4 min reading time – 805 words
- Who is the god Anubis?
- Who are the parents of Anubis?
- What is the role of Anubis?
- The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Who is the god Anubis?
Anubis is the Egyptian name for a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. Anubis is a psychopompe god, i.e. a god who helps and accompanies the deceased towards their new destiny in the world beyond.
In the ancient Greek language, Anubis is known as Inpu, (variously spelled Anupu, Ienpw etc.).
The earliest known mention of Anubis can be found in the texts of the pyramids of the Old Kingdom, where he is associated with the burial of the king. At that time, Anubis was the most important god of the dead, but he was replaced during the Middle Kingdom by Osiris. He takes different names in relation to his funerary role, such as “he who is on his mountain”, which emphasizes his importance as protector of the dead and their graves, and the title “he who is at the embalming place”, associating him with the process of mummification.
Who are the parents of Anubis?
Anubis was the son of Osiris, the god of the underworld, and of Nephthys, the sister and wife of Set. One night, Nephthys and Isis deceived Osiris. Nephthys never loved Seth, but she always had a “penchant” for Osiris. Since Nephthys and Isis were twins, they managed to deceive Osiris so that he would sleep with Nephthys one night instead of Isis, which gave birth to Anubis. Kebechet is presented as the daughter of Anubis in some places.
Following the fusion of the belief systems of the Ennead and the Ogdoad, following the identification of Atum with Ra, and their compatibility, Anubis became an inferior god in the underworld, giving way to Osiris (more popular during the Middle Kingdom). However, Anubis received a place in the family of gods as the son of Osiris and Nephthys, and in this role he helped Isis to mummify her dead father.
What is the role of Anubis?
Like many deities of ancient Egypt, Anubis assumed different roles in various contexts, and no public procession in Egypt would be conducted without an Anubis walking at its head.
Lord of the Necropolises
Anubis was the god who protected the dead and brought them to the afterlife. He was usually depicted as a half-human, half-horse or jackal-shaped being, wearing a ribbon and holding a flail in the crook of his arm. The jackal was strongly associated with the cemeteries of ancient Egypt because it was a scavenger that threatened to uncover human bodies and eat their flesh. The Egyptian jackal, which was the inspiration of the Egyptian god Anubis, is in fact not a jackal at all but a member of the wolf family.
The characteristic black colour of Anubis had nothing to do with the jackal, per se, but with the colour of the decaying flesh and the black earth of the Nile valley, symbolizing rebirth.
Protector of the embalmers
When the myth of Osiris and Isis first appeared, it was said that when Osiris died, the organs of Osiris were given to Anubis as a gift. In this context, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers: during the funeral rites of mummification, the illustrations in the Book of the Dead often show a priest wearing the mask of a jackal supporting the standing mummy.
God of embalming
Anubis is represented in funerary contexts where he is seen caring for the mummies of the deceased or sitting on a grave to protect it. He assured her: food and burial descent. In fact, during embalming, the “chief embalmer” wore a costume of Anubis.
God of the dead
The scene of the weighing of the heart in the Book of the Dead also shows Anubis performing the measurement that determined the ability of the deceased to enter the realm of the dead (the underworld). The seals of the New Kingdom tombs also depict Anubis at the top of nine arches that symbolize his domination over the enemies of Egypt.
Guardian of the Underworld
Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was the god of the underworld. It was said that he had a woman, Anput (which was in fact only his feminine aspect, her name being his with an additional feminine suffix: the t), who was represented in exactly the same way, although feminine. He would also have taken as his wife the feminine form of Neheb Kau, Nehebka, and Kebechet, the goddess of the purification of bodily organs specially placed in canopic vases during mummification.
The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
One of the greatest science fiction/fantasy novels ever published, The Gates of Anubis, based on literary history, lycanthropy, the Knights Templar and a strange series of characters, is one of the most original and memorable time travel stories ever published. It won the 1983 Philip K. Dick Award for Best Original Science Fiction Paperback.
Tim Powers is also one of the most popular authors of all genres. Many consider this novel to be his masterpiece. In fact, the book is considered one of the founding novels of the steampunk genre. Indeed, although it is in principle a fantasy of time travel, it is included in the steampunk lists because of its setting – London in the 19th century.