| ḏḥwtj |
Thoth, in one of his forms as an ibis-headed man
|Major cult center||Hermopolis|
|Symbol||Ibis, moon disk, papyrus scroll, reed pens, writing palette, stylus, baboon, scales|
|Part of a series on|
|Ancient Egyptian religion|
Thoth ( /, / ; from Koinē Greek : Θώθthṓth, borrowed from Coptic : Ⲑⲱⲟⲩⲧ, the reflex of Ancient Egyptian : ḏḥwtj "[He] is like the Ibis") is an ancient Egyptian deity. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma'at. He was the god of wisdom, writing, hieroglyphs, science, magic, art, judgment, and the dead. His Greek equivalent is Hermes.
Thoth's chief temple was located in the city of Hermopolis (Ancient Egyptian : ḫmnw /χaˈmaːnaw/, Egyptological pronunciation: "Khemenu", Coptic : ϢⲙⲟⲩⲛShmun). Later known as el-Ashmunein in Egyptian Arabic, it was partially destroyed in 1826.
In Hermopolis, Thoth led "the Ogdoad", a pantheon of eight principal deities, and his spouse was Nehmetawy. He also had numerous shrines in other cities.
Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's solar barge.In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.
|Common names for Thoth |
The Egyptian pronunciation of ḏḥwty is not fully known, but may be reconstructed as *ḏiḥautī, perhaps pronounced *[t͡ʃʼi.ˈħau.tʰiː] or *[ci.ˈħau.tʰiː]. This reconstruction is based on the Ancient Greek borrowing Thōth (Θώθ[tʰɔːtʰ]) or Theut and the fact that the name was transliterated into Sahidic Coptic variously as ⲑⲟⲟⲩⲧThoout, ⲑⲱⲑThōth, ⲑⲟⲟⲧThoot, ⲑⲁⲩⲧThaut, Taautos (Τααυτος), Thoor (Θωωρ), as well as Bohairic Coptic ⲑⲱⲟⲩⲧThōout. These spellings reflect known sound changes from earlier Egyptian such as the loss of ḏ palatalization and merger of ḥ with h i.e. initial ḏḥ > th > tʰ. The loss of pre-Coptic final y/j is also common. Following Egyptological convention, which eschews vowel reconstruction, the consonant skeleton ḏḥwty would be rendered "Djehuti" and the god is sometimes found under this name. However, the Greek form "Thoth" is more common.
According to Theodor Hopfner,Thoth's Egyptian name written as ḏḥwty originated from ḏḥw, claimed to be the oldest known name for the ibis, normally written as hbj. The addition of -ty denotes that he possessed the attributes of the ibis. Hence Thoth's name would mean "He who is like the ibis", according to this interpretation.
Other forms of the name ḏḥwty using older transcriptions include Jehuti, Jehuty, Tahuti, Tehuti, Zehuti, Techu, or Tetu. Multiple titles for Thoth, similar to the pharaonic titulary, are also known, including A, Sheps, Lord of Khemennu, Asten, Khenti, Mehi, Hab, and A'an.
In addition, Thoth was also known by specific aspects of himself, for instance the Moon god Iah-Djehuty (j3ḥ-ḏḥw.ty), representing the Moon for the entire month. τρισμέγιστος (trismégistos), making Hermes Trismegistus.The Greeks related Thoth to their god Hermes due to his similar attributes and functions. One of Thoth's titles, "Thrice great", was translated to the Greek
Thoth has been depicted in many ways depending on the era and on the aspect the artist wished to convey. Usually, he is depicted in his human form with the head of an ibis.In this form, he can be represented as the reckoner of times and seasons by a headdress of the lunar disk sitting on top of a crescent moon resting on his head. When depicted as a form of Shu or Ankher, he was depicted to be wearing the respective god's headdress. Sometimes he was also seen in art to be wearing the Atef crown or the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. When not depicted in this common form, he sometimes takes the form of the ibis directly.
He also appears as a dog-faced baboon or a man with the head of a baboon when he is A'an, the god of equilibrium.In the form of A'ah-Djehuty he took a more human-looking form. These forms are all symbolic and are metaphors for Thoth's attributes.
Thoth's roles in Egyptian mythology were many. He served as scribe of the gods,credited with the invention of writing and Egyptian hieroglyphs. In the underworld, Duat, he appeared as an ape, Aani, the god of equilibrium, who reported when the scales weighing the deceased's heart against the feather, representing the principle of Maat, was exactly even.
The ancient Egyptians regarded Thoth as One, self-begotten, and self-produced.He was the master of both physical and moral (i.e. divine) law, making proper use of Ma'at. He is credited with making the calculations for the establishment of the heavens, stars, Earth, and everything in them.
The Egyptians credited him as the author of all works of science, religion, philosophy, and magic.The Greeks further declared him the inventor of astronomy, astrology, the science of numbers, mathematics, geometry, surveying, medicine, botany, theology, civilized government, the alphabet, reading, writing, and oratory. They further claimed he was the true author of every work of every branch of knowledge, human and divine.
Thoth has played a prominent role in many of the Egyptian myths. In the Osiris myth, being of great aid to Isis. After Isis gathered together the pieces of Osiris's dismembered body, he gave her the words to resurrect him so she could be impregnated and bring forth Horus. After a battle between Horus and Set in which the latter plucked out Horus' eye, Thoth's counsel provided him the wisdom he needed to recover it.
This mythology also credits him with the creation of the 365-day calendar. Originally, according to the myth, the year was only 360 days long and Nut was sterile during these days, unable to bear children. Thoth gambled with the Moon for 1/72nd of its light (360/72 = 5), or 5 days, and won. During these 5 days, Nut and Geb gave birth to Osiris, Set, Isis, and Nephthys.
Thoth was originally a Moon god. The Moon not only provides light at night, allowing time to still be measured without the sun, but its phases and prominence gave it a significant importance in early astrology/astronomy. The perceived cycles of the Moon also organized much of Egyptian society's rituals and events, both civil and religious. Consequently, Thoth gradually became seen as a god of wisdom, magic, and the measurement and regulation of events and of time.He was thus said to be the secretary and counselor of the sun god Ra, and with Ma'at (truth/order) stood next to Ra on the nightly voyage across the sky.
Thoth became credited by the ancient Egyptians as the inventor of writing (hieroglyphs),and was also considered to have been the scribe of the underworld. For this reason, Thoth was universally worshipped by ancient Egyptian scribes. Many scribes had a painting or a picture of Thoth in their "office". Likewise, one of the symbols for scribes was that of the ibis.
In art, Thoth was usually depicted with the head of an ibis, possibly because the Egyptians saw the curve of the ibis' beak as a symbol of the crescent moon.Sometimes, he was depicted as a baboon holding up a crescent moon.
During the Late Period of ancient Egypt, a cult of Thoth gained prominence due to its main center, Khmun (Hermopolis Magna), also becoming the capital. Millions of dead ibis were mummified and buried in his honor.
Thoth was inserted in many tales as the wise counselor and persuader, and his association with learning and measurement led him to be connected with Seshat, the earlier deification of wisdom, who was said to be his daughter, or variably his wife. Thoth's qualities also led to him being identified by the Greeks with their closest matching god Hermes, with whom Thoth was eventually combined as Hermes Trismegistus, leading to the Greeks' naming Thoth's cult center as Hermopolis, meaning city of Hermes.
In the Papyrus of Ani copy of the Egyptian Book of the Dead the scribe proclaims "I am thy writing palette, O Thoth, and I have brought unto thee thine ink-jar. I am not of those who work iniquity in their secret places; let not evil happen unto me."Chapter XXXb (Budge) of the Book of the Dead is by the oldest tradition said to be the work of Thoth himself.
There was also an Egyptian pharaoh of the Sixteenth dynasty named Djehuty (Thoth) after him, and who reigned for three years.
Plato mentions Thoth in his dialogue, Phaedrus. He uses the myth of Thoth to demonstrate that writing leads to laziness and forgetfulness. In the story, Thoth remarks to King Thamus of Egypt that writing is a wonderful substitute for memory. Thamus remarks that it is a remedy for reminding, not remembering, with the appearance but not the reality of wisdom. Future generations will hear much without being properly taught and will appear wise but not be so.
Artapanus of Alexandria, an Egyptian Jew who lived in the third or second century BC, euhemerized Thoth-Hermes as a historical human being and claimed he was the same person as Moses, based primarily on their shared roles as authors of texts and creators of laws. Artapanus's biography of Moses conflates traditions about Moses and Thoth and invents many details.Many later authors, from late antiquity to the Renaissance, either identified Hermes Trismegistus with Moses or regarded them as contemporaries who expounded similar beliefs.
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities announced the discovery of the collective graves of senior officials and high clergies of the god Thoth in Tuna el-Gebel in Minya in January 2020. An archaeological mission headed by Mostafa Waziri reported that 20 sarcophagi and coffins of various shapes and sizes, including five anthropoid sarcophagi made of limestone and carved with hieroglyphic texts, as well as 16 tombs and five well-preserved wooden coffins were unearthed by their team.
Thoth has been seen as a god of wisdom and has been used in modern literature, especially since the early 20th century when ancient Egyptian ideas were quite popular.
Osiris is the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive atef crown, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. He was one of the first to be associated with the mummy wrap. When his brother, Set, cut him up into pieces after killing him, Isis, his wife, found all the pieces and wrapped his body up, enabling him to return to life. Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son. He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning "Foremost of the Westerners", a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. Through syncretism with Iah, he is also a god of the Moon.
Horus or Her, Heru, Hor, Har in Ancient Egyptian, is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian deities who served many functions, most notably god of kingship and the sky. He was worshipped from at least the late prehistoric Egypt until the Ptolemaic Kingdom and Roman Egypt. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different manifestations of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner falcon or peregrine falcon, or as a man with a falcon head.
Set or Seth is a god of deserts, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. In Ancient Greek, the god's name is given as Sēth (Σήθ). Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land, where he was the balance to Horus' role as lord of the black (soil) land.
Hermes Trismegistus is the purported author of the Hermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism.
Nut, also known by various other transcriptions, is the goddess of the sky, stars, cosmos, mothers, astronomy, and the universe in the ancient Egyptian religion. She was seen as a star-covered nude woman arching over the Earth, or as a cow. She was depicted wearing the water-pot sign (nw) that identifies her.
Nu, feminine Naunet, is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in the Hermopolitan Ogdoad cosmogony of ancient Egyptian religion. The name is paralleled with nen "inactivity" in a play of words in, "I raised them up from out of the watery mass [nu], out of inactivity [nen]". The name has also been compared to the Coptic noun "abyss; deep".
Nu is the one of the eight deities of the Ogdoad representing ancient Egyptian primordial Chaos from which the Primeval Mound appeared. He is coupled with goddess Naunet and appears in antropomorphic form but with the head of a frog. No cult is addressed to Nun but he is typically depicted in ancient Egyptian art holding aloft the solar barque or the sun disc. He may appear greeting the rising sun in the guise of a baboon. Nun is otherwise symbolized by the presence of a sacred cistern or lake as in the sanctuaries of Karnak and Dendara.
Maat or Maʽat refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also the goddess who personified these concepts, and regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological opposite was Isfet, meaning injustice, chaos, violence or to do evil.
Iah is a lunar deity in ancient Egyptian religion. The word jˁḥ simply means "Moon". It is also transcribed as Yah, Yah(w), Jah, or Aah.
Book of Thoth is a name given to many ancient Egyptian texts supposed to have been written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and knowledge. They include many texts that were claimed to exist by ancient authors, and a magical book that appears in an Egyptian work of fiction.
The Eye of Horus, also known as wadjet, wedjat or udjat, is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power, and good health. The Eye of Horus is similar to the Eye of Ra, which belongs to a different god, Ra, but represents many of the same concepts.
Unut, alt. Wenut or Wenet, is a prehistoric Egyptian snake goddess.
The four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in ancient Egyptian religion, who were essentially the personifications of the four canopic jars, which accompanied mummified bodies. Since the heart was thought to embody the soul, it was left inside the body. The brain was thought only to be the origin of mucus, so it was reduced to liquid, removed with metal hooks, and discarded. This left the stomach, liver, large intestines, and lungs, which were removed, embalmed and stored, each organ in its own jar. There were times when embalmers deviated from this scheme: during the 21st Dynasty they embalmed and wrapped the viscera and returned them to the body, while the canopic jars remained empty symbols.
Tuna el-Gebel was the necropolis of Khmun. It is located in Al Minya Governorate in Middle Egypt.
Hermopolis was a major city in antiquity, located near the boundary between Lower and Upper Egypt.
The Metternich Stela is a magico-medical stele that is part of the Egyptian Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It dates to the Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt around 380–342 B.C. during the reign of Nectanebo II. The provenance of the stele is unknown.
Artapanus of Alexandria was a historian, of Alexandrian Jewish origin, who is believed to have lived in Alexandria, during the later half of the 3rd or 2nd century BCE. Although most scholars assume Artapanus lived in Alexandria, others argue he resided in the countryside. Regardless, Artapanus lived in Egypt. His name, however, is a rather curious one; for Hystaspes' son, and the Achaemenian king Darius the Great's brother's name was also Artap/banus. It is also the name of several Iranian historical personalities, including five of the Parthian kings'. In modern Persian it is Ardavān.
The Egyptian hieroglyph representing gold, phonetic value nb, is important due to its use in the Horus-of-Gold name, one of the Fivefold Titulary names of the Egyptian pharaoh.
The Rosetta Stone decree, or Decree of Memphis, is a Ptolemaic decree issued by Ptolemy V at Memphis in 196 BC. It was recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Egyptian Demotic and Ancient Greek, on the Rosetta Stone and the Nubayrah Stele.
Damanhur is a city in Lower Egypt, and the capital of the Beheira Governorate. It is located 160 km (99 mi) northwest of Cairo, and 70 km (43 mi) E.S.E. of Alexandria, in the middle of the western Nile Delta.
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