Osiris, King of the Afterlife, Dyn. 22

Osiris, King of the Afterlife, Dyn. 22
Period:Egypt, 3rd Intermediate Period, Dynasty 22
Dating:945 BC–712 BC
Origin:Egypt, Lower Egypt, Tanis [Avaris]
Physical:15.4cm. (6 in.) - 575 g. (20.3 oz.)

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Links to others from Dynasty 22

Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 22
Bronze statuette of Bastet, Dyn. 22
Canopic chest of Rw-Bastet, Dyn. 22
Faience figurine of a king striding, Dyn. 22
Gilded bronze of Bastet, Dyn. 22
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 22
Pin finial, Goddess Bastet, Dyn. 22
Queen Karama as Goddess Neith, Dyn. 22
Sarcophagus for cat as Bastet, Dyn. 22
Shawabti of King Pami, Dyn. 22
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Shawabti of Sheshonq II (?) Dyn. 22, 890 BC
Statue pedestal of Osorkon II, Dyn. 22

Links to others representing Osiris

Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 18
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 22
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Shabaka ? as Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
King Ahmose II (?) as Osiris, Dynasty 26
King Amenemope (?) as Osiris, Dyn. 21
Osiris, King of the Afterlife, Dyn. 18
Osiris of an unknown king, Dyn. 18 (?)
Osiris with Djed pillar on back, Dyn. 26
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 18
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 22
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 25
Tall bronze Osiris, Ptolemaic Period

Links to others of type Statuette-man

Bacchus the child, Roman, 100 BC-200 AD
Bes in terra-cotta, Dyn. 27
Bronze athlete, Rome, 96-192 AD
Bronze Etruscan warrior, Etruria, 480 BC
Bronze Herakles, Etruria, 500 BC
Bronze Imhotep seated, Dyn. 25 (?)
Bronze ithyphallic god Bes, Ptolemaic
Bronze of a king as Nefertem, N.K.
Bronze of a king as Orisiris, Dyn. 18-19
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 18
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 22
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of a king as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Psamtik I as Osiris, Dyn. 26
Bronze of King Sethi I as Nefertem, Dyn. 19
Bronze of King Shabaka ? as Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze of Ptah, Memphis, Dyn. 25
Bronze ritual pendant of Osiris, Dyn. 25
Bronze Samnite gladiator, Rome, 30 BC-68 AD
Bronze statuette of Anhur, Dyn. 20
Bronze statuette of Ptah, Dyn. 25
Bust of Zeus, Macedonian Dynasty
Disrobing ephebe, Roman World, 50-300 AD
Enameled feathers of Amun, Dyn. 18
Gilded wooden statuette. Early Dynastic
God Bes as a Roman soldier 30 BC-200 AD
Head, realistic portrait in stone, Dyn 18
Horus-the-Child, 1070-774 BC
Horus-the-Child, Alexandria, 100-30 BC
Horus-the-Child, Alexandria, 304-30 BC
Horus-the-Child as a ruling king, Dyn. 18
Horus-the-Child as Amun, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn.19, 1300-1200 BC
Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 25, 776-656 BC
Horus-the-Child, heir to the king, Dyn. 26
Horus-the-Child, Ptolemaic, 200-100 BC
Horus-the-Child, Ptolemaic, 304-30 BC
Horus-the-Child riding a swan, 304-31 BC
Imhotep, vizier and architect of King Djoser
Ivory head of Emperor Constantine
King Ahmose II (?) as Osiris, Dynasty 26
King Amenemope (?) as Osiris, Dyn. 21
King Amenhotep II (?) as Amun-Re, Dyn. 18
King as Horus-the-Child, Dyn. 12
King Horemheb as Amun-Re, Dyn. 18
King Nekaw II as Horus-the-child, Dyn.26
Osiris, King of the Afterlife, Dyn. 18
Osiris of an unknown king, Dyn. 18 (?)
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 18
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 22
Osiris-Neper, god of agriculture, Dyn. 25
Porphyry statue of Alexander The Great
Pottery child head, Phoenicia, 1000-500 BC
Pottery silenus (satyr), Greece, 350-300 BC
Priest of Hapy, temple of Aswan, Dyn. 20
Ptah-Min of Memphis, Dyn. 20
Queen as Goddess Neith seated, Dyn. 25106

Ruling king as Khonsu, Dyn. 20
Sept, local prince of Nubia, Dyn. 12-13
Statue pedestal of Osorkon II, Dyn. 22
Statuette of a privileged man, Dyn. 18
Stone bust of a scribe, Dyn. 18
Stone head of a king, Dyn. 12
Stone statue of King Thutmose III, Dyn. 18
Tall bronze Osiris, Ptolemaic Period
Unfinished stone statue, Dyn. 19
Wood statue of Amenemhat II, Dyn. 12
Wood statue of King Smenkhkare, Dyn. 18
  The god Osiris is usually seen as a mummy, standing. Depicting Osiris seated, as he is here, conveys a particular meaning: that of a living and ruling Osiris. This bronze statuette portrays an unidentified king of Dynasty 22 as Osiris, Lord of Eternity ruling the after-life.

One of Egypt’s principal gods, Osiris was thought to rule over Duat (the Egyptian underworld), and sit in judgement of the life and deeds of the deceased, determining their chances for eternal rest: he was the ‘king of the dead’.

Ions (1968:54) hypothesizes that the cult of Osiris was originally brought to Egypt by Syrians (probably in predynastic times) as they settled in the delta town of Busiris, where the god Andjety was the dominant local god. There, it appears that Osiris was given the royal regalia (crook and flail) of Andjety and was worshipped as a local god of fertility, responsible for the success of crops. From these humble beginnings, Osiris rose to become one of the most prominent gods in the Egyptian pantheon.

By the end of Dynasty 5, the cult of Osiris may have reached such a level of popularity that the priests of Heliopolis, who up to then enjoyed complete control over national theological doctrine, felt a need to take counter-measures to remain in control of this newcoming god. Instead of trying to suppress him, they incorporated Osiris in the family of the solar god, limiting his prestige by making him a great grand-child of Atum. If their aim had been to curb the expansion of the Osirian cult, they were less than successful. Orisis would keep growing in importance by associating with other deities, eventually absorbing their powers and prerogatives.

"… his earliest appearance yet attested [is] on a block from the reign of King Izezy [Djedkare Izezi, penultimate king of Dynasty 5] which shows the head and part of the upper torso of a god, above whom are the hieroglyphic symbols of Osiris’s name" (Hart 1986:151). But depictions of Osiris remain rare until Dynasty 12 (Budge 1973:[1]31).

In earlier dynasties, the traditional dogma was that the king became a god—the God Horus—upon his coronation, then joined the God Re in his solar ship upon his death, and sailed the firmament for eternity. The next king would in turn become Horus. At some point during dynasty 5, the dogma changed radically, calling for the deceased king to become Osiris upon his death. Not only had the cult of Osiris reached national recognition, but it had become part of the very nature of kingship. Although this relationship between king and Osiris was a new development, the Egyptians sought to make it appear original. Indeed, the legend of Osiris places him as the ancestral king of Egypt.

There is some evidence that Old Kingdom kings were not completely at ease with this new tradition. "… sentiments can be found that reveal an apprehension or dread of the ruler of the Underworld. This reflects the underlying desire of the monarch to be with the sun-god in the sky as a visible phenomenon, rather than to dwell in the unknown and forbidding regions of Duat" (Hart 1986:154).

With the general ‘democratization of death,’ Middle Kingdom Egyptians started aspiring to become Osiris, like their king. But as earlier with kings, this hope remained tainted with dread. Osiris exerted on Egyptians an ambivalent fascination, commanding a respect that was partly rooted in fear and even disgust—"… in the Middle Kingdom, there exist in the Coffin Texts descriptions of Osiris that conjure up a picture of a threatening demon. He glories in slaughter, utters malignant spells against a dead person, and runs a ‘mafia’ consisting of executioners called ‘Osiris’s butcherers painful of fingers’ or ‘Osiris’s fishermen’" (Hart 1986:155).

With the New Kingdom—when a generally less somber outlook prevailed—the image of Osiris may have softened. The euphemisms multiplied, and the term "Osiris" came of use as a prefix to the name of deceased dignitaries, much like the term ‘late’ in modern English (as in ‘the late President Nixon’). He continued to absorb the attributes of other deities, and remained an increasingly prominent object of devotion until the end of the Egyptian culture.

Osiris is customarily represented as a mummified human, his body shrouded in bandages, except for his hands which hold the royal insignias of the crook and flail. His distinctive crown, called the Atef consists of a tall conical helmet resembling the crown of Upper Egypt, flanked by two tall plumes. The long, horizontal wavy horns of a now extinct breed of ram, are sometimes affixed to the base of the crown.

The legend of Osiris evolved constantly over 2500 years, spinning off many variants. One of the most complete, most entertaining, but perhaps least accurate, single version is that told by the Greek historian Plutarch.

"… On the first day Osiris was born, as he was delivered, a voice cried out that the Lord of All was coming to the light of day… the great king and benefactor, Osiris, had been born… On the second day, Horus the Elder was born, and on the third Seth was born, not in the right time or place, but bursting through with a blow, he leapt by his mother’s side. On the fourth day Isis was born, near very moist places, and on the fifth Nephtys… Nephtys married Seth, and Isis and Osiris, being in love with each other before even they were born, were united in the darkness of the womb… Horus the elder was the fruit of this union…

It is said that Osiris, when he was king, at once freed the Egyptians from their primitive and brutish manner of life; he showed them how to grow crops, established laws for them, and taught them to worship gods. Later, he civilized the whole world as he traversed through it, having very little need of arms, but winning over most people by beguiling them with persuasive speech together with all manner of song and poetry. That is why the Greeks thought he was the same as Dionysus.

When he was away, Seth in no way conspired against him, since Isis was well on guard and kept careful watch, but on his return he devised a plot against him, helped by seventy two fellow-conspirators plus an Ethiopian queen named Aso. Seth secretly measured the body of Osiris and had made to the corresponding size a beautiful chest which was exquisitely decorated. He brought the chest to a banquet, and when the guests showed pleasure and admiration at the sight of it, Seth promised playfully that whomever would lie down in it and show that he fitted it, should have the chest as a gift. They all tried one by one, and since no one fitted into it, Osiris went and laid down. The the conspirators ran and slammed the lid on, and after securing it with bolts from the outside and with molten lead poured on, they took it to the river and let it go to the sea. . .

When Isis heard of this, she cut off there and then one of her locks and put on a mourning garment… She learned that the chest had been cast up by the sea in the land of Byblos and that the surf had brought it gently to rest in a heath-tree. Having shot up in a short time into a most lovely and tall young tree, the heath enfolded the chest and grew around it, hiding it within itself. Admiring the size of the tree, the king cut off the part of the trunk which encompassed the coffin, which was not visible, and used it as a pillar to support the roof. They say that Isis heard of this through the divine breath of rumour and came to Byblos, where she sat down near a fountain, dejected and tearful. She spoke to no one but the queen’s maids, whom she greeted and welcomed, plaiting their hair, and breathing upon their skin a wonderful fragrance which emanated from herself. When the queen saw her maids, she was struck with longing for the stranger’s hair and for her skin, which breathed ambrosia, and so Isis was sent for and became friendly with the queen and was made nurse of her child… Isis nursed the child, putting her finger in its mouth, instead of her breast, but in the night she burned the mortal parts of its body, while she herself became a swallow, flying around the pillar and making lament until the queen, who had been watching her, gave a shriek when she saw her child on fire, and so deprived it of immortality. The goddess then revealed herself and demanded the pillar under the roof. She took it from beneath with the utmost ease and proceeded to cut away the heath-tree. This she then covered with linen and poured sweet oil on it, after which she gave it into the keeping of the king and queen… The goddess then fell upon the coffin and gave such a loud wail that the younger of the king’s sons died; The elder son she took with her , and placing the coffin in a boat, she set sail…

As soon as she happened on a desert spot, there in solitude she opened the chest and pressing her face to that of Osiris, she embraced him and began to cry. She then noticed that the boy had approached silently from behind and had observed her, whereupon she turned round and full of anger gave him a terrible look. The boy was unable to bear the fright, and dropped dead…

Having journeyed to her son Horus who was being brought up in Buto, Isis put the box aside, and Seth, when he was hunting by night in the moonlight, came upon it. He recognized the body and having cut it into fourteen parts, he scattered them. When Isis heard of this, she searched for them in a papyrus boat, sailing through the marshes… this is why there are many tombs of Osiris in Egypt, for the goddess, as she came upon each part, held a burial ceremony… The only part that Isis did not find was his male member, for no sooner was it thrown in the river than the lepidus, phragus, and oxyrhynchus ate of it, fish they most of all abhor. In its place, Isis fashioned a likeness of it, and consecrated the phallus… Isis, having had sexual union with Osiris after his death, bore Harpocrates, prematurely delivered and weak in his lower limbs." (Plutarch, Of Isis and Orisis:12-20)

Bibliography (for this item)

Fletcher, Joann
2000 Chronicle of a Pharaoh: The Intimate Life of a Amenhotep III. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. (plate 164-165

Khalil, Hassan M.
1976 Preliminary Studies on the Sanusret Collection. Manuscript, Musée l’Egypte et le Monde Antique, Monaco-Ville, Monaco. (
{I] 171)

Roeder, Gunther
1956 Agyptische Bronzefiguren in Mitteilungen aus der Agytischen Sammlung. Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin.. Tafelband, Berlin, Germany.

Bibliography (on Osiris)

Budge, E. A. Wallis, Sir
1973 Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection (unabridged republication of the 1911 edition by the Medici Society). Dover Publications, New York, NY.

Hart, George
1986 A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, United Kingdom.

Ions, Veronica
1969 Mythologie Egyptienne (Translation of the 1968 edition by the Hamlyn Publishing Group). ODEGE, Paris, France.

Shaw, Ian
2000 The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.

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