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  Category: Articles » Society & News » Religion » Article

Deities of Egypt

By Richard Monk

Mention Egypt and one thinks of pyramids and Pharaohs. Egyptian deities, however, were the base of the religion that gave rise to the great Egyptian empires.

Deities of Egypt

Of all of the pantheons in the world, Egypt has one of the most populous. With hundreds of deities being worshiped at one time, Egyptian religion tended to vary depending on the area of the country that one lived in, and even depending on which pharaoh was in power. To truly understand Egyptian deities, you need to look at why they were worshiped.

It is estimated that there were around 2000 different deities worshiped during the time of ancient Egypt, but some of these were "repeats", deities with similar characteristics and descriptions that appeared with different names in different parts of the country. This phenomenon is seen because at the time there were around 40 different ruling tribes and areas (later known as provinces), and each of the areas had their own deities. The only common traits among these were that they all manifested themselves on Earth as animals, and each of the deities had both male and female counterparts.

Male and female deities were always portrayed in similar fashions. Males were shown with their legs apart as if they were walking, and females were shown with their legs together. Of course, this assumes that they were shown in human form. Often, Egyptian deities were shown in their animal guises, which could be as a combination of more than one animal or insect. When drawn or painted as humans, they all wore similar forms of dress and these costumes corresponded to their human counterparts in higher society. As for headgear (such as crowns), the deities wore whatever was in fashion for the pharaohs or priests of the area they were worshiped in this gave more credence to the pharaohs assertion that they were godlike.

Of course, some of the most well known Egyptian deities are still known today. They include Osiris and Isis (deities of the dead, as well as the mythical originators of Egypt) who are still very much talked about in historical and mythical contexts. The idea of being judged by your deeds in the afterlife led many pharaohs and other upper class Egyptians to create large pyramids and become mummified, which is a large part of ancient Egypt's history. While most modern Egyptians do not subscribe to the polytheistic ways of ancient Egypt, these deities are still a very important part of the culture of Egypt.
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