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Myth / Egyptian Mythology

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Osiris, followed by his two sons, Anubis and Horus. The family resemblance is a bit hard to spot. (Relief from KV57, the tomb of Horemheb, the last king of the Eighteenth Dynasty.)

"By the power of Ra, Mut, Nut, Khnum, Ptah, Nephthys, Nekhbet, Sobek, Sekhmet, Sokar, Selket, Reshpu, Wadjet, Anubis, Anukis, Seshmu, Meshkent, Hemsut, Tefnut, Heket, Mafdet!"
High Priests Hotep and Huy, The Prince of Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians had quite a lot of deities, many of whom have "turned up" in fiction, especially as Ancient Aliens.

As with many other mythologies around the world there are different versions of many Egyptian myths, which results in a highly confusing mythology. Ancient Egyptian History is reflected in the history of Egypt's gods. Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt.note  When the formerly-two kingdoms started to merge the pantheons into one, things became a mess.note  Some deities were merged, renamed, or outright changed to try to keep the newly united kingdom's religion straight.

And of course, Egyptian Mythology contains the Older Than Dirt examples of many a trope. See the character sheet for a listing of the major gods and associated tropes.

Tropes relating to Egyptian mythology:

  • Action Girl: There were several prominent war goddesses who were worshiped as protectors against evil, such as Sekhmet, Hathor, Isis, Mafdet, Bastet, and Neith.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Osiris was an ambiguous deity in the earlier version of his myths who oversaw the weighing of the heart and lets souls enter the afterlife if they pass the test. After he was killed by Set and resurrected by Isis and Anubis, he became the good king of Egypt during the end of the Osirian cycle.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Set, although an ambiguous deity in the earliest version of his myths, was worshipped like the other gods and protected Ra from Apep. After the division of Egypt, he became a God of Evil in the Lower Kingdom and even more so after the Hyksos invasion.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: One story told of how Isis, while in hiding as a beggar with her baby son Horus, asked a noblewoman for shelter. The noblewoman insulted her and refused to help her, leading her to instead find refuge with a poor woman. A group of seven scorpions responsible for protecting Isis were outraged by the noblewoman's cruelty, and punished her by sneaking into her house and stinging her young son. Isis heard the noblewoman's cries and revealed her true identity by using her magic to heal the boy. The noblewoman was humbled by this, and gave all her jewelry to the poor woman out of remorse.
  • The Almighty Dollar:
    • Bes was a god who protected Egyptian households from everything bad including financial ruin.
    • Hathor was a major goddess connected to mineral wealth (semi-precious stones, copper, gold), cattle wealth, and abundance festivals. She first appears with a cattle head during fourth to second millennium BC. Like India, ancient Egypt saw cows as sacred sources of food. Cattle is an Older Than Dirt currency. As the destructive goddess Sekhmet, she was also associated with foreign lands, in both their peril and their thrilling abundance of wealth. Later, she was associated with Horus and the sun metal gold. From the Middle Kingdom period until Ptolemaic and Roman times, Hathor was associated with various joyful (and drunken) festivals celebrating abundance.
    • Renenutet was an ancient Egyptian goddess of wealth, well-being, nourishment, and harvest.
    • Dedun was a Nubian god associated with the lucrative trade of incense, and so is remembered as a god of wealth and prosperity.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Osiris had greenish-blue skin, though that might have something to do with the fact that he's a corpse.
    • Min is pitch black, Ptah is also green,note  and other gods are blue or yellow, or just various shades of flesh. This might have been simple color coding for the reader's convenience.
    • At least some periods had the belief that the gods had flesh made of actual gold. Sometimes this was further extended to having bones of silver and hair of lapis lazuli.
    • Amun/Amun-Ra was portrayed with blue skin after the Amarna Period.
  • Animorphism: Many gods are either depicted with the heads of their specific animal, or can completely turn into one.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The ancient Egyptian gods all represented various natural forces and phenomena. For example, Anubis represented death, mummification, embalming, the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the Underworld, while Thoth represented the moon, wisdom, writing, hieroglyphs, science, magic, art, and judgment.
  • Ax-Crazy: When Sekhmet was sent to Egypt to punish traitors of Ra, she slaughtered half the population, mauling them and drinking their blood.
  • Back from the Dead: Osiris, after being killed and cut into pieces by Set.
  • Badass Bookworm: Thoth. The book of spells he wrote had to be dumped in the deepest part of the Nile, guarded by scorpions and an immortal serpent, and put inside a gold box inside a silver box inside an ebony/ivory box inside a wooden box inside a bronze box inside an iron box. The person who recovered it turned into a living god until Thoth wiped him out. He also plays a major role in pretty much every major variant of Egyptian mythology, with him even having hand in creating the universe in some of them. Also, said book was made from Emerald...
  • Bedsheet Ghost: While not an actual ghost, Medjed, an obscure deity mentioned in the Book of the Dead, appears to be a figure covered in a sheet with only the eyes and feet showing.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Even the nicest Gods could be brutal when they wanted to. See below regarding the connection between Hathor and Sekhmet for a shining example.
  • Bird vs. Serpent: Although Egyptian myths had a number of benign serpentine figures, the demonic serpent God of Evil Apep was not one of them. Every night, he would do battle with the sun god Ra, who was traditionally depicted with the head of an eagle.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Even though she still is a benevolent goddess, Isis convinced Ra to tell her his secret name by poisoning him. She's also well known to be clever and deceptive. Hathor is also an example due to her Ax-Crazy alter ego Sekhmet.
  • Breakout Character: Isis is the most extreme example of this in Egyptian mythology. She was originally a consort goddess to Osiris who played a supporting role in his resurrection, but became a major goddess (sometime even a Top God for a long period of time) when the Horus cult rose to power and she even spread into Greek worship.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: A lot. Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys were all siblings, who fell in love while still in the womb. This aspect of Egyptian mythology reflected on the marriage habits of the Pharaohs. Also, Nut of the sky and Geb of the earth were so much in love with each other, that their children decided to put a stop to it by keeping them apart. (And this is why the sky is far enough from the ground that plants, animals, and people can live between the two.)
  • Cain and Abel:
  • Came Back Wrong: Osiris seems to be a cross between Destination Host Unreachable and Inhuman Human.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aten, the disc-shaped sun god, put forth by Akhenaten.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Bes, the laughing god who protects kids from nightmares, is drawn in a completely different style than the other gods, and came from Nubia.
    • It's also possible that Hathor's following originated further south as well.
    • Qetesh, a love goddess, is an adopted deity from the Canaanite pantheon.
    • Anat, another Canaanite love Goddess, developed a following in Lower Egypt during and after the Hyksos occupation. Notably, Pharaoh Ramses II was a devotee of hers and called upon her aid in his battles.
    • Astarte, better known today as Ishtar, had a following in Egypt where she was considered an honorary daughter of Ra.
  • Cessation of Existence: The Ancient Egyptians believed that the soul continued after a person's death. However, the soul can itself die a "second death" if any one part of it (see Our Souls Are Different) is destroyed, totally erasing that person from existence. This is what made the Egyptian afterlife (dū’at) so dangerous; if it isn't the evil spirits that eat your soul, Ammit will devour your heart if you fail Ma'at's test.
    • Also the punishment given to tomb robbers. A convicted tomb robber would be executed, their body left out in the desert for scavengers, and their name utterly erased from everywhere. In the Ancient Egyptian religious system, this meant that their soul was annihilated.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Bound to happen to a polytheistic religion that was followed for over 3,000 years. One notable example is that there was originally a fifth sibling given birth to by Nut; Horus the Elder, not to be confused with his nephew Horus the Younger. As the cult of Osiris gained popularity in the Middle Kingdom, Horus the Elder was either forgotten or fused with Horus the Younger.
  • Composite Character: This happened many times with various different gods, due to the constant shifting of power between cults and which deities they chiefly worshiped.
    • Ra and Atum are sometimes depicted as the same deity. Ra was also conflated with Amun into one god named Amun-Ra, and with Horus at times (their shared form was called Ra-Horakhty).
    • Isis was often combined with Hathor, Serket, and Nekhbet, taking several aspects from them (motherhood, healing, and protection).
    • Hathor was a composite of many early deities in the Old Kingdom period, absorbing the aspects of a cow goddess called Bat and a crocodile god at Dendera.
  • Continuity Snarl: Best describes the contradictory nature of Egyptian mythology. Ancient Egyptian culture spans more than half of written history, and suffered repeated massive breakdowns and invasions/occupations. It is inevitable that things got a bit wonky.
  • Couple Theme Naming: The early Ogdoad pantheon comprised four male-female pairs, each deifying a primordial concept: Nu and Naunet, the cosmic ocean; Heh and Hehut, infinity and eternity; Kekui and Kekuit, night and day; and Qerh and Qerhet, whose attributes are unknown.
    • Anubis, named Anpu in ancient Egyptian language, has a wife named Anput. She is usually depicted as a fully human woman, but occasionally is shown with a jackal head, and is pretty much a female equivalent to Anubis from what little is known about her, also being a funerary deity.
  • Crossover Couple: In some versions of the mythology, most notably in the Astarte Papyrus written during the 19th dynasty, Set is paired with foreign deities Astarte (an older name of Ishtar) and Anat of Mesopotamian Mythology, either as a consolation prize after losing his battle with Horus, or as in the aforementioned papyrus, heroically rescuing Astarte from the clutches of Canaanite sea God Yamm who had demanded her hand in marriage with the threat of flooding the world if he didn’t get her (Set’s actual rescue is missing from the papyrus due to age and wear, but is heavily implied). Note that this brings Set up to three wives including Nephthys.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Osiris once he became the god of death.
    • Anubis as well, being portrayed as a black jackal.
    • Sokar, or Seker, a complex but kindly fellow who "closes the night and opens the day", is a guide and guardian of the dead. He is one of the oldest deities.
  • Depending on the Writer: There was little uniformity in Egyptian mythology, and several different versions of the legends and tales of the gods.
    • One example is the backstory of Anubis. Originally he was just another of Ra's spontaneously birthed children. Then he became the son of Set and Nepthys. Then later myths tried to degrade Set by implying he was impotent, so Anubis became the secret child of Nepthys and Osiris. Who said soap operas weren't high art?note 
    • The myths were all over the place as to who created the world and humanity, and with what method:
      • In the Heliopolitan myth, Atum was born from an egg on the pyramid-shaped island of Benben in the primordial waters of Nu, and he either masturbated, spat, or copulated with his shadow to create two children, Shu and Tefnut. When they went out to explore the universe, they disappeared into Nu and he sent the fiery Eye of Ra to retrieve them. His Tears of Joy when they returned to him turned into the first human beings; Shu and Tefnut then had two children, Geb and Nut, who became the earth and sky that formed the world for humans to inhabit.
      • The Hermopolis version has the primordial waters create eight gods called the Ogdoad, consisting of four male and female duos: Nu and Naunet, Hehu and Hehut, Kekui and Kekuit, and Amun and Amunet (or Qerh and Qerhet). They were represented as aquatic creatures because they lived in the water, with the male gods as frogs and the female gods as snakes. When they merged together, they produced the pyramid mound of Benben from which the sun emerged to light the world.
      • In Memphis, the popular myth was that Ptah, the god of architects and craftsmen, shaped the world with his mind and speech by forming the concept of it in his heart (believed by the ancient Egyptians to be the core of human thought) and giving life to everything in it, including the other gods, by naming them with his tongue.
      • The Amun myth, propagated in Thebes, posited that Amun alone was the most powerful of the Ogdoad because he was the hidden force behind every living thing (so deeply hidden, in fact, that his true nature was shielded from even the other gods), and he was the ultimate source of creation that permeated everything from the heavens to the underworld. It got to the point that all the other deities in the pantheon were claimed to be merely aspects of Amun. Because Thebes was the capital for much of the New Kingdom, this served to establish Amun as the Top God for a while.
      • Other various stories attributed the world's creation to other gods. Neith was sometimes said to be the mother of Ra and Apep, who wove the world into existence from her loom, and was also worshiped as a goddess of the cosmos and fate because her status as a river deity helped link her to the waters of Nu. Khnum (who was occasionally paired with Neith) was claimed to have created humanity by sculpting the first people from clay at a potter's wheel. In early myths, Hathor had a hand in creating the world as a female aspect of Atum.
  • Destination Host Unreachable: After being murdered by Set, Osiris was resurrected twice but couldn't stay in our world either time. The first time, he died almost immediately after having sex with Isis and impregnating her with Horus. The second time, he was shuffled off to the the underworld to rule over the dead. This wasn't such a bad deal for him, though, as in Egyptian mythology the underworld is a pretty nice place, more akin to heaven than to other mythological underworlds. And Osiris stayed a powerful god and was venerated by the people of Egypt as one of their chief deities.
  • Destroyer Deity: Apep, also known by his Greek name Apophis, is a giant primordial serpent who chases the sun god Ra every day in an attempt to eat him and so end all life. Any souls who get lost on their way to the afterlife are also devoured by Apep. He's notably the only god in the Egyptian pantheon who was prayed against.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Ra (or Aten, sometimes) fights Apep every single night. However, Apep eats souls, so he's dangerous to humans as well. The solution? Guides to fighting Apep, with such tactics as Spitting Upon Apep, Defiling Apep with the Left Foot, Taking a Lance to Smite Apep, Fettering Apep, Taking a Knife to Smite Apep and Laying Fire Upon Apep.
  • Dismembering the Body: Set tried disposing of Osiris' corpse by throwing it (sealed in its casket) into the Nile. When the casket washed ashore, Set called upon this trope as Plan B and tore the body apart, scattering the pieces across Egypt. While Isis was able to collect most of the bits, her inability to find everything meant Osiris could only come back as the ruler of the dead.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: One version of the Osiris myth, listed in the Pyramid Texts, put forward that the reason Set killed Osiris was because the latter kicked him once.
  • Divine Conflict:
    • Set was often in conflict with the other gods, up to killing Osiris and driving Isis and Horus into exile. Horus would eventually return to drive Set off and reclaim Osiris' throne.
    • Every night Ra had to pass through the underworld and battle the serpent-god Apep (a.k.a. Apophis). Sometimes Apep would eat Ra alive, causing bad weather. If Apep went after Ra during the day, we got a solar eclipse.
  • Divine Incest:
    • Three generations of it:
      • Siblings and consorts Shu and Tefnut are the parents of Nut and Geb.
      • Nut (sky mother) and Geb (earth father) are siblings and consorts who Gender Invert the Earth Mother-Sky Father trope. Nut and Geb have four kids: Nephthys, Set, Isis, Osiris.
      • Those kids then paired up with each other: Isis and Osiris got married, as did Nephthys and Set.
    • Hathor (sky goddess) was simultaneously considered to be the mother, wife, and daughter of Ra (sun god). It's about rebirth, the cycle of constant regeneration as the sun rises and sets each day. She was also considered both Horus's mother and consort, depending on whether or not she was combined with Isis.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Seker, Osiris and Anubis, despite what people will say.
  • Dub Name Change: Many of the gods are known today by their Greek names. If you mention Wesir, Djehuti, or Anpu nobody except Egyptologists will know what you're talking about. Most people have heard of Osiris, Thoth, and Anubis though. Unusually, Sobek is typically known by his original Egyptian name.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Apep, or Apophis, a gigantic serpent-demon that embodied chaos and darkness. Every night it tried to eat Ra as he passed through the underworld. Prior to the demonization of Set (and even afterward; even the "Evil Set" merely wanted to overthrow the other gods, not destroy everything), Apep was considered the ultimate evil. Set's punishment for murdering Osiris is to guard Ra's sun barge from Apophis and kill him twice a day until his punishment is fulfilled.
  • Everybody Hates Hades: This applies to pretty much the whole of Egyptian Mythology. Many works of fiction revolving around Egyptian mythology tend to get the role of Anubis way off. He's usually referred to as "the Lord of the Dead" or as "the God of Death," when that title in fact refers to his father, Osiris. Anubis was a deity whose role revolved around the dead, but he was actually more of a guardian of the dead (as mentioned, largely a psychopomp) than the Grim Reaper type figure often shown. More egregiously, he is often, in addition to being referred to as a god akin to Hades from Greek mythology, misconstrued as being an evil or malevolent god, sometimes even serving as the Egyptian stand in for Satan. In reality, the Egyptians considered him to be an all-around pretty cool guy. It should be noted, however, that prior to Osiris' rise in popularity during the Middle Kingdom, Anubis was the primary god of death, and the son of Ra.
  • Evil Counterpart: Apep could be seen as one compared to Wadjet, as they where both snakes.
  • Evil Versus Oblivion: Set was a right bastard, but nevertheless opposed Apep and his attempts to destroy the universe.
  • Evil Uncle: Set was one to Horus.
  • Eye Scream: During their battle, Set plucked out one of Horus' eyes. Additionally, after Horus decapitated Isis and escaped, Set found him and did it again, but with both eyes.
  • Fantastic Time Management: Ra heard a prophecy from Thoth that one of Nut and Geb's children would replace him as divine ruler. To prevent this, he forbade Nut from giving birth on any of the 360 days of the year. Thoth felt bad about this, since he made the prophecy in the first place, so to prevent Nut being cursed with the Longest Pregnancy Ever, he came up with a plan using Loophole Abuse. Thoth played the board game senet with the Moon God Khonsu, gaining a small amount of moonlight each time he won. Eventually, he had enough light to make up five extra days, which didn't count as part of the year. By the time Ra found out and added the days to the year, Nut's children were already born.
  • Feathered Serpent: Wadjet sometimes.
  • Fertility God: Hathor was the Ancient Egyptian goddess of music, beauty, love, sexuality and fertility. Her "positive" spheres emphasized feminine and procreative energy; some myths state that she helped create the world, often by giving birth to it herself. She was also the most beautiful and usually considered the most sexually-enticing of the gods, commonly using her sexuality to solve (or create) problems.
  • Food God: Through the millennia, ancient Egypt had cattle goddesses of many names: Hathor, Bat, Hesat, Sekhat-Hor, Shenty. Like India, ancient Egypt also had "sacred cows" or a reverence for cows and the food they provided.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: For the most part, the followers of Egyptian Mythology understood that the various forms ascribed to their various gods weren't supposed to be how the gods actually were. Those forms were supposed to be symbolic of concepts and traits found in the gods, with the actual gods themselves being thought to exist as abstract forces.
  • Funny Animal: Unbuilt; you would not be the first to call the ancient Egyptians a bunch of furries, and you won't be the last, but it's worth noting some differences. With a modern Funny Animal, you typically have a human's body, but with the head, skin, claws, and perhaps feet of a wolf. Anubis on the other hand does have the head of a Jackal, but he's all human from the neck down; no fur, claws, or anything of the sort. We also do not have things like Furry Reminders here; Anubis doesn't behave like a Jackal anymore than Zeus does. It wasn't really the same thing as modern Funny Animals, and the whole animal-headed gods thing had more to do with symbolizing attributes of them or their power.
  • Fusion Dance: Ancient Egypt was fond of combining their gods into hybrid forms (the most famous probably being Amun-Ra). Interestingly this was often not seen as a literal merger of two formerly separate entities, but rather as a symbol or avatar of the powers of two gods overlapping.
  • Gag Penis: Min, the god of virility, is always depicted with a huge erection.
  • God of Evil: Set, though he wasn't always: originally, he was the god of the desert and storms. He was designated as evil after Egypt was invaded by a people who favored him. He even helped Ra fight against Apep the serpent every night (which doesn't change the fact that he ruthlessly killed Osiris). Apep on the other hand was the god of darkness and chaos but is oddly never really used in fiction as much as Set.
  • God of Fire: Ra is considered to be the god of fire as much as he is the god of the sun.
  • God of Light: Many various gods were associated with the sun and its life-giving properties, most prominently Ra, Atum, Khepri, Horus, Bastet, and Sekhmet. Khepri and Atum were sometimes considered aspects of Ra as part of the sun's cycle, with Khepri representing the morning sun, Ra the midday, and Atum the evening.
  • God of the Moon: The moon is masculine (Iah).note  Many male gods are associated with it, most notably Thoth (his curved ibis bill is compared to the crescent, and he represented the mathematical equations of astrology), Khonsu (the god of the new moon that acts as a twin to the pharaoh's sun) and Horus (the moon is actually the eye he lost to Set).
  • Going to Give It More Energy: Sekhmet is let loose (in the form of a lioness) upon a sinful population. She gets out of control and the gods, taking pity on the humans, show them the way to stop her: they exploit her insatiable thirst for blood by flooding a nearby field with blood-red wine (either that or beer dyed red, depending on what version you read). When the crazed goddess passes by on her way to eat more people, she pounced on the lake of "blood" and drank it all. This results in the most severe hangover ever — Sekhmet passes out and wakes up as a cow. This peaceful form of her is named Hathor.
  • The Great Serpent: Apep was a giant snake said to be the physical embodiment of chaos, whom the sun god Ra would do battle with during his journeys across the underworld every night. Depending on the story, it was said he lurked beneath the horizon, forbidden to enter the mortal kingdoms, and somewhere in a western mountain called Bakhu, where he lay in wait for Ra before the dawn, or after the sun set. Because of the many possibilities of his location, he eventually earned the epithet World-Encircler, and as a perpetual resident of the underworld (since Ra trapped him there), his roars would shake the underworld, while his movements caused earthquakes.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Apep is this; Set might indeed be a foe for some of the other gods, but he never outright challenges Ra, and actually is often depicted loyally defending him. Apep on the other hand, embodies chaos and darkness, and stands against all that the other gods stand for, essentially being the Egyptian equivalent of Satan.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The deities with animal heads and human bodies. However the Egyptians didn't actually believe those deities had animal heads; the animals symbolized aspects of the deity or were sacred to them, as the ibis to Thoth.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Hathor, at times.
  • Healer God:
    • The goddess Isis was considered a great healer - she cured Osiris.
    • Heqet was a goddess of health and wellness. She was worshiped by medical practitioners.
    • Serket was the goddess of fertility, nature, animals, magic, and medicine. One of her specialties was healing venomous stings and bites, which might be why she is depicted wearing a scorpion on her head.
  • Hell Hound: Egypt was in love with these: Anubis is the most well-known, but there were also Wepwawet, a white wolf war god that got associated with Anubis; Duamutef, a jackal-headed god and one of Horus' children who guards the canopic jars, also has ties with Anubis; Khenti-Amentiu, a jackal god of the dead that's even more ancient than Anubis and Osiris, likely connected to the former; and Sed, a jackal god with a ritual named after him celebrating the anniversary of the current Pharaoh's rule, closely connected to Wepwawet. Oh, and Hermanubis, a Fusion Dance between Anubis and Hermes created after the Greeks invaded.
  • I Love the Dead: Isis and Osiris' corpse.
  • Inhuman Human: Osiris, perhaps, as he's usually portrayed as a blue- or green-skinned mummy after his resurrection. He was still able to impregnate Isis.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Sweet fertility goddess Hathor and her alter ego Sekhmet the Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Jerkass Gods: While not as famous as their Greek neighbours, the Egyptian gods could be quite cruel too. Ra for instance was often so obsessed with keeping himself on the throne that he ordered genocide on mortals just for saying he wasn't as powerful as he'd been.
  • Judgement of the Dead: According to the Book of the Dead, dead people would appear before a court of judges, supervised by Osiris. Their heart (representing their deeds and conscience) would be weighed against a feather, symbolizing Maat, the goddess of truth and justice. If the heart was lighter than a feather, the deceased would be allowed into the realm of Osiris, an eternal paradise. If the heart was heavier, it would be fed to a Jackal-like monster and the person would be rendered eternally restless.
  • "Just So" Story: One story in the Jumilhac Papyrus records that the leopard got its spots when Set, in the form of a leopard, attacked Osiris's body to dismember it again and was instead struck down by Anubis, who branded Set all over with a hot iron (hence the burns became the spots), flayed him, and wore his skin afterwards. Because of this, priests usually wore leopard skins to commemorate Anubis's victory over Set.
  • Kill All Humans: In one myth Ra becomes angry with humanity for disrespecting him, so he turns Hathor into Sekhmet (depending on which version of the myth you're reading) and sends her on a bloody rampage. Sekhmet nearly wipes humanity out before Ra decides she's overdoing it and sends Thoth to lull her with tales and blood-colored wine. When she becomes drunk she reverts back to Hathor. The Egyptians celebrated the events every year during the Festival of Hathor by getting really drunk.
  • Killed Off for Real: Whoever's heart doesn't weigh the same as the Feather of Truth on the scales in the afterlife gets their heart fed to Ammit, after which the person the heart belonged to is rendered eternally restless. People whose bodies fire had destroyed could also not enter the afterlife.
  • Master of Threads:
    • Tayt was a goddess of weaving, textiles, and to a lesser extent mummification.
    • Hedjhotep was a minor deity of fabrics and clothes.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters:
    • Ammit, the demon that devoured the hearts of the unworthy, was made up of the scariest animals in Egypt: head of a crocodile, body of a lion, hindquarters of a hippo.note 
    • The Sphinx. There is the famous "Lion body with Human head", but some other depictios had ram heads (known as criosphinxes) or falcon's head.
    • Some of the protection gods were also made of the scariest bits of the scariest animals. Made it easier to frighten those evil spirits away.
    • The Set animal, according to one theory. Another possibility is the mormyrid.
    • Another hybrid creature associated with Set is the Akhekh, an oryx with the beak and wings of a bird.
  • Mother Makes You King: After Osiris's murder and usurpation at the hands of his brother Set, Isis made sure that her son with Osiris, Horus, would become king (which she did by poisoning and gaining power over Ra).
  • My Beloved Smother: Nut literally does this, as the goddess of the sky.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ammit the Devourer.
  • Necromantic: Isis as she tries to resurrect Osiris.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: Sobek was the crocodile-headed male god of fertility. He isn't one of the worse gods, actually, but because he represented the flooding of the Nile he could be both benevolent and dangerous.
  • Noble Bird of Prey: Lots of raptor imagery and raptor-headed gods are present; the most common are falcons (e.g. Ra and Horus), hawks, kites (Isis and Nephthys), and vultures (Nekhbet and sometimes Isis).
  • Non-Human Head: Quite a few, and possibly the Ur-Examples of it:
    • Horus, one of the main sun gods, has the head of a hawk; the sun and moon are his eyes.
    • Bastet, a warrior goddess/goddess of cats, has the head of a cat.
    • Thoth, god of knowledge, has the head of an ibis (or sometimes a baboon when he's being A'an, the god of equilibrium).
    • Anubis, one of the most famous gods of the underworld, has the head of a jackal, a known scavenger of the dead.
    • Set, god of storms and violence, has the head of an unidentifiable (and possibly imaginary) creature usually just called a 'Set animal'.
    • Khnum, god of rebirth and creation (and sometimes the evening sun, more usually associated with Atum), has the head of a ram.
  • Noodle Incident: Osiris's murder was a taboo subject in the original Egyptian texts, due to the belief that written words could affect reality and writing about a topic as grave as Osiris's death would thus bring great misfortune. Because of this, his murder was only alluded to or implied, and how Set killed him is never described clearly (the myth about Set tricking Osiris into getting in a coffin that he sealed shut is strictly a Greek adaptation by Plutarch). The texts implied that Set either drowned Osiris in the Nile or took the form of a crocodile or bull to kill him.
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: One story has Isis magically disguise herself as a mortal maiden to attract Set's attention. When Set flirts with her, she tells him of her woes: she is the widow of a herdsman with many cattle, and when her son began to watch over the herd after his father's death, a stranger intruded in the stable, threatened him, and threw him out to take the cattle for himself. Set is outraged by the story and asks if the cattle should be given to a stranger when the master's son is still alive, causing Isis to reveal herself and tell him he has indicted himself for killing Osiris and usurping his throne.
  • Off with His Head!: Horus beheads his mother Isis at one point for her intervening in a fight between him and Set. Thoth gives her a cow's head to replace it, which serves as the explanation for why Isis is a Composite Character with Hathor in some myths.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Sekhmet doesn't care who or what you are. If she sees you, you're dead.
  • Only the Worthy May Pass: Anubis tested the worth of dead people before letting them into paradise, by weighing their hearts on a scale against the Feather of Justice. Any heart that didn't pass got eaten by the monster Ammit, denying that person any afterlife at all.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The primary division of the Ancient Egyptian religion was not Good versus Evil, but Order Versus Chaos. The concept of balance, or Ma'at, was the Central Theme of the whole religion with the Pharaoh as the "Lord of Ma'at". Depending on the version of the story, several gods such as Ra, Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and Benu were all considered beyond the concepts of good or evil; instead, their main responsibility was to keep the universe from spiraling into chaos.
  • Our Souls Are Different: The Ancient Egyptians believed that a person's soul was composed of several different aspects:
    • The Khet (ẖūwa’), or a person's physical form, was needed for the soul to reside, so that they could have intelligence and be judged by the gods of the underworld. This is why mummification was so important in the burial rites. If the correct rites for the khet were performed, and the deceased was found worthy of passing to the underworld, the soul moved into...
    • The Sah, the spiritual body. The spiritual body allowed the soul to interact with beings in the underworld. The Sah could also come out of the underworld to haunt those who wronged the person in life, similar to a ghost.
    • The Īb (yib), or a person's heart, the seat of their emotions, and of their place in the spectrum of good and evil. Like the khet, it was necessary to be preserved so that the person could be judged in the afterlife. When a person died, it was weighed against a feather of Ma'at, and if it was found wanting, it was cast to Ammit, the devourer, and a person experienced complete Cessation of Existence (or eternal torture).
    • The Shūt, or a person's shadow, also translated as their image. Part of the reason why pharaohs had so many statues of themselves made; it was believed that because these statues were of their image, they would partially live on through them. Also, an aspect of worship, as it was believed that the image of a god held an aspect of the god itself, and was thus, divine.
    • The Ren (rin), or a person's name. Almost all pharaohs and gods utilized many different names for themselves, believing that if no one knew all of them, it was impossible to fully curse and damn the individual's name. Just to keep these names safe as well, hieroglyphic inscriptions enclosed them in boxes (called cartouches) in order to protect them from evil forces. This is part of the reason Isis was so feared: one of her names was "She Who Knows All Names." It is also why damnatio memoriae (the practice of defacing the names of enemies of the state) was considered so grave—it meant erasing the person's soul.
    • The Ba, or a person's "individuality." Sometimes interpreted as the essential intrinsic "uniqueness" of the person it belonged to, or sometimes, as the person them self. Part of what gave an individual their consciousness in the afterlife.
    • The Ka (ku’), or a person's vital life-force. When a person is born, their Ka is created, and when they die, it is destroyed, and is merged with their Ba to become...
    • The Akh, which has no literal translation that makes sense. It is best described as the magical essence that allows a person to experience the afterlife. Part of the reason for properly maintained tombs, as it was believed that a tomb held the person's Akh, and if it was destroyed, a person could experience "the second death," as mentioned above, Cessation of Existence.
    • The Sekhem (sāḫam), which literally translates to power but is difficult to interpret. One interpretation is that it is the essence of a soul in the afterlife that has passed all judgement.
  • Our Sphinxes Are Different: The famous sphinx statues — the Egyptians raised several, in addition to the Great Sphinx of Gaza — tended to be stationed as symbolic guards at the entrances to palaces, temples and other important places, and typically bore the heads of the then-reigning pharaoh on the body of a lion (at least one has the head of Hatshepsut, for instance). As a consequence, they're believed by historians to have been meant to symbolize the link between pharaohs and the lion goddess Sekhmet. Of note is that Egyptian sphinxes never had wings and were likely not actually called sphinxes; the name was used for them by Greek historians, writing long after the statues were built. Ram-headed sphinxes were built as well, and were symbols of the god Amun; Thebes, the center of Amun's cult, has the highest concentration of ram-headed lion statues. Hawk-headed lions also appear in carvings as symbols of Horus. Herodotus later coined the terms criosphinx and hieracosphinx when describing these last two types.
  • Primordial Chaos: Nun, who is sometimes called a deity, is the formless waters that everything and everyone else sprang from. Ra/Re was the first, and a hill came up out of it somehow, and things get weirder from there. Averted in some versions, where in the very beginning there was nothing, not even water. Ra/Re actually self-popped into existence. As for what caused the Nun waters and how Ra could possibly pop into existence is unknown.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The Egyptian gods are immortal in this way. Although they are depicted as being killed, and aging, in several myths, they always come back to life. Ra dies each and every evening, and is reborn every morning. Though the evidence isn't entirely clear, it appears that all gods were thought to age, die, and resurrect.
  • Psychopomp: Anubis, whose "guarding the dead" duties came reasonably close, as although he did not directly guide the dead in the journey to the Underworld (you had to do that more or less alone), he was one of the more helpful deities in the whole getting-to-the-afterlife thing.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In some versions, Set murdered Osiris as revenge for having slept with his wife.
  • Scales of Justice: Osiris and Anubis famously used scales to judge the dead to see if they would ultimately have an afterlife by weighing the deceased's heart against Maatnote . Maatnote  and Isis are also sometimes depicted helping in this as well.
  • Scarab Power: The Trope Maker and Ur-Example. To the Ancient Egyptians, the scarab beetle (specifically the species Scarabaeus sacer) was a symbol of Khepri, the early morning manifestation of the sun god Ra, from an analogy between the beetle's behavior of rolling a ball of dung across the ground and Khepri's task of rolling the sun across the sky.They accordingly held the species to be sacred. The Egyptians also observed young beetles emerging from the ball of dung, from which they mistakenly inferred that the female beetle was able to reproduce without needing a male. From this, they drew parallels with their god Atum, who also begat children alone.
  • Schmuck Bait: Set promises that he will give a chest as a gift to whoever fits inside it. When Osiris lies in the coffin, Set and his accomplices slam the cover shut, seal it, and throw it into the Nile.
  • Sex Magic: One of several creation myths had Ra masturbating in order to create the world. There's indications that the Pharaoh needed to re-enact this annually as part of his High Priest duties.
  • Shapeshifting: Nearly all the gods and goddesses could do it.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Played with all around. There were benevolent guardian deities who were associated with snakes, such as Wadjet and Renenutet, and the uraeus cobra—symbolizing Wadjet—was a common symbol on Pharaohs' crowns to represent their power. Conversely, the destructive God of Evil Apep was represented as a giant serpent who tried to devour Ra every day and night.
  • Soul Eating: The destruction of one's soul was the worst fate one could suffer, as it meant a Cessation of Existence. The deceased would face the Judgment of Osiris before they could enter the afterlife, who weighed their hearts to see if they had lived wicked lives. If the heart was too heavy, he would feed it to the demon Ammit. Also, the God of Evil Apophis would stalk passengers on their way to the land of the dead so he could eat their souls.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Most of the names in Ancient Egyptian. Because Egyptians didn't write vowels in their language, Egyptologists generally use an arbitrary transcription where certain vowels (usually "e") are inserted to make pronunciation easier. This results in a god's name being spelled in several different ways, most of which have little to do with how it was pronounced in the actual language. note 
  • Top God: Just who did the Egyptians call top god? That's dependent heavily on what historical period you were in, and often what city you were in.
    • In Thebes it was Amun (whom the Greeks conflated with Zeus), while Ra (whom the Greeks identified with Helios) took the title in Heliopolis (hence the name—the Egyptians called the city "Iunu"), Ptah in Memphis, and in various other times and places Osiris, Horus, Isis, and Anubis.
    • The "classical" form of this answer, arising during the Middle Kingdom and codified by the New Kingdom Eighteenth Dynasty is actually rather interesting: The Theban god Amun was identified with the Heliopolitan god Ra, who were then turned into a dynasty with Osiris and Horus: Amun-Ra as creator and perpetual lord and protector of the universe, Osiris as the king of the dead, and Horus as the perpetual king of Egypt on earth. This allowed the monarch to continue to be identified with the top god in the pantheon—whoever sat the throne was Horus.
    • During a brief flirtation with monotheism, Aten (theretofore a form or aspect of Ra) held this role.
  • Twincest: Nut and Geb, deities of the sky and earth who are twin brother and sister. They go on to have the quadruplets Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys, who also pair up as lovers.
  • Twins Are Special: Nut and Geb, the dualistic twin deities of the sky and earth, respectively. In one version of the creation myth, the depth of their bond begins in the womb, during which it is said they were born holding each other. Ra had to separate the two using air, which gave the twins their domains, however it did not curb their bond as the two remained lovers. They are considered complementary symbols that complete each other, forming a whole.
    • The famed lovers Osiris and Isis were also twin siblings (quadruplets actually, in addition to their siblings Seth and Nephthys who were also lovers). Some interpretations attribute the "holding each other in the womb" story not to Osiris and Iris's parents Nut and Geb, but to their birth instead.
  • Twin Switch: Apparently this is how Anubis was conceived; Nephthys disguised herself as Isis and slept with Osiris. Though after everyone found out Isis and Osiris never seemed to hold it against her. Indeed, Osiris treated Anubis as a second son and co-ruler of the Underworld. Set, however, disowned Anubis.
  • The Unpronounceable: See Spell My Name with an S. Most of the Egyptians are noted by their Greek names due to them being easier to pronounce in English. Thoth in particular is referred to by his Greek name since the closest anyone can get to the Egyptian spelling is "Jehuti".
  • Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: Ancient Egyptian art depicts the soul (ba) of a deceased person as a bird with the face of the deceased.
  • Wise Serpent: Zigzagged as, while the actual god of wisdom is Thoth (half-monkey, half ibis) and the most important snake deity, Apep/Apophis, averts this trope by embodying primordial chaos, there are some straight examples found in minor deities. Curiously enough, they are also protection deities as well, thus hinting at the ancient Egypt's general philosophy that wisdom and knowledge are amongst the best tools to protect people.
    • Wadjet, a goddess who takes the form of a cobra or a cobra-headed woman, is the protector of Lower Egypt (the northern part of the country centered on the Nile Delta). As a royal tutelary deity, she represented royal power, but also royal justice and wisdom in defense of (her half of) the realm.
    • Overlapping with Healing Serpent was the snake or snake-headed goddess Renenutet. A downplayed case by virtue of her main trait being fertility, both human and agricultural. However, she's also a nurse goddess in charge of what we today call obstetrics and pediatrics. Renenutet protects royal babies by means of ample knowledge of natural remedies and tips to keep both the pregnant mother and the newborns healthy. This along with the popularity of her cult in Lower Egypt and the similarity of her forms to Wadjet's led to them being seen as aspects of a single deity in later eras of Ancient Egypt.
    • Nehebkau is a snake with human legs whose usual portrayal is that of a wise judge and royal counselor. The former comes from his role as one of the forty-two judges in Ma'at's Court (she's the goddess of truth) — the purpose being determining which deceased souls deserve entry to the afterlife and which are to be eaten by Apep. The latter comes from the fact he's Ra's (the Top God and solar deity) advisor. Due to syncretism, he's sometimes also a fierce but benevolent protector.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • The bloody and drawn-out battle between Horus and Set happened because Set killed his father and took over the kingdom.
    • Although his role was more subdued, Anubis aided his half-brother Horus and helped his dad Osiris enter the underworld.

Works based on/borrowing from Egyptian myths:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Ma'at: The titular goddess is being hosted by the protagonist, and sends him, now her, to the past, to Ancient Egypt.

  • Gods of Egypt tells the murder of Osiris by Set, and Horus' quest for revenge. The gods all look like oversized humans, bleed gold, and have their humanoid-with-animal-head forms be Super Modes.
  • The Mummy and The Mummy Returns draw substantially on Egyptian myths' imagery. Imhotep's curse originates from the Egyptian gods, and the second film has the Army of Anubis, an army of summoned warriors who all look like said god.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Moon Knight (2022), adapting the character of the same name from Marvel Comics, is centered around ancient Egyptian mythology, with the protagonist being chosen as the Avatar of the god of the Moon, Khonshu (portrayed here as a humanoid with an avian skull, akin to the comics) and having to stop Ammit from being freed from her prison and devouring souls en masse. The series focuses more on mythology than its source material, with locations like the Duat and other gods such as Taweret, Hathor and Osiris being mentioned or making appearances, and most of the series being set on modern day Egypt.

  • Mercyful Fate had a song called "Curse of the Pharaohs."
  • Sun Ra interacts with this heavily, starting with his very name—the "Ra" in his name is that Ra, with whom he identified himself (but also with Ancient Astronauts from Saturn). His music intricately interweaves figures from Egyptian myth with Afrofuturism for a weird but sublime jazz experience.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • CHIKARA had The Osirian Portal, "The Funky Pharaoh" Amasis and "The Venomous Vile Serpent from the Nile"/"The Master of Snake Style" Ophidian.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology has Ancient Egypt as a playable civilization. The most well known gods of the Egyptian pantheon can be worshipped, giving access to various mythological creatures, and Isis' quest to resurrect Osiris is woven into the solo campaign's plot.
  • Anubis and the Buried Bone
  • Assassin's Creed Origins: Anubis, Sobek and Sekhmet can be fought in the "Trials of the Gods" DLC. The successive DLC "Curse of the Pharaohs" has the main character visiting the Egyptian afterlife. In the base game, they don't appear in the flesh but they are referenced constantly by the main characters Bayek of Siwa and Aya of Alexandria/Amunet.
  • Pharaoh, an otherwise realistic city-building simulator, features several of the major deities in the Egyptian pantheon - Osiris, Re/Ra, Ptah, Set(h), and Bast(et) - and provide gameplay bonuses if you worship them properly (build temples, hold festivals, etc.)... and penalties if you fail to do so. Broadly speaking the bonuses and penalties each god provides are roughly in line with their chosen domain. The game also simulates the dogma of the Egyptian religion: patron gods vary depending on the city; certain gods aren't worshipped at all depending on the city or the time period; certain cults are prominent only during a specific timeframe (such as the Sun Temples built to Ra during the fifth dynasty).
  • SMITE, a MOBA featuring gods from various religions as playable characters. The Egyptian pantheon is one of the most numerous in the game, with widely known gods such as Ra and Osiris and more obscure ones like Khepri and Serqet.
  • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
  • World of Warcraft:
    • In the original game and Classic, giant Anubis-like obsidian living statues can be encountered in the 20-man version of Ahn Qiraj (they're even called Anubisath), and the final boss, Ossirian the Unscarred, has Horus features including a hawk head.
    • Since the Cataclysm expansion, Egyptian gods in all but name can be encountered in Uldum (an Egypt-like area in all but name). Only there they are local flavor titan-forged Watchers, not gods so to speak (Titans are the equivalents of gods in the Warcraft universe).
  • Drowned God: Conspiracy of the Ages has a very... unique interpretation where Osiris was an alien who came to Earth following the destruction of his home planet, Isis was a human who he married, and Horus is a Grey fetus thing who takes the place of Set as the one who betrayed Osiris. Or it was Isis who did that, according to Horus.


    Web Original 
  • In season 3 of The Aquablade Chronicles, there was a crocodile-like character named Sobek, obviously named after the ancient Egyptian god.

    Western Animation