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Hymn to Ra

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Forum Name: Ancient WANA to 550 BC
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Printed Date: 15 Aug 2020 at 05:08
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Topic: Hymn to Ra
Posted By: Gonads
Subject: Hymn to Ra
Date Posted: 31 Jan 2013 at 14:30



The ancient Egyptians believed that life was dependent upon the sun, and they worshiped it by various names and in various cults.  One special name for the sun was Ra.  A great English Egyptologist, Sir Ernest Budge, suggests that he was introduced into Egypt before it had become a civilization, and that his attributes most closely resembled Marduk and, in fact, the name Ra could have been merely a different name for this Babylonian god.  The center of the cult of Ra was in Lower Egypt in the city of Heliopolis, which was at the crossroads of caravans from Arabia and Syria, where ideas had probably been exchanged since Predynastic times.  

By the Fourth Dynasty, when Heliopolis had grown in influence, the pharoah became the son of  Ra.  Under the Fourth Dynasty the priests of Heliopolis became very powerful and succeeded in acquiring pre-eminence for their god Ra over all the other gods of Lower Egypt.  So influential were this cult’s priests that two of the mightiest kings of the Fourth Dynasty who built the second and third great pyramid at Giza included Ra’s name in their own names (Khafre and Menkaure).  A tradition of kings calling themselves the “son of Ra” continued throughout ancient Egyptian history even into the Roman period, making Ra one of the most influential of ancient Egypt’s gods.

In spite of its general accuracy, the hieroglyphic board linked to this document is an artistic inscription rather than an exact copy of an existing artifact.  Note the numbered portions of the translated text, which correspond to the subsequent diagram (Key) also linked to this document.  To follow the flow of hieroglyphic text (left to right), match the numbers of the translation to the linked hieroglyphic key and and board.  


                 [1] A Hymn of Praise to Ra when he riseth in the Eastern Part of Heaven.  The Osiris Ani1, the scribe of the holy offerings of all the gods, [2] saith: “Homage to thee, O thou who hast come as Khepera, creator of the gods.  Thou art seated on thy throne, thou risest up in the sky, [3] illuminating they mother Nut2 stretcheth out her hands, and performeth an act of homage to thee.  [4] The domain of Manu3 receiveth thee with satisfaction.  The goddess Maat4 embraceth thee at the two seasons of the day5  May Ra give glory and power and truth-speaking, [5] and the appearance as a living soul so that he may gaze upon Heru-khuti6 to the Ka7 of the Osiris the scribe Ani, who speaketh truth before Osiris, [6] and who saith: “Hail O all ye gods of the House of the soul, who weigh heaven and earth in the balance, and who give celestial food (to the dead).  Hail, Taten, (who art) One,8 [7] thou creator of mortals [and] of the Companies of the Gods of the South and the North, of the West and the East, ascribe ye praise of Ra, the Lord of Heaven, [8] the King, Life, Strength, and Health (be to him), the maker of the gods.  Give ye thanks unto him in his beneficent form which is enthroned in the Atett Boat9, [9] beings celestial praise thee, beings terrestrial (gods) praise thee.  Thoth10 and the goddess Maat mark out they course for thee day by day and every day.  Thine enemy the Serpent11 hath been given over [10] to the fire.  The Serpent-fiend Sebau12 hath fallen headlong, his forelegs are bound in chains, and his hind legs hath Ra carried away from him.  The Sons of Revolt13 [11] shall never more rise up.  The House of the Aged One (Ra) Keepeth festival, and the voices of those who make merry are in the Great Place.  [12] The gods rejoice when they see Ra crowned upon his throne, and when his beams flood the world with light.  The majesty [13] of this holy god setteth out on his journey, and he goeth onwards until at his birth each day; he proceedeth until he reacheth the place where he was yesterday.  [14] O be thou at peace with me.  Let me gaze upon thy beauties.  Let me journey above the earth. . . . Let me slit asunder the [15] Serpent-fiend Sebau.  Let me destroy Aapep14 at the moment of his greatest power.  Let me behold the Abtu Fish  as his season, and the Ant Fish15 [16] with the Ant Boat as it piloteth it in the Lake.  (Let me behold Horus when he is in charge of the rudder [of the Boat of Ra], with Toth and the goddess Maat on each side of him).

  1.  8th Dynasty Theban scribe, whose name, according to the custom shown , is preceded by the name of Osiris. 

  2.  The sky goddess.

  3.  Egyptian name of the west where the sun sets.

 4. The Egyptian personification of righteousness, truth, and justice, standing for absolute order and morality.

 5.  Morning and evening.

 6.  The god Horus of the two horizons.

 7.  Abstract individuality came into being when the body to which it belonged was born, living independently of body.

 8.  Very ancient god of the earth and the husband of Nut (Footnote 2).

 9.  The boat in which he started his journey across the sky in the morning.

10.  Egyptian god of wisdom, knowledge, and mind, the inventer of writing, arithmetic, astronomy, arts and sciences.

11.  A huge serpent, who was the enemy of Ra.

12.  Also an enemy of Ra, often taking the form of a crocodile.

13.  The children of rebellion were the fiends and inferior devils who carried out commands of Set (the Egyptian Devil).

14.  Monster serpent who attacked the Sun-god daily, personified as a black thunder cloud.

15.  The Abtu and Ant were two fish who swam in front of the Boat of Ra to protect him from water-devils or fiends.

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