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Egyptian Mythology

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Date: 2010
Publisher: Gale, a Cengage Company
Series: Gale Elementary Online Collection
Document Type: Topic overview
Length: 392 words
Lexile Measure: 740L

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Egyptian priests. In ancient Egypt the priests performed rituals to honor the gods.

Egyptian priests. In ancient Egypt the priests performed rituals to honor the gods.
© Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy.

Egyptian mythology developed from 3000 bce to the first century ce. Egyptian myths explained how the world, gods, and humans came to be.

The Egyptians believed there were two main forces in the world. The first was called ma’at. Ma’at was order, balance, and rightness. The cycles of day and night, the seasons, and birth and death were all part of ma’at.

The god Seth was the opposite of ma’at. Chaos and violence were part of Seth. Humans were supposed to live according to ma’at.

The Egyptians believed in more than 170 gods. There were gods of the sun, moon, wisdom, music, war, love, birth, floods, and many more parts of nature. They gods ate, slept, fought, and married. They had adventures and emotions like humans.

Different gods were worshiped in different places. Also, different gods were important at different times, depending on which gods the king wanted to worship. For example, in the 14th century bce the ruler Amenhotep declared Aten the supreme god. He tried to ban worship of all other gods.

Most gods had more than one name. And different gods could have the same symbols or the same myths. For example, Ra (or Re), Amun, Aten, Ptah, and Khnum were all called the creator of all things.

The Egyptian pharaoh, or king, was said to be both human and god. The pharaoh spoke directly with the gods. He passed the gods’ messages to his priests. When the pharaoh died, he became a god completely.

In Egyptian religion, there was no one holy book such as the Bible in Christianity. So there were many versions of myths. There are four versions of the creation of the world, for example.

The Egyptians believed that after death, a person’s spirit or soul was judged by the god Anubis. The god weighed each soul against a single feather.

A pure soul that weighed the same as the feather had no guilt or sins to weigh it down. This soul was allowed to enter a heavenly afterlife (Aaru). A soul heavy with sins and guilt weighed more than the feather. This soul was condemned to be eaten by the demon Ammit. It had to stay in the underworld forever.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|YESSUW309670760