rites (irt,
person, apart from his assimilation with ? 261a) were performed through the
Osiris. agency of one or more participants at the
The main interest of this text consists order of the reigning king, who was identi-
in the fact that, from all the evidence, it fied with Horus (? 261a). The latter,
springs from a ritual of resurrection. The finally, claims for himself the responsibil-
recitation of the formulas belonging to ity of the ceremonies which he has just
this book was synchronized with the per- performed, under the most favorable con-
formance of the rites, and it is possible ditions; he announces that everything has
from the formulas included in our hymn been anticipated in order to avoid subse-
to reconstruct to a considerable extent the quent accidents or retaliation. The "neu-
series of acts corresponding to them. The tralization" of the saliva of Seth must un-
ceremony begins at the instant when the doubtedly be interpreted as a ritual epi-
body of the god has just been reconstitut- sode the nature of which escapes us (fumi-
ed. This restoration is a second birth gations, lustrations?). But, as throughout
(? 258). The entire Ennead participates inthe text, the rite is linked with a mytho-
this birth of the god (? 258b); there is no
logical traditi'on; it recalls the whole or a
portion of some legend. Some words of
question therefore of the original birth of
Osiris, hence my translation, "the Ennead commentary may serve to clarify the
has brought thee forth (anew)." Thus

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The idea that a god could be the tial as they are to hymns. It mentions the
or support of another divinity is only Osirian "wisdom"
ap- (? 258a); it refers to the
parently strange. Suspended from the sky, animating the gods when Osiris is re-
hanging from the body of Nut, the im- suscitated (? 258c-d) and to the process of
mortals ran certain risks in their lofty
the "triumph."'8 But its major interest is
abode. For that reason the children of in its demonstration that, in certain cir-
Horus are asked in Pyramid Text ? 1823 cumstances, homage to the gods, such as
to "hold up (f3i) Neferkarec." However, inancient Egyptians conceived it to be,
the present context, something else isisin-
inseparable from ritual acts. The-hymn,
volved, and that is very clearly punish-
furthermore, bespeaks our interest by rea-
ment. Pyramid Text ? 1632 is explicit: son of its structure, for we have but the
"Horus has brought Seth to thee; he vaguest
has information concerning the forms
of Egyptian poetry, sacred or secular.
placed him beneath thee, bowed (ksi[i],
Here, at least, it is clear that we have a
pseudoparticiple), thy power being greater
than his!"16 Elsewhere it is the great composition
En- of ten verses, each with two
nead which is charged with the execution members. As a general rule,"9 each verse is
(? 1628b). In the most humiliating man- sufficient unto itself: it states a single
ner that body reduces Seth to the status theme presented under two aspects, or
of a menial. "They (the gods of the En- possibly the ideas expressed in the two
nead) have placed Seth under thee," itmembers is are akin. The composition is
stated in ? 1628b, "in order that he may thus based upon the use of binary rhythm,
be in service under thee."'s But this sub- but with whatever rigor this process may
jection is not at all peaceful. Seth, thoughbe applied almost to the very end of the
subdued, still retains his vicious spirit; hepoem,20 the work is by no means static.
defends himself as he can, that is, in theOne may observe, as I have attempted to
manner of a quadruped, and hurls at bring out, a very distinct movement from
Osiris a spurt of saliva. The other gods one group of verses to the next, as is de-
interfere: "they have prevented him from manded by the very nature of the subject
voiding his saliva against thee!"" as weunder consideration: the great experience
are informed by Pyramid Text ? 1628c, of the resurrection.
which is addressed to Osiris. Such is the ECOLE DES HAUTES ETUDES
legend echoed in ? 261. PARIS

The hymn to Osiris makes but very re- 18 Or perhaps the assimilation of Osiris with the

strained use of eulogistic phrases--essen-universe, if F really means, as several scholars be-

lieve to be the case, "the All."
I5 )In n.k. IJr St di.n.f n.k sw kst(i) hr.k wr ptit.k 19 An exception to the rule is found in vs. 9, which
is closely connected with vs. 10.
16 ( W) n.k StO &r.k hnk.f br.k. 20 Cf. n. 19. The first member of vs. 10 continues
17 c C.f isd.f ir.k. the second of vs. 9, if my interpretation is correct.

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