Spirituality

What was the role of Osiris in ancient Egyptian mythology?
Answered by Discovery Channel
  • Discovery Channel

    Discovery Channel

  1. According to Egyptian mythology, Osiris established religion and taught his people about agriculture and the other arts of civilization. Geb (Earth) and Nut (Sky) were his parents and his sister, Isis, was also his wife. Set, his envious brother, was the god of evil. In a scheme to murder Osiris, Set persuaded his brother to lie in an intricately carved box. Then Set nailed it shut and threw it in the Nile River. After a long search, Isis found Osiris's lifeless body. Set then cut the body in 14 pieces and distributed them throughout Egypt. Isis gathered all the pieces, and with the help of Thoth (the patron of astronomy, magic and writing) reassembled the body and endowed it with life. Osiris became ruler of the underworld and judge of the dead. And Horus, Osiris's son, avenged his father's murder by killing Set.

    It was a tragic end for Osiris, but things didn't stay bleak for him for long. In a strange way, life didn't begin at 40 for Osiris -- it began after his death, for his real notoriety came from his being the King of the Afterlife. It gained him new popularity. Before that, he was really a kind of lesser god in Egypt, especially when compared to the heavyweights of the day spoken of in places such as Hermopolis. Priests there, and in Heliopolis, decided it was best to weave Osiris into their origin stories, given the popularity they witnessed the god obtaining. The story of his death and resurrection came to be symbolic of the annual harvest (death) and re-growth (planting) of crops with the annual Nile River floods. Osiris even managed to ride the coattails of the sun itself, as the Egyptians associated him with its daily rise and fall (death and rebirth) [source: Egyptian Myths].

    Perhaps the moral of Osiris's story is that it's never too late to find yourself.

    More answers from Discovery Channel »



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