Notes on the Egyptian Motifs in Mozart’s Magic Flute



Operas are noted for their music rather than their librettos. They are attributed to their composers rather than their librettists. Thus the perennial popularity of Mozart’s Magic Flute is attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music rather than Emanuel Schikaneder’s libretto.1 Schikaneder’s plot revolves around the conversion and initiation of Tamino, Pamina, and Papageno into the mysteries of Isis and Osiris, seen largely from Tamino’s point of view. (This can provide some confusion for those who encounter the opera for the first time as Tamino learns in the second act that what he thought was good and evil in the first act is really the other way around.2)

Schikaneder and Mozart were both members of the Viennese Masonic lodge Zur wahren Eintracht, which based its ritual on the same novel, Sethos, upon which Schikaneder based the plot of The Magic Flute.3 The novel Sethos was written by Jean Terrasson in 1731.4 Terrasson was a classically trained scholar who knew his sources on Egypt and based the initiations in Sethos on the descriptions of Egyptian initiations in the writings of Apuleius, Plutarch, Iamblichus, and Eusebius.5 Other than the scenery,6 few Egyptian motifs actually appear in The Magic Flute, and at least one Egyptologist, Siegfried Morenz, has argued that the Egyptian motifs are Greek rather than Egyptian.7 Such a position makes some sense in that Mozart died (1791) before the Rosetta Stone was discovered (1799) and while its decipherer, Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832), was just a toddler. We should, therefore, expect little if any correspondence between ancient Egypt and The Magic Flute, and that is what we find. Nevertheless, contrary to Morenz’s assertions, a few ancient Egyptian motifs survive in garbled form. A half century of research and discovery has brought new evidence to light, but the most important change has been a reorientation in thinking brought about in part by one of Morenz’s own students.8

Though the Egyptian motifs have been obscured, they are present and are worth examining not only (1) in light of what Schikaneder knew second-hand from classical sources, but also (2) in light of what is now known about these same motifs from Egypt based on the Egyptian sources.


The names of most of the characters in The Magic Flute reflect an Italian background, so it comes as something of a surprise to find that the names of two of the protagonists in The Magic Flute are Egyptian in origin. Tamino, the heroic male protagonist, has an Egyptian name that means “She of Min,”9 while the heroine, Pamina, has an Egyptian name that means “He of Min.”10 Min was an Egyptian god most closely tied to the Egyptian sites of Panopolis (Akhmim), and Coptos,11 although he was also worshiped at Thebes. Efforts to characterize Min as a particular type of deity (for example, a fertility god) fail to do justice to his multiple roles and characteristics.12 We might expect that if Schikaneder had known anything about ancient Egypt directly, then the gender of his protagonists would have been correct.


The most prominent Egyptian motif in The Magic Flute is the initiation. The initiation into the mysteries of Isis and Osiris is well known from classical sources such as Herodotus,13 Plutarch,14 Apuleius,15 and others, the sources available to Schikaneder and Terrasson. Egyptian texts unavailable to them allow us to shed some other light on Egyptian initiation as portrayed in the classical sources. In particular, we have at least portions of three different initiation rituals from Egyptian papyri that are explicitly identified as such.16 We must consider each of these sources to understand the thirdhand use of Egyptian material found in The Magic Flute.

In The Magic Flute, Tamino is initiated by first being prohibited from speaking (2.4–2.6, 2.13–2.19). Papageno fails this portion of the initiation. Tamino then confronts fire, water, air, and earth with Pamina, which they overcome with the aid of the magic flute (hence the name of the opera). They then appear “in priestly clothing” (in priesterlicher Kleidung) as the entire theater changes into a representation of the sun (2.30). Aside from the magic flute, these elements are taken from the classical authors’ descriptions of Egyptian initiations.

The classical authors describe the Egyptian initiation in similar terms. Herodotus describes the mysteries of Isis and Osiris as a passion play that is staged on a lake at night.17 Apuleius describes the mysteries as taking place in a temple at night after purification and several days of preparation.18 Both Herodotus and Apuleius preserve a discrete silence on the subject,19 since they themselves were initiated and initiates were not supposed to discuss the initiation in explicit terms.20 They are, however, willing to tell some aspects of the experience, which was found in “some books written in an illegible alphabet”21: “I passed the confines of death, treading the threshold of Proserpina, and returned having passed through all the elements. In the middle of the night I saw the sun flashing with bright light, and I met the gods beneath and above, and worshiped before them.”22 At the end of the initiation, the initiate emerged in a fine linen (byssus) garment elaborately embroidered with scenes, wearing a stole and a crown of leaves and carrying a torch or lamp representing the sun.23

The descriptions of Egyptian initiation by these classical authors compare with some provided by the Egyptians themselves. A Ptolemaic period Egyptian text describes an initiation read off a secret roll described as the Book of Thoth:

He placed the scroll in my hand. I read one text from it. I encircled the heaven, the earth, and the netherworld, the mountains, and the seas. I discovered everything that the birds of heaven, the fish of the sea, and the cattle said. I read another text. I saw the sun appearing in heaven with his council of gods. I saw the moon shining with the stars of heaven and their constellations. I saw the fish of the sea although there was 21 cubits of water over them.24

At first glance, Apuleius’s description and the Egyptian descriptions do seem dissimilar, but both are written on scrolls, deal with a tour of the cosmos, including the netherworld, and have a vision of the sun along with attendant deities.

Beyond similar descriptions found in Egyptian texts, there is also an Egyptian term meaning “to initiate.” The Egyptian verb “to initiate” bs(i) “always implies . . . an idea of ascension from a lower world to a higher world.”25 The verb is used both for the initiation into the temple26 and for the initiation of a priest into a higher office.27 The constituent elements of the Egyptian initiation are normally seen to include aspects of transition and rebirth (fig. 1).28 As a rebirth the initiation involves the creation or re-creation of the individual followed by his coronation.29 As a transition, the initiation involves the acquisition of knowledge, following the path that leads to justification through the gates where the individual is tried.30 The initiation also involves the seeing of secret things.31


In the description of Egyptian initiation, some aspects invite closer examination. In the first stage of the initiation, the initiates, Tamino and Papageno, are enjoined not to speak to women (2.4–2.6), and then later not to speak at all (2.13–2.19). In classical terms, this is called a silentium, although the most common use of the silentium is to prevent people from talking about the initiation rites they have received to the uninitiated.

The Egyptian version of the silentium is well known from classical sources, but it also appears in the Egyptian accounts of initiation. One initiation text specifies that during the initiation the initiate is to remain silent in order that “you may remember unfailingly those things said by the great god.”32 The injunction to silence also appears both in chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead: “I did not raise my voice,”33 and twice in the demotic Book of the Dead: “I did not raise my voice.”34

Raising the voice can occur in several different contexts. It occurs in the context of injustice when the eloquent peasant Khunanup “wept very much for the pain of what was done against him. Then this Nemtynakht said: Don’t raise your voice or you will join the lord of silence (that is, die)!”35 The Middle Kingdom monarch Djefayhapy extolled himself as “one who subdues the vainglory of the proud and one who silenced the loud voiced so that he would not speak;”36 and yet a few lines later called himself “loud voiced when he praises god.”37 These Middle Kingdom passages demonstrate that context is important when interpreting what a loud voice means in ancient Egypt.

Thutmosis III’s vizier, Weser, elucidates the context of this particular ritual requirement in a lengthy passage providing a specific context:

I acted as priest entering the temple of Amun, and I applied ointment to the god’s flesh, and I adorned Amun and Min. I carried Amun in his feast, and lifted Min onto his platform. I did not stand erect in the house of the lord of bowing. I did not raise my arm in the house of him who raises his arm [Min]. I did not raise my voice in the house of the lord of silence. I did not lie in the house of the lord of truth. I did not go astray from the purity of my god. I did not take a portion of his divine offerings.38

This autobiographical account clearly points to the context of many of the items in the negative confession as being part of the priestly duties and, at least as far as a loud voice is concerned, restricts its use inside particular cultic settings. Raising his voice is one of the crimes for which Seth is condemned in the execration ritual of Abydos.39 Yet at other times, a loud voice was part of the ritual, as a Ptolemaic ritual roll describes part of a funerary ritual as “a recitation by his priest with his voice raised behind this god.”40

One can also discern a pattern of increasing restrictions over time. If in the Middle Kingdom Djefayhapy praised god with a loud voice, Weser in the New Kingdom spoke in muted tones in Osirian temples, while by Roman times, the interdiction had become pervasive, as Papyrus Insinger demonstrates: “A temple in which there is no quiet, its gods are those who reject it.”41 In a similar vein, during Ptolemaic times, the temple at Esna prohibited the use of harps, tambourines, and trumpets during the festival of grasping the crook on 20 Epiphi.42 Practical benefits of speaking soto voce emphasized the avoidance of disease (and consequent impurity): “A loud voice always makes misery in the body like sickness.”43 Silence during some worship continued in the Isis cult to Roman times.44 The prescription of silence continued to be a constant emphasis into Christian Egypt, where it reached its greatest extreme in the monastic movement, the ideal being never to speak at all.45

Schikaneder’s version of the initiation in The Magic Flute changes the silentium of the Egyptian mysteries into something other than it is in the Egyptian mysteries.

The Four Elements

The Egyptian initiations do not have a passage through the four Aristotelian elements (earth, water, fire, and air) as is present in The Magic Flute and in even the classical writers’ accounts of Egyptian initiations. Instead, the Egyptian initiations present an account of the creation, occasionally mentioning one or another of the four elements.46 The story of the creation centers on the creator god laughing or speaking and creating various parts of the earth or divine entities in seven discrete acts: First light, second water, third intellect, fourth procreation, fifth justice, sixth time, and seventh the soul.47 These creation stories parallel a recently published creation account from the Tebtunis temple archive.48 In this account, the creator first finds a place, then begets a son,49 then creates other gods.50 The wind separates the sky from earth, the water above from the waters below.51 Then the sun is created.52 After that there is a rebellion in heaven,53 which is subsequently suppressed.54 The gods grow old and die. Then the moon enters the sky, and the son of god is born and hidden.55 The breath of life is given, and then death is created, to which all living creatures are made subject.56 Stones and minerals are given to the serpents,57 and then the stars are created.58 Coming from various fragments whose order is uncertain, the narrative is disjointed. Nevertheless, the creation narrative is clearly present; it comes from a temple archive; and it provides an antecedent to the description by classical authors, who would associate the creation with the four elements since “the creation of the cosmos received the whole of every one of the four elements.”59

The late period creation narratives have parallels with earlier creation accounts. In the Shabako Stone, which was written no earlier than the Nineteenth Dynasty,60 the creator, Ptah, also speaks in order to create the world and all things therein. Ptah “gave birth to the gods; he made the towns; he founded the territories; he placed the gods in their shrines; he established their offerings; he founded their shrines; he fashioned their bodies in order to pacify their hearts, so that the gods might enter into their bodies.”61 Mention of the rebellion in heaven is also based on a previous work, which tells how men “were plotting against Re,”62 who was the king of heaven and earth and who dwelt on earth at that time.63 The rebels were punished and special measures had to be taken to avoid the complete destruction of mankind.64 The suppression of the revolt was celebrated every year in the Feast of Hathor,65 which was celebrated at different times in different locations throughout Egypt,66 and thus remembered annually by the Egyptian populous. The giving over of the treasures of the earth to the serpents, which are seen as the manifestations of various gods, many of whom are evil, is also mentioned.67

Thus we can trace a form of Egyptian creation narrative, which was incorporated into Egyptian initiation. The creation narrative was then transmitted through the Isis cult, and classical authors who had experienced Egyptian initiation referred to it, without divulging what occurred by referring to passing through the four Aristotelian elements. This reference, having obscured what occurred in the Egyptian initiation, was then misunderstood and reinterpreted by Terrasson and Schikaneder as representing a trial by the four elements.


At the end of the opera, Tamino and Pamina appear “in priestly clothing” (in priesterlicher Kleidung) as the entire theater changes into a representation of the sun (2.30). This enactment follows Apuleius’s description of the initiate at the end of the Egyptian initiation in Egyptian priestly robes wearing a crown of leaves and carrying a torch or lamp representing the sun.68 Carrying a torch or lamp is actually typical of Egyptian temple ritual69 and is explicitly compared by the Egyptians to the sun.70

The wreath or crown worn by the initiate appears as the wreath of justification in Egyptian sources where “the wreath of divinity is placed on the head of a man after you have given [him] a lamp of fire.”71 Although this text is attested only in Ptolemaic Egypt, the wreaths themselves have been found on earlier mummies (ca. 1880 BC) antedating not just classical sources but even earlier Linear B sources.72


Some of the motifs of the initiation in The Magic Flute have their origins in ancient Egyptian initiations. The elements, however, have been modified: first by the classical authors, second by Jean Terrasson, and third by Emanuel Schikaneder. The changes include altering the gender of the names of the protagonists, changing the requirement of silence to not addressing women, and transforming the creation to a trial by the four Aristotelian elements. In much the way that blocks from Pharaonic Egyptian monuments are sometimes reworked into later architecture, one can still recognize the traces of authentic Egyptian artifacts reworked into the structure of The Magic Flute.

About the author(s)

John Gee is the William “Bill” Gay Associate Research Professor of Egyptology at the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts at Brigham Young University. He received his PhD in Egyptology from Yale University in 1998.


1. Proof of the popularity of Mozart’s music may be seen in the borrowing by others for use with different lyrics. Latter-day Saints, for example, have used the aria “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” for the children’s song “I Pledge Myself to Love the Right” and “Bei Männern, welche Liebe fühlen” was used for the old hymn “Though in the Outward Church Below,” although sadly this latter has been removed from the hymnal. Hymns, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1948), no. 102; Children’s Songbook (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989), 161.

2. There are, of course, hints in the first act that things are not the way that they seem, as when Tamino says, “Nun ist’s klar: es ist eben diese nächtliche Königin, von der mein Vater mir so oft erzählte. Aber zu fassen, wie ich mich hierher verirrte, ist ausser meiner Macht” (Now it’s clear: it is this very nocturnal queen, about whom my father has so often told me. But to comprehend how I have hitherto erred is beyond my power) (1.2). All translations appearing in this article are mine.

3. Erik Iversen, The Myth of Egypt and Its Hieroglyphs in European Tradition (Copenhagen: Gec Gad, 1961), 122.

4. Iversen, Myth of Egypt and Its Hieroglyphs, 121.

5. Iversen, Myth of Egypt and Its Hieroglyphs, 121–22.

6. Note that beginning in act 1, scene 9, “Das Theater [wird] in ein prächtiges ägyptisches Zimmer verwandelt” (The theater is changed into a magificent Egyptian room).

7. Siegfried Morenz, “Die “Zauberflöte” im Lichte der Altertumswissenschaft,” Forschungen und Fortschritte: Nachrichtenblatt der deutschen Wissenschaft und Technik 21/23 (1947): 232–34 (non vidi); Siegfried Morenz, Die Zauberflöte: Eine Studie zum Lebeszusammenhang Ägypten—Antike—Abendland (Münster: Böhlau, 1952), 71–90. Based on the sources that Morenz was examining, I would have to come to the same conclusions that he did. My approach differs substantially in looking at Egyptian sources explicitly identified by the ancient Egyptians as “initiations,” whereas the ones that Morenz examined are those that seem to tell the story of Osiris in some sense or other.

8. For the story, see Jan Assmann, “Death and Initiation in the Funerary Religion of Ancient Egypt,” in Religion and Philosophy and Ancient Egypt, ed. William Kelly Simpson (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1989), 135–59.

9. Demotisches Namenbuch, ed. Erich Lüddeckens and others, 17 vols. (Wiesbaden: Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1980–2000), 16:1186.

10. Demotisches Namenbuch, 5:368.

11. Overview in Eugene Romanosky, “Min,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, ed. Donald B. Redford, 3 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 2:413–15. For a more nuanced evaluation, see Claude Traunecker, Coptos: Hommes et dieux sur le parvis de Geb, Oreintalia Lovaniensia Analecta 43 (Leuven: Peeters and Departement Oriëntalistiek, 1992), 333–35.

12. Traunecker, Coptos, 333–34.

13. Herodotus, Historiae, 2.171.1.

14. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride.

15. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.

16. The texts are PGM IV 475–829 and PGM XIII 1–343 (duplicate in lines 343–646), in Karl Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae: Die griechischen Zauberpapyri, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1928–31), 1:88–101, 2:87–117; and an Oxyrhynchus papyrus in Reinhold Merkelbach, “Ein ägyptischer Priestereid,” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 2 (1968): 7–30.

17. Herodotus, Historiae, 2.171.1.

18. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.23.

19. Herodotus, Historiae, 2.171.1; Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.23.

20. Iamblichus, De Mysteriis, 6.7.

21. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.22.

22. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.23.

23. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.24.

24. P. Setna 3/40–4/3 (cf. 3/35–37), in Wilhelm Spiegelberg, Die demotischen Denkmäler, 3 vols. (Leipzig: W. Druglin, 1904; Strassburg: Dumont Schauberg, 1908; Strassburg: G. Fischbach 1906; Berlin: Reichsdruckerei, 1932), 2:pls. 44–45.

25. Jean-Marie Krutchen, Les annales des prêtres de Karnak (XXI–XXIIImes dynasties) et autres textes contemporains relatifs a l’initiation des prêtres d’Amon, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 32 (Leuven: Departement Oriëntalistiek, 1989), 202.

26. Penelope Wilson, A Ptolemaic Lexikon: A Lexicographical Study of the Texts in the Temple of Edfu, Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 78 (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Department Oosterse Studies, 1997), 330–31.

27. Krutchen, Annales des prêtres de Karnak, 167–92.

28. Assmann, “Death and Initiation,” 137.

29. Assmann, “Death and Initiation,” 137–42.

30. Assmann, “Death and Initiation,” 143–52.

31. Jan Assmann, Altägyptische Totenliturgien. Band 1: Totenliturgien in den Sargtexten des Mittleren Reiches (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 2002), 322–24.

32. PGM IV 558–60, 728–30, in Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, 1:92, 96.

33. Charles Maystre, Les déclarations d’innocence (Livre des Morts, chapitre 125) (Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1937), 96.

34. P. Bib. Nat. E. 140 2/22, 26, in Franz Lexa, Das demotische Totenbuch der Pariser Nationalbibliothek (Papyrus des Pamonthes) (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1910), 19, 21.

35. Eloquent Peasant B1 24–27, in R. B. Parkinson, The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant (Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1991), 8; Adriaan de Buck, Egyptian Readingbook (Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1963), 91; Raymond O. Faulkner, “Tale of the Eloquent Peasant,” in The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 2d ed., ed. William Kelly Simpson (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973), 33; Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 3 vols. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973–81), 1:171.

36. Djefai-Hapi 229, in Pierre Montet, “Les tombeaux de Siout et de Deir Rifeh,” Kêmi 6 (1936): 149; Kurt Sethe, Historisch-BiographischeUrkunden des Mittleren Reiches, Urkunden des ägyptischen Altertums VII (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1935), 54, hereafter cited as Urk. VII; Josef Janssen, De traditionelle egyptische Autobiographie vór het nieuwe Rijk, 2 vols. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1946), 1:108, 2:150.

37. Djefay-Hapi 238, in Urk. VII, 56; compare the examples gathered in Janssen, De traditionelle egyptische Autobiographie vór het nieuwe rijk, 1:53.

38. Kurt Sethe and Wolfgang Helck, Urkunden der 18. Dynastie, Urkunden des ägyptischen Altertums IV (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1905–9), 1031, hereafter cited as Urk. IV; Miriam Lichtheim, Maat in Egyptian Autobiographies and Related Studies (Freiburg Schweiz: Universitätsverlag; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1992), 113–14.

39. P. Louvre 3129 C 26–27, in Urk. IV, 19.

40. MMA 35.9.21 1/7–8, in Jean-Claude Goyon, Le Papyrus d’Imouthès Fils de Psintaês (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999), planche 1–1A.

41. P. Insinger 23/10, in Franz Lexa, Papyrus Insinger (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1926), 1:73; Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 3:203.

42. Serge Sauneron, “Remarques de philologie et d’étymologie (§§ 36–45),” Bulletin de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale 66 (1968): 2–4. For the festival, see Sherif el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt(Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000), 167–68: “Feast of grasping the crook; making the appearance of Khnum-Re, chief of the countryside in Aba, his face being turned towards the interior in order to delight the heart of his father Atum. Making halt in the pavilion of resting; then after the evening service, appearance of the god in the upper place, after he overthrew his opponent who fought against him in that place. Pouring the wine which is abundant on the offering tables in the presence of this god, his good face being turned towards the North (to Sau-khenen), in order to satisfy his heart, and pouring the libation water and fumigation of incense in the honour of the gods and those deceased; accomplishing the ceremony of ‘perfecting the countryside.’”

43. P. Insinger 22/11, in Lexa, Papyrus Insinger, 1:70; P. A. A. Boeser, “Transkription und Übersetzung des Papyrus Insinger,” Oudheidkundige Mededelingen uit het Rijksmuseum van Oudheden te Leiden n.s. 3/1 (1922): xxix; Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, 3:203.

44. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.22.

45. Apothegmata Patrum 6, 11, 40, 97, 152, 165, 201, 207, 224, 247, 305, 366, 373, 558, 562, 601, 611, 619, 621, 632, 658, 721, 808, 996–97, 1071, in Bonifaz Miller, Weisung der Väter: Apothegmata Patrum, auch Gerontikon oder Alphabeticum genannt (Freiburg im Breisgau: Lambertus, 1965), 16–17, 25, 44, 62, 67, 83–84, 89–90, 96, 111, 130, 132, 198, 200, 216, 218–19, 221–22, 227, 240, 268, 326, 360.

46. PGM IV.487–537, in Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, 1:88–90; PGM XIII.138–209, in Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, 2:93–97.

47. PGM XIII.163–205, in Preisendanz, Papyri Graecae Magicae, 2:95–97.

48. For the comparison see Mark Smith, The Carlsberg Papyri 5: On the Primaeval Ocean (Copenhagen: The Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies, 2002), 210–11.

49. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragment 1, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 17–18, 193.

50. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 2–3, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 31–32, 42–43, 193–94.

51. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 4–5, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 54–55, 64–66, 194.

52. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragment 4, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 54–55, 194.

53. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 5, 8, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 194–95.

54. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 6–8, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 195.

55. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 9–11, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 84–92, 195.

56. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragment 13, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 105–7, 195–96.

57. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragment 14, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 129–132, 196.

58. On the Primaeval Ocean, fragments 30, 38, in Smith, On the Primaeval Ocean, 168–69, 178–79, 197.

59. Plato, Timaeus, 31A–34B, 47E–50C, 82A; the quote is from 32C.

60. The key works for the dating of the Shabako Stone are Friedrich Junge, “Zur Fehldatierung des sog. Denkmals memphitischer Theologie oder Der Beitrag der ägyptischen Theologie zur Geistesgeschichte der Spätzeit,” Mitteilungen der deutschen Archeologischen Instituts Abteilung Kairo 29 (1973): 195–204; Hermann Alexander Schlögl, Der Gott Tatenen: Nach Texten und Bildern des Neuen Reiches, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 292 (Freiburg Schweiz: Universitätsverlag: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1980), 110–17. Hugh Nibley has often claimed that the Shabako Stone is a copy of the earliest Egyptian inscription, but his dating is based on earlier studies now known to be in error.

61. Shabako Stone 59–60, in James Henry Breasted, “The Philosophy of a Memphite Priest,” ZÄS 39 (1901): Tafel I–II; Kurt Sethe, Dramatische Texte zu altaegyptischen Mysterienspielen (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1928), 68; Hermann Junker, “Die Götterlehre von Memphis (Schabaka-Inschrift),” Abhandlungen der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften philosophich-historische Klasse Jahrgang 1939 nr. 23 (Berlin: Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1940), 65; James P. Allen, Genesis in Egypt: The Philosophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Egyptological Seminar, 1988), 44.

62. Book of the Cow, in Charles Maystre, “Le livre de la vache du ciel dans les tombeaux de la Vallée des Rois,” Bulletin de l’institut français d’archéologie orientale 40 (1941): 58; Alexandre Piankoff, trans. The Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1955), 27.

63. Book of the Cow, in Maystre, “Livre de la vache du ciel,” 58; Piankoff, Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon, 27; see also P. Carlsberg 180 fragment X 5/2, in Jürgen Osing, Hieratische Papyri aus Tebtunis I (Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies University of Copenhagen, 1998), 172, 174 note b with references.

64. Book of the Cow, in Maystre, “Livre de la vache du ciel,” 59–73; Piankoff, Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon, 27–28.

65. Book of the Cow, in Maystre, “Livre de la vache du ciel,” 74; Piankoff, Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon, 29.

66. Thus at Kom-Ombo the festival occurs on the twenty-eighth day of the third month of inundation called Hathor (November 24): “Festival of Hathor, resident in Ombos. Causing the appearance of Horus and Hathor. Performing all the rites.” (el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt, 155.) At Edfu, it occurred from the first day of the first month of harvest called Pachons through the first day of the second month of harvest called Payni (April 26–May 26): “Going out to Khadi. Taking out [Harsomtous and his ennead?] in procession on his beautiful feast of Proceeding to Khadi, as it is [called]. One approaches his barque on the river. Leading the gods-on-their-standards before him, while the scribe of the sacred book, in the god’s presence, recites the prayer ‘Overthrowing the Foe’. They cross (the river) to Khadi, spending 5 days there, while he (the god) strikes the foe. The floor of the hall is strewn with shelled barley. The procession of this god (is made) to the royal way-station of Khadi; then the retainers scatter the barley [on] the floor of the hall, and throw (some of it) at the feet of this god. They play the sistrum and tambourine, and sing: ‘You have crushed the aggressors, you have crushed the aggressors, O Harsomtous! You have slaughtered your enemies, fallen beneath your feet—you have crushed them like barley. May you cause all lands to prostrate (themselves) at your name—you are Re, ruler of the foreign lands.’ The same is done for 5 days” (el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt, 176, parenthetical and bracketed comments in original).

At Esna, it occurred on the last day of the first month of seed time called Tybi (January 25): “Feast of Hathor, mistress of Agny” (el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt, 163), and again on the fourteenth day of the second month of harvest called Payni (June 8) (el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt, 167). At Thebes it occurred on the first day of the fourth month of inundation called Choiak (November 27): “Day of the festival of Hathor; offering for Amon-Re with his Ennead and the portable image of Wosermaatre Meriamon [Ramses III], in this day of festival.” (el-Sabban, Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt, 103.)

67. Book of the Cow, in Maystre, “Livre de la vache du ciel,” 87–103; Piankoff, Shrines of Tut-Ankh-Amon, 31–33; compare P. Brooklyn 47.218.48 1/14–2/16, in Serge Sauneron, Un traité égyptien d’ophiologie (Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale, 1989), 7–35.

68. Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 11.24.

69. See P. Berlin 3055 1/2–5, in Hieratische Papyrus aus den Königlichen Museen zu Berlin, 5 vols. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1901), 1:Taf. 1; Rosalie David, A Guide to Religious Ritual at Abydos (Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips, 1981), 64, 66. For some details on lamps, see John Gee, “The Structure of Lamp Divination,” in Acts of the Seventh International Conference of Demotic Studies, CNI Publications 27 (Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute, 2002), 207–18.

70. From the ritual of lighting the lamp from the daily temple liturgy: “May it [the lamp] shine like the sun on the horizon.” P. Berlin 3055 1/2–5, in Hieratische Papyrus aus den Königlichen Museen zu Berlin, 5 vols. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1901), 1:Taf. 1.

71. Book of the Dead 19, in Hermann Grapow, Religiöse Urkunden: Ausgewählte Texte des Totenbuches, Urkunden des aegyptischen Altertums V (Leipzig : Hinrichs, 1915–1917), 136–44; see also Philippe Derchain, “La couronne de la justification. Essai d’analyse d’un rite ptolémaïque,” Chronique d’Égypte 30 (1955): 225–87.

72. Examples in Salima Ikram and Aidan Dodson, The Mummy in Ancient Egypt (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998), 149.

Share This Article With Someone