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men; for truly he is of the race of Paian.” The repute of the skill of the priest-physicians was spread along the caravan routes farther east (Herodotos, iii, 1), and Egyptian prescriptions have been found in the archives of Nineveh. The general testimony of writers of the last centuries B.c. is rather specific that the physicians of the Nile valley, of whom a fine portrait is drawn for us by Chairemon (Fragmenta historicorum Græcorum, ed. Müller, iii, 497 ; Strabo, XVII, i, 29 = 805 C), still stood forth as noble and beneficent figures of Egyptian civilization.


Few of the many gods of ancient Egypt were prominent as healers. Doubtless a large number of deities practiced the curative art as a part of their general protective beneficence, of which little or nothing is recorded; but much of the information which has come down to us is only vague and suggestive. It is impossible to make a list of the healing divinities which may be regarded as even approximately complete; and the deities who are here discussed, some of them the chief gods of the pantheon and with other, perhaps more important, functions, are set forth on the hypothesis that the practices in their cults represent the religious healing customs of ancient Egypt. 'Anuqet.

Neith Apis.

Nekhbet. Bes, or Bēsa.

Nephthys, or Nebt-hôt. Epet, or Uêret.

Ptaḥ. ħat-hôr.

Horus, ħor, or ħoru. Serapis, or Osor-ḥap.

Thoth, Tḥout, or Tahuti.
Isis, or Eset.

Ubastet or Bastet. Khonsu or Khons.

Uzoit, Uazit, or Buto (Uto).

Minor divinities of Child-birth and Nursing.


Renenutet, or Rannu.


'ANUQET, a goddess of the South, of the region of the cataracts, and apparently of Nubian origin, was the third of the triad of Elephantine (Abu), Khnûmu and Satet being the other members. She was a deity of fertility, and like Ḥeqet (the later consort of Khnûmu) was a goddess of child-birth; while at Dakkeh (Per-Selket), the Greek Pselchis, she was represented as the nurse of a king168 and was a "giver of life, and of all health, and of all joy of the heart. 169 She was one of the goddesses of an island near the First Cataract, on which was her temple, the center of her worship, whence she was called 'Anuqet, the 'lady of Satet' (i.e., 'the Island of Seheil').168 She had the same attributes as her sister-goddess, Satet, who was worshipped with her; and she wore a feather crown of unusual form, arranged in a circle, suggestive of her foreign origin. 'Anuqet was equated with Nephthys (Nebt-hôt), and the Greeks identified her with Hestia.170



APIS (pronounced Ḥap), the great god of Memphis and one of the deities of Egypt from early dynastic times, was worshipped in the form of a bull,11 this being the incarnation of Osiris, the "beautiful image of the soul of Osiris" (Plutarch, op. cit., 30), the 'son of Ptaḥ,' and later the 'living replica of Ptaḥ.' The animal repre

168 Wilkinson, op. cit., iii, 181.

169 Budge, Gods, ii, 57-58. 170 Müller, op. cit., p. 131. 171 Ib., p. 162.

senting the god was carefully chosen, being recognized by characteristic black and white spots, a triangle or square on the forehead, an eagle on the back or a crescent on the flank (Pliny, Historia Naturalis, viii, 71), and double hair on the tail (Ailianos, Historia Animalium, xi, 10; Herodotos, iii, 28). When he had been found, he was escorted to Memphis, where, with much pomp, he was installed in his temple, the Apiæum, as “the holy god, the living Apis”;172 and when he died, his mummified body was buried with elaborate ceremonies in the Serapeum or in a rock tomb near the pyramid of Saķķâra.178 Osiris was blended with the hawk Sokari, a deity of the dead related to Apis, and later with Ptaḥ as Osiris-Apis (Osor-Nap), who became Serapis in the Greek period.”The bull Apis was consulted for divination and Pliny (loc. cit.) and Ammianus Marcellinus (xx, 14) relate that the omen was good or bad according as Apis accepted or refused the food offered by worshippers.15 Apis was a healing divinity, one to whom the origin of medicine was ascribed (Eusebios, Preparatio Evangelica, X, vi). Pausanias (VII, xxii, 3, 4) says that the manner of consulting the god was the same in Egypt as in Greece; the lamps were filled with oil, money was placed on the altar,176 and, with his mouth to the bull's ear, the suppliant whispered his request, drawing his answer from the first words of the first person whom he met.

Although Apis was usually depicted as a bull, he was also represented with a human body and the head of a bull

172 Müller, loc. cit.
173 Budge, op. cit., i, 350; also Strabo, XVII, i, 33 = p. 807 C.
174 Müller, op. cit., p. 98.
176 Foucart, in ERE iv, 793.

176 See infra, page 332. These auguries refer especially to the classical period. Egypt had no coinage until after she had been conquered by Persia (525 B.C.).

, wearing a globe, symbolizing the moon, between the horns. 177

BES, OR BESA Bes, though originally a foreign deity, either from Arabia or, more probably, from Central Africa, and deriving bis myths from Nubia,178 had been adopted into the pantheon from early dynastic times, the first mention of him being in the Pyramid Texts (no. 1786). Recent studies tend to the view that he was a purely human god, of negro or negroid character, and that he was in origin a person of magic power, personified as a divinity and introduced into the pantheon to execute special dances designed for protection and to remove bad influences, evil genii, and monsters of all sorts.170 Thus he appears as a deity of pleasure, mirth, laughter, music, and dancing; amusing, while protecting, children and their nurses. He strangled or devoured serpents, and caught dangerous animals, while his image was placed above the doors of sleeping-rooms to keep away noxious beasts and evil spirits. The most ancient images of the divinity, which date from the Middle Empire, often represent him as holding a serpent in each hand, in the rôle of protecting infants. He became a companion of Epet (Uêret) as a protector of child-birth and children and is frequently portrayed with her in the birthchamber of princesses, as in a painting, dating from about 1500 B.C., found at Deir-el-Baħri.179

During the Saïte epoch, the images of the deity multiplied and they became more varied, receiving a number of accessories, many of which were symbolic of other divinities and which were assumed to augment his mysterious power. 1808 At Thebes he was represented as wear

177 Budge, op. cit., ii, 346-351; also Wilkinson, op. cit., iii, 86-89. 178 Budge, op. cit., ii, 284-288; also Wilkinson, op. cit., iii, 148-150. 179 Budge, op. cit., ii, 285.

1802 G. Jéquier, “Nature et origine du dieu Bes,” in RTPA, 1915, Xxxvii, 114-118.

ing emblems of war, but although this has been construed as indicating that he was a god of slaughter, it is probable that these arms were for protection or for attack on animals rather than for aggression. Armed with sword and shield, and wearing a panther's skin, he performed dances which were like the warrior dances of equatorial Africa. Represented with full face as an ugly dwarf with goggle eyes, flat nose, thick lips, protruding tongue, beard, shaggy brows, short, bent legs, and the grotesque figure of a mountebank, Bes, like other dwarfs of Egypt, has been regarded by writers on medical iconography as an example of achondroplasia. The Metternich stele gives proof that the head of Bes was a mask.

Although widely worshipped among the lower classes, Bes is not mentioned in inscriptions of the Græco-Roman epoch.180b He was associated with magic, and with its recrudescence in the late period he became so prominent that he appears to have ousted Serapis from the temple at Abydos, where an oracle flourished until it was suppressed by Constantine II, while in Roman times he was worshipped at the Serapeum at Memphis, where divination by incubation for healing was practiced. Bes was placed among the stars, corresponding with the serpentstrangling constellation Ophiouchos (Serpentarius) of the classical world.181

ÊPET, OR UÊRET EPET, a strange goddess of foreign importation, probably from Central Africa, appears in a picture, from the temple of King Sethos I, of a constellation near Ursa Major, the old name being 'Ox-Leg,' or 'Club'or ‘Striker.' She is portrayed as a composite being, standing upright, sometimes crowned with plumes or wearing the disk be

J. G. Milne, “Græco-Egyptian Religion,” in ERE vi, 383. 181 Müller, op. cit., pp. 61 ff.


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