Nephthys in Ancient Egypt, Assitant of Isis.

Nephthys in the tomb of Khaemwaset. XX Dynasty. Ancient Egypt.

Nephthys in the tomb of Khaemwaset. XX Dynasty. www.globalegyptianmuseum.org

In the last post it was considered the role of Nephthys in the religion of Ancient Egypt. It is a fact that Nephtys was a very important goddess in the ancient Egyptian pantheon. Isis needed her help for granting the resurrection of Osiris; they both Isis and Nephthys formed a perfect team. But it is also a fact that Nephthys in some cases seemed not to be indispensable.

Isis was the real one who stimulated the virility of Osiris.

Isis was the mother of Horus, so Isis was the one who could give a legitimate heir to the throne of Ancient Egypt. Nephtys was also important in that birth, since she was present during this childbirth. So Nephthys assisted her sister Isis.

Isis nursing Horus. Louvre Museum. Ancient Egypt

Isis nursing Horus. Louvre Museum. Photo: wikipedia

The common icon in Ancient Egypt for maternity was the woman nursing her baby, applied by the artist of Ancient Egypt in private and royal art. It is very common the image of a mother suckling his baby in statues and reliefs from private tombs. We find also regular in royal monuments to find reliefs of Hathor or Sekhmet nursing the king; but the image of maternity par excellence in Ancient Egypt for maternity was Isis nursing Horus.

Nephthys was not a mother, but the wet nurse. According to the Pyramid Texts (Pyr. 365) she suckled the king, Horus on earth. So, as in the case of the chilbirth, Nephthys assisted her sister Isis.

At this point I would also like to focus on utterance 308 in the Pyramid Texts related to the ascension of Ounas:

“Ounas saw you, as Horus saw Isis,

Ounas saw you, as Nehebkau saw Serket

Ounas saw you, as Sobek saw Neith

Ounas saw you as Seth saw the Two Harmonious Ones”.

It seems clear that here the text is referring to the four goddesses (Isis, Serket, Neith and Nephthys) , which formed a team of four divine mourners of Ancient Egypt in favour of the dead’s resurrection.

four-mourners-for-osiris-temple-of-abydos-ancient-egypt

Four mourners for Osiris with their front lock of hair falling forwards. Temple of Abydos. Photo: Mª Rosa Valdesogo Martín

And with these goddess is mentioned the most intimate related god. Horus was Isis’ son, Nehebkau was the Serket’s son, Sobek was mainly associated with Neith as her son, although in some cases he could also be a consort of the goddess and Seth was Nephthys’ husband.

However, Nephthys is not mentioned at all. In her place the scribe wrote “The Two Harmonious Ones“. Expression which alluded the two mourners, so Isis and Nephthys.

Not to mention Nephthys was something intentioned? if so, Why?

Let’s think about it…

 

2 responses

  1. Hello María,

    The son of Serket and Ptah isn’t Nefertun?
    For Nephtys, i think her role is secondary because she’s just the nurse and the wife of Seth ennemy of Osiris.

    Best.

    • Hi Étienne, Nefertum was the son of Ptah and Sekhmet (not Serket). They three were the Menphite Triad.

      I also agree with you in the role of Nephthys. She was obviously a very important goddess among Egyptian gods. But in my humble opinion she was not at the same height of Isis.
      All the best.

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