|Author||Charles River Editors|
|Publication Date||March 7, 2019|
Get This Book
*Includes ancient accounts
*Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading
Given the abundance of funerary artifacts that have been found within the sands of Egypt, it sometimes seems as though the Ancient Egyptians were more concerned with the matters of the afterlife than they were with matters of the life they experienced from day to day. This is underscored most prominently by the pyramids, which have captured the world’s imagination for centuries.
Thus, it’s little surprise that Osiris was one of the most important gods in the Egyptian pantheon, and he could well be the most famous of the Egyptian gods today. Aside from the ubiquity of the sun-god Re in much of modern popular culture, it is Osiris who captivates the minds of modern readers most. His story is both familiar and strangely alien. He is the god of the dead, but he became so by the very fact of his mortality. All the gods of ancient Egypt were capable of dying, but Osiris was also a symbol of resurrection, not unlike Christ in Christian theology. Osiris was betrayed by somebody close to him (in this case, his brother Seth) and was murdered and reborn, but here is where Osiris and Christ part ways. Osiris’s death is brutal, and his resurrection is the product of his wife Isis’s love for him.
Furthermore, Osiris was associated with the kings of Egypt because the Egyptians believed he was a king himself. The ancient Egyptians could trace their kings back, one by one, to a time when the gods were believed to have ruled the land in person. Osiris was the third or fourth successor to the Egyptian throne after creation, and the Egyptians believed that Osiris’s connection with kingship is what allowed their kings to be reborn in a way themselves. He was also said to be physically enormous – almost 15 and a half feet according to some sources – which was said to have aided him in his military campaigns.
One of the reasons Zeus remains one of the most recognizable gods in history is because of the spread of his influence. Due to the conquests of Alexander the Great, Zeus was brought along with other elements of Hellenization to Egypt and the Near East, and a few centuries later, Rome all but adopted him as their own chief god, Jupiter. From there, he was exported around the Roman Empire and fused with numerous other local gods in the process. Ultimately, Zeus was a prominent god from the period of pre-recorded history until the Christianization of Greece, which was complete by the early 7th century A.D.
It is difficult for modern observers to understand how a hot-headed, sex-obsessed god could command the love and admiration of so many Greeks, not to mention their cultural heirs throughout the Roman Empire. What did the worship of this god provide for his worshipers? How did belief in his existence fulfill their spiritual needs? How was he different from other members of his pantheon? This book explores the figure of Zeus, including his origins, the stories told about him, the way he was worshiped and how he is remembered today.
Alongside his son Thor, Odin is one of the best known Norse gods, and it’s often easy to forget that he was once at the heart of a pantheon devoutly worshiped by millions of Europeans in the Middle Ages. Odin has numerous names and titles (over 200 by one account), but his best known title is "The All-Father," the co-creator of Earth ("Midgard"), humanity and all of the creatures that inhabitant this world. He is also, importantly, the god of prophecy, ecstasy, and poetry, all roles that were closely connected in the Norse world, as the line between poet and prophet was a blurry one and they were seen as possessing their inspiration through a type of ecstatic fury. These roles were connected to Odin's patronage of knowledge, especially mystical knowledge, since he was the discoverer of magical runes and songs which he then passed to humanity.
Get This Book