The Sorrows of Isis

(Extracted from Budge's Gods of the Egyptians, vol. 2, pp. 222-40)

 

I am Isis. I came forth from the house placed me my brother Set in it. Behold, said to me Thoth, the great one, chief of Maat in heaven and earth, "Come thou Isis, goddess, good (it is) to possess obedience, life (it is the) one (who is led) (by) another. Hide thyself with the son child, will happen these things, his limbs (will grow), he will grow strong wholly, [p.223] and he shall be made to rest upon the throne of his father, he will obtain the dignity of prince of the two lands."

I came forth at the season of evening, and came forth seven scorpions before me, they continued with me at my side. Tefen and Befen were behind me, twice, Mestet and Mestetef were near me, and Petet and Thetet, and Maatet showed to me the way, I cried out to them loudly, loudly, my word entered into their ears, as in (those of) a wise man; obedience is praiseworthy, disobedience (is) as the mark of the son [p.224] of a man of low estate, "Let your faces be bent down on the way." The leader of the company brought me to the swamps of Pasui, the city of the two Sandal-goddesses at the beginning of the Papyrus Swamps. Having arrived at Teb I came forth to the houses of the women of the governor. Had seen me the chief woman on the march, she closed her doors upon me, she was angry in her heart at those who were with me. They decreed about it (and) they placed their poison all at one time on the tail of Tefen. Opened to me [p.225] a poor woman her door, (I) entered into her house. Cunningly Tefen entered under the leaves of the door, smote she the son of the noble lady, fire broke out in the house of the noble lady, not was there water to quench it, not did heaven let fall its rain in the house of the lady, not being it the season thereof.

And behold, she who had not opened to me, her heart (was)  sad not knowing if he lived. She went round through her city with lamentation, not came [any] at her call. My heart was sad about the child [p.226] for her sake, (I whished) to revive (him that was) without fault. I cried out to her, Come to me, twice. A charm is my word having life. I am a daughter known in her city, who driveth away evil by her utterance. Taught me my father to know. I am the daughter beloved of his body. Laid Isis her hands upon the child to vivify that of which had closed the throat. O poison of Tefen, come, appear on the earth, not advance, not enter in. O poison of Befent, come, appear on the earth. I am Isis [p.227] the goddess, lady of words of power, worker with words of power, mighty in utterance of speech. Hearken to me, mouth every (which) biteth, fall downwards. Poison of Mestet, not advance, poison of Mestetef not rise up. Poison of Petet and Thetet not enter.

Maatet fall down. Chapter of stinging (which) spake Isis, the goddess, she great one of words of power, head of the gods. Had given her to Seb his powers to repulse poison from her form (?), repulsing, turning away, driving back, away back, poison at [p.228] the dawn saying, "Ra-mer, the Egg of the Goose cometh forth from the sycamore. A protection (are) her words spoken at the season of evening. I speak to you, I am in loneliness and in sorrow greater than (that of) the people throughout their nomes, (and I am) as a man feeble who hath ceased to seek out and to look upon women in their houses. Your face[s] downwards, to make a way to the swamps, to the hidden places in Khebet." O liveth the boy, dieth the poison; liveth Ra, dieth [p,229] the poison. Verily, healthy be Horus for his mother Isis. Verily, healthy be he who is under the knife also. The fire is extinguished, heaven is content at the utterance of Isis, the goddess. The lady (who) came, (she who) had shut on me her house, she seized the house of the poor woman because the poor woman had opened to me her door. Wherefore the lady was in pain and sorrow during night one, she tasted her speech. Was stung her son, was closed for her her house in return for her not having opened to me. [p.230] O liveth the child, dieth the poison. Verily shall be sound Horus through his mother Isis. Verily shall be sound he who is under the knife every one likewise. Shall not bread of barley drive out poison? It shall return through all the limbs the flame of hetchet and drive out the fire from the members Isis. Twice. Come thou to Horus. Thou whose mouth is wise come thou to thy son. "Hail," say the gods in her neighbourhood, like one whom has stung the scorpion Tchart, whom hath pierced [p.231] Bebat, whom hath put to flight Antesh. Appeared Isis as one who was wounded in her body. She stretched out her arms, I will protect, twice, my son Horus. Fear not, twice, O son, my glory. Not shall happen thing any evil unto thee. Seed is in thee for making things which are to be. Thou art the son within Mesqet, proceeding from Nu, not shalt thou die by the flame of the poison. Thou art the Bennu Great born on the incense trees in the House of the Prince great in Annu. Thou art [p.232] the brother of the Abt fish, the disposer of what is to be, nursed by the cat within the House of Net. Rert, and Hat, and Bes, protect thy limbs. Not shall fall thy head before him that is hostile to thee. Not shall conquer thy limbs the fire of thy poison. Not shalt thou fall on the ground, not shalt thou be in peril on water. Not shall have the mastery reptile any stinging over thee. Not shall crush the lion any (or) be master over thee. Thou art the son of a god holy [p.233] proceeding from Seb. Thou art Horus, not shall have the mastery the poison in thy limbs. Thou art the son of a god holy proceeding from Seb. (With him) that is under the knife likewise (is it). The four holy goddesses protect thy limbs ....

I am Isis, who conceived her male child, and was heavy with Horus. A goddess I bore Horus, son of Osiris, within a nest of papyrus plants.  I rejoiced over it greatly, twice, because I saw (in him) one who would answer for his father. I hid him, I concealed him [p.234]  having fear of his being bitten. I went to the city Ām, (the people) saluted according to custom. I spent the time in seeking for the boy to make his food. I returned to embrace Horus, I found him, Horus, the beautiful one of gold, the boy, the child, he was nothing. He had bedewed the ground with the water of his eye, and with the foam of his lips; his body was motionless, his heart still, not moved the muscles of his body. I sent forth a cry .... The dwellers in the swamp they came round me [p.235] at once, came to me the fenmen from their houses, they drew nigh to me at my call, they wept, even they, at the greatness of my misery. There was none who opened his mouth there, man every among them grieved greatly. There was none knowing there to make live (Horus). Came to me a woman well known in her city, a lady at the head of her district. She came to me to restore life, her heart was filled with her affairs according to wont. Twice. The son Horus (was) in inactivity. [p.236] Twice. The son of the mother of the god was safe from the evil of his brother.

The plants were hidden, not could enter there an enemy into them. The word of power of Tem father of the gods, who is in heaven, was as the maker of life, not entered Set into region this, not he could go about Kheb. Horus was smitten by the wickedness of his brother. Not had she hidden those who were in his service many time[s] a day. These (said) concerning him, "Shall live Horus for his mother?" they found where he was, [p.237] and a Scorpion stung him, and the slayer of the heart hath stabbed him. Placed Isis her nose in his mouth to know if had breath he who was in his coffin. She opened the wound of the heir divine, she found it possessing poison. She embraced him hurriedly and leaped about with him like a fish laid upon a fire (saying), Stung is Horus, O Ra, stung is thy son. Stung is Horus, heir of heir, lord of the [pillars?] of Shu. Stung is Horus, the child of the papyrus swamp, the child in [p.238] Het-ser. Stung is the child beautiful of gold. The child, the babe, he is nothing. Stung is Horus, son of Un-nefer.

Then came Nephthys weeping, she cried, going about the swamp, and Serqet (who said), What, twice, what then is to the child Horus, Isis? Pray thou therefore to heaven so that may come a stop to the sailors of Ra, not will travel the boat of Ra, not will travel the boat of Ra from the son Horus from where he is. Sent forth [p.239] Isis her cry to heaven, her prayer (was) to Boat of Millions of Years. Stood still the disk at her coming, not moved he on his seat. Thoth came provided with his magic power, possessing command great of maa-kheru. What, twice, Isis, goddess, mighty one, understanding (with) her mouth, not evil behold shall be to the son Horus, his protection is from the boat of Ra. I have come to-day in the boat of the disk [p.240] from its place of yesterday. When the night cometh the light driveth (it) away to heal Horus for his mother Isis (and) person every who is under the knife likewise.


[I give another, perhaps more readable, version as it appears in Budge's other work, The Legends of the Gods, pp. 156-97.]

THE NARRATIVE OF ISIS

48. I am Isis, [and] I have come forth from the dwelling (or, prison) wherein my brother Set placed me. 49. Behold the god Thoth, the great god, the Chief of Maat [both] in heaven and on the earth, said unto me, "Come now, O Isis, thou goddess, moreover it is a good thing to hearken, [for there is] life to one who shall be guided [by the advice] of another. Hide thou thyself with [thy] son the child, 50 and there shall come unto him these things. His members shall grow, and two-fold strength of every kind shall spring up [in him]. [And he] shall be made to take his seat upon the throne of his father, [whom] he shall avenge, [and he shall take possession of] the exalted position of Heq of the Two Lands."

I came forth [from the dwelling] at the time of evening, and there came forth the Seven Scorpions 51 which were to accompany me and to strike (?) for me with [their] stings. Two scorpions, Tefen and Befen, were behind me, two scorpions, Mestet and Mestetef, were by my side, and three scorpions, Petet, Thetet, and Maatet (or, Martet), were for preparing the road for me. I charged them very strictly (or, in a loud voice), 52 and my words penetrated into their ears: "Have no knowledge of [any], make no cry to the Tesheru beings, and pay no attention to the 'son of a man' (i.e., anyone) who belongeth to a man of no account," [and I said,] "Let your faces be turned towards the ground [that ye may show me] the way." So the guardian of the company brought me to the boundaries of the city of 53 Pa-Sui, the city of the goddesses of the Divine Sandals, [which was situated] in front of the Papyrus Swamps.

When I had arrived at the place where the people lived I came to the houses wherein dwelt the wives [and] husbands. And a certain woman of quality spied me as I was journeying along the road, and she shut 54 her doors on me. Now she was sick at heart by reason of those [scorpions] which were with me. Then [the Seven Scorpions] took counsel concerning her, and they all at one time shot out their venom on the tail of the scorpion Tefen; as for me, the woman Taha opened her door, and I entered into the house of the miserable lady.

55. Then the scorpion Tefen entered in under the leaves of the door and smote (i.e., stung) the son of Usert, and a fire broke out in the house of Usert, and there was no water there to extinguish it; [but] the sky rained upon the house of Usert, though it was not the season for rain.

56. Behold, the heart of her who had not opened her door to me was grievously sad, for she knew not whether he (i.e., her son) would live [or not], and although she went round about through her town uttering cries [for help], there was none who came at [the sound of] her voice. Now mine own heart was grievously sad for the sake of the child, and [I wished] to make to live [again] him that was free from fault. 57. [Thereupon] I cried out to the noble lady, "Come to me. Come to me. Verily my mouth (?) possesseth life. I am a daughter [well] known in her town, [and I] can destroy the demon of death by the spell (or, utterance) which my father taught me to know. "I am his daughter, 58 the beloved [offspring] of his body."

Then Isis placed her two hands on the child in order to make to live him whose throat was stopped, [and she said], "O poison of the scorpion Tefent, come forth and appear on the ground! Thou shalt neither enter nor penetrate [further into the body of the child]. O poison of the scorpion Befent, come forth and appear on the ground! 59. I am Isis, the goddess, the lady (or, mistress) of words of power, and I am the maker of words of power (i.e., spells), and I know how to utter words with magical effect. Hearken ye unto me, O every reptile which possesseth the power to bite (i.e., to sting), and fall headlong to the ground! O poison of the scorpion Mestet, make no advance [into his body]. O poison of the scorpion Mestetef, rise not up [in his body]. O poison of the scorpions Petet and Thetet, penetrate not [into his body]. [O 60 poison of] the scorpion Maatet (or, Martet), fall down on the ground."

[Here follows the] "Chapter of the stinging [of scorpions]."

And Isis, the goddess, the great mistress of spells (or, words of power), she who is at the head of the gods, unto whom the god Keb gave his own 61 magical spells for the driving away of poison at noon-day (?), and for making poison to go back, and retreat, and withdraw, and go backward, spake, saying, "Ascend not into heaven, through the command 62 of the beloved one of Ra, the egg of the Smen goose which cometh forth from the sycamore. Verily my words are made to command the uttermost limit 63 of the night. I speak unto you, [O scorpions] I am alone and in sorrow because our names will suffer disgrace throughout the nomes. 64. Do not make love, do not cry out to the Tesheru fiends, and cast no glances upon the noble ladies in their houses. Turn your faces towards the earth and [find out] the road, 65 so that we may arrive at the hidden places in the town of Khebt. Oh the child shall live and the poison die! Ra liveth and the poison dieth! Verily Horus shall be in good case (or, healthy) 66 for his mother Isis. Verily he who is stricken shall be in good case likewise."

And the fire [which was in the house of Usert] was extinguished, and heaven was satisfied 67 with the utterance of Isis, the goddess.

Then the lady Usert came, and she brought unto me her possessions, and she filled the house of the woman Tah (?), for the KA of Tah (?), 68 because [she] had opened to me her door. Now the lady Usert suffered pain and anguish the whole night, and her mouth tasted (i.e., felt) the sting 69 [which] her son [had suffered]. And she brought her possessions as the penalty for not having opened the door to me. Oh the child shall live and the poison die! Verily Horus shall be in good case 70 for his mother Isis. Verily everyone who is stricken shall be in good case likewise.

Lo, a bread-cake [made] of barley meal shall drive out (or, destroy) the poison, 71 and natron shall make it to withdraw, and the fire [made] of hetchet-plant shall drive out (or, destroy) fever-heat from the limbs.

"O Isis, O Isis, come thou to thy 72 Horus, O thou woman of the wise mouth! Come to thy son"thus cried the gods who dwelt in her quarter of the town"for he is as one 73 whom a scorpion hath stung, and like one whom the scorpion Uhat, which the animal Antesh drove away, hath wounded."

74. [Then] Isis ran out like one who had a knife [stuck] in her body, and she opened her arms wide, [saying] "Behold me, behold me, my son 75 Horus, have no fear, have no fear, O son my glory! No evil thing of any kind whatsoever shall happen unto thee, [for] there is in thee the essence (or, fluid) which made the things which exist. 76. Thou art the son from the country of Mesqet, [thou hast] come forth from the celestial waters Nu, and thou shalt not die by the heat of the poison. 77. Thou wast the Great Bennu, who art born (or, produced) or; the top of the balsam-trees which are in the House of the Aged One in Anu (Heliopolis). Thou 78 art the brother of the Abtu Fish, who orderest what is to be, and art the nursling of the Cat who dwelleth in 79 the House of Neith. The goddess Reret, the goddess Hat, and the god Bes protect thy members. Thy head shall not fall to the Tchat fiend 80 that attacketh thee. Thy members shall not receive the fire of that which is thy poison. Thou shalt not go backwards on the land, and thou shalt not be brought low 81 on the water. No reptile which biteth (or, stingeth) shall gain the mastery over thee, and no lion shall subdue thee or have dominion over thee. Thou art the son of the sublime god 82 who proceeded from Keb. Thou art Horus, and the poison shall not gain the mastery over thy members. Thou art the son of the sublime god who proceeded from Keb, and thus likewise shall it be with those who are under the knife. And the four 83 august goddesses shall protect thy members."

[Here the narrative is interrupted by the following texts:]

[I am] he who rolleth up into the sky, and who goeth down (i.e., setteth) in the Tuat, whose form is in the House of height, through whom when he openeth his Eye the light cometh into being, and when he closeth his Eye it becometh night. [I am] the Water-god Het when he giveth 84 commands, whose name is unknown to the gods. I illumine the Two Lands, night betaketh itself to flight, and I shine by day and by night. I am the Bull of Bakha, and the Lion of Manu. I am he who traverseth the heavens by day and by night without being repulsed. I have come 85 by reason of the voice (or, cry) of the son of Isis. Verily the blind serpent Na hath bitten the Bull. O thou poison which floweth through every member of him that is under the knife, come forth, I charge thee, upon the ground. Behold, he that is under the knife shall not be bitten. 86. Thou art Menu, the Lord of Coptos, the child of the White Shat which is in Anu (Heliopolis), which was bitten [by a reptile]. O Menu, Lord of Coptos, give thou air unto him that is under the knife; and air shall be given to thee. 87. Hail, divine father and minister of the god Nebun, [called] Mer-Tem, son of the divine father and minister of the god Nebun, scribe of the Water-god Het, [called] Ankh-Semptek (sic), son of the lady of the house Tent-Het-nub! He restored this inscription after he had found it in a ruined state in the Temple of Osiris-Mnevis, because he wished to make to live 88 her name ..... and to give air unto him that is under [the knife], and to give life unto the ancestors of all the gods. And his Lord Osiris-Mnevis shall make long his life with happiness of heart, [and shall give him] a beautiful burial after [attaining to] an old age, because of what he hath done for the Temple of Osiris-Mnevis.

89. Horus was bitten (i.e., stung) in Sekhet-An, to the north of 90 Hetep-hemt, whilst his mother Isis was in the celestial houses making a libation 91 for her brother Osiris. And Horus sent forth his cry into 92 the horizon, and it was heard by those who were in ..... Thereupon the keepers of the doors 93 who were in the [temple of] the holy Acacia Tree started up at the voice of Horus. 94. And one sent forth a cry of lamentation, and Heaven gave the order that Horus was to be healed. 95. And [the gods] took counsel [together] concerning the life [of Horus, saying,] 96 "O goddess Pai(?), O god Asten, 97 who dwellest in Aat-Khus(?) .... thy ...... enter in 98 ..... lord of sleep ..... the child Horus. Oh, Oh, 99 bring thou the things which are thine to cut off the poison which is in every member 100 of Horus, the son of Isis, and which is in every member of him that is under the knife likewise."

101. A HYMN OF PRAISE TO HORUS TO GLORIFY HIM, WHICH IS TO BE SAID 102 OVER THE WATERS AND OVER THE LAND. Thoth speaketh and this god reciteth [the following]:

"103. Homage to thee, god, son of a god. Homage to thee, heir, son of an heir. 104. Homage to thee, bull, son of a bull, who wast brought 105 forth by a holy goddess. Homage to thee, Horus, who comest forth from 106 Osiris, and wast brought forth by the goddess Isis. I recite thy 107 words of power, I speak with thy magical utterance. 108. I pronounce a spell in thine own words, which 109 thy heart hath created, and all the spells and incantations which have come forth from thy mouth, 110 which thy father Keb commanded thee [to recite], and thy mother 111 Nut gave to thee, and the majesty of the Governor of Sekhem taught thee to make use of for thy protection, 112 in order to double (or, repeat) thy protective formulae, to shut the mouth of 113 every reptile which is in heaven, and on the earth, and in 114 the waters, to make men and women to live, to make the gods to be at peace [with thee], and to make Ra to employ his magical spells 115 through thy chants of praise. Come to me this day, quickly, quickly, 116 as thou workest the paddle of the Boat of the god. Drive thou away from me every lion 117 on the plain, and every crocodile in the waters, and all mouths which bite (or, sting) in their holes. 118. Make thou them before me like the stone of the mountain, like a broken pot 119 lying about in a quarter of the town. Dig thou out from me the poison which riseth and 120 is in every member of him that is under the knife. Keep thou watch over him ..... 121 by means of thy words. Verily let thy name be invoked this day. Let thy power (qefau) come into being 122 in him. Exalt thou thy magical powers. Make me to live 123 and him whose throat is closed up. Then shall mankind give thee praise, 124 and the righteous (?) shall give thanks unto thy forms. And all the gods likewise shall invoke thee, 125 and in truth thy name shall be invoked this day. I am Horus [of] Shet[enu] (?).

"126. O thou who art in the cavern, O thou who art in the cavern. O thou who art at the mouth of the cavern. 127. O thou who art on the way, O thou who art on the way. O thou who art at the mouth of the way. 128. He is Urmer (Mnevis) who approacheth every man 129 and every beast. He is like the god Sep who is in Anu (Heliopolis). 130. He is the Scorpion-[god] who is in the Great House (Het-ur). Bite him not, for he is 131 Ra. Sting him not, for he is Thoth. Shoot ye not 132 your poison over him, for he is Nefer-Tem. O every male serpent, 133 O every female serpent, O every antesh (scorpion?) which bite with your mouths, 134 and sting with your tails, bite 135 ye him not with your mouths, and sting ye him not with your tails. 136. Get ye afar off from him, make ye not your fire to be against him, for he is the son of Osiris. 137. Vomit ye. [Say] four times:

"138. I am Thoth, I have come from heaven to make protection of Horus, 139 and to drive away the poison of the scorpion which is in every member of Horus. 140. Thy head is to thee, Horus; it shall be stable under 141 the Urert Crown. Thine eye is to thee, Horus, [for] thou art 142 Horus, the son of Keb, the Lord of the Two Eyes, in the midst of the Company [of the gods]. Thy nose is to thee, 143 Horus, [for] thou art Horus the Elder, the son of Ra, and thou shalt not inhale 144 the fiery wind. Thine arm is to thee, Horus, 145 great is thy strength to slaughter the enemies of thy father. Thy two thighs 146 are to thee, Horus. Receive thou the rank and dignity of thy father 147 Osiris. Ptah hath balanced for thee thy mouth on the day of 148 thy birth. Thy heart (or, breast) is to thee, Horus, and the Disk 149 maketh thy protection. Thine eye is to thee, Horus; thy right eye 150 is like Shu, and thy left eye like Tefnut, who are the children 151 of Ra. Thy belly is to thee, Horus, and the Children are the gods who are therein, 152 and they shall not receive the essence (or, fluid) of the scorpion. Thy strength is to thee, Horus, 153 and the strength of Set shall not exist against thee. Thy phallus is to thee, 154 Horus, and thou art Kamutef, the protector 155 of his father, who maketh an answer for his children 156 in the course of every day. Thy thighs are to thee, Horus, and thy 157 strength shall slaughter the enemies of thy father. 158. Thy calves are to thee, Horus; the god Khnemu hath builded [them], 159 and the goddess Isis hath covered them with flesh. The soles of thy feet are to thee, Horus, 160 and the nations who fight with the bow (Peti) fall under thy feet. Thou rulest 161 the South, North, West, and East, and thou seest 162 like Ra. [Say] four times. And likewise him that is under the knife."

163. Beautiful god, Senetchem-ab-Ra-setep-[en]-Amen, son of Ra, Nekht-Heru-Hebit, 164 thou art protected, and the gods and goddesses are protected, and conversely. 165. Beautiful god, Senetchem-ab-Ra-setep-[en]-Ra, son of Ra, Nekht-Heru-Hebit, 166 thou art protected, and Heru-Shet[enu], the great god, is protected, and conversely.

167. ANOTHER CHAPTER LIKE UNTO IT. "Fear not, fear not, O Bast, the strong of heart, at the head of the holy field, the mighty one among all the gods, nothing shall gain the mastery over thee. Come thou outside, following my speech (or, mouth), O evil 168 poison which is in all the members of the lion (or, cat) which is under the knife."

[The narrative of the stinging of Horus by a scorpion is continued thus]:

"I am Isis, who conceived a child by her husband, and she became heavy with Horus, the divine [child]. I gave birth to Horus, the son of Osiris, in a nest of papyrus plants. I rejoiced exceedingly over this, because 169 I saw [in him one] who would make answer for his father. I hid him, and I concealed him through fear of that [fiend (?)]. I went away to the city of Am, [where] the people gave thanks [for me] through [their] fear of my making trouble [for them]. I passed the day in seeking to provide food for the child, [and] on returning to take Horus into my arms I found him, Horus, the beautiful one 170 of gold, the boy, the child, without [life]. He had bedewed the ground with the water of his eye, and with foam from his lips. His body was motionless, his heart was powerless to move, and the sinews (or, muscles) of his members were [helpless]. I sent forth a cry, [saying]:

"'I, even I, 171 lack a son to make answer [for me]. [My] two breasts are full to overflowing, [but] my body is empty. [My] mouth wished for that which concerned him. A cistern of water and a stream of the inundation was I. The child was the desire of my heart, and I longed to protect him (?). I carried him in my womb, I gave birth to him, 172 I endured the agony of the birth pangs, I was all alone, and the great ones were afraid of disaster and to come out at the sound of my 173 voice. My father is in the Tuat, my mother is in Aqert, and my elder brother 174 is in the sarcophagus. Think of the enemy and of how prolonged was the wrath of his heart 175 against me, [when] I, the great lady, was in his house.'

"I cried then, [saying,] 'Who 176 among the people will indeed let their hearts come round to me?' I cried then 177 to those who dwelt in the papyrus swamps (or, Ateh), and they inclined to me straightway. 178. And the people came forth to me from their houses, and they thronged about me 179 at [the sound of] my voice, and they loudly bewailed with me the greatness of my affliction. 180. There was no man there who set restraint (?) on his mouth, every person among them lamented 181 with great lamentation. There was none there who knew how to make [my child] to live.

"And there came forth unto me a woman who was [well] known 182 in her city, a lady who was mistress of her [own] estate. She came forth to me. Her mouth possessed 183 life, and her heart was filled with the matter which was therein, [and she said,] 'Fear not, fear not, O son Horus! 184. Be not cast down, be not cast down, O mother of the god. The child of the Olive-tree is by the mountain of his brother, 185 the bush is hidden, and no enemy shall enter therein. The word of power of Tem, the Father of the gods, 186 who is in heaven, maketh to live. Set shall not enter into this region, he shall not go round about it. 187. The marsh of Horus of the Olive-tree is by the mountain of his brother; those who are in his following shall not at any time .... it. 188. This shall happen to him: Horus shall live for his mother, and shall salute (2) [her] 189 with his mouth. A scorpion hath smitten (i.e., stung) him, and the reptile Aun-ab hath wounded him.'" 190.

Then Isis placed her nose in his mouth so that she might know whether he who was in 191 his coffin breathed, and she examined the wound of the heir of the god, and she found that there was poison 192 in it. She threw her arms round him, and then quickly she leaped about with him like fish when they are laid 193 upon the hot coals, [saying]:

"Horus is bitten, O Ra. Thy son is bitten, [O Osiris]. 194. Horus is bitten, the flesh and blood of the Heir, the Lord of the diadems (?) of the kingdoms of Shu. 195. Horus is bitten, the Boy of the marsh city of Ateh, the Child in the House of the Prince. 196. The beautiful Child of gold is bitten, the Babe hath suffered pain and is not. Horus is bitten, he the son of Un-Nefer, 197 who was born of Auh-mu (?). Horus is bitten, he in whom there was nothing abominable, 198 the son, the youth among the gods. Horus is bitten, he for whose wants I prepared in abundance, 199 for I saw that he would make answer for his father. Horus is bitten, he for whom [I] had care 200 [when he was] in the hidden woman [and for whom I was afraid when he was] in the womb of his mother. Horus is bitten, he whom I guarded 201 to look upon. I have wished for the life of his heart. Calamity hath befallen the child 202 on the water, and the child hath perished."

Then came Nephthys 203 shedding tears and uttering cries of lamentation, and going round about through the papyrus swamps. And Serq [came also and they said]: 204 "Behold, behold, what hath happened to Horus, son of Isis, and who [hath done it]? Pray then to heaven, 205 and let the mariners of Ra cease their labours for a space, for the Boat of Ra cannot travel onwards [whilst] son Horus 206 [lieth dead] on his place."

And Isis sent forth her voice into heaven, and made supplication to the Boat of Millions of Years, and the 207 Disk stopped in its journeying, and moved not from the place whereon it rested. Then came forth Thoth, who is equipped 208 with his spells (or, words of power), and possesseth the great word of command of maa-kheru, [and said:] "What [aileth thee], what [aileth thee], O Isis, thou goddess who hast magical spells, 209 whose mouth hath understanding? Assuredly no evil thing hath befallen [thy] son Horus, [for] the Boat of Ra hath him under its protection. 210. I have come this day in the Divine Boat of the Disk from the place where it was yesterday, 211now darkness came and the light was destroyedin order to heal Horus for his mother 212 Isis and every person who is under the knife likewise."

And Isis, the goddess, said: "O Thoth, great things 213 [are in] thy heart, [but] delay belongeth to thy plan. Hast thou come 214 equipped with thy spells and incantations, and having the great formula of maa-kheru, and one [spell] after the other, the numbers whereof are not known? 215. Verily Horus is in the cradle(?) of the poison. Evil, evil is his case, death, [and] misery 216 to the fullest [extent]. The cry of his mouth is towards his mother(?). I cannot [bear] to see these things in his train. My heart [hath not] rested because of them 217 since the beginning(?) [when] I made haste to make answer [for] Horus-Ra (?), placing [myself] on the earth, [and] since the day [when] 218 I was taken possession of by him. I desired Neheb-ka .... 219"

[And Thoth said:] "Fear not, fear not, O goddess Isis, fear not, fear not, O Nephthys, and let not anxiety [be to you]. 220. I have come from heaven having life to heal(?) the child for his mother, Horus is ... Let thy heart be firm; he shall not sink under the flame. 221. Horus is protected as the Dweller in his Disk, who lighteth up the Two Lands by the splendour of his two Eyes; and he who is under the knife is likewise protected. 222. Horus is protected as the First-born son in heaven, who is ordained to be the guide of the things which exist and of the things which are not yet created; and he who under the knife is protected likewise. 224. Horus is protected as that great Dwarf (nemu) who goeth round about the Two Lands in the darkness; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. 224. Horus is protected as the Lord (?) in the night, who revolveth at the head of the Land of the Sunset (Manu); and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. 225. Horus is protected as the Mighty Ram who is hidden, and who goeth round about in front of his Eyes; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected as the Great Hawk 226 which flieth through heaven, earth, and the Other World (Tuat); and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected as the Holy Beetle, the mighty (?) wings of which 227 are at the head of the sky; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected as the Hidden Body, and as he whose mummy is in his sarcophagus; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. 228. Horus is protected [as the Dweller] in the Other World [and in the] Two Lands, who goeth round about 'Those who are over Hidden Things'; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. 229. Horus is protected as the Divine Bennu who alighteth in front of his two Eyes; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected 230 in his own body, and the spells which his mother Isis hath woven protect him. Horus is protected by the names of his father [Osiris] in 231 his forms in the nomes; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected by the weeping of his mother, and by the cries of grief of his brethren; and he 232 who is under the knife is protected likewise. Horus is protected by his own name and heart, and the gods go round about him to make his funeral bed; and he who is under the knife is protected likewise."

[And Thoth said:]

"233. Wake up, Horus! Thy protection is established. Make thou happy the heart of thy mother Isis. The words of Horus shall bind 234 up hearts, he shall cause to be at peace him who is in affliction. Let your hearts be happy, O ye who dwell in the heavens (Nut). Horus, he 235 who hath avenged (or, protected) his father shall cause the poison to retreat. Verily that which is in the mouth of Ra shall go round about (i.e., circulate), and the 236 tongue of the Great God shall repulse [opposition]. The Boat [of Ra] standeth still, and travelleth not onwards. The Disk is in the [same] place where it was yesterday to heal 237 Horus for his mother Isis, and to heal him that is under the knife of his mother likewise. 238. Come to the earth, draw nigh, O Boat of Ra, make the boat to travel, O mariners of heaven, 239 transport provisions (?) of ..... Sekhem to heal Horus for his mother Isis, and to heal 240 him that is under the knife of his mother likewise. Hasten away, O pain which is in the 241 region round about, and let it (i.e., the Boat) descend upon the place where it was yesterday to heal Horus for his mother Isis, 242 and to heal him that is under the knife of his mother likewise. Get thee round and round, O bald (?) fiend, without horns 243 at the seasons (?), not seeing the forms through the shadow of the two Eyes, to heal Horus for his mother 244 Isis, and to heal him that is under the knife likewise. Be filled, O two halves of heaven, be empty, O papyrus roll, return, O life, into the living to heal Horus for his it mother Isis, 245 and to heal him that is under the knife likewise. Come thou to earth, O poison. Let hearts be glad, and let radiance (or, light) go round about.

"I am Thoth, the firstborn son, the son of Ra, and Tem and the Company of the gods have commanded me to heal Horus for his mother Isis, and to heal him that is under the knife likewise. O Horus, O Horus, thy ka protecteth thee, and thy Image worketh protection for thee. The poison is as the daughter of its [own] flame; [it is] destroyed [because] it smote the strong son. 246. Your temples are in good condition for you, [for] Horus liveth for his mother, and he who is under the knife likewise."

And the goddess Isis said:

"Set thou his face towards those who dwell in the North Land (Ateh), the nurses who dwell in the city Pe-Tept (Buto), for they have offered very large offerings in order to cause the child to be made strong for his mother, and to make strong him that is under the knife likewise. Do not allow them to recognize the divine ka in the Swamp Land, in the city (?) of Nemhettu (?) [and] in her city."

247. Then spake Thoth unto the great gods who dwell in the Swamp-Land [saying]: "O ye nurses who dwell in the city of Pe, who smite [fiends] with your hands, and overthrow [them] with your arms on behalf of that Great One who appeareth in front of you 248 [in] the Sektet Boat, let the Matet (Mantchet) Boat travel on. Horus is to you, he is counted up for life, and he is declared for 249 the life of his father [Osiris]. I have given gladness unto those who are in the Sektet Boat, and the mariners [of Ra] make it to journey on. Horus liveth for his mother Isis. and he who is under the knife liveth for his mother likewise. As for the poison, the strength thereof has been made powerless. Verily I am a favoured one, and I will join myself 250 to his hour to hurl back the report of evil to him that sent it forth. The heart of Ra-Heru-Khuti rejoiceth. Thy son Horus is counted up for life [which is] on this child to make him to smite, and to retreat (?) from those who are above, and to turn back the paths of the Sebiu fiends from him, so that he may take possession of the throne of the Two Lands. Ra is in heaven to make answer on 251 behalf of him and his father. The words of power of his mother have lifted up his face, and they protect him and enable him to go round about wheresoever he pleaseth, and to set the terror of him in celestial beings. I have made haste ......"


[I give here another version, précised by Budge in his work Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, pp. 85-92]

THE LEGEND OF THE WANDERINGS OF ISIS


The Metternich Stele
(aka, the Cippi of Horus)

The god Osiris, as we have seen in the chapter on the Egyptian Religion in the accompanying volume, lived and reigned at one time upon earth in the form of a man. His twin-brother Set was jealous of his popularity, and hated him to such a degree that he contrived a plan whereby he succeeded in putting Osiris to death. Set then tried to usurp his brother's kingdom and to make himself sole lord of Egypt, and, although no text states it distinctly, it is clear that he seized his brother's wife, Isis, and shut her up in his house. Isis was, however, under the protection of the god Thoth, and she escaped with her unborn child, and the [p.88] following Legend describes the incidents that befell her, and the death and revivification of Horus. It is cut in hieroglyphs upon a large stone stele which was made for Ankh-Psemthek, a prophet of Nebun in the reign of Nectanebus I, who reigned from 373 B.C. to 360 B.C. The stele was dug up in 1828 at Alexandria, and was given to Prince Metternich by Muhammad Ali Pasha; it is now commonly known as the "Metternich Stele." The Legend is narrated by the goddess herself, who says:

I am Isis. I escaped from the dwelling wherein my brother Set placed me. Thoth, the great god, the Prince of Truth in heaven and on earth, said unto me: "Come, goddess Isis [hearken thou], it is a good thing to hearken, for he who is guided by another liveth. Hide thyself with thy child, and these things shall happen unto him. His body shall grow and flourish, and strength of every kind shall be in him. He shall sit upon his father's throne, he shall avenge him, and he shall hold the exalted position of "Governor of the Two Lands." "I left the house of Set in the evening, and there accompanied me Seven Scorpions, that were to travel with me, and sting with their stings on my behalf. Two of them, Tefen and Befen, followed behind me, two of them, Mestet and Mestetef , went one on each side of me, and three, Petet, Thetet, and Maatet, prepared the way for me. I charged them very carefully and adjured them to make no acquaintance with any one, to speak to none of the Red Fiends, to pay no heed to a servant (?), and to keep their gaze towards the ground so that they might show me the way. And their leader brought me to Pa-Sui, the town of the Sacred Sandals, 1 at the head of the district of the Papyrus Swamps. When I arrived at Teb I came to a quarter of the town where women dwelt. And a certain woman of quality spied me as I was journeying along the road, and she shut her door in my face, for she was afraid because of the Seven Scorpions that were with me. Then they took counsel concerning her, and they shot out their poison on the tail of Tefen. As for me, a peasant woman called Taha opened [p.89] her door, and I went into the house of this humble woman. Then the scorpion Tefen crawled in under the door of the woman Usert [who had shut it in my face], and stung her son, and a fire broke out in it; there was no water to put it out, but the sky sent down rain, though it was not the time of rain. And the heart of Usert was sore within her, and she was very sad, for she knew not whether her son would live or die; and she went through the town shrieking for help, but none came out at the sound of her voice. And I was sad for the child's sake, and I wished the innocent one to live again. So I cried out to her, saying, Come to me! Come to me! There is life in my mouth. I am a woman well known in her town. I can destroy the devil of death by a spell which my father taught me. I am his daughter, his beloved one.

Then Isis laid her hands on the child and recited this spell: "O poison of Tefent, come forth, fall on the ground; go no further. O poison of Befent, come forth, fall on the ground. I am Isis, the goddess, the mistress of words of power. I am a weaver of spells, I know how to utter words so that they take effect. Hearken to me, O every reptile that biteth (or stingeth), and fall on the ground. poison of Mestet, go no further. O poison of Mestetef, rise not up in his body. O poison of Petet and Thetet, enter not his body. O poison of Maatet, fall on the ground. Ascend not into heaven, I command you by the beloved of Ra, the egg of the goose which appeareth from the sycamore. My words indeed rule to the uttermost limit of the night. I speak to you, O scorpions. I am alone and in sorrow, and our names will stink throughout the nomes. ... The child shall live! The poison shall die! For Ra liveth and the poison dieth. Horus shall be saved through his mother Isis, and he who is stricken shall likewise be saved." Meanwhile the fire in the house of Usert was extinguished, and heaven was content with the utterance of Isis. Then the lady Usert was filled with sorrow because she had shut her door in the face of Isis, and she brought to the house of the peasant woman gifts for the goddess, whom she had apparently not recognised.

[p.90] The spells of the goddess produced, of course, the desired effect on the poison, and we may assume that the life of the child was restored to him. The second lot of gifts made to Isis represented his mother's gratitude.

Exactly when and how Isis made her way to a hiding place cannot be said, but she reached it in safety, and her son Horus was born there. The story of the death of Horus she tells in the following words: "I am Isis. I conceived a child, Horus, and I brought him forth in a cluster of papyrus plants (or, bulrushes). I rejoiced exceedingly, for in him I saw one who would make answer for his father. I hid him, and I covered him up carefully, being afraid of that foul one [Set], and then I went to the town of Am, where the people gave thanks for me because they knew I could cause them trouble. I passed the day in collecting food for the child, and when I returned and took Horus into my arms, I found him, Horus, the beautiful one of gold, the boy, the child, lifeless ! He had bedewed the ground with the water of his eye and with the foam of his lips. His body was motionless, his heart did not beat, and his muscles were relaxed." Then Isis sent forth a bitter cry, and lamented loudly her misfortune, for now that Horus was dead she had none to protect her, or to take vengeance on Set. When the people heard her voice they went out to her, and they bewailed with her the greatness of her affliction. But though all lamented on her behalf there was none who could bring back Horus to life. Then a "woman who was well known in her town, a lady who was the mistress of property in her own right," went out to Isis, and consoled her, and assured her that the child should live through his mother. And she said, "A scorpion hath stung him, the reptile Aunab hath wounded him." Then Isis bent her face over the child to find out if he breathed, and she examined the wound, and found that there was poison in it, and then taking him in her arms, "she leaped about with him like a fish that is put upon hot coals," uttering loud cries of lamentation. During this outburst of grief the goddess Nephthys, her sister, arrived, and she too lamented and cried bitterly over her sister's loss; with [p.91] her came the Scorpion-goddess Serqet. Nephthys at once advised Isis to cry out for help to Ra, for, said she, it is wholly impossible for the Boat of Ra to travel across the sky whilst Horus is lying dead. Then Isis cried out, and made supplication to the Boat of Millions of Years, and the Sun-god stopped the Boat. Out of it came down Thoth, who was provided with powerful spells, and, going to Isis, he inquired concerning her trouble. "What is it, what is it, O Isis, thou goddess of spells, whose mouth hath skill to utter them with supreme effect? Surely no evil thing hath befallen Horus, for the Boat of Ra hath him under its protection. I have come from the Boat of the Disk to heal Horus." Then Thoth told Isis not to fear, but to put away all anxiety from her heart, for he had come to heal her child, and he told her that Horus was fully protected because he was the Dweller in his disk, and the firstborn son of heaven, and the Great Dwarf, and the Mighty Ram, and the Great Hawk, and the Holy Beetle, and the Hidden Body, and the Governor of the Other World, and the Holy Benu Bird, and by the spells of Isis and the names of Osiris and the weeping of his mother and brethren, and by his own name and heart. Turning towards the child Thoth began to recite his spells and said, " Wake up, Horus ! Thy protection is established. Make thou happy the heart of thy mother Isis. The words of Horus bind up hearts and he comforteth him that is in affliction. Let your hearts rejoice, O ye dwellers in the heavens. Horus who avenged his father shall make the poison to retreat. That which is in the mouth of Ra shall circulate, and the tongue of the Great God shall overcome [opposition]. The Boat of Ra standeth still and moveth not, and the Disk (i.e. the Sun-god) is in the place where it was yesterday to heal Horus for his mother Isis. Come to earth, draw nigh, O Boat of Ra, O ye mariners of Ra; make the boat to move and convey food of the town of Sekhem (i.e. Letopolis) hither, to heal Horus for his mother Isis. ... Come to earth, O poison! I am Thoth, the firstborn son, the son of Ra. Tem and the company of the gods have commanded me to heal Horus for his mother Isis. O Horus, Horus, thy Ka pro- [p.92] tecteth thee, and thy Image worketh protection for thee. The poison is as the daughter of its own flame; it is destroyed because it smote the strong son. Your temples are safe, for Horus liveth for his mother." Then the child Horus returned to life, to the great joy of his mother, and Thoth went back to the Boat of Millions of Years, which at once proceeded on its majestic course, and all the gods from one end of heaven to the other rejoiced. Isis entreated either Ra or Thoth that Horus might be nursed and brought up by the goddesses of the town of Pe-Tep, or Buto, in the Delta, and at once Thoth committed the child to their care, and instructed them about his future. Horus grew up in Buto under their protection, and in due course fought a duel with Set, and vanquished him, and so avenged the wrong done to his father by Set.