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January 13, 2019 2 min read

Thoth is the arbitrator of disputes between the gods, a god of magic, writing, scientific discovery and judge of the dead. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and he was married to Ma'at. Thoth and Ma’at maintain the universe and stand on either side of Ra's solar barge.

In art, Thoth was usually depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a dog faced baboon. As with all Egyptian deities these forms are symbolic and are metaphors for his attributes. The Egyptians never believed their gods actually looked like humans with animal heads.

Thoth served as scribe of the gods, credited with the invention of writing and hieroglyphs. Thoth was regarded as One, a self-begotten, and self-produced deity. He was the master of both physical and divine moral laws. He made the calculations for the heavens, stars and Earth, directing their movements. He created the 365 day calendar, adding 5 extra days so that Nut and Geb could have children. Thoth is also a moon god and very important in early astronomy and astrology. The cycles of the moon were used to time Egyptian civil and religious events. The Egyptians believed that without his word, the gods would not exist. His unlimited power is as strong as that of Ra and Osiris.

In the Duat, he appeared in his dog faced baboon form as Aani, the god of equilibrium. When someone died, Thoth checked the scales of their heart against a feather, which determined their fate after death. When Isis Osiris’ body parts together, Thoth gave her the words to resurrect him, which led to her impregnation with Horus. When Set plucked out Horus' eye, Thoth gave Horus the wisdom needed to recover it.

The Greeks matched Thoth to Hermes. The Greeks renamed Thoth's cult centre Khmun as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes. However, the Egyptians considered Thoth as the scribe of the gods rather than a messenger. Anpu (Anubis, or Hermanubis to the Greeks) was more the messenger of the gods, travelling in and out of the Underworld and presenting himself to both gods and humans.

Artapanus of Alexandria, a third century BC Egyptian Jew, considered Thoth-Hermes to be a historical human being and was the same person as Moses. He based this on their shared roles as authors of texts and creators of laws. Many later authors, up to the Renaissance, either identified Thoth with Moses or regarded them as contemporaries who expounded similar beliefs. The Greeks esteemed Thoth so much that they declared him as the true author of every work of every branch of human and divine knowledge.

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