#06 Osiris’ Murder

December 24, 2018

#06 Osiris’ Murder

Osiris is the eldest son of Nut and Geb. He is both brother and husband of Isis and father to Horus the Younger. His other siblings are Set, Nephthys, and Horus the Elder.

Egyptian art depicts Osiris as green-skinned bearded being with mummy wrapped legs, wearing his unique atef crown, with combines the white conical Hedjet crown with red ostrich feathers on each side. He holds a crook in one hand and a flail (an agricultural tool uses for threshing) in the other.

The Osiris myth is one of the most important teachings regarding the afterlife in Egypt. Osiris inherited the kingship of Egypt from his ancestors in a lineage from the creator of the world, Atum (or Ra, depending on where you lived). In the earliest texts, Set takes vengeance on Osiris because of a kick that Osiris gave him. Later texts, states Set's grievance is because Osiris had sex with Nephthys, who is Set's consort. However, considering the good nature of Osiris and his closeness to Isis this later version seems unlikely.

The method of murder is never clearly described in early texts. The early Egyptians believed written words wielded magical power and could affect reality, so negative events such as Osiris's death were alluded to, but not recorded directly. Some texts suggest that Set took the form of a crocodile or bull, to slay Osiris. Other texts imply that Set drowned Osiris in the Nile. Later traditions said that Set had cut Osiris's body into forty-two pieces and scattered them across the nomes (provinces) of Egypt.

After Osiris dies, Set takes over the kingship. Osiris is connected with life-giving power, righteous kingship, and the rule of maat (maintaining the natural order of things), as opposed to his brother Set, a god of violence and chaos. When Set’s fight with Osiris symbolises the struggle between order and disorder, and the disruption of life by death.


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