From all-important deities to minor ones, Egyptian gods are an important part of literature. Some are more famous than others, but all have played a part in shaping the world’s history. In total, there are more than 50 named deities. Most were named during the pre-dynastic times.
In both literature and pictures, the gods’ appearance gives some indication of when they were formed. Early gods created by ancient Egyptian tribesmen were strongly associated with the animal world. Therefore, they are illustrated as half human, half animal. Most animals associated with the gods are common animals like birds, dogs, and cats. Others are portrayed as mythological creatures.
While they all take different shapes, the gods’ appearance (and descriptions) are mirrored closely by those the ancient Egyptians worshiped. In later mythology, gods appeared in more human-like form. Although they were still depicted as animal hybrids, they had fewer animal body parts. For example, many later gods are illustrated as a human figure with an animal head.
In Egyptian mythology, politics often play a role in the status of a god’s power and dominion. Therefore, certain gods and goddesses either became more powerful over time or lost their power. This is attributed to changes in Egypt’s political climate at the time the stories were written. Each region of Egypt had its own gods, and the success or failure of these deities closely mirrored the regional shift in power.
Certain themes appear commonly across Egyptian literature. One is the creation, and the other is afterlife. Many gods are first mentioned in the stories of creation. These stories attempted to describe the role of Egypt in the universe. Therefore, depictions of nature and weather patterns are common. Two prominent deities in the creation myths are Re and Nun. Re, the sun god, emerges from the chaotic seas called “Nun” to create mankind. Celebrations of the afterlife, complete with food, weapons, gifts, and other necessities, are also commonly found in Egyptian mythology.
The following is a list of the names of Egyptian gods and their roles:
God of the dead, funerals, embalming, and tombs. Depicted with the head of jackal and body of a man.
A cat or lion-headed goddess, Bastet was a protector of the home, and also a goddess of sensual pleasure. Bastet was a popular goddess in Egypt, and was a daughter of Ra and Isis.
Protector of households. Depicted as a dwarf.
One of the most popular or famous deities in Egyptian mythology, she was the goddess of love, beauty and femininity. She was often viewed as having cow horns or the head of a cow.
God of falcons, skies, and war.
Goddess of healing, magic, marriage, and protection.
Mut was a mother goddess who rose to prominence in the New Kingdom. She took on the attributes of several deities. She was viewed as a creator / primordial goddess, and was often shown with either vulture or lion features.
Known in Egyptian mythology as goddess of the sky, Nut was often represented as a cow or as having a human body and the head of a cow. Nut was also at times depicted as arching over the sky and heavens over her husband Geb.
God of the underworld, afterlife, and rebirth.
The Sun god.
The moon god. Took the form of a man with the head of an ibis.
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