The Adoration of Re
Hymn to the Rising Sun

"Hymn to Re when he rises."
 from the Papyrus of Ani (ca.1250 BCE)

by Wim van den Dungen


The translation of The Adoration of Re is part of my Ancient Egyptian Readings (2017), a POD publication in paperback format of all translations available at maat.sofiatopia.org. These readings span a period of thirteen centuries, covering all important stages of Ancient Egyptian literature. Translated from Egyptian originals, they are ordered chronologically and were considered by the Egyptians as part of the core of their vast literature.

The study of the sources, hieroglyphs, commentaries and pictures situating the text itself remain on the website at no cost.


1. Sources : Papyrus of Ani.
2. The Book of the Dead.
3. The Papyrus of the Adoration of Re.
4. Hieroglyphs of the Hymn.
5. English Translation of the Hymn.
6. Commentary.


1. The Sources


The Papyrus of Ani, found at Thebes, written in cursive hieroglyphs and illustrated with color vignettes, was purchased by the Trustees of the British Museum run by Sir E.A.Wallis Budge in 1888, where it remains today in the Department of Egyptian Antiquities. The material itself has three layers of papyrus, provided by plants measuring 4.5 inches in the stalks. When unrolled, it became darker and certain sections shrunk.

Apparently written by at least three scribes, the vignettes call for fewer artists. The titles of the chapters, rubrics, catch-phrases etc. are in red. At times the text crowds because the artist occupied too much space. The vignettes were probably drawn before the text was written. The different section of the papyrus were not all originally written for Ani, , for in several places his name is entered by a later hand. Such additions do not occur in the first 16 feet and 4 inches. The text has errors, like two copies of a chapter.

For obvious reasons, the original 3200-year-old papyrus cannot be studied. Photographs of it were published as Dondelinger, E. (edit) : Codices Selecti, Akademische Druck & Verlagsanstalt - Graz, vol. LXII, 1976. The first full-color facsimile was published by Sir Peter Le Page Renouf in 1890. Budge published a corrected hieroglyphic edition without vignettes in 1895 and 1910. A reproduction in a single volume of the original facsimile edition, with hieroglyphic text and vignettes together once more, was published by Chronicle Books in 1994 & 1998. Translations were by Faulkner, with minor changes added by Goelet (Faulkner died before finishing his work on the Book of the Dead).

The Papyrus of Ani is undated and no facts concerning the life of Ani are given. We know he was a scribe, an accountant and an overseer of the granary at Thebes. Ani probably lived during the XIXth Dynasty (ca. 1292 - 1188 BCE), but earlier dates have been suggested (ca. 1450 BCE). But as in the XVIIIth Dynasty, N23 tends to be replaced by N21 (cf. Gardiner, Sign-list), and the latter is found in the text, an early XIXth Dynasty dating seems appropriate.

Ani's official, full title was :

"Royal Scribe ! True Scribe ! Accountant of the Divine Offerings of all the gods. Overseer of the Granary of the Lords of Abydos. Scribe of the Divine Offerings of the Lords of Thebes."

The Papyrus of Ani is the most beautifully illuminated surviving ancient papyrus and contains one of the many versions of the Ancient Egyptian "prt m hrw",
"peret-em-heru" or "The Book of Coming Out by Day", containing spells mainly used for mortuary purposes, in particular the Judgment of the Dead, but also for various magical operations in this-life (like protection, morality) & the afterlife (like transformations & ascensions).

The original Papyrus of Ani measured 78 feet long by 1 foot 3 inches deep. Unfortunately, Wallis Budge -in tune with the mentality of the majority of his peers at large- cut the original using the "yardstick" method, dividing it into thirty-seven sheets of relatively even length, thus disfiguring the flow of the original scroll. By today's standards, keeping the smallest item intact, such rough handling can no longer be appreciated. Only one of these thirty-seven segments lacks a vignette of some kind, while most have vignettes spanning the whole height of the papyrus.


2 The Book of the Dead


The Book of the Dead is a group of so-called "mortuary spells", mostly written on papyrus. At least 24 manuscripts are extant, with considerable variations between them. The earliest were found on mummy cloths and coffins of the beginning of the New Kingdom (ca. 1539 - 1075 BCE), but the book remained popular during the Third Intermediate Period (ca. 1075 - 664) and the Late Period (664 - 30 BCE). The collection circulated throughout Egypt, with Thebes at the head. Beginning with the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (ca. 1479 - 1426 BCE), spells began to be used by officials and commoners alike. The Papyrus of Ani, besides being one of the most complete of its kind, is famous for its exquisite vignettes. Willem Pleyte, Naville, Budge, Allen (who published a list of all extant manuscripts) and others have identified new Chapters, bringing the present number of extant Chapters of the Book of the Dead at 192.

The origins of this book can be traced to the Pyramid Texts, appearing at the end of the Fifth Dynasty (ca. 2400 BCE). These texts were solely for the benefit of the royals. A few centuries later, these spells were adapted for private use and incorporated into a group of new spells, the Coffin Texts, to be employed by anyone who could afford a sarcophagus. By the Early New Kingdom (ca. 1550 BCE), these texts were slowly replaced by the spells known today as the Book of the Dead.

In 1842, Lepsius published the lengthy and well-illustrated Turin Ptolemaic Papyrus of Iuwefankh as "Totenbuch", fixating the title and the numbering of the chapters in use to this day. The Ancient Egyptians called this collection, with its ever-changing and recombined sections, "The Book of Coming Out by Day", after the heading of Chapter 1, often preferred at the beginning (cf. "peret-em-heru").

"Here begin the praises and glorifications,
going out and in the domain of god,
having benefit in the beautiful West,
coming out by day,
taking any shape he likes,
playing at Senet, sitting in a booth,
and coming out as a living soul.
After he has arrived in port, 
Osiris, the scribe Ani, said :
'It is beneficial to him
who does it on Earth.'"

Book of the Dead, Chapter 17 (Ani & Nebseni), my italics.

This apt title covers the main theme of the collection : entering the Land of the Dead, the Kingdom of Osiris through the Western Gate, descending into the darkness of this supreme Lunar deity, actually coming out into the light of the Night Sun. In the Amduat, the Twelve Hours of the night regenerate the depleted life-force of Re. But here, the deceased enters the Duat to be "justified", i.e. vindicated and thus worthy to become a servant of Osiris, enjoying the Light of Re as he travels on his bark in the Land of the Dead. In order to be justified, on had to pass the Judgment of the Dead. This Weighing Scene, balancing the heart with the Feather of Truth, plays therefore the central role in the book. Let us look at it in some detail.

Papyrus of Ani, Plate 3.

TRANSLATION

(the hieroglyphs start above the "meskhen" and face right) :
"Osiris, the scribe Ani, said : 'O my heart which I had from my mother ! O my heart which I had from mother ! O my heart of my different ages ! May there be nothing to resist me at the judgment. May there be no opposition to me from the assessors. May there be no parting of You from me in the presence of him who keeps the scales ! You are my Ka within my body, which formed and strengthened my limbs. May You come forth to the place of happiness whereto I advance. May the entourage not cause my name to stink, and may no lies be spoken against me in the presence of the god ! It is indeed well that You should hear !'"

(Anubis watches a small text-line facing left) :
"Said he that is in the tomb : 'Pay attention to the decision of truth and the plummet of the balance, according to its stance !'" 

(the second part starts just above the right-hand beam of the balance, faced by the Baboon", hieroglyphs facing left) :
"Said Thoth, the righteous judge, to the Great Ennead, which is in the presence of Osiris : 'Hear ye, this decision, in very truth ! The heart of Osiris has been weighed and his Ba stands as a witness for him. His deeds are righteous in the Great Balance, and no sin had been found in him. He did not diminish the offerings in the temples, he did not destroy what had been made, he did not go about with deceitful speech while he was on earth.'"

(the third large section starts in the far right corner, facing right) :
"Said the Great Ennead of Thoth, who is in Hermopolis : 'That which comes forth from your mouth is true. The vindicated Osiris, the scribe Ani, is righteous. He has no sin, there is no accusation against him before us. Amemet {the eater of the dead, executing the second death} shall not be permitted to have power over him. Let there be given to him the offerings which are issued in the presence of Osiris, and may a grant of land be establised in the Sekhet-Hetepu {the Field of Offerings} like for the followers of Horus.'"

In this famous scene from the Papyrus of Ani, Ani and his wife enter the Hall of the Double Law or Double Truth (divine versus human - good versus evil - eternal life versus second death, etc.) to have Ani's heart, emblematic of conscience, weighed against the Feather of Maat, emblematic of truth & justice.

On the left of the balance, facing Anubis, stands Ani's "Shay" ("SAii") or "Destiny". Above Ani's Destiny is an object called "meskhen" ("msxn"), a cubit with a human head connected with Ani's place of birth. Behind "Shay" stand "Meskhenet", presiding over the birth-chamber, and "Renenet", guiding the rearing of children and called "Lady of Justification" (cf. the Litany of Re). Above them (behind the "meskhen") is the Ba of Ani in the form of a human-headed bird standing on a pylon. This left side summarizes the various elements constituting Ani's life on earth : 

  • where he was born (nature) and how he was raised (nurture) ;

  • the destiny allotted to him : "what is fated" (Ptahhotep - Maxims 12 & 33 - Amenemope, chapter 7) : Shay is also the god of the span of years and the prosperity one may expect to enjoy - note the "meskhen" floats above Ani's destiny (indeed, where one was born influences one's destiny) ;

  • Ani's heart () : the epicentre of the whole scene, symbolizing Ani's thoughts, intentions and conscience during his lifetime on earth ;

  • Ani's Ba : during his lifetime, his soul was captured by the "net of the body" and it made Ani happy if he invested in enduring thoughts & deeds in accord with Maat - after the mummification of the body, the Ba exists in a "spiritual body" (the "sah") and witnessed the weighing, of which the final direction of the lower constitutents of Ani depend (either a second death or a vindication).

On the right of the balance, the left arm of Anubis is above Maat's Feather (his tumb pointing to the words "the heart of Osiris has been weighed") while his right hand touches the plummet of the balance (at the end of the plumb-line). On the centre of the beam of the balance sits a dog-headed ape (Baboon), facing Thoth the recorder (who stands at Anubis' right side with the Monster of the Netherworld behind him). Beneath the right beam we find these words (spoken by Anubis, watching the pumb-line) :

"Said he that is in the tomb : 
'Pay attention to the decision of truth
and the plummet of the balance, according to its stance !'"

This exhortation summarizes the practice of wisdom found in Ancient Egypt, as well as its philosophy of well-being and art of living happily & light-heartedly (for the outcome of the weighing is determined by the condition of the heart alone). In this short sentence, their "practical method" springs to the fore : concentration, observation, quantification (analysis, spatiotemporal flow, measurements) & recording (fixating) with the sole purpose of rebalancing, reequilibrating & correcting concrete states of affairs, using the plumb-line of the various equilibria in which these actual aggregates of events are dynamically -scale-wise- involved, causing Maat to be done for them and their environments and the proper Ka, at peace with itself, to flow between all vital parts of creation. The "logic" behind this operation involves four rules : 

  1. inversion : when a concept is introduced, its opposite is also invoked (the two scale of the balance) ;

  2. asymmetry : flow is the outcome of inequality (the feather-scale of the balance is a priori correct) ;

  3. reciprocity : the two sides of everything interact and are interdependent (the beam of the balance) ;

  4. multiplicity-in-oneness : the possibilities between every pair are measured by one standard (the plummet).

Above, in another register, are twelve gods, upon thrones before a table of offerings of fruit, flowers, etc. Their names : Harmachis ("the great one within his boat"), Atum, Shu, Tefnut ("Lady of the sky"), Geb, Nut, Isis, Nephthys, Horus ("the great god"), Hathor ("Lady of Amenta"), Hu (authoritative utterance) and Sia (understanding). In a way, they represent the heavenly bliss awaiting the justified in the Kingdom of Osiris. Whether this final goal will be attained, will be decided in this Hall of Truth.

Other visual dispositions of the same concept may be found, but the vignette of the Papyrus of Ani outweighs them all qua beauty & excellence.

Various Weighing Scenes :
Papyrus BM 9901, Papyrus BM 10.472, Papyrus of Qenna, Wooden Ushabti Box.

The central emblem is Maat's Feather. It represents the standard of truth & justice immanent in creation, but also the truth of the Declaration of Innocence made by the deceased (Plate 31) before the tribunal of assessors (the hieroglyph for "not" is in red), and thus by virtue of the rule of "reversal", a "purging" of possible past crimes. Three offences are repeated in the Judgment Scene :

  • never to diminish the offerings made to the temples (against the Pantheon & the people) ;

  • never to destroy what had been made (against the memorial of the ancestors) ;

  • never to speak deceitfully (against truth & righteousness).

Wat does the text give us ? It starts with Ani invoking his own conscience but also his mother, from whom he received his heart (cf. the major role of woman in nurture, but also as representing the sacred "matrix" of life). We also learn his heart was linked with the Ka "within the body", the vital power making and sustaining one's stride. Next, Anubis weighs Ani's heart against the divine standard (the Feather) and Thoth confirms no sin is found and the equilibrium of the Great Balance is established. Finally, the Ogdoad of Hermopolis (headed by Thoth), confirms the sentence spoken and recorded by Thoth and it is they -the chaos-gods- who lift the curse of the Monster or Ani's "second death". Instead of being annihilated, Ani will be allowed to enter the kingdom of Osiris because he is "maa-cheru" ("mAa - xrw"), i.e. vindicated, triumphant and justified !

What was the meaning of this afterlife scene to those still alive ? The importance given to the heart could not be missed : it is a person's conscience, determined by what he said (wrote) and did (how he lived), which was deemed crucial. As Ptahhotep taught, just speech is the heart of a wise transference of the best of the past to the best of today for the sake of the future (so the memorial of the ancestors remains), as well as of the continuous progress made over the generations. If we study Egypt's sapiental literature, we do not encounter the notion a person may be vindicated during his or her lifetime on earth. On the contrary, in the Old Kingdom, a non-royal could only hope to endure without being immortalized. The sage was always in the process of attaining the state of veneration, except when his vital force left his physical vehicle. Then and only then could veneration be a final station (a terminus). Although since the Middle Kingdom, deceased commoners could be immortalized and deified as "Osiris-NN", nobody attained this state during his or her lifetime. Only Pharaoh was a living god on earth. Hence, even during his lifetime, Pharaoh was "justified", for he "lived in Maat".

The weighing procedure invoked in this scene, is -ex hypothesi- not restricted to the afterlife (were it appears as the final "balance-sheet" of the deceased). The sapiental discourses make it clear that in every situation, the Egyptian wise seeks to do Maat, and does it by "measuring" the scale of the imbalance in order to restore the Eye of Horus and bring it to the forehead (i.e. realize a "tertium comparationis"). This to harmonize life and end strife in Pharaoh's name, he who guaranteed the unity of the Two Lands by returning Maat as voice-offering to his father Re. First comes a careful, concrete investigation of what is at hand, in order to discover its "balance", i.e. the two factors which allow the energy of the "Ka" to flow (from high to low) and animate the given context. Next there is the restoration by striking the "nil", the true balancing-point of the beam, arrived at when the difference between the two weights is naught. Indeed, the sinuous waters go up and down and when this flood equilibrates (not too much and not too little), the inundation is perfect and the surplus large. The wise has always enough reserves to compensate for any imbalance ... At the balancing-point, Maat is brought at the nose of Atum ...

The wise of Ancient Egypt made the poise of the balance of truth & justice rest upon the vastness of the non-equilibrium (chaos) constantly treatening the survival of the cosmos. They knew this reclaiming of life by death to be of no avail if at every movement of the rudder, the boatman knows how to balance the bark and master the waters, whether he be travelling on earth or on the Nile of the netherworld. His commanding excellence made his bark float upon the chaotic ocean. His just word was the primodial hill, or the emergence of order out of chaos and the making of the beam of the balance that kept the two scales together and separated, allowing one to "walk upon the waters", using the surface-tensions of their chaos itself ...

Indeed, throughout the Book of the Dead, the heart appears in the context of being without blame, in harmony with Maat. When the physical body dies, the heart is left in the mummy, for in the afterlife, immediately after the mummy has been reactivated by Ritual of Opening the Mouth, it was weighed against the Feather of Maat. The deceased does not wish to loose his or her heart after judgment, for the "ib" was the seat of the "Ba". As a heart found to be heavier than the Feather of Maat was recycled, various protective spells were written in the tomb, on the coffin or inscribed on amulets placed in the mummy's wrappings. Often a Scarab Beetle, representing Khepri or Khepera, the resurrected Sun-god, was placed on the heart itself.

the soul released from the mummy

At first, the vignette, or a symbolic representation summarizing the intent or content of a spell in concise pictorial form, was used for emphasis. By the Ramesside Period, only few spells had no vignette. In the Late Period, the vignette was used as abbreviation for an entire spell, without accompanying text. These spells are a continuation of the Coffin Texts, available to everyone who was someone. They remained also in use in royal tombs, namely on tomb furnishings.

The book provisioned and protected the deceased. The "Judgement of the Dead" or justification by the tribunal of the gods (of Osiris) is its central theme. As nobody entered the next world ("Duat") spotless, some spells magically purged the deceased of his or her sin. Most magical spells affirm the deceased to be "true of voice", i.e. found worthy at the Weighing of the Heart. Damnation being the result of those who's heart was too heavy.

"As for him who knows this chapter, he will be a worthy spirit in the domain of god, and he will not die again in the realm of the dead, and he will eat in the presence of Osiris. As for him who knows it on Earth, he will be like Thoth, he will be worshipped by the living, he will not fall to the power of the king or the hot rage of Bastet, and he will proceed to a very happy old age."
Book of the Dead, chapter 135.

As with the Pyramid Texts, we cannot exclude this-life rituals entering the collection. The fact these spells are "beneficial to him who does it on Earth" should perhaps be taken literally. In the course of their lifetime preparation for their meeting face to face with Osiris, the Egyptian priests must have gone through various degrees of initiation (reflected in the areas of the temple they could access). These involved "seeing" Osiris in his tomb (cf. the Osireon of Seti I and seeing = being).


"Follow the god as far as his place,
in his tomb which is found at the entrance of the cavern.
Anubis sanctifies the hidden mystery of Osiris,
(in) the sacred valley of the Lord of Life.
The mysterious initiation of the Lord of Abydos !"
Griffith, tomb I, 238, lines 238-239, ca.XIIth Dynasty.

If they knew the book on Earth, they were like Thoth, worshipped by the living, and enjoying a happy old age.

"I am a priest knowledgeable of the mystery,
who's chest never lets go what he has seen !" 
Chassinat, 1966, pp.11-12.


3 The Papyrus of the Adoration of Re


Papyrus of Ani : hymn : the Adoration of Re (beginning)

The text of the Adoration of Re starts with the title of the piece and its author in the right upper corner :

The vignette is a symbolic representation of the intent of a spell in a concise pictorial form. This complements the text. Here, the vignette depicts the "Two Ladies", namely Isis and Nephthys, the traditional mother-deities already figuring in the earliest texts (cf. The Pyramid Texts of Unas). Their presence in this oldest religious corpus underlines the assimilation of the Neolithic Great Mother Goddess by the divine king, the Follower of Horus and the Son of Re. Nevertheless, just as the political power of the female side of the "Great House" was unmistaken throughout the long history of Pharaonic Egypt, these mother-deities remain part of the iconography of the divine king and part of the mortuary liturgy of non-royals (cf. Ani is depicted together with his wife). This mutual interdependence of Solar and Lunar symbols is the core of Ancient Egyptian soteriological concerns. With Dynastic Egypt, the Solar power was overt, the Lunar power concealed. But as all things hidden (the Nun, the Amduat of Osiris, the Lunar), it remained potent and everlastingly present as the hidden matrix nurturing nature and the Nile flood.

The "Two Ladies" are part of the myth of Osiris, providing pivotal help by lamenting his death, seeking his parts, rejuvenating him, nurturing Horus the Child, etc. Here, we see them in the moment of worshipping the symbol of an Ankh birthing a Sun Disk, symbol of the renewal of Re's life-force, mounted upon a Djet Pillar, representing the everlasting stability offered by Osiris by virtue of the nocturnal & Lunar passage from West to East (cf. the "Books of the Underworld"). The "new" life in question is the renewal of the Sun in the "akhet", the Eastern horizon, as represented by the six Baboons (representing Thoth), shouting at the rising Sun.

The emblem represents the synthesis of the Solar (Re) and Lunar (Osiris) orders of Ancient Egyptian soteriology :

  1. STARTING WITH THE MOON : the (lower) sky of Osiris (the Eye of Horus) : the ultimate state of human blessedness is to live the life of an "Osiris NN", with a court, humbling servants and a kingdom situated in the vast darkness of the Duat (like creation is a bubble of moist air suspended in chaos). Even the smallest offer made with a sincere heart during earthly life might be enough to be helped by Isis or Osiris, and so the commoners made sure the holy family noticed them. This economy is inclusive of everyman, but conditional. The only exception to it was Pharaoh ;

  2. ENDING IN THE SUN : the (upper) sky of Re (the Eye of Re) : the sky of Osiris and the sky of Re are proximate, and after the highest spirituality of servitude has been fulfilled, the "Ba" or soul of the deceased is transformed, in the horizon, into an "Akh" or spirit of Re, sailing, among the other pure beings of light, on the Bark of Re, illuminating the beings of day and night, including the deities and the justified blessed dead of Osiris (who otherwise sleep). The sacred knowledge regarding this spiritual evolution was for the very few and, when first written down, portrayed in the tomb of kings only. This economy is exclusive of everyman, reserved to the deities (as the king and his high priests) and unconditional.

Papyrus of Ani : the Adoration of Re (end)
"May my name be proclaimed when found upon the board of offerings ;
may my food offerings be given in my presence like (to) the Followers of Horus."

The vignette depicts Ani and his wife, offering to the gods before a board of offerings.


4 The Hieroglyphs of the Hymn




The Adoration of Re
Early XIXth Dynasty - ca.1250 BCE


The translation of The Adoration of Re is part of my Ancient Egyptian Readings (2017), a POD publication in paperback format of all translations available at maat.sofiatopia.org. These readings span a period of thirteen centuries, covering all important stages of Ancient Egyptian literature. Translated from Egyptian originals, they are ordered chronologically and were considered by the Egyptians as part of the core of their vast literature.

The study of the sources, hieroglyphs, commentaries and pictures situating the text itself remain on the website at no cost.


 


6 Commentary


The title and the author are first mentioned. Ani is called "the Osiris scribe". This refers to the fact the Papyrus of Ani is a magical document, supposed to guarantee -de opere operato- the justification of the deceased. Hence, the text assumes Ani already to be an "Osiris", i.e. justified, vindicated, "true of voice", one who passed the judgment of the balance, his heart not being heavier than the Feather of Maat. He is a "scribe of the holy offering", pointing to his worldly position as accountant, keeping track of the granary of the Lords of Thebes.

Re is saluted as Khepri, the creator of the gods. Khepri is the self-created aspect of Atum-Re as it appears at dawn (cf. the 12th Hour of the Amduat). The beetle pushing a ball of dung was seen as an equivalent of the Sun traversing the sky. Bi-sexual Atum creating himself (on the "first occurrence" or "zep tepi"), splits into Shu and Tefnut, the primordial couple engendering the Heliopolitan Ennead.

The Heliopolitan Ennead :
Atum - Shu - Tefnut - Geb - Nut - Osiris - Isis - Seth - Nephthys

Throughout the hymn, the New Solar Theology, which led to Atenism, is felt. Although the constellational view on the Pantheon remained, the Sun is clearly placed at the centre, heading all Enneads or major local companies of deities (cf. the "paut" of Heliopolis, Memphis, Hermopolis, Abydos & Thebes). The henotheism tentatively present in the Heliopolitan theology of the Old Kingdom (and replacing the polytheism of the pre-Dynastic Period), is now the official theology of the Pharaonic State. The other deities are manifestations (faces) of the sole creator deity, Re. In the Hymns to Amun, the "King of the Gods" is called "one, hidden and millions". He is before and above all other deities. He is the One who was, is and shall be. Except for numerical singularity, this concept of deity comes very close to monotheism, for Amun is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient.

The Ancient Egyptians visualized a universal mountain, split into a western peak ("Manu") and an eastern peak ("Bakhu"). These served as the supports for heaven ("pet"). The ends of this Great Earth Mountain were guarded by Lion deities protecting the rising (East) and setting (West) Sun and were sometimes portrayed as part of the cosmic mountain itself. So when the Sun sets in the West, the "mountains of Manu" receive Re "in peace", whereas "in all seasons" (the three seasons of the agricultural year, as well as the nocturnal and diurnal Solar arc), the great principle of truth, righteousness and cosmic order, Maat, embraces him.

The eternal return (recurrence) of the diurnal & nocturnal movement of the Sun got associated with the stability of the cosmic order represented by Maat. Of all phenomena (chaotic and cosmic), Solar dynamism was deemed the most reliable and foundational. Hence, the life-force itself depended on Atum-Re, and the circulation of this force, linked to the heart, resulted in life, strength (prosperity) and health. The Weighing Scene is therefore in the first place a control of the distribution of this force, checking whether during one's life on Earth, life-inimical or life-nurturing ways were preferred. Is one's heart too heavy or in accord with Maat ?

Re is beseeched to give "splendour and power in vindication" to the "Ka of the Osiris scribe Ani", said to be "true of voice", i.e. justified, before Osiris. It is the Ka or Double of Ani who gratifies Ani's soul or Ba, the active principle being transformed into an Akh or spirit. So by offering these words as a voice-offering, Ani's Ka is replenished and thus able to gratify his Ba, triggering the latter's transformation. Re is also asked to aid in this transformation of Ani's Ba, becoming a "living soul" seeing the Solar deity presiding over the entry and exit points of the nocturnal voyage of Re, namely Herakhety, Horus of the Double Horizon, i.e. Horus of the Eastern and Western Horizon.

This request for help summarizes another intent, for not only is Osiris Ani "true of voice", but also prepared to see and thus exist, as a Horus, with Re himself ! Osiris Ani not only wishes to fulfill the requirements of the Lunar order (a place in the Land of Vindication), but also seeks a place in the "Solar bark", to be with Re. This double intent is also found in the Pyramid Texts, where the divine king first identifies with Osiris (burial chamber) and then ascends to the sky to escort Re (ante-chamber).

This unification of the two soteriological orders is remarkable. In the Old Kingdom (ca. 2670 - 2205 BCE), a tension persisted between, on the one hand, the wet Lunar Osirian cycle of resurrection, calling for a complex & popular family-based myth, and, on the other hand, the dry Heliopolitan cycle of ascension, being a straightforward companionship with Re. The first was for commoners, the second for royals. In the first the justified deceased became a Lunar spirit serving Osiris in his kingdom. In the second, ascension would transform the Ba of the deceased into a Solar spirit, one escorting Re.

Re and Osiris each exercised their own judicial power, and although Re is the creator of the gods and most powerful, he cannot interfere in the realm of darkness. This state of affairs, so the Book of the Heavenly Cow explains, is the result of Re's withdrawal into his own sky. Likewise, Osiris cannot escape the Duat and so has no power over Re as soon as the latter has risen. The Pyramid Texts contains passages alluding to a time when Osiris was deemed hostile to the soteriology of Re. Indeed, in these texts the complete integration of Re and Osiris (finalized in the Middle Kingdom, ca. 1938 - 1759  BCE) was not yet realized.

"May Osiris not come with his evil coming. Do not open your arms to him ..."
Pyramid Texts, § 1267, utterance 534.

With Osiris understood as the "Sun of the night", both deities were unified. As after the Old Kingdom the divine role of the king remained largely political but less theological (each individual being in charge of his or her own "heart" or spiritual destiny), the order of Re lost its exclusivity. In the New Kingdom, commoners, like the scribe Ani, aspired companionship with Re.

Osiris Ani prays all deities to praise Re. Being vindicated by the "weighers of heaven and earth in the balance", the justified Ani already received "food and sustenance", as the second vignette suggests. He now addresses the deities of all cardinal directions as well as Tatenen, who created humanity, asking them to praise and adore the beauty of the renewed Re, ascending in the Bark of the Morning. We also read the famous salutation-formula : "Life ! Strength ! Health !", pointing to the fact the life-force in all its divine facets originates in the Sun. This celebration of the beauty of Re reminds of the Great Hymn to the Aten :

"Splendid You rise in the lightland of the sky,
O living Aten, creator of life !
You have dawned in the eastern lightland.
You fill every land with your beauty."

Great Hymn to the Aten, 1-4.

His address aims at the deities of heaven (above) and earth (below). Thoth and Maat, often together as a couple, are preeminently deities presiding over the activities of the scribe. Thoth represents writing, whereas Maat truth. Both act as "recorders", taking note of the enlightened activities of Re (in the Pyramid Texts of Unas -spell 167-, we see Sia, or understanding, taking care of the divine scroll, whereas in the Amduat, Maat is often seen at the prow or in front of the Solar bark).

As in the 7th Hour of the Night, the arch-enemy of Re, the giant snake Apep, representing cosmic chaos, is fallen & fettered. His associates are being given over to the fire-pits, while the "sons of impotent revolt", namely the Followers of Seth, representing moral evil ("isefet"), are extinct. In other words, nothing hinders the course of Re. The evil powers of both soteriological orders are kept at bay.

The divine king rejoices when Re rises and floods the lands with his rays. The cycle of Re, entering the "Beautiful West" or the "land of Manu", and exiting the Duat by being reborn at dawn every day is in itself an eternal recurrent movement ("neheh"), an interconnected process. For all things are interrelated and cause and effect cannot be stopped :

"Beware of it ! With its like, a blow is repaid,
(and) to every action there is a response."

Instruction of Merikare, 261 - 262.

Re "arrives at his place of yesterday", meaning Re eternally returns to what he has done, is true to his activity and does not slacken his intent or pace. Omniscient, he is fully aware and remembers everything. Witnessing this is indeed cause for great joy, for creation is full of change and unexpected events, both cosmically (Apep) as morally (Seth). The cosmic order is often in disarray, while moral evil is very common.

"To whom shall I speak today ? 
Hearts are greedy,
there is no heart to put one's trust in.

To whom shall I speak today ?
Gone are the just.
The land is left over to the evildoers."

The Discourse of a Man to his Ba, 120.

Not so with Re. He sets and rises and one may trust this to continue eternally ...


Papyrus of Ani - Plate 4
The Osiris Scribe Ani, Osiris, Isis & Nephthys.

Here Osiris Ani utters a series of pious requests.

He hopes Re is satisfied with him, so he may see (and thus be like) him and continue to be in contact with those on earth. He wants to destroy the evil ones, those trying to hinder the work of Re. He wants to drive them off and catch them precisely when they try to their harm. As Abdju fish act as pilots for Ra on his Solar bark travelling through the underworld, warning of the approach of Apep, Osiris Ani wants to see them in time, so he can assist Re in fettering Apep. He wants to have the acute eye-sight of Horus, assisted by supreme knowledge (Thoth) and righteousness (Maat). He hopes to work on the two barks of Re every day, being with him at night, seeing the Moon, and during the day, seeing the Solar Disk, the Aten. He asks for his Ba to be free to move wherever it pleases and offers his name ("ren") to the deities. He himself seeks to receive food offerings as if he were a Follower of Horus, one of the early divine kings ! Finally, as an apotheosis, Osiris Ani seeks a seat in the Solar bark. In this way he will be with Re for ever while being received in the presence of Osiris. As his Ba is free, no conflict between the two soteriological orders prevails, and Ani is as much a citizen of the Kingdom of the Night as someone escorting the Lord of Light. No tension between Re and Osiris is felt. On the contrary, a sublime coincidentio oppositorum is invoked !

These last verses thus parallel the intent of Pharaoh Wenis (ca. 2378 - 2348 BCE) as found in the last spell of the texts found in his tomb :

"O You (ferryman) with the back of his head behind him, bring to King Unas Seferet-hetepet which is on the back of Osiris, (so) that King Unas may ascend on it to the sky and King Unas may escort Re in the sky."
Pyramid Texts of Unas, spell 232, the last spell of the corpus - corridor East wall.

Finally, the very last verse repeats what we know. The Adoration of Re is a voice-offering to the Ka of Ani. Every time it is read, its magic endures and Ani's Double is reinforced by the life-force generated by the "heka" or magic of these words. Thus the dynamism of his Ba is secured and Osiris Ani continues to travel with Re and see Osiris every day !


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Antwerp, 2017.