Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Hey there, I’m Mike Rugnetta and this is Crashcourse Mythology and today were going

  • to start looking at pantheons.

  • Pantheons are families of gods, and those families are complicated.

  • Really complicated.

  • A whole tangle of grandparents and parents and uncles and aunts and nieces and nephews

  • and a couple of children of mortal women who were raped and a pretty staggering amount

  • of violence and incest to just round everything off.

  • They have amazing feasts, but honestly, can you imagine Thanksgiving with these people?

  • I mean Thoth, you had a mistress and a wife and you somehow gave birth to yourself.

  • How is that not awkward?

  • INTRO

  • The pantheons we are going to examine are

  • families of deities from cultures that are usually considered polytheistic, meaning that

  • they worshipped more than one god.

  • In most mythological traditions, the gods are seen as immortal, and according to David

  • Leeming, “they are personified projections of the human mythmaker’s dreams of overcoming

  • the inevitable effects of the physical laws that require death and disintegration.”

  • Yeah.

  • We went dark pretty quick.

  • In creation stories and other myths, gods represent the creative force that brings and

  • sustains life.

  • In many myths, gods arepersonifications of aspects of nature and of human naturethe

  • sun, the winds, impatience, love.”

  • Pantheons, David Leeming argues, help us to explain how and why the world we know came

  • into being, and can tell us a lot about a culture.

  • Leeming writes: “All pantheons are ontological and teleological;

  • that is they are metaphors for the human attempt to make sense of existence itself and to assign

  • ultimate cause.

  • Toread” a pantheon is to read a culture’s sense of itself and of the nature of the cosmos.”

  • But can pantheons explain the naked mole rat?

  • Let’s find out together.

  • If you thought that I was going to start with the Greeks, ha!

  • Gotcha!

  • High five Thoth.

  • But were not starting with Egypt either.

  • Sorry.

  • Were going to start with one of the oldest pantheons we have records for, the family

  • of Gods from ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia.

  • Sumer’s pantheon represents the most important natural forces in the lives of Ancient Mesopotamians,

  • and there are a lot of deities here, so strap in.

  • Try to pay attention to everyone’s responsibilities, and note what kinds of things don’t have

  • gods.

  • All right.

  • Here we go.

  • The first pair of deities are the earth goddess, Ki, and the sky god, called An.

  • An mates with Ki, AND Nammu, goddess of primal waters.

  • An and Nammu’s children are Enki, the trickster god, and his sister, Ningikuga the goddess

  • of the reeds.

  • An and Ki, the more significant duo, begat Ninlil, the air goddess, and Enlil the air

  • god.

  • Ninlil and Enlil give birth to Nanna, the Moon God.

  • Enki and his sister Ningikuga create Ningal, the Moon Goddess.

  • Ningal and Nanna then have three children.

  • Utu, the sun god, Inanna, theGreat Goddess of Heaven and Earth”, and Ereshkigal, the

  • Queen of the Underworld.

  • Ereshkigal’s “husbandis Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven.

  • And Inanna marries the Shepherd Dumuzi.

  • Dumuzi, it turns out, was the son of Enki, the trickster god, and his consort, the sheep

  • goddess Sirtur.

  • It may be worth nothing that yes: a sheep goddess DID give birth to a shepherd.

  • So that is the basic pantheon of Sumer, but what does all this tell us about Mesopotamia?

  • First it suggests that, at least in terms of their myths, natural phenomena--like the

  • earth and sky--take precedence over human actions and emotions--like love.

  • I mean, only two of the original Mesopotamian gods, Enki the trickster and Inanna, also

  • the goddess of love, are described as ruling over aspects of human nature.

  • And the sheep?

  • Well, we tend to think agriculture when we talk about the Fertile Crescent, but the fact

  • that their pantheon features Sheep and a Bull rather than a harvest deity might recall an

  • earlier life as herders.

  • Or perhaps the Bull is symbolic not only of masculinity but also of farming.

  • This is the fun part of pantheons specifically and mythology generally; you can read them

  • in many ways.

  • No, Thoth that’s not a joke about hieroglyphics.

  • But, it does get us to our next, significantly more complex family of gods, the Egyptian

  • pantheon.

  • Right off the bat I’m going to say that the Egyptian pantheon is even more confusing

  • than your average confusing pantheon.

  • But surprise, surprise, it’s also just as incestuous.

  • First off: There is no standard version of the Egyptian pantheon.

  • the myth changes depending upon who is writing it.

  • And where.

  • And when.

  • For example, in the story of Isis and Osiris, our most complete source isn’t even Egyptian,

  • it’s the Greek biographer Plutarch, who wrote in the first and second centuries CE,

  • well after Egypt had become Hellenized, and then Romanized.

  • In his version of the Isis and Osiris myths, he gives Egyptian gods Greek names.

  • For example, he refers to Thoth as Hermes, he does still give you credit for inventing

  • darts, though, so.

  • There are also different versions of the pantheon depending on where you are in Egypt.

  • For the most part well be sticking with the group of gods worshipped at the city of

  • Heliopolis and headed by Atum or Ra, but well give a nod to the fact that in Thebes the

  • pantheon was led by Amun.

  • And we can’t forget the attempted monotheism of Akhenaton.

  • That was classic.

  • But just to make this even trickier, a lot of the Egyptian sources we have for myths

  • are fragmentary and spread out over thousands of years.

  • So, for simplicity, were going to settle on the Nine-God pantheon that forms the core

  • of Egyptian religious belief, and itdoesn’t include Thoth.

  • Sorry, buddy.

  • Anyway, the Ennead, or Nine Gods, was in place in Heliopolis by 2700 BCE and is the one found

  • in the Pyramid Texts, which might be the oldest surviving set of religious texts in the world.

  • At the top of this pantheon is Atum, aka Re aka Ra, aka Khepri aka Amun or sometimes Amun-Ra,

  • depending on where in Egypt you are.

  • This is why were simplifying!

  • Atum is the great eye of the heavens and of creation.

  • He was the spitter in our Egyptian creation story.

  • So Atum’s creative cough creates Shu, the life spirit, and Tefnut, the world order or

  • cosmos.

  • This brother and sister pair mate, and give birth to Geb and Nut.

  • Geb is the spirit of life and Nut is an Egyptian Great Mother goddess.

  • The two are separated by their father, Shu, and Geb becomes Earth while Nut becomes the

  • sky and the stars, which is a neat reversal of the whole earth mother sky father thing.

  • Like their parents, brother and sister Geb and Nut become the mother and father of the

  • rest of the gods in this pantheon.

  • Their children, Osiris and Isis are probably the best known Egyptian gods, other than hawk-headed

  • Ra.

  • Osiris, god of the underworld and grain, kind of like a Demeter/Hades combo, was probably

  • the most popular of the Egyptian gods-because who doesn’t like food and death?

  • He dies and is revived, which happens more than you’d expect, in myth.

  • Actually, maybe just as much as you’d expect in myth.

  • Isis is a goddess of the earth and the moon, and is married to Osiris.

  • The mystery cult of Isis was popular well beyond Egypt, into Roman times.

  • And if youre not sure what a mystery cult, guess what, that’s the point.

  • The second son and third child from the Geb-Nut pairing is Seth.

  • Seth is a god of evil and darkness and is the nemesis of Isis and Osiris.

  • He is married to his sister, Nephthys, a goddess of death and dusk, because you know, if youre

  • going to be married for all eternity, it’s nice to share interests.

  • And the final piece of this puzzle is young Horus, not to be confused with old Horus,

  • or the guy from WarHammer.

  • He was conceived miraculously by Isis and Osiris after the latter’s death, and he

  • has aspects of a sun god.

  • He’s a light that defeats Seth’s darkness.

  • Most important though, Horus, who is often depicted with the head of a falcon (not a

  • hawk, not an ibis) is the spiritual force behind the pharaohs.

  • I know youre wondering when were going to talk about Anubis, Bastet, and Sekhmet,

  • but remember, for the sake of comparative simplicity, were sticking by this nine-god

  • pantheon.

  • So what conclusions can we draw from the basic pantheon?

  • There are multiple versions of sun gods and with Ra representing both the sun and creation,

  • and Horus representing both the sun and kingship, we can infer that the sun was important to

  • the Egyptians, probably as much for its eternal cycle of death and rebirth as for its providing

  • life-giving energy.

  • Ancient Egyptian culture is commonly said to focus on death, and that’s not wrong,

  • although death to the Egyptians probably didn’t hold the same terror that it does for many

  • in the modern world.

  • I think the most distinct example of this necro-centric ideal is the pyramids, and the

  • mummified corpses and jars full of organs found within them, but also this week’s

  • featured myth, the story of Isis and Osiris.

  • Take it away, Thoughtbubble.

  • Osiris was much beloved by the people of Egypt; he showed them how to cultivate grain, gave

  • them laws, and taught them to honor the gods.

  • His brother, Seth, was envious, but wouldn’t try anything while Osiris was away teaching

  • civilization to the world.

  • But when Osiris returned, Seth and seventy-two accomplices had a plan.

  • A plan involving...furniture.

  • They had secretly measured Osiris’s body and built a beautiful chest to his exact dimensions.

  • At a party celebrating Osiris’s return, Seth suggested that whoever fit in the chest

  • would receive it as a gift.

  • Osiris gave it a shot, and when he lay down in the box, the conspirators nailed it shut

  • and sealed it with lead.

  • They threw it in the river and, it floated out to sea.

  • Isis, Osiris’s wife, went looking for her husband, and found the chest near the

  • land of Byblos, where a great tree had grown up around it, encasing the coffin in its trunk.

  • She cut away the wood around the coffin and lay upon it, wailing with such grief and power

  • that the king’s younger sons died of fear.

  • Isis soon left the chest to visit Horus, and Seth found the coffin while boar hunting.

  • He cut up Osiris’s body into 14 pieces, and scattered them far and wide.

  • Isis, discovering what Seth had done, set out to search for the pieces.

  • She found thirteen of them, but not what Izanami might have described ashis excess.”

  • She buried the pieces where she found them, which is why there are so many graves for

  • Osiris in Egypt.

  • Seth couldn’t find the true grave of Osiris, and Osiris would be worshipped throughout

  • Egypt.

  • Win/Win.

  • Except for, the fact that he was dead.

  • Or WAS HE?

  • Thanks, Thoughtbubble.

  • This is one version of the story, but in another version, upon finding the body of Osiris,

  • Isis and her sister Nephthys wept such a loud lamentation that Ra the sun god took pity

  • on them and sent down Jackal-headed Anubis to help Isis and Nephthys.

  • The two sisters, with the help of Anubis, Thoth and Horus pieced Osiris back together

  • and wrapped him in linen bandages and performed the funeral rites.

  • Isis flapped her wings over the body and Osiris revived.

  • From then on he became the king of the dead, ruling in the underworld.

  • So this myth illustrates some central facets

  • of Egyptian culture.

  • One is the idea of Osiris as king and god, much like the pharaohs.

  • Another is the role of mummification in Egyptian life., Or death., or well, actually: both.

  • The binding of Osiris and his revival is a promise to Egyptians of eternal life.

  • According to David Leeming, Egyptians, “believed that every man would live eternal in the other

  • world if only his surviving friends did for his body what the gods had done for the body

  • of Osiris; … as Osiris died and rose again from the dead, so all men hoped to rise like

  • him…”

  • This myth also suggests that in Egypt, the pantheon is somewhat fluid, with gods performing

  • numerous roles.

  • Osiris goes from being the father of civilization to the ruler of the underworld, a role that

  • in later Egyptian mythology will be taken over by Anubis, while Seth is the source of

  • evil and trouble, the jealous younger brother always trying -- and sometimes succeeding

  • to take the place of his older brother.

  • We have a tendency to view pantheons as explanations of natural phenomena that correspond between

  • particular gods and particular aspects of nature, like the sun’s rising and setting.

  • But often the gods resist falling into such restrictive roles.

  • And as myths like Isis and Osiris show, it’s the particular stories that matter to people,

  • as much as if not more than who is the goddess of what and why.

  • Just ask Saga, Norse goddess of storytelling. We're going to meet her really soon.

  • But until then. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next week.

Hey there, I’m Mike Rugnetta and this is Crashcourse Mythology and today were going

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 CrashCourse osiris pantheon goddess egyptian seth

Pantheons of the Ancient Mediterranean: Crash Course Mythology #7

  • 672 58
    黃齡萱 posted on 2017/07/08
Video vocabulary