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Title: The Ancient Egyptian Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul
Author: Wiedemann, Alfred
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Ancient Egyptian Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul" ***

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  Transcriber’s note:

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[Illustration: [See p. 64.]




  +With Twenty-one Illustrations+


  Printed by Hazell Watson, &. Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.


In writing this treatise my object has been to give a clear exposition
of the most important shape which the doctrine of immortality assumed
in Egypt. This particular form of the doctrine was only one of many
different ones that were held. The latter, however, were but occasional
manifestations, whereas the system here treated of was the popular
belief among all classes of the Egyptian people, from early to Coptic
times. By far the greater part of the religious papyri and tomb texts
and of the inscriptions of funerary stelæ are devoted to it; the
symbolism of nearly all the amulets is connected with it; it was bound
up with the practice of mummifying the dead; and it centred in the
person of Osiris, the most popular of all the gods of Egypt.

Even in Pyramid times Osiris had already attained pre-eminence; he
maintained this position throughout the whole duration of Egyptian
national life, and even survived its fall. From the fourth century B.C.
he, together with his companion deities, entered into the religious
life of the Greeks; and homage was paid to him by imperial Rome.
Throughout the length and breadth of the Roman Empire, even to the
remotest provinces of the Danube and the Rhine, altars were raised to
him, to his wife Isis, and to his son Harpocrates; and wherever his
worship spread, it carried with it that doctrine of immortality which
was associated with his name. This Osirian doctrine influenced the
systems of Greek philosophers; it made itself felt in the teachings
of the Gnostics; we find traces of it in the writings of Christian
apologists and the older fathers of the Church, and through their
agency it has affected the thoughts and opinions of our own time.

The cause of this far-reaching influence lies both in the doctrine
itself, which was at once the most profound and the most attractive of
all the teachings of the Egyptian religion; and also in the comfort
and consolation to be derived from the pathetically human story of its
founder, Osiris. He, the son of the gods, had sojourned upon earth and
bestowed upon men the blessings of civilisation. At length he fell a
prey to the devices of the Wicked One, and was slain. But the triumph
of evil and of death was only apparent: the work of Osiris endured, and
his son followed in his footsteps and broke the power of evil. Neither
had his being ended with death, for on dying he had passed into the
world to come, henceforth to reign over the dead as “The Good Being.”
Even as Osiris, so must each man die, no matter how noble and how godly
his life; nevertheless his deeds should be established for ever, his
name should endure, and the life which is eternal awaited him beyond
the tomb. To the Egyptian, nature on every hand presented images of
the life of Osiris. To him that life was reflected in the struggle
between good and evil, in the contest between the fertilising Nile and
the encroaching desert, no less than in the daily and yearly courses
of the sun. In earlier times Osiris was occasionally confounded with
the Sun god; later, the two deities were habitually merged in one
another. The death and resurrection of Osiris occurred at the end of
the month Khoiak−-that is to say, at the winter solstice, concurrently
with the dying of the Sun of the Old Year and the rising of the Sun of
the New. The new phoenix was supposed to make his appearance in March;
and this bird, although usually associated with the Sun, was often
representative of Osiris. And the epithets and titles of the Sun god
were similarly bestowed upon Osiris.

All the Osirian doctrines were readily apprehended in spite of their
deep import, and they steadily tended towards the evolution of a high
form of monotheistic belief. To no close student of these doctrines can
the fact seem strange that Egypt should have been the first country in
which Christianity permeated the whole body of the people. The Egyptian
could recognise his old beliefs in many a Christian theme, and so much
did the figure of Christ remind him of Osiris and his son Horus, that
to him Christ became a hero who traversed the Nile valley even as Horus
had done, overcoming His enemies, the evil demons and the wicked. In
Egypt the Osirian faith and dogma were the precursors of Christianity,
the foundations upon which it was able to build; and, altogether apart
from their intrinsic worth and far-reaching influence, it is this which
constitutes their significance in the history of the world.

For the choice of the illustrations, as well as for the English
version, I am gratefully indebted to my translator.


Bonn, March 1895.


Little as we know of the ancient Egyptian religion in its entirety,
and of its motley mixture of childishly crude fetichism and deep
philosophic thought, of superstition and true religious worship, of
polytheism, henotheism, and pantheism, one dogma stands out clearly
from this confusion, one article of belief to which the Egyptian
religion owes its unique position among all other religions of
antiquity−-the doctrine of the immortality of the human soul. It is
true that other ancient religions attained to a similar dogma, for the
belief was early developed among Semites, Indo-Germanians, Turanians,
and Mongolians; but in all these cases it appears as the outcome of a
higher conception of man and God and of their reciprocal relationship,
and, when attained to, brought about the abandonment of grossly
material forms of thought. But in Egypt we have the unique spectacle
of one of the most elaborated forms of the doctrine of immortality
side by side with the most elementary conception of higher beings
ever formulated by any people. We do not know whether the belief in
immortality which prevailed in the valley of the Nile is as old as the
Egyptian religion in general, although at first sight it appears to be
so. The oldest of the longer religious texts which have come down to us
are found in the wall inscriptions of pyramids of kings of the Fifth
and Sixth Dynasties (according to Manetho’s scheme of the dynasties),
and must be dated to at least 3000 B.C. In these texts the doctrine
of immortality appears as a completed system with a long history of
development behind it.

In that system, all the stages through which this doctrine of the
Egyptian religion had successively passed are preserved; for the
Egyptians were so immoderately conservative in everything that they
could not make up their minds to give up their old ideas of deity,
even after having advanced to higher and purer ones. The older ideas
were all carefully retained, and we find various systems of religion
which in point of time had followed each other on Egyptian soil
afterwards existing side by side. There is no trace of any struggle for
the victory between these systems; each new order of thought was taken
as it arose into the circle of the older ones, however heterogeneous it
might be to the rest. The consequence was that in Egypt there was no
religious progress in our sense of the term. With us it is essential
that old and outworn forms of belief should be cast off; with them a
new doctrine could achieve no greater success than to win a place among
the older conceptions of the Egyptian Pantheon.

Each single divinity, each religious belief, each amulet, has in itself
a clear and intelligible significance; and where this is apparently
otherwise it is not because the point was obscure to the Egyptian
mind, but because we have not yet succeeded in making it clear to
ourselves. When we abandon the consideration of single points and try
to imagine how the different detached notions were combined by the
people into one belief, and what picture they had really formed of
their Heaven and Pantheon—then we have set ourselves an impossible
task. Many divinities have precisely the same character and perform the
same functions; whole circles of ideas are mutually exclusive; yet all
existed together and were accepted and believed in at one and the same

In these circumstances any discussion of Egyptian religious ideas must
begin by dealing with isolated facts; each divinity, each idea, each
smallest amulet must be carefully examined by itself and treated of
in the light of the texts specially referring to it. Generations of
Egyptians pondered on each single point seeking to elucidate it. With
anxious fear priests and laymen strove to acquire the use of all the
formulæ by the help of which man hoped to appease the gods, overcome
demons, and attain to bliss, and all sought to provide themselves with
every amulet possessing efficacy for the world to come and import for
man’s eternal welfare. But great as must have been the expenditure of
thought which produced and developed their various religious doctrines,
the Egyptians never succeeded in welding their different beliefs and
practices into one consistent whole.

In most religions the gods of life are distinct from the gods of
death, but such a distinction scarcely existed at all in Egypt, There
the same beings who were supposed to determine the fate of man in this
world were supposed to determine it also in the world to come; only in
the case of certain deities sometimes the one and sometimes the other
side of the divine activity was brought into special prominence. The
exercise of their different functions by the gods was not in accordance
with any fixed underlying principle, was not any essential outcome of
their characters, but rather a matter of their caprice and inclination.
In course of time the Egyptian idea of these functions changed, and
was variously apprehended in different places. It seems to us at first
as though the relation of the gods to the life beyond had nearly
everywhere been regarded as more important than their relation to this
life. But this impression is owing to the fact that our material for
the study of the Egyptian religion is almost exclusively derived from
tombs and funerary temples, while the number of Egyptian monuments
unconnected with the cult of the dead is comparatively small.

On this account it has been supposed that both in their religion and
in their public life the Egyptians turned all their thoughts towards
death and what lay beyond it. But a close examination of the monuments
has proved that they had as full an enjoyment of the life here as other
nations of antiquity, and that they are not to be regarded as a stiff
and spiritless race of men whose thoughts were pedantically turned
towards the contemplation of the next world.

Had this been the case, the Egyptians would have come to hold a
pessimistic view of the life here and hereafter something like that
prevailing in India, and have striven to escape from the monotony and
dulness of existence by seeking some means to end it. But this is the
reverse of what happened in the valley of the Nile. The most ardent
wish of its inhabitants was to remain on earth as long as possible,
to attain to the age of one hundred and ten years, and to continue to
lead after death the same life which they had been wont to lead while
here. They pictured the after-life in the most material fashion; they
could imagine no fairer existence than that which they led on the banks
of the Nile. How simple and at the same time how complicated were
their conceptions can best be shown by some account of their ideas on
the immortality of the soul and its constitution as a combination of
separate parts set forth in ancient Egyptian documents.

When once a man was dead, when his heart had ceased to beat and
warmth had left his body, a lifeless hull was all that remained of
him upon earth. The first duty of the survivors was to preserve this
from destruction, and to that end it was handed over to a guild whose
duty it was to carry out its embalmment under priestly supervision.
This was done according to old and strictly established rules. The
internal and more corruptible parts were taken away, and the rest of
the body—_i.e._, the bony framework and its covering—was soaked in
natron and asphalt, smeared with sweet-smelling unguents, and made
incorruptible. The inside of the body was filled with linen bandaging
and asphalt, among which were placed all kinds of amulets symbolising
immortality−-heart-shaped vases, snake-heads in carnelian, scarabæi,
and little glazed-ware figures of divinities. By their mystic power
these amulets were intended to further and assist the preservation
of the corpse, for which physical provision had already been made by
embalmment. In about seventy days, when the work of embalmment was
completed, the body was wrapped in linen bandages, placed in a coffin,
and so returned to the family.

The friends and relatives of the deceased then carried the dead in
solemn procession across the river to his last resting-place, which
he had provided for himself in the hills forming the western boundary
of the valley of the Nile. Mourning-women accompanied the procession
with their wailing; priests burnt incense and intoned prayers, and
other priests made offerings and performed mysterious ceremonies both
during the procession and at the entrance to the tomb.[1] The mummy was
then lowered into the vault, which was closed and walled up, further
offerings were made, and afterwards the mourners partook of the funeral
feast in the ante-chamber of the tomb. Harpers were there who sang of
the dead man and of his worth, and exhorted his relations to forget
their grief and again to rejoice in life, so long as it should be
granted unto them to enjoy the light of the sun; for when life is
past man knows not what shall follow it; beyond the grave is darkness
and long sleep. Gayer and gayer grew the banquet, often degenerating
into an orgy; when at length all the guests had withdrawn, the tomb
was closed, and the dead was left alone. Afterwards it was only on
certain feast days that the relatives made pilgrimages to the city of
the dead, sometimes alone and sometimes accompanied by priests. On
these occasions they again entered the ante-chamber of the tomb, and
there offered prayers to the dead, or brought him offerings, either in
the shape of real foods and drinks, or else under the symbolic forms
of little clay models of oxen, geese, cakes of bread, and the like.
Otherwise the tomb remained unvisited. How it there fared with the dead
could only be learned from the doctrines and mysteries of religion; to
descend into the vault and disturb the peace of the mummy was accounted
a heavy crime against both gods and men.

And yet how much an Egyptian could have wished to look behind the
sealed walls of the sepulchral chamber and see what secret and
mysterious things there befell the dead! For their existence had not
terminated with death; their earthly being only had come to an end,
but they themselves had entered on a new, a higher and an eternal
life. The constituent parts, whose union in the man had made a human
life possible, separated at the moment of his death into those which
were immortal and those which were mortal. But while the latter formed
a unity, and constituted the corruptible body only ([Illustration:
{H}] KHA), on which the above-mentioned rites of embalmment were
practised, each of the former were distinct even when in combination.
These “living, indestructible” parts of a man, which together almost
correspond to our idea of the soul, had found their common home in
his living body; but on leaving it at his death each set out alone to
find its own way to the gods. If all succeeded in doing so, and it was
further proved that the deceased had been good and upright, they again
became one with him, and so entered into the company of the blessed, or
even of the gods.

The most important of all these component parts[2] was the so-called
[Illustration: {H}], KA, the divine counterpart of the deceased,
holding the same relation to him as a word to the conception which it
expresses, or a statue to the living man. It was his individuality
as embodied in the man’s name; the picture of him which was, or
might have been, called up in the minds of those who knew him at the
mention of that name.[3] Among other races similar thoughts have given
rise to higher ideas, and led to a philosophic explanation of the
distinction between personalities and persons, such as that contained
in the Platonic Ideas. But the Egyptian was incapable of abstract
thought, and was reduced to forming a purely concrete conception of
this individuality, which is strangely impressive by reason of its
thorough sensuousness. He endowed it with a material form completely
corresponding to that of the man, exactly resembling him, his second
self, his Double, his _Doppelgänger_.[4]

[Illustration: Fig. 1.—Hatshepsû, accompanied by her KA, making
perfume-offerings. (_From the temple of Dêr el Bahri._)[5]]

Many scenes, dating from the eighteenth century B.C. and onwards,
represent different kings appearing before divinities, while behind
the king stands his KA, as a little man with the king’s features
(fig. 1), or as a staff with two hands (fig. 2),[6] and surmounted by
certain symbols of royalty, or by the king’s head. In these scenes the
Personality accompanies the Person, following him as a shadow follows a

[Illustration: Fig. 2.—The KA of Rameses II., represented by the
two-handed staff, standing behind the king while he slays his enemies
before Rā Harmakhis. (_From Abû Simbel_.)[7]]

[Illustration: Fig. 3.—Amenophis III. making offerings to his KA.
(_From his temple at Soleb._)[8]]

But even as early as the time of Amenophis III., about 1500 B.C.,
the Egyptians had carried the idea still further, and had completely
dissevered the Personality from the Person, the king being frequently
represented as appearing before his own Personality, which bears the
insignia of divinity, the staff of command, and the symbol of life,
the [Illustration: {H}] _ānkh_ (fig. 3). To it the king presents
offerings of every kind and prefers his petition for gifts of the gods
in exchange His Personality replies: “I give unto thee all Life, all
Stability, all Power, all Health, and all Joy (enlargement of heart);
I subdue for thee the peoples of Nubia (Khent), so that thou mayest
cut off their heads.” In bas-reliefs of the same period which represent
the birth of Amenophis III.,[9] his KA is born at the same time as the
king, and both are presented to Amen Rā, as two boys exactly alike
(fig. 4), and blessed by him. About this time the kings began to build
temples to their own Personalities, and appointed priests to them;
and from time to time the sovereign would visit his temple to implore
from himself his own protection, and still greater gifts. So long
as the king walked the earth, so long his “living KA, lord of Upper
and Lower Egypt, tarried in his dwelling, in the Abode of Splendour
([Illustration: {H}] Pa Dûat)”;[10] for his KA was himself, independent
of him, superior to him, and yet his counterpart and bound up with him.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.—The infant king, Amenophis III. and his KA,
presented to Amen Rā, the god of Thebes, by two Nile gods, and by
Horus. (_From the temple of Amenophis III., at Luxor._)[11]]

The disjunction of the Personality from the Person was not, however,
rigorously and systematically insisted upon; the two were indeed
separate, but were so far one as to come into being only through and
with each other. A man lived no longer than his KA remained with
him, and it never left him until the moment of his death. But there
was this difference in their reciprocal relations: the KA could live
without the body, but the body could not live without the KA. Yet this
does not imply that the KA was a higher, a spiritual being; it was
material in just the same way as the body itself, needing food and
drink for its well-being, and suffering hunger and thirst if these were
denied it. In this respect its lot was the common lot of Egyptian gods;
they also required bodily sustenance, and were sorely put to it if
offerings failed them and their food and drink were unsupplied.

After a man’s death his KA became his Personality proper; prayers
and offerings were made to the gods that they might grant bread and
wine, meat and milk, and all good things needful for the sustenance
of a god to the KA of the deceased.[12] Offerings were also made to
the KA itself, and it was believed that from time to time it visited
the tomb in order to accept the food there provided for it. On such
occasions it became incorporate in the mummy, which began to live and
grow ([Illustration: {H}] rûd), or renew itself as do plants and trees
([Illustration: {H}] renp), and became, as the texts occasionally
express it, “the living KA in its coffin.” The rich founded endowments
whose revenues were to be expended to all time in providing their KAS
with food offerings, and bequeathed certain sums for the maintenance of
priests to attend to this; large staffs of officials were kept up to
provide the necessaries of life for the Personalities of the dead.[13]
The KA was represented by statues of the dead man which were placed
within his tomb, and sometimes in temples also by gracious permission
of the sovereign.[14] Wherever one of these statues stood, there might
the KA sojourn and take part in Feasts of Offerings and the pleasures
of earthly life; there even seems to have been a belief that it might
be imprisoned in a statue by means of certain magic formulæ. Royal
statues in the temples were destined to the use of the royal KAS,
the many statues of the same king in one temple being apparently all
intended for his own Ka service.[15]

The Egyptians, holding the belief that the statue of a human being
represented and embodied a human KA, concluded that the statues of
the gods represented and embodied divine KAS, and were indeed neither
more nor less than the KAS of the gods. Thus the idea of divinity
became entirely anthropomorphic, and, just as the king built his
temple not to himself but to his Personality, so also sanctuaries were
sometimes dedicated not to a god himself but to his Personality.
For example, the chief temple of Memphis was not for the service of
the god Ptah,—the maker of the world, whom the Greeks compared to
Hephæstos,—but rather for that of his KA. Ptah was not alone among
the gods in this respect. The pyramid texts show that even in the times
of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties Thot, Set, Horus, and other gods were
recognised as having KAS; that is to say, each was supposed to be
possessed of his own Personality in addition to himself.[16] It was
believed that the divine KA, this image which had the greater likeness
to man, stood nearer to man than the god himself, and hence in the case
of votive stelæ dedicated to the incarnation of Ptah in the sacred
Apis-bull of Memphis, prayer for the divine favour and blessings is not
as a rule addressed to the Apis, but to its Ka. It is a very remarkable
fact that in several inscriptions[17] the god Rā is credited with no
less than seven BAS and fourteen KAS, corresponding to the various
qualities or attributes pertaining to his own being, and which he could
communicate to the person of the king; such as: wealth, stability,
majesty, glory, might, victory, creative power, etc.[18]

Thus the apprehension of the KA, of a man’s Personality, as his
_Doppelgänger_, or _Double_, found even in some of the oldest texts,
acquired a far-reaching significance which extended not only to the
doctrine of human immortality but also to the conception of the
relations of gods to men.

As we have already stated, each man had a KA so long as he was alive,
but at his death it left him and led an independent existence. Only
after long wanderings did he meet it again in the world to come, and we
still possess the prayer with which he was to greet it, beginning with
the words, “Hail to thee who wast my KA during life! I come unto thee,”

[Illustration: Fig.: 5.—SET OF “CANOPIC” VASES.[21]

  Ȧmset.    Dûamûtef.    Hāpi.    Qebhsenûf.]

[21] The illustration represents the set of Canopic vases dating from
the Thirtieth Dynasty, made for the priest T’et-bast-auf-ānkh, and
found by Prof. Petrie at _Hawara (Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoë_, p. 9).
They are now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The lids of such vases represent the four genii of the dead:

Ȧmset, [Illustration: {H}], man-headed;
Dûamûtef, [Illustration: {H}], jackal-headed;
Hāpi, [Illustration: {H}], cynocephalous;
Qebhsenûf, [Illustration: {H}], hawk-headed.

The second immortal part of man was his heart ([Illustration:{H}]
_àb_).[20] The heart was removed from the body by the embalmers,
and the texts give no definite explanation as to what became of it.
During certain periods of Egyptian history, but still comparatively
rarely, it was enclosed, as were the rest of the viscera, in special
alabaster, limestone, or wooden vases, of which four were placed with
the mummy in its grave. These vases are generally but most erroneously
called “Canopic” vases. They usually date from the times of the New
Empire, but we have some few dating from the Ancient Empire. In other
cases the viscera were replaced within the body after its embalmment,
and with them waxen images of the four genii of the dead as their
guardian divinities. But for the most part documents do not afford
us any information as to what was done with the material heart.
Perhaps the priests took measures for its disappearance in order to
furnish some tangible foundation for their doctrine concerning the
heart. Certain statements of Greek writers seem to imply some such
proceeding. According to these authorities the viscera, which must
have included the heart, were cast into the Nile, because they were
designated as the source of all human error. Porphyry gives us even
the form of the prayer which was repeated when the chest containing
the intestines was presented before the Sun; and if the text of this
prayer has not hitherto been confirmed from original documents it is
yet so thoroughly Egyptian in character that its authenticity cannot be

But the immortal heart of a man, which stood in a similar relationship
to his material heart as his KA to the whole body, left him at death
and journeyed on alone through the regions of the other world till it
reached the “Abode of Hearts.” Its first meeting with the deceased
to whom it had belonged was in the Hall of Judgment, where it stood
forth as his accuser; for in it all his good and evil thoughts had
found expression during his lifetime. They had not originated there,
for the heart was essentially divine and pure, but it had of necessity
harboured and known them,[23] and therefore it was called upon to
testify concerning the man’s former thoughts and deeds before Osiris,
judge of the dead.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.—A heart scarab.[24]]

In the meantime the mummy was without heart, and had become lifeless
and dead; for to pierce the heart of anything was equivalent to utterly
destroying it. The OSIRIS, too (to which we shall presently return),
would have shared the fate of the mummy had the device not been
conceived of providing the latter with an artificial heart in place of
its own original one, which had returned to the gods. The provisional
heart was represented by an artificial scarabæus, generally made of
hard greenish stone in the image of the beetle, which was a symbol of
genesis and resurrection (fig. 6). Underneath it was made flat, and
inscribed with magic formulæ,[25] that it might be the substitute for
the dead man’s heart, and also ensure his resurrection by virtue of
its form. But when his own heart was restored to him the scarabæus lost
its significance. Like all the rest of the amulets which the Egyptians
gave to their dead, its efficacy only availed for the space of time
intervening between death and the reunion of those elements which death
had separated. When once the resurrection had taken place there was no
further need of amulets, nor any hurt through lack of them.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.—The Ba as a bird.]

Another immortal part of man was the [Illustration: {H}],
[Illustration: {H}], [Illustration: {H}], BA. This conception most
nearly corresponds to our “soul,” for it was a being which, on the
death of the man in whom it had dwelt, left him in order to fly to the
gods, to whom it was closely akin, and with whom it abode when not
united to the man. But, nevertheless, the BA was neither immaterial
nor able to dispense with food and drink.[26] It bore the form of a
human-headed bird (fig. 7), sometimes with hands (figs. 10, 14); or of
a ram-headed scarabæus (fig, 8). From the fifteenth to the eleventh
century B.C. it was preferably represented under the second form which
is really nothing more than its hieroglyphic symbol. The phonetic
value of the ram, [Illustration: {H}], is _ba_, and of the scarabæus,
[Illustration: {H}], _kheper_, which latter means _to be, to become_;
and the composite figure of the ram-headed scarabæus signifies,
therefore, something like “he who has become a soul.”

[Illustration: Fig. 8.—Ram-headed scarabæus.[27]]

[Illustration: Fig. 9.—The Ba visiting the mummy on its funeral couch.
(From “The Book of the Dead,”)]

[Illustration: Fig. 10.—The Ba flying down the shaft of the tomb and
bringing offerings to the mummy.

(From “_The Book of the Dead._”)]

It is otherwise with the first image, which really represents the soul
as it was imagined by the Egyptians. We have sculptured figures and
drawings (fig. 9) showing the little soul perched by the sarcophagus,
touching the mummy, and bidding it farewell before rising to the
gods.[28] In other scenes the soul is depicted as it comes flying from
heaven with the sign of life in its hand, and approaching the grave to
visit the mummy; or as flying down into the vault with the offerings
which it had found at the door of the tomb, bringing bread in one hand
and a jar of water in the other, as food and drink for the body which
once invested it (fig. 10).

This conception of the soul as a kind of bird is noteworthy when
compared with the ideas which other nations have formed of it. The
Greeks sometimes represented the εἴδωλον, or soul, as a small winged
human figure (fig. 11); in Roman times it was imagined as a butterfly
(fig. 12); and in mediæval reliefs and pictures we see it leaving the
mouth of the dead man as a child (fig. 13), or a little naked man.[29]
The latter form recalls that of the Egyptian KA, although the idea
which it embodies reminds one rather of the BA.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.—The placing of the dead in the tomb by
Thanatos (Death) and Hypnos (Sleep). The small winged figure represents
the dead man’s soul. (From a _lekythos_ published by M. C. POTTIER in
his _Étude sur les Lecythes Blancs Attiques_. The εἴδωλον was usually
painted black.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 12.—Scene from a sculptured sarcophagus of the
third century a.d., in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. To the left, below
the chariot of Selene and the draped figure of Night, lies the dead
body of the man, whose soul hovers above him as a butterfly beside the
inverted torch of the pensive winged boy representing either Sleep or
Death. Fate sits with open scroll at the dead man’s head, and above
her his soul is again represented as a Psyche, carried away by Hermes.
(See BOTTARI, _Musée Capitoline_, vol. iv., pl. xxv. Cf. also many
representations of Amor and Psyche in ancient art, showing Psyche—the
soul—sometimes as a winged figure and sometimes as a butterfly.)]

[Illustration: Fig. 13.—The soul of a man leaving him at his death in
the form of a naked child, and received by an angel. (_From the porch
of the cathedral church of St. Trophimus, at Arles._)]

The [Illustration: {H}], SĀHÛ, also was considered as immortal. This
is invariably depicted as a swathed mummy, and represented the form
which the man wore upon earth. Originally it was related to the KA, but
whereas the latter was a complete Personality, the SĀHÛ was nothing
but a hull,—a form without contents. Yet this also was of the gods
and imperishable, returning to its heavenly home when death had set it
free. Since the body, or KHA[30] had also the same form, it naturally
came about that when the mummy was mentioned in religious texts as
reanimated by the KA it was frequently confounded with the SĀHÛ. In
this sense it is said that “the SĀHÛ lives in the Sarcophagus (or in
the underworld), it grows (_rûd_), it renews itself (_renp_).”[31] But
in more precise texts the two things are kept distinct, as, _e.g._,
“the BA (soul) sees its KHA, it rests upon its SĀHÛ.”[32] At such times
the BA had power over the SĀHÛ, and, as is said on the Sarcophagus of
Panehemisis, “the SĀHÛ lives at the command of the BA.”[33]

In close connection with the Sāhû was the [Illustration: {H}], KHAÏB,
the shadow, represented as a fan, or sunshade (fig. 14), in scenes
professing to portray the next world.[34]

As all earthly forms must needs have their shadows, such was also
the case with things in the world to come; there, too, the sun
shone and all the optical phenomena of earth were repeated. But,
not content to accept this as a simple fact, the Egyptians ascribed
separate existences both to the shadows of the dead and to those of
gods and genii. According to Egyptian belief a shadow might live on
independently, apart from its owner, and this was exactly what it was
supposed to do at the moment when death had taken place; then the KHAÏB
went forth alone to appear in the realm of the gods. This Ancient
Egyptian idea of the independent existence of a man’s shadow recalls to
our minds Chamisso’s story of Peter Schlemihl, published in 1823.[35]

[Illustration: Fig. 14.—BA and KHAÏB. (From “_The Book of the Dead._”)]

The KA, the ÅB, the BA, the SĀHÛ, and the KHAÏB constituted the
chief elements of that which was immortal in man, but others were
also occasionally included, especially one which was called the Khû,
[Illustration: {H}], i.e. the Luminous.[36] To these, however, there
is less frequent reference; they were of importance in local cults
only, and were either included among the parts already mentioned or
were so vaguely defined that they may be safely left out of account in
treating of the soul as conceived by the Egyptians without danger of
our conception being falsified by the omission.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the immortal was thus resolved into its component parts at death,
what then became of the human individuality which had resulted from
their combined action, and how could its different parts find each
other again in the next world, in order to form the new man of the
resurrection? The Egyptians had evolved a very simple solution of this
problem, although one which, according to our mode of thought, stands
in direct contradiction to their doctrine of the soul. It was assumed
that in addition to his immortal elements the man as a person of a
particular appearance and character was also endowed with a kind of
deathlessness, which seems to have held good only for a time, and not
for ever. To this conception of a dead man, in whom soul and life were
lacking but who in the interim still possessed existence, feeling, and
thought, the Egyptians gave the name of OSIRIS.

Osiris was the first divine King of Egypt who reigned in true human
likeness; he civilised the Egyptians, instructed them in agriculture,
gave them laws, and taught them true religion. After a long and blessed
reign he fell a prey to the machinations of his brother Set (Typhon),
and having been slain was constrained to descend into the underworld,
where he evermore lived and reigned as judge and king of the dead. His
fate of death was the fate of all men. Every one, when his earthly
pilgrimage was ended, must descend into the underworld by the gates of
death; but each man hoped to rise again, even as Osiris had risen, to
lead henceforth the life of the blessed. In this hope men called their
dead OSIRIS, just as Germans speak of their dead as “blessed,”—hoping
that blessedness may indeed be their lot. Death had not changed Osiris;
as he had been king on earth, so he was king in the world beyond death.
In the same way man, too, remained that which he had been here; death
merely made a break in his life, without altering any of his conditions
of existence.

[Illustration: Fig. 15.—Hypocephalus, from a drawing by Dr. W. H,

The relation subsisting between a man’s OSIRIS and his mummy was not
clearly apprehended, even by the Egyptians themselves. Identical they
were not—that fact is obviously implied by the texts, which never
once substitute the mummy for the Osiris; men knew also from experience
that no mummy had ever left its place of embalmment, or the tomb, to
journey on into the next world. Yet mummy and OSIRIS were nevertheless
not entirely different and distinct; both had the same appearance
and the same character. Moreover, the texts describe the OSIRIS as
resembling the mummy in appearance while really differing from it, and
the embalmers equipped the mummy as though it were called upon to
journey forth as the OSIRIS. The inherent contradiction in all this
arose principally from the fact that the Egyptian hoped and believed
that shortly after death he would arise again, complete in flesh and
blood as he had lived upon earth; whereas experience contradicted his
creed, for it showed him that the mummy never did and never could
leave the earth. He extricated himself from the dilemma by providing
the mummy with a _Doppelgänger_: its own perfect counterpart, yet not
itself. When once we have familiarised ourselves with this singular
idea we find in it a simple key to all the riddles of the OSIRIS.

The mummy was provided with an artificial heart in the shape of a
scarabæus,[37] because the Osiris could not live without one, and
also with various amulets, by virtue of every one of which demons of
the next world could be overcome. A stuccoed disc of papyrus, linen,
or bronze, which, by the figures and formulæ inscribed upon it, had
mystic power to preserve the needful warmth of life to the Osiris (fig.
15), was placed under the head of the mummy.[38] The soles of the
feet which had trodden the mire of earth were removed in order that
the OSIRIS might tread the Hall of Judgment with pure feet; and the
gods were prayed to grant milk to the Osiris that he might bathe his
feet in it and so assuage the pain which the removal of the soles must
needs have caused him. And, finally, the soles which had been excised
were placed within the mummy in order that the OSIRIS might find them
to hand for the completion of his Personality.[39] That nothing might
be wanting to this Personality, the gods were besought that the mummy
should not suffer earthly corruption, and it was held to be of supreme
importance that flesh and bones, muscles and limbs should all remain
in place. With the mummy were also placed _The Book of the Dead_, as
well as other religious and mystic texts needed by the OSIRIS for
his guidance through the regions beyond the grave, and from which he
might learn the prayers which had to be spoken in due order and place
according to strict prescriptions. In short, the mummy was treated
precisely as though it were an OSIRIS. But the difference was great:
the mummy remained within the sarcophagus in the sepulchral chamber,
while the OSIRIS proceeded on his way.

The journey of the OSIRIS, treated at wearisome length, forms the
favourite subject of Egyptian texts, and to this is devoted the largest
and best known work in the religious literature of the nation: the
compilation called by us _The Book of the Dead_. This book contains
no systematic account of the journey, such as the analogy of similar
literatures might lead us to expect, but exhibits it in a series
of disconnected stages by giving the prayers which the OSIRIS must
repeat when passing through different parts of the underworld, or
on encountering certain genii there. A chapter is devoted to each
prayer, but the chapters do not follow each other in the order in
which the prayers were to be used. The Egyptians never attained to
any clear idea of the Osirian underworld; the same confusion and
obscurity reigned over it as over their whole conception of the unseen
world and of deity. They pondered deeply over a series of separate
problems without being able to unite the results into one consistent
whole, which should command acceptance, or to form any definite and
permanent topography of the regions beyond the tomb. Hence there is
no fixed sequence for the chapters of _The Book of the Dead_; the
order varies materially in the different manuscripts to which we are
indebted for our knowledge of the work. The number of chapters in the
different copies also varies; while in some it is small, in others,
as in the Ptolemaic copy for a certain Aûfānkh, published by Lepsius,
it reaches to one hundred and sixty-five. Since there was no fixed
rule as to order or number, priest or scribe might make a selection of
such chapters as he or the family of the deceased held to be the most
essential, and each was at liberty to form for himself a more or less
modified conception of the characteristics of the underworld.

We cannot here follow the OSIRIS through all the details of his
journey, but must be content to know that according to the account
in _The Book of the Dead_ he issued victorious from all his trials,
overcame all enemies whom he encountered, and was ushered at length
into the Hall of the Double Truth, and received by the goddess of
Truth. Here also he found the chief gods of the Osirian cycle gathered
together, and the forty-two assessors of Divine Justice near the
canopy under which the god Osiris was enthroned. Then the deceased
spoke, and proceeded to recite the “Negative Confession”—a denial of
sins of commission—declaring that he had not been guilty of certain
definite sins, and denying one or another particular form of guilt
to each of the assessors. He had not done evil, had not robbed, nor
murdered, nor lied, not caused any to weep, not injured the property of
the gods, and so on.[40] The judges heard all in silence, giving no
sign either of approval or disapproval; but when the confession was
ended the heart of the deceased was brought forward and laid in the
scales against the image or symbol of Truth. The weighing was
superintended by the gods Anubis and Horus, while Thot, the scribe of
the gods, stood by ready to record the result (fig. 16).[41]

[Illustration: Fig. 16.—The weighing of the dead man’s heart against
the feather symbolic of Maāt, the goddess of Truth. (_From “The Book of
the Dead”_)]

This was the time for the deceased anxiously to call upon his heart in
the prescribed formula from _The Book of the Dead_,[42] not to bear
witness against him, for “the heart of a man is his own god,”[43] and
must now determine his everlasting fate. If his heart were content with
him, and the scales turned in his favour, then the god Thot commanded
that his heart should be restored to him to be set again in its place.
This was done, and forthwith the immortal elements which death had
separated began to reunite. His KA, and all the remaining parts of
himself, were now restored to the justified OSIRIS, who was thus built
up into the complete man who had once walked the earth, and who now
entered upon a new life, the everlasting life of the righteous and the
blessed. He was joyfully admitted by the gods into their circle, and
was henceforth as one of them.

_The Book of the Dead_ and cognate religious texts, always assume that
judgment goes in favour of the deceased, that his heart approves him,
and that he becomes one of the blessed. Nowhere are we clearly informed
as to the fate of the condemned who could not stand before the god
Osiris. We are told that the enemies of the gods perish, that they are
destroyed or overthrown; but such vague expressions afford no certainty
as to how far the Egyptians in general believed in the existence of a
hell as a place of punishment or purification for the wicked;[44] or
whether, as seems more probable, they held some general belief that
when judgment was pronounced against a man his heart and other immortal
parts were not restored to him. For such a man no re-edification and no
resurrection was possible. The immortal elements were divine, and by
nature pure and imperishable; but they could be preserved from
entering the OSIRIS, from re-entering the hull of the man who had
proved himself unworthy of them. The soul, indeed, as such did not die,
although personal annihilation was the lot of the evil-doer in whom it
had dwelt. But it was the hope of continued individuality which their
doctrine held out to the Egyptians; this it was which they promised to
the good and in all probability denied to the wicked.

[Illustration: Fig. 17.—The Blessed Dead ploughing and sowing by the
waters of the celestial Nile. (_From “The Book of the Dead.”_)]

[Illustration: Fig. 18.—The blessed Dead reaping and treading out the
corn in the fields of Aalû. (_From “The Book of the Dead.”_)]

After judgment the righteous entered into blessedness, unchanged
in appearance as in nature; the only difference being that, while
the existence which they had led upon earth had been limited in its
duration, the life of the world to come was eternal. But the future
blessedness for which the Egyptian hoped was far from being a passive
state of bliss such as is promised by most of the higher religions,
an absorption into the All or into the Godhead, a dreamy state of
floating in everlasting repose, content, and unimpassioned joy. The
average Egyptian expected to lead as active a life in the world to
come as he had led here. Although with the Godhead, he counted on
retaining his independent individuality in all respects and on working
and enjoying himself even as he had done on earth. He expected his
chief employment to be agriculture, the occupation which must have
seemed most natural to a people almost entirely dependent upon the
produce of the fields. A vignette belonging to chap. cx. of _The Book
of the Dead_ represents the dead at work in the fields of the
Blessed,[45] ploughing with oxen, casting the seed-corn into the
furrows (fig. 17), cutting the ripe ears with sickles, driving oxen to
tread out the grain from the straw (fig. 18), and finally piling up the
corn in heaps against it was required to serve for the making of bread.
For change and recreation they sailed upon the canals of the next world
in their boats (fig. 19), played at draughts with their own souls, or
made offerings to the gods, especially to the celestial Nile, which
gave water to their fields and fertility to their seed (fig. 20). All
went on exactly as here, excepting that the work of the blessed was
invariably crowned with success. The Nile always overflowed the fields
to best advantage, the corn grew five ells high and its ears were
two ells long, the harvest never failed to be abundant, the weather
was always favourable, the fresh and pleasant north wind was always
blowing, the foe was always conquered, and the gods graciously accepted
all offerings and requited the givers with rich gifts of all kinds. In
short, the life of the dead in the kingdom of the gods was an idealised
earthly life, although not always a very moral life according to our

[Illustration: Fig. 19.—One of the Osirian dead sailing in his papyrus
bark along the heavenly canals. (_From “The Book of the Dead.”_)]

[Illustration: Fig. 20.—-The Blessed Dead making offerings to the
celestial Nile-god. (_From “The Book of the Dead.”_)]

But this belief in the life of the next world as the exact counterpart
of this implied a danger which involved the Egyptian in heavy cares.
The dead lived, therefore they must of necessity eat and drink, for
without these processes the continuation of life was inconceivable;
if the dead were without food they would be starved. The inscription
of the sepulchral pyramid of Ûnas, an Egyptian king of the Fifth
Dynasty, gives expression to this fear. “Evil is it for Ûnas,” says
that text, “to be hungry and have nothing to eat; evil is it for Ûnas
to be thirsty and have nothing to drink.” The necessities of life
were, indeed, partly ensured to the dead by means of the offerings
made to them by their sur-vivors on recurrent feast-days, and partly
mysteriously created for their use in the next world by the repetition
of magic formulæ in this.[46] But if the offerings ceased, or if no one
took the trouble to repeat the formulæ, the dead were left to their own
resources, and must work, and till the land, and earn their own living.

[Illustration: Fig. 21.—Ancient kingdom KA-statues of servants−potters
and bread-makers. (_Originals in the Ghizeh Museum_.)]

Such enforced labour could hardly have appeared very attractive to
Egyptians of the upper classes, and so an expedient suggested by the
conditions of their earthly life was devised for evading it on their
behalf. The rich man who had servants to work for him in this world was
desirous of securing like service for himself in the world to come. In
the time of the Ancient Empire it seems to have been taken for granted
that those who were servants in this life would be servants also in
the life beyond. With this selfish end in view the rich of those times
had placed within their own sepulchral chambers KA-statues of their
servants in order to ensure immortal life to them also (fig. 21). As
the old Germans were followed into the next world by their slaves and
horses; as other uncivilised nations sent the servants of the dead to
the realm of death after their masters,[47] so in Ancient Egypt a
certain portion of mankind was set apart to serve the rest through all
eternity. But as Egyptian civilisation advanced and a more humane state
of feeling dawned, these views were modified, and the thought gained
ground that all Egyptians were equal in the presence of death and of
the gods. So the rich man was obliged to renounce his hope of finding
his servants again at his service beyond the tomb, and was face to face
with the old fear of being reduced to heavy toil through the possible
negligence of his successors.

A most singular expedient was adopted to avert this danger: little
images of clay, or wood, or stone, or even of bronze, were made in
human likeness, inscribed with a certain formula,[48] and placed
within the tomb, in the hope that they would there attain to life and
become the useful servants of the blessed dead; they are the so-called
ÛSHABTIÛ (or Respondents), of which hundreds and thousands of specimens
may be found in collections of Egyptian antiquities (see
Frontispiece[49]). These “servants for the underworld,” or “servants
to the OSIRIS,” as the texts call them, owed their very being and life
to the dead, and stood to him in the same relation as man to God. And
as men seek to testify their gratitude to the Creator by doing Him
service, so it was hoped that these little figures would show their
thankfulness by their diligence, and spare their master and maker all

Many other customs arose out of similar ideas to those which gave rise
to the institution of ÛSHABTIÛ. Articles of personal adornment and for
toilet use, wreaths, weapons, carriages, playthings, and tools were
given to the dead, and a whole set of household furniture was often
laid away in the grave in order that the OSIRIS should not be obliged
to set to work at once to make or collect these things for himself on
his entrance into the next world; for this purpose choice was often
made of such objects as the man had used and valued in his lifetime.
All this care, however, was bestowed not simply in the interest of
those who had entered upon the life everlasting but also in that of
those who were left behind. Among other powers possessed by the dead
was that of going to and fro upon earth; and, to prevent their exercise
of it, all things whose lack might impel them to revisit the scenes
of their earthly lives were placed within the tombs, for their visits
might not be altogether pleasant for survivors withholding any part of
the goods which belonged to the dead. But these facts must not lead
us to conclude that the tomb was the permanent dwelling of the dead,
and that the objects placed within it were really intended for his use
there, and for all time.

As the amulets laid in and about the mummy were for the use of the
OSIRIS, so the furniture and implements placed near the coffin were
intended not so much for the mummy lying in its tomb as for the
Osiris dwelling with the gods. Each of these objects had its heavenly
counterpart, even as the mummy was represented by the OSIRIS.[50]

It was thus that the Egyptians sought to make themselves homes in the
next world, and to secure all the comforts and pleasures of their
earthly life in the life which was to come. Nevertheless, the pious
Egyptian did not expect to remain for ever as an Osiris, or as a god
in human likeness: he rather hoped for ever-increasing freedom, for
the power of taking other shapes and transforming himself at will into
quadrupeds; or into birds—such as the swallow or the heron; or into
plants—more especially the lotus; or even into gods.[51]

This is no doctrine of compulsory transmigration such as used to be
freely ascribed to the Egyptians on the strength of the statements made
by Herodotus[52]; there is no question here of souls being forced to
assume fresh forms in which their purification is gradually worked out
and their perfection achieved. To the Egyptian transmigration was not
the doom of imperfect souls, but a privilege reserved for such as had
already attained perfection. Again and again the texts assert that the
blessed may assume any form and visit any place at will; body and place
can no longer enthral him. He may travel round the heavens with the
Sun-god Rā, or arise from the shades with Osiris in the “divine night”
of the 26th of the month Khoiak (_i.e._ at the winter solstice); he is
even as a god, nay, he is himself a god, able to live in and by Truth,
actually taking it, indeed, as food and drink.

The power of the soul to incarnate itself at pleasure became one of the
chief reasons for embalming the body. As we have seen, the preservation
of the body was held to be necessary because the mummy was supposed
to be the material form of which the Osiris was the essential reality.
But this temporary need might have been met in simpler fashion, since
the journey of the Soul to the Hall of Judgment was accomplished in a
comparatively short time. There was, however, a further need for which
provision had to be made. The soul might sometimes visit the mummy,
again take up its abode in its former body, and, animating it anew,
return to earth under that form and thus revisit the spots where once
it had dwelt. To this end it required an earthly and tangible body, and
this was supplied by the mummy. If the mummy were destroyed, then the
soul not only lost one of the forms in which it might incarnate itself,
but that one with which its interests were naturally most closely
connected—that one which linked it to earth and best enabled it to
exhort the survivors to remember the funerary offerings, and to see
how it fared with those whom it had been obliged to leave behind. The
destruction of the mummy did not involve the destruction of the soul,
but it narrowed the soul’s circle of activity and limited its means of

This doctrine gave rise to the necromantic theory that a soul might be
compelled by means of magic formulæ to re-enter its body, and to speak
through the dead lips. The magician who had brought this about could
then stipulate for all kinds of favours before restoring the soul to
freedom. It is true that such an attempt was reckoned highly dangerous;
and, according to a tale dating from Ptolemaic times, a royal prince
named Setna,[53] who had succeeded in the undertaking, paid heavily for
having sought to make the spirits of the dead subject to him, when,
through his own imprudence, he was overpowered by those whom he had

       *       *       *       *       *

The above sketch of the eschatology of the Ancient Egyptians is drawn
from their own religious texts. As to the origin of that system and
the transformations which it had undergone before reaching the form
under which it is known to us we are as yet entirely ignorant; but it
is obvious that it must have developed gradually and assimilated many
originally heterogeneous doctrines. For instance, the Ka and the Osiris
must surely once have had the same significance, and not have been
considered as two different factors of the dead man’s being until
time had brought about the fusion of two theological systems—in one
of which the KA was regarded as the spiritual _Doppelgänger_, or
Double, while in the other it was named the OSIRIS. All attempts at
solving these and similar problems connected with this subject are,
as yet, mere hypotheses. As far back as Egyptian history has been
traced the people appear to have been in possession not only of written
characters, national art and institutions, but also of a complete
system of religion. As in all other departments of Egyptian life and
thought, so with the Egyptian religion—we cannot trace its beginnings.
In the earliest glimpse of it afforded by the Egyptian texts it appears
as perfect in all its essential parts; nor were after-times able to
effect much change in it by the addition of new features. What greatly
intensifies the deep historical interest of Egyptian eschatology is
that it testifies not only to the fact that a whole nation believed in
the immortality of the soul four thousand years before the birth of
Christ, but also that this nation had even then succeeded in clearly
picturing the future life to themselves after a fashion which may
indeed often seem strange and incomprehensible to modern minds but
to which we cannot deny a certain consistency and a deep spiritual

We shall not here discuss the many analogies subsisting between
Egyptian belief and the religious systems of other nations and times,
nor yet its great differences from them; and it is for the sciences of
anthropology and comparative religion to determine to what extent the
Egyptian doctrine of immortality originated in Egypt itself, and how
much was brought there by the Egyptians from the common home which they
had shared with the Semites and Indo-europeans.


[1] The whole process of embalmment is briefly described in the _Rhind
Papyrus_, edited by Birch, London, 1863, and by BRUGSCH, Leipzig,
1865. The procedure of the _taricheuts_ is described in a Vienna
papyrus, edited by BERGMANN, Vienna, 1887, and the conclusion of their
operations in a Paris papyrus and a Bûlaq papyrus, edited by MASPERO,
_Pap. du Louvre_, Paris, 1875. For the transport of the mummy, see
DÜMICHEN, _Kal. Insch._, pl. 35 _sqq_. The minutely ordered ritual for
the ceremonies at the door of the tomb was published and investigated
in SCHIAPARELLI’S admirable work, _Il Libro dei Funerali_, Turin,

[2] On these component parts cf. WIEDEMANN in the _Proceedings of the
Orientalist Congress at St. Etienne_, II. (1878), p. 159 _et seq._
Many parallel texts to the additional chapter of _The Book of the
Dead_, there referred to, may be found in VON BERGMANN’S _Sarkophag des
Panehemisis_, I., p. 22; II., p. 74 _et seq._

[3] On this account KA was sometimes used as interchangeable with REN
[Illustration: {H}]—name.

[4] There is no modern word which exactly expresses the Egyptian idea
of the KA; Maspero’s translation of “DOUBLE, _Doppelgänger_” is the
best hitherto proposed; Meyer’s translation of “_Ghost_” (_Gesch. Æg._,
p. 83) is altogether misleading.

[5] The illustration is taken from LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III. 21.
Here the solar cartouche, or throne-name, of Thothmes II., and his
Horus-: or Ka-name, are palimpsests effacing the names of Queen
Hatshepsû Rāmaka, the builder of the temple. The figures in this scene
originally represented the Queen and her KA; but as she is always
portrayed in male attire throughout the temple, it was only necessary
to change her names in order to appropriate her figure as that of a
king. The first satisfactory explanation of the Horus-or KA-name was
given by PETRIE in _A Season in Egypt_, pp. 21, 22; cf. MASPERO,
_Études Égyptologiques_ II., p. 273 _et seq._ He shows that the
rectangular parallelogram in which the Horus-name is written is the
exact equivalent of the square panel over the false door in the tomb,
by which the KA was supposed to pass from the sepulchral vault into the
upper chamber, or tomb-chapel, where offerings were provided for it.
A private person had but one name, which was also the name of his KA.
But, on ascending the throne, the king took four new names in addition
to the one which he had hitherto borne, and among them a name for his

[6] We have a crude representation of this KA sign, dating from the
reign of Amenemhat I., of the Twelfth Dynasty; see PETRIE, _Tanis I._
(Second Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund), pl. I., No. 3.

[7] LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III. 186. The hands of the KA-staff have
doubtless a common origin with those of the KA-sign—[Illustration:

[8] LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III. 87.

[9] In the course of his excavations at Dêr el Bahri, for the Egypt
Exploration Fund, M. Naville discovered the originals of these scenes
in a series of bas-reliefs representing the birth of Queen Hatshepsû
which were plagiarised by Amenophis III.

[10] LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III. 21, 129.

[11] LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III., pl. 75.

[12] Such prayers were also inscribed on funerary stelæ in order
that passers-by might repeat them for the benefit of the dead. These
inscriptions vary but little. The prayer on the funerary tablet of
Khemnekht (now in the Agram Museum) dates from the Thirteenth Dynasty,
and runs as follows: “O every scribe, every Kherheb (lector, priestly
reciter), all ye who pass by this stele, who love and honour your gods,
and would have your offices to flourish (shine) for your children,
say ye: ‘Let royal offerings be brought unto Osiris for the Ka of the
priest Khemnekht’”: For an account of the development of the formulæ
on funerary stelæ, see WIEDEMANN, _Observations sur quelques stèles
funéraires égyptiennes, Le Muséon X._, 42, 199 _et seq._

[13] The particulars above summarised may be verified from contracts
which a prince (_erpā-hā_) of Siût concluded with the priests of
Anubis under the Tenth or Eleventh Dynasty (discussed by MASPERO,
_Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology_ VII., p. 6
_et seq._, _Études de Mythologie_, I., p. 62 _et seq._, and ERMAN,
_Æg. Zeitschr._, 1882, p. 159 ff., the best publication of these
inscriptions being that by GRIFFITH, _Inscriptions of Siût and Dêr
Rîfeh_, London, 1889. Similar contracts were made even in the times
of the pyramid-building kings: cf. _e.g._ LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, II.
3-7; DE ROUGÉ, _Inscriptions hiéroglyphiques_, pl. I.; MARIETTE, _Les
Mastabahs_, p. 316 _et seq._)

[14] As in the case of statues found in the temple of Ptah at Memphis
(MARIETTE, _Mon. div._, pl. 27 b), and in that of Amon at Karnak
(MARIETTE, _Karnak_, pl. 8 f; cf. LEPSIUS, _Auswahl_, pl. 11).

[15] This striking theory was first broached by MASPERO, _Rec. de
Trav._, I., p. 154; _Études de Mythologie_, I., p. 80.

[16] We find occasional mention of the Ka of the East and the Ka of the
West (Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, 2nd ed., III., pp. 200, 201),
which are to be considered as being the Kas of the deities of the East
and of the West, and not as Kas of the abstract conceptions of East and

[17] LEPSIUS, _Denkmäler_, III. 194, l. 13; DÜMICHEN,
_Tempelinschriften_, I., pl. 29; VON BERGMANN, _Hierogl. Insch._, pl.
33 pl. 61, col. 2; RENOUF, _Transactions of the Society of Biblical_
_Archæology_, VI., pp. 504 _et seq._; BRUGSCH, _Dictionary, Supplt._,
pp. 997 _et seq._, 1230.

[18] Cf. 1 Chron. XXIX. 11, 12; Isa. XI. 2.

[19] This prayer is contained in that part of _The Book of the Dead_,
chap, CV., entitled _Chapter whereby the KA of a person is satisfied
in the Nether world_: “Hail to thee who wast my KA during life! Lo! I
come unto thee, I arise resplendent, I labour, I am strong, I am hale
(_var._, I pass on), I bring grains of incense, I am purified thereby,
I purify thereby that which goeth forth from thee. This conjuration
of evil which I say; this warding off of evil which I perform; (this
conjuration) is not made against me (?)” The conjuration runs as
follows: “I am that amulet of green felspar, the necklace of the god
Rā, which is given (_var._, which I gave) unto them who are upon the
horizon. They flourish, I flourish, my KA flourishes even as they,
my duration of life flourishes even as they, my KA has abundance of
food even as they. The scale of the balance rises, Truth rises high to
the nose of the god Rā in that day on which my KA is where I am (?)
My head and my arm are made (?) to where I am (?) I am he whose eye
seeth, whose ears hear; I am not a beast of sacrifice. The sacrificial
formulæ proceed where I am, for the upper ones”—otherwise said, “for
the upper ones of heaven.” The funerary papyrus of Sûtimes (NAVILLE,
_Todtenbuch_, I., pl. 117) contains the following addition at the end
of this chapter: “I enter (?) unto thee (to the _Ka_?). I am pure, the
Osiris is justified against his enemies.” The accompanying vignette for
this chapter shows the deceased as worshipping or sacrificing before
the KA-sign on a standard. Occasionally we find the KA sign represented
as enclosing pictures of offerings, a form explained by the common
double meaning of the word KA, which signifies both “_Double_” and

[20] In the religious texts the heart is called both {H} _áb_ and {H}
_hāti_. Sometimes, as in _The Book of the Dead_, chap. XXVI. _et seq._,
the two were differentiated; but, generally speaking, the two terms
appear to have been synonymous.

[22] PLUTARCH, _Septem sap. conviv._, p. 159 B: “We then, said I”
(Diales), “render these tributes to the belly (τῇ γαστρί). But if Solon
or any one else has any allegation to make we will listen.” “By all
means,” said Solon, “lest we should appear more senseless than the
Egyptians, who cutting up the dead body showed [the entrails] to the
sun, then cast them into the river, but of the rest of the body, as
now become pure, they took care. For in reality this [the belly] is
the pollution of our flesh, and the Hell, as in Hades,—full of dire
streams, and of wind and fire confused together, and of dead things.”

PLUTARCH, _De esu carnium orat._, ii., p. 996, 38: “As the Egyptians,
taking out from the dead the belly (τὴν κοιλίαν) and cutting it up
before the sun, cast it away, as the cause of all the sins which the
man has committed; in like manner that we ourselves, cutting out
gluttony and bloodthirstiness, should purify the rest of our life.”

PORPHYRY, _De abst._, iv., 10: “When they embalm those of the noble
that have died, together with their other treatment of the dead body,
they take out the belly (τὴν κοιλίαν), and put it into a coffer, and
holding the coffer to the sun they protest, one of the embalmers making
a speech on behalf of the dead. This speech, which Euphantus translated
from his native language, is as follows: “O Lord, the Sun, and all ye
gods who give life to men, receive me and make me a companion to the
eternal gods. For the gods, whom my parents made known to me, as long
time as I have had my life in this world I have continued to reverence,
and those who gave birth to my body I have ever honoured. And for the
rest of men, I have neither slain any, nor defrauded any of anything
entrusted to me, nor committed any other wicked act, but if I haply
in my life have sinned at all,: by either eating or drinking what was
unlawful, not on my own account did I sin, but on account of these
(showing the coffer in which the belly [ἡ γαστήρ] lay).” And having
said these things he throws it into the river; but the rest of the
body, as pure, he embalms. Thus they thought that they needed to excuse
themselves to the Deity on account of what they had eaten and drunk,
and therefore to reproach the belly.”

[23] It was in this sense that the Egyptians regarded the heart as the
seat of the feelings, and spoke of the heart as rejoicing, as mourning,
as weeping.

[24] The illustration is taken from photographs of a scarab in the
Edwards collection at University College, London.

[25] For the translation of chap, xxx b. of The Book of the Dead, which
formed the usual inscriptions on heart scarabs, see p. 53.

[26] The possession of the formula in chap, cxlviii. of _The Book of
the Dead_, from line 8, ensured abundance (of food) to the BA of the

[27] Illustrations 7 and 8 are taken from photographs of objects in the
Edwards Museum at University College.

[28] _See The Book of the Dead_, NAVILLE’S edition, pls. 4, 97, 101,
104; LEPSIUS’ edition, pls. 33, etc., etc.

[29] See, _e.g._, illustration and Orcagna’s fresco of the Triumph of
Death, in the Campo Santo of Pisa.

[30] See p. 10.

[31] VON BERGMANN, _Sarkophag des Panehemisis_, I., pp. 11, 15, 24;
PIERRET, _Insc. du Louvre_, II., p. 23; MARIETTE, _Dendérah_, iv., 62a.

[32] _The Book of the Dead_, lxxxix. 6.

[33] VON BERGMANN, _Sarkophag des Panehemisis_, I., p. 37, where the
translation is not quite accurately given.

[34] In _Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archæology_, VIII., p.
386 _et seq._, Birch has collected passages bearing on this point.

[35] On primitive beliefs as to a man’s shadow being a vital part of
himself, see FRAZER, _The Golden Bough_, Vol. I., pp. 141-44.

[36] See MASPERO, _Recueil de Travaux relatifs à Égypt_, III., p. 105
_et seq._; and _Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l’Orient_, Vol. I., p.
114. In _The Book of the Dead_, chap. lxxxix., 3, the KHÛ is mentioned
in connection with the BA; in chap. cxlix., 40, with the KHAÏB; and in
chap. xcii., 5, with both.

[37] See p. 30.

[38] A certain part in the religious life of our own time has been
played by a similar “Hypocephalus,” viz., the Mormon Scriptures (cf.:
Joseph Smith, _A Pearl of Great Price_, 1851, p. 7). For particulars of
the Hypocephalus of the illustration see _Proceedings of the Society of
Biblical Archæology_, Vol. VI., p. 52, and plate.

[39] See Ebers, _Æg. Zeitschr._, 1867, p. 108; 1871, p. 48; WIEDEMANN,
_Proceedings of the Orientalist Congress at St. Etienne_, II., p. 155.

[40] The “Negative Confession” forms chap. cxxv. of _The Book of the
Dead_, and varies slightly in different copies. The following is
Renouf’s translation of the chapter as it appears in a Nineteenth
Dynasty papyrus (see _The Papyrus of Ani_, London, 1890):—“I am not
a doer of what is wrong. I am not a plunderer. I am not a robber. I
am not a slayer of men. I do not stint the quantity of corn. I am not
a niggard. I do not seize the property of the gods. I am not a teller
of lies. I am not a monopoliser of food. I am no extortioner. I am not
unchaste. I am not the cause of others’ tears. I am not a dissembler.
I am not a doer of violence. I am not of domineering character. I do
not pillage cultivated land. I am not an eavesdropper. I am not a
chatterer. I do not dismiss a case through self-interest. I am not
unchaste with women or men. I am not obscene. I am not an exciter of
alarms. I am not hot in speech. I do not turn a deaf ear to the words
of righteousness. I am not foul-mouthed. I am not a striker. I am not
a quarreller. I do not revoke my purpose, I do not multiply clamour
in reply to words. I am not evil-minded or a doer of evil. I am not a
reviler of the king. I put no obstruction upon the water. I am not a
bawler. I am not a reviler of the God. I am not fraudulent. I am not
sparing in offerings to the gods. I do not deprive the dead of the
funeral cakes. I do not take away the cakes of the child, or profane
the god of my locality. I do not kill sacred animals.”

[41] On the Egyptian Goddess of Truth, see WIEDEMANN, La _Déesse Maā_,
in the _Annales du Musée Guimet_, x., pp. 561 _et seq._ With regard to
the meaning of the Egyptian name and word _Maāt_, which is generally
translated “truth, or justice,” Renouf has said: “The Egyptians
recognised a divinity in those cases only where they perceived the
presence of a fixed Law, either of permanence or change. The earth
abides for ever, and so do the heavens. Day and night, months,
seasons, and years succeed each other with unfailing regularity; the
stars are not less constant in their course, some of them rising and
setting at fixed intervals, and others eternally circling round the
pole in an order which never is disturbed. This _regularity_, which
is the constitutive character of the Egyptian divinity, was called
[Illustration: {H}] _Maāt_. The gods were said to be nebû maāt,
‘possessors of _maāt_.’ or _ānchiû em maāt_, ‘subsisting by or through
_maāt_.’ _Maāt_ is in fact the Law and Order by which the universe
exists. Truth and justice are but forms of _Maāt_ as applied to human
action.”—_Papyrus of Ani, Introduction_, p. 2.

[42] This prayer is contained in chap. xxx. of _The Book of the Dead_:—

“_Chapter whereby the heart of a person is not kept back from
               him in the Netherworld_.

  Heart mine which is that of my mother,
  Whole heart mine which is that of my birth,
  Let there be no estoppel against me through evidence, let no
    hindrance be made to me by the divine Circle; fall thou
    not against me in presence of him who is at the Balance.
  Thou art my genius (KA), who art by me (in my KHA-T), the
    Artist who givest soundness to my limbs.
  Come forth to the bliss towards which we are bound;
  Let not those Ministrants who deal with a man according to
    the course of his life give a bad odour to my name.
  Pleasant for us, pleasant for the listener, is the joy of the
    Weighing of the Words.
  Let not lies be uttered in presence of the great god, Lord of
    the Amenti.
  Lo! how great art thou (as the triumphant one).”

                                            —_Renouf’s translation_.

[43] As stated on the mummy case of Panehemisis, ed. VON BERGMANN, I.,
p. 29.

[44] The conception of a kind of hell is certainly found in the book
_Am Dûat_ (cf. JÉQUIER, _Le livre de ce qu’il y a dans l’Hadès_, Paris,
1894, p. 127); such allusions are, however, exceptional, and Egyptian
belief in a hell appears to have existed at times only, and to have
been confined to certain classes of society.

[45] The “fields of Aalû”; cf. the “Elysian fields” of the Greeks.

[46] See p. 19.

[47] From scenes in the tomb of Mentûherkhepeshf at Thebes, dating from
the beginning of the Nineteenth Dynasty, we have evidence that Egyptian
funeral ceremonies occasionally included human sacrifice at the gate of
the tomb, the object of such sacrifice being doubtless that of sending
servants to the dead. But the practice would seem to have been very
exceptional, at any rate after Egypt had entered upon her long period
of greatness. See MASPERO, _Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique du
Caire_, V., p. 452; cf. WIEDEMANN, in _Le Muséon_, XIII., p. 457 _et
seq._; see also GRIFFITH, _The Tomb of Paheri_, pp. 20, 21, in the
Eleventh Memoir of the Egypt Exploration Fund.

[48] Chapter vi. of _The Book of the Dead_ consists of this formula,
which there reads: “O Ûshabti there! Should I be called and appointed
to do any of the labours that are done in the Netherworld by a person
according to his abilities, lo! all obstacles have been beaten down for
thee; be thou counted for me at every moment, for planting the fields,
for watering the soil, for conveying the sands of East and West, Here
am I, whithersoever thou callest me!”—_Renouf’s Translation_.

[49] The frontispiece represents one of 399 ÛSHABTIÛ made for a
priest named Horût’a, who lived during the Twenty-sixth Dynasty.
These ÛSHABTIÛ were found at Hawara by Petrie: see _Kahun, Gurob, and
Hawara_, pp. 9, 19.

[50] Professor Petrie, speaking of his discovery that it was the
Egyptian custom to place masonic deposits of miniature model tools,
etc., underneath the foundations of temples, and giving an account of
the foundation deposits which he found beneath the pyramid temple of
Ûsertesen II., at Illahûn, says: “The reason for burying such objects
is yet unexplained; but it seems not unlikely that they were intended
for the use of the KAS of the builders, like the models placed in tombs
for the KAS of the deceased. Whether each building had a KA, which
needed ghostly repair by the builders’ KAS, is also to be considered”
(_Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara_, p. 22). We know that each building had its
guardian spirit in the form of a serpent (cf. the representation of one
dating from the time of Amenophis III, in Ghizeh, No. 217, published by
MARIETTE, _Mon. Div._, pl. 63 b).

[51] _The Book of the Dead_, chaps. lxxvi.-lxxxviii.

[52] “The Egyptians were also the first to broach the opinion that the
soul of man is immortal, and that when the body dies it enters into
an animal which is born at the same moment, thence passing on (from
one animal into another) until it has circled through all creatures of
the earth, the water, and the air, after which it enters again into
a new-born human frame. The whole period of the transmigration is
(they say) three thousand years. There are Greek writers, some of an
earlier, some of a later date, who have borrowed this doctrine from the
Egyptians, and put it forward as their own.”—HERODOTUS, II., 123. See
WIEDEMANN, _Herodots Zweites Buch_, p. 457 _et seq._

[53] For the “Story of Setna” see Vol. II. of Professor Petrie’s
_Egyptian Tales_.

Printed by Hazell, Watson, & Viney, Ld., London and Aylesbury.

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