Monday, October 30, 2023



Osiris, who is known as Usir, is one of the important gods of ancient Egypt. In lower Egypt, he was a local god of Busiris. Moreover, he is considered as a personification of chthonic fertility. He played a double role by about 2400 BCE. Along with being a god of fertility, he was also the resurrected king. The dual role was mixed with the Egyptian concept of divine kingship: the king at death became Osiris, who is the underworld God, and the son of the king was known as Horus, the living kind and the God of the sky. Osiris and Horus had a father and son relationship. Isis was the mother of King Horus and consort of Osiris. The God Seth, the murderer of Osiris, was an adversary of Horus.

Plutarch, a Greek author, reported that Seth killed or drowned Osiris and tore the corpse into 14 pieces, and later, he flung the pieces over Egypt. Isis and Nephthys found as well as buried all the pieces (except the phallus) and gave new life to Osiris, who remained the judge & ruler of the underworld. The son of Osiris, Horus fought against Seth to become the king of Egypt.

The soul of Osiris was worshipped occasionally as if it were a distinct god, in the Delta city of Mendes. People knew this aspect of Osiris as Banebdjedet or "the ba of the lord of the djed." It is spelt "Banebded" or "Banebdjed." Its meaning is the soul of the lord of the pillar of continuity. Hence, you need to know that djed, which is a kind of pillar, was understood as Osiris's backbone. Now, let's know about Osiris in detail like who he is, his appearance, and other details.

Who Is Osiris?

He was an important god of ancient Egypt.

His Names:

This term "Osiris" is a Latin word. In Egyptian hieroglyphs, Wsjr is the traditional rendering of the name. There are a few Egyptologists who call the deity Aser, Ausar, Asar, Asari, Ausir, Ausare, Usire, Usir, Wser, or Wesir. Almighty or The Powerful is the name's English translation.

In this way, he was perceived among the old Egyptians. It has been thousands of years since the name "Osiris" was celebrated with ritual activity and was worshipped as the shepherd god.

Titles Of Osiris:

People can find the mention of his name during Egypt's Fifth Dynasty. However, since the first dynasty, he has been worshipped. In later Egyptian documents, such as Contending of Horus & Seth, ancient author's writings, and the Shabaka Stone, his name is mentioned.

He got several titles and was called "King of the Living" also. Besides, he received the title of "Foremost of the Westerners". He got both titles as he was the ruler of the dead —

Ancient Egyptians called them Westerners or The Living Ones. He was known as a merciful judge of people in the afterlife. He had many other attributes & titles like:

The Lord of love,

The Lord of silence 

He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful.

Appearance Of Osiris:

Osiris' old paintings were often coloured black or green. The green colour indicates the relationship between ancient Egyptian and rebirth. On the other hand, black was related to fertility, indicating the colour of the rich, fertile soil that expanded over the plains every year when the River Nile overflowed.

In a few rare instances, you can see him wearing a crown in which a rendering of the moon was included. After observing the picture, researchers concluded that Osiris was associated with the moon or night.

History Of Osiris:

He was one of the five kids who was born to the god of the earth & the goddess of the skies, Geb and Nut, respectively. Based on the family tree, it is known that he was a great-grandson of the famous Egyptian god Ra. In his story, his four younger siblings played vital roles. Seth was his brother's name, whereas the names of the two sisters were Isis & Nephthys.

As he was the son as well as the first child of Nut & Geb, it was his responsibility to inherit the throne of Egypt. Nephthys was married to Seth, whereas Isis was married to Osiris. It was believed that together Osiris & Isis had a lot of powers. However, their married life was not happy.

Nephthys later took the appearance of the wife of Isis and presented herself as Osis. And without differentiating them, he had made Nephthys pregnant as she seduced him. Then, she gave birth to Anubis.

Seth had a vendetta against Osiris because of either Osiris' inheritance of the throne or because he had made the wife of Seth pregnant. So, Seth planned to kill Osiris by luring him into a coffin and or by drowning him in the Nile. People still believe that the Nile River floods annually as the representative of the event.

Later, Isis recovered the body of her husband. But Seth stole away with this. After cutting up Osiris' body, Seth distributed all the pieces of his body throughout the Egyptian desert.

Isis loved his husband so much that she spent many years looking for his mutilated body part. As a result, she at last found all the lost pieces except one. People believe that she used her magical powers to restore the body parts of her husband.

Despite various versions of the story of this part being available, it seems like Isis got pregnant by Osiris, and Horus was born. Then, Osiris died once again and descended to assume completely his responsibilities as the Egyptian god of the underworld.

The Significance Of The Resurrection:

The resurrection of Osiris after being killed by Set, is the representative of a new beginning of good to the ancient Egyptians. They thought that the sun, which goes into the dead world every night and reborn with every new day, symbolized the story.

He was the one who controlled everyone's life, death, rebirth, and resurrection. Whereas, a pillar of continuity which represents a phallus that was made by Isis, became the symbol of the power of Osiris or the Ba.

A Familiar Story:

You should not be surprised if the tale of Osiris sounds familiar. Several story elements of his story are similar to the death and Jesus's resurrection. Ancient people in Egypt believed that a person would be greeted in the afterlife by deities like Anubis, Ammut, Henefer, Ma'at, Osiris and Thoth. The weight of the heart of that person was measured against the feather of Ma'at. If the weight was lighter than the feather, it was assumed that they lived a truthful life and would spend eternity in Osiris' kingdom.


His worship was an important part of regular life in ancient Egypt. Besides, the story of his death at the hand of his brother Seth as well as his 72 accomplices have been retold every year as part of worship. It was a tale of rebirth & regeneration, which can be seen each year playing out with the flooding cycle of the Nile.

Many ceremonies by the ancient Egyptians were held to praise the name, actions, & attributes of Osiris. He was the first Egyptian king, and he had symbols like the flail & the shepherd's staff, which became the vital symbols of the pharaohs. This great king represented a time of unity, peace & fertility to his followers.

Osiris, the good shepherd, was loved by many people. They felt that if they paid homage & venerated him, it would make Egypt & Egyptians successful. In addition, people believed that worshipping this god ensured the fertility & prosperity of crops on the bank of the Nile.


The Great Mystery Festival and a five-day religious ritual are two celebrations that were held every spring dedicated to Osiris. There are a few celebrations commemorating his life by planting grain that received water from the Nile in the shape of Osiris. The germination as well as growth of the grain indicates his death & resurrection.

According to the belief of Egyptians, the sprouting grain was the symbol of his exceptional power and vitality. People believed that Osiris was someone who came from heaven to make human life better. He was known as a person who continued to be perfect. The time of these celebrations was the last month of the inundation of the Nile.

About Osiris:

While he was the ruler of the dead, he had a lot of powers which granted all life from the underworld, from sprouting vegetation to the Nile River's annual flood. From about 2000 BCE onward, people started to believe that deceased kings, as well as every man, had connections with Osiris at death. But the identification with Osiris did not imply resurrection, even though he didn't rise from the dead. Rather than that, it signified life's renewal in the next world and via one's descendants on Earth. The universalized form of Osiris cult that was spread throughout Egypt, and joins with the local fertility & underworld deities' cults.

The idea of gaining rebirth in the next life by following Osiris was maintained via a few cult forms. In the festival of God, nocturnal rites as well as processions were celebrated in the Middle Kingdom of 1938–c. 1630 BCE at the temple of Abydos. It is the place where he had assimilated Khenty-Imentiu, the ancient god of the dead. The meaning of this name is "Foremost of the Westerners", which Osiris adopted as an epithet. In the festival, participation of the public was allowed as it took place in the open area. Burying along the processional road at Abydos was fashionable by the early 2nd millennium BCE.

Osiris festivals that reenacted the fate of the god were celebrated in different towns throughout Egypt. The main feature of this festival was the construction of the "Osiris garden," which was a mold in the shape of Osiris and filled with soil. The mold got moistured with the water from the Nile and was sown with grain. Remember that sprouting grain was the symbol of the vital strength of Osiris.

Apis, who was the holy bull, was connected to Osiris. According to the Greco-Roman authors, Osiris has a connection with the god Dionysus. Besides, he was identified with Soker, who is an old Memphite god of the dead.

What Were Osiris's Powers?

He was the ruler of the dead as well as the source of power which can grant all life from the underworld, like vegetation and the Nile river's annual flood. People began to believe that every man as well as every deceased king associated with Osiris at death from about 2000 BCE.

What Does Mythology Say?

According to mythology, before Osiris became the master of the Afterlife, he ruled the Egyptian country. He also taught agriculture.

In addition, he was the one who gave civilization & laws to humans. As per mythology, Seth, the brother of Osiris, was very jealous of him. His brother cut Osiris's body into pieces to kill him. Later, Seth distributed the body parts around Egypt. After his death, his brother became king of Egypt and married his sister Nepthys, who felt sorry for Isis, his sister. Osiris's wife wept continuously for her lost husband. She had magical powers, using which he decided to find Osiris. 

Isis wanted to bring her husband back to life so that they could have a kid. With this aim, Nepthys and Isis roamed Egypt to collect all the body parts of Osiris and then reassemble them & hold them together with linen wrappings. By breathing the breath of life into his body, Isis resurrected him.  After so many challenges, they were together again, and Isis got pregnant afterwards. Then, she gave birth to a kid named Horus. After that, Osiris went to the underworld and became the lord of that domain.


The Osiris myth is first seen in the Pyramid Texts, and multiple important features of it took shape before the writing down of the texts. There are a few segments of the tale following: Osiris's death and restoration, Horus's childhood, and Horus's conflict with Set — these can be originally independent mythic episodes. If so, then they need to be coalesced into a single story during this time. You should know that the Pyramid Texts loosely connect these segments. The tale's most of the parts are based on religious ideas, including—

       The divine nature of kingship,

       the struggle to maintain maat

       the succession from one king to another, and

        the effort to overcome death.

For example, the lamentations of both sisters for their brother can be considered as the representative of an early tradition of ritualized mourning. There is a lot of debate on the origins of Osiris, and the basis of death's myth is uncertain. Anthropologist James Frazer, in 1906, made an influential hypothesis, and said that the death & restoration of Osiris is based on the yearly death & re-growth of plants. There are multiple Egyptologists who agree with the explanation.

Later, at the end of the 20th century, J. Gwyn Griffiths gave some statements about the origin of Osiris. He extensively studied about him and said that he was first a divine ruler of the dead. And the secondary development was his connection with vegetation. The overarching idea of "dying and rising gods" has been criticised by scholars of comparative religion. Recently, an Egyptologist, Rosalie David, says that Osiris personified trees & plants' rebirth per year after the Nile inundation.

There is another continuing debate on the opposition of Horus & Set, which Egyptologists are often trying to connect with political events in the early historic stage of Egypt or prehistory. The cases in which the kingdom was divided by the combatants and Horus & Set associated frequently with the union of Upper & Lower Egypt, meant that two deities are the representative of a type of division within the nation. 

According to archaeological proof & Egyptian tradition, Egypt was united at the starting phase of history when Lower Egypt in the north was conquered by an Upper Egyptian kingdom in the south. Rulers of the South area were known as "followers of Horus". Then, Horus also became the patron god of the unified nation & its kings. That's why both Horus & Set are unable to be equated with the two halves in Egypt. 

Horus has connections with Lower Egypt mostly, whereas Set has connections with Upper Egypt. Kurt Sethe also gave an explanation in this regard in 1930. According to him, Osiris was the human ruler of a unified Egypt in prehistoric times. Later, Horus' Lower Egyptian followers reunified the land forcibly before Upper Egypt became prominent at the beginning of the early dynastic period.

The main focus of Griffiths in the late 20th century was on the inconsistent portrayal of both Set & Horus as brothers and as uncle & nephew. According to him, the struggle between Set & Horus as siblings in the early stages of Egyptian mythology didn't have any link with the murder of Osiris. Before the writing of Pyramid Texts, two stories were merged into the single Osiris myth. Once these are joined, the genealogy of the deities gets involved. Then, the characterization of the conflict between Set & Horus was altered so that Horus became the heir. 

You can still find traces of the independent traditions in the conflicting characterizations of the combatants' relationship and the texts that didn't have connections to the Osiris myth that makes Horus the son of the goddess Nut or the goddess Hathor instead of Osiris & Isis. So, Griffiths rejected the possibility that indicates Osiris's murder was rooted in historical events. Many recent scholars have accepted the hypothesis. A few names of these scholars are Jan Assmann and George Hart.

For the Set-Horus rivalry, Griffiths sought a historical origin. He upholded Egypt's two distinct predynastic unifications by the worshipers of Egypt, which is similar to Sethe's theory. But the problem remains unresolved. The reason is that other political associations for Set & Horus make the picture complicated. However, there was only one ruler in Upper Egypt, two big towns were Nekhen and Naqada. Horus was considered the patron deity in Nekhen, the rulers of where might have unified Upper Egypt under their sway, even Naqada. 

As Set had connections to the Naqada, an enmity between the towns may be reflected by the divine conflict. King Peribsen used the Set animal (traditional falcon hieroglyph) at c. 2890–2686 BCE, the end of the 2nd dynasty when he wrote his serekh-name. Khasekhemwy, who is his successor, used both names — Set & Horus in the writing of his serekh. From this evidence, you can clearly understand that a clash between Set's worshippers ( led by Peribsen) and Horus's followers was seen in the Second Dynasty. Khasekhemwy used two animal symbols that represent the reconciliation of the two factions.

Herman te Velde argues that the historical roots of the conflict are very obscure. So, the myth can not be understood easily. According to him, the source of the myth of Horus & Set is lost in the mists of the religious traditions of prehistory.


Osiris, the underworld Egyptian god of ancient times, was killed by Seth who tore apart the corpse and then flung the pieces throughout Egypt. Later, the goddess Isis & her sister Nephthys found the pieces of Osiris and gave him a new life. Then, Isis became pregnant by Osiris and gave birth to Horus. The king at death became Osiris in the Egyptian concept of divine kingship. He represented the power that can bring life out of the earth. Egyptians celebrate festivals reenacting his fate in towns every year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What god killed Osiris?

You can get to know from mythology that Osiris was the master of the Afterlife. But before becoming that, he ruled Egypt as well as taught agriculture. In addition, he was the one who gave civilization & laws to humans. According to mythology, Seth, who was the brother of Osiris, was highly jealous of him. His brother killed him and cut his body into pieces. Later, Seth distributed the body parts of Osiris around Egypt.

Q. Was Osiris a sun god?

Sometimes, he has been interpreted as the sun god.

Q. Who was Osiris' loyal wife?

Isis was his loyal wife.



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