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Lesson VIII : Names and titles of Gods

In this lesson you will learn to recognise the names of some of Ancient Egypt's most popular gods and the epithets (titles) that very often accompanied these names. The reader should be aware that the names and epithets presented here can be and were written in many different ways. This lesson covers the most frequent spellings.

 

1. Some more general epithets

Some epithets had a more general nature and applied to a wide range of gods or goddesses. As the Ancient Egyptians loved stereotypes, such epithets occur throughout religious texts. Some of the most recurring epithets are:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-pt.gif (200 bytes), nb p.t, "lord of the heavens" (gods); pics/hieroglyph_08_nbt-pt.gif (219 bytes), nb.t p.t, "mistress of the heavens" (goddesses)
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-ma1a2t.gif (241 bytes), nb mAa.t, "lord of the cosmic order". This epithet is often used for creator-gods or gods related to justice.
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nt2r-a2a1.gif (166 bytes), nTr aA, "the great god"
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_h2nwt-nt2rw.gif (456 bytes), Hnw.t nTr.w, "mistress of the gods"
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_x1pr-d2s-f.gif (350 bytes), xpr Ds=f, "who created himself". This is usually applied to a creator-god.

 

2. Some gods and their epithets

pics/hieroglyph_08_imn.gif (208 bytes), imn, is the most common way to write the name of Amun. Variant writings may add different determinatives to this name: pics/hieroglyph_08_imn02.gif (178 bytes), pics/hieroglyph_08_imn03.gif (162 bytes), or the more generic determinative for a god pics/hieroglyph_08_god01.gif (163 bytes) . Amun's name can also me written using the first two determinatives alone.
Associated with the solar god Re, Amun became a solar god himself, named pics/hieroglyph_08_imn-ra2.gif (271 bytes), imn-ra, Amun-Re.
The most common titles for Amun (-Re) are:

  •  pics/hieroglyph_08_imn-ra2-nsw-nt2rw.gif (462 bytes), imn-ra nsw nTr.w, "Amun-Re, king of the gods". This combination was so frequent, that it became the name of a manifestation of Amun-Re: Amunrasonther.
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-ipt-swt.gif (376 bytes), nb ip.t-s.wt, "lord of Ipet-Sut". Ipet-Sut is one of the names of Amun's temple at Karnak. It means "the (most) secret of places".
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-wa1st.gif (262 bytes), nb wAs.t, "lord of Waset (=Thebes)"
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-nswt-ta1wj.gif (327 bytes), nb ns.wt tA.j, "lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands". The "Thrones of the Two Lands" is a reference to Amun's principal temple at Karnak.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_inpw.gif (391 bytes), inpw, Anubis. Variant writings may use different determinatives: pics/hieroglyph_08_inpw02.gif (150 bytes), pics/hieroglyph_08_inpw03.gif (174 bytes), pics/hieroglyph_08_inpw04.gif (198 bytes) … His most common epithets are:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_imj-wt.gif (308 bytes), imj-wt, "the one who is in Ut". "Ut"  refers to the embalming tent.
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_tpj-d2w-f.gif (272 bytes), tpj-Dw=f, "the one who is on his mountain"

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_ist.gif (189 bytes), transcribed is.t or As.t, is the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus, Isis.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_wsir.gif (195 bytes), wsir, is the most common way to write the name of Osiris. A playful writing found mostly in Thebes during the Greek-Roman era combines part of the name of Thebes with part of the name of Osirs: pics/hieroglyph_08_wsir02.gif (235 bytes).
One of his most common titles is:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-a1bd2w.gif (365 bytes), nb AbDw, "the lord of Abedju (=Abydos)

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_pth2.gif (256 bytes), ptH, Ptah, was the primary god of Memphis.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_ma1a2t.gif (364 bytes), mAa.t, Maat, the goddess representing the cosmic order.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_mwt.gif (302 bytes), mw.t, is Amun's wife, "Mut". Her name literally means "mother". One of her most common titles is:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nbt-is2rw.gif (357 bytes) nb.t iSrw, "the mistress of Isheru", where Isheru is the name of Mut's sanctuary south of Amun's great temple at Karnak.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_ra2.gif (185 bytes), ra, Re. Variant writings may either abbreviate this name to pics/hieroglyph_08_ra203.gif (115 bytes) or even  pics/hieroglyph_08_ra202.gif (107 bytes), or add some determinatives: pics/hieroglyph_08_ra204.gif (292 bytes). Alternative determinatives are pics/hieroglyph_08_ra205.gif (143 bytes)or pics/hieroglyph_08_ra206.gif (144 bytes) . The latter determinative may also be used to refer to this god. The name of Re is combined with the names of different other gods who gain a solar aspect by this association.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_h2wt-h2r.gif (227 bytes), Hw.t-Hr, Hathor, the goddess of love, music and procreation. Among her epithets, we find:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_nb-iwnt.gif (266 bytes), nb.t iwn.t, "mistress of Iunet (=Dendara)"

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_h2r.gif (189 bytes), Hr, is the god of kingship, Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis. Such was his popularity, that different manifestations were worshiped as individual gods. Here are the names of some of the more popular manifestations:

  • pics/hieroglyph_08_h2r-a1x1tj01.gif (310 bytes), Hr-Ax.tj, "Harakhte", or "Horus of the horizon", a reference to Horus as the rising sun. This name is often combined with the name of the solar god Re as pics/hieroglyph_08_ra2-h2r-a1x1tj.gif (291 bytes), ra-Hr-Ax.tj, Re-Harakhte, "Re-Horus of the horizon". Note that Ax.tj can also be written as pics/hieroglyph_08_a1x1tj.gif (167 bytes).
  •  pics/hieroglyph_08_h2r-wr.gif (306 bytes), Hr-wr, HaroŽris, or "Horus the Old", referring to the grown up Horus who has avenged his father.
  • pics/hieroglyph_08_h2r-pa1-x2rd.gif (685 bytes), Hr-pA-Xrd, Harpocrates, or "Horus the Child", the young Horus
  •  pics/hieroglyph_08_h2r-sa1-ist.gif (404 bytes), Hr-sA-is.t, HarsiŽsis, or "Horus, the son of Isis"

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_x1nsw.gif (399 bytes), xnsw, is a lunar-deity considered to be the son of Amun at Thebes, Khonsu. The actual translation of his name is not known. Khonsu is sometimes associated with Re as pics/hieroglyph_08_x1nsw-ra2.gif (365 bytes), xnsw-ra, Khonsu-Re, making him the god of the two most important celestial bodies. He is also often associated with another important lunar god, Thot pics/hieroglyph_08_x1nsw-d2h1wtj.gif (422 bytes), xnsw-DHwtj, Khonsu-Thot.

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_sx1mt.gif (274 bytes), sxm.t, Sekhmet, "the powerful one".

 

pics/hieroglyph_08_d2h2wtj.gif (151 bytes), or more frequent pics/hieroglyph_08_d2h2wtj02.gif (176 bytes), DHwtj, Thot, the god of wisdom, justice and writing.

 

 

 

 

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