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The Book of The Dead
The original, squashed down to read in about 15 minutes


Papyrus of Ani (Image: British Museum)

(Egypt, c1300BCE)



The 'Book of the Dead', or the 'Book of Coming Forth Into Day' is the modern name for the collections of prayers found on or near a deceased's sarcophagus. Though there are as many different versions as there are burials, they give some insight into the spiritual system behind the great Egyptian civilisation and prefigure later afterlives, such as Dante's. This is the famous Papyrus of Ani, a scribe from the city of Thebes, dating from 19th dynasty of the New Kingdom.
Abridged: GH from the translation by E.A. Wallis Budge



The Book of The Dead


THE PLEA OF ANI THE SCRIBE FOR ADMISSION TO THE UNDERWORLD AND A SAFE RESURRECTION AT THE EVIT

Osiris in Ani the Scribe says: Praise be to thee, Osiris the Bull. O Amentet, the eternal king is here to put words into my mouth. I am Thoth, the great god in the sacred book, who fought for thee. I am one of the great gods that fought on behalf of Osiris. Ra, the sun-God, commanded me-Thoth-to do battle on the earth for the wronged Osiris, and I obeyed. I am among them moreover who wait over Osiris, now king of the underworld.

I am with Horus, son of Osiris, on the day when the great feast of Osiris is kept. I am the priest pouring forth libations at Tattu, I am the prophet in Abydos. I am here, O ye that bring perfected souls into the abode of Osiris, bring ye the perfected soul of Osiris in the Scribe Ani, into the blissful home of Osiris. Let him see, hear, stand, and sit as ye do in the home of Osiris.

O ye who give cakes and ale to perfected souls, give ye at morn and at eve cakes and ale to the soul of Ani the Scribe.

O ye who open the way and prepare the paths to the abode of Osiris, open the way and prepare the path that the soul of Osiris in Ani the Scribe may enter in confidence and come forth at the resurrection victoriously. May he not be turned back, may he enter and come forth; for his conscience has been weighed in the scales and is not found lacking.

THE PRAYER OF ANI THE SCRIBE

The chapter about coming forth by day and living after death: Says Osiris in Ani: O thou, only shining one of the moon; let me, departing from the crowd on earth, find entrance into the abode of shades. Open then for me the door to the underworld, and at length let me come back to earth and perform my part among men.

A chapter whereby the Shabti funeral statuettes may be made to work for a man in the underworld: O thou statuette there! If in the underworld I shall be called upon to perform any tasks, be thou my representative and act for me- planting and sowing fields, watering the soil and carrying the sands of East and West.

A chapter concerning the piercing of the back of Apepi: Tur, the overseer of the houses, says through his god Tmu: O thou wax one, thou image of Apepi, who takest thy victims captive and destroyest them, who preyest upon the weak and helpless, may I never be thy victim; may I never suffer collapse before thee. May the venom never enter my limbs, which are as those of the god Tmu. O let not the pains of death, which have reached thee; come upon me. I am the god Tmu, living in the foremost part of the Sky. I am the only one in the primordial water. I have many mysterious names, and provide myself a dwelling to endure millions of years. I was born of Tmu, and I am safe and sound.

About contending against fever with the shield of truth and good conduct: Says Osiris in Ani: I go forth against my foes endowed with the defence of truth and good conduct. I cross the heavens, and traverse the earth. Though a denizen of the underworld, I tread the earth like one alive, following in the footsteps of the blessed spirits. I have the gift of living a million years. I eat with my mouth and chew with my jaw, because I worship him who is master of the lower world.

THE SPIRIT OF THE SCRIBE MESEMNETER PRAYS THAT SOME OFFENDED GOD MAY BE CONCILIATED

About removing the anger of the god towards the departed one: The scribe Mesemneter, chief deputy of Amon, says: Praise be to thee, O God, who makest the moments to glide by, who guardest the secrets of the life beyond that of the earth, and guidest me when I utter words. The god is angered against me. But let my faults be wasted away, and let the god of Right and Truth bear them upon me. Remove them wholly from me, O god of Right and Truth. Let the offended one be at peace with me. Remove the wall of separation from before us.

A hymn to Ra at his rising and setting: Osiris in the scribe says: Praise to thee, O Ra, when thou risest. Shine thou upon my face. Let me arise with thee into the heavens, and travel with thee in the boat wherein thou sailest on the clouds.

Thou passest in peace across the heavens, and art victorious over all thy foes.

Praise to thee who art Ra when thou risest, and Tmu when in beauty thou settest. The dwellers in the land of night come forth to see thee ascend the sky. I, too, would join the throng; O let me not be held back.

A Hymn of praise to Osiris: Praise be unto thee, Osiris, lord of eternity, who appearest in many guises, and whose attributes are glorious.

Thou lookest towards the underworld and causest the earth to shine as with gold.

The dead rise up to gaze on thy face; their hearts are at peace if they but look on thee.

LITANY TO OSIRIS
Prayer: Praise to thee, O lord of the starry gods of Annu, more glorious than the gods hidden in Annu.
Answer to each prayer: Grant thou me a peaceful life, for I am truthful and just. I have uttered no falsehoods nor acted deceitfully.
Prayer: Praise to thee, O Ani; with thy long strides movest thou across the heavens.
Prayer: Praise to thee, O thou who art mighty in thy hour, great and mighty prince, lord and creator of eternity.
Prayer: Praise to those whose throne is Right and Truth, who hatest fraud and deceit.
Prayer: Praise to thee who bringest Hapi in thy boat from his place.
Prayer: Praise to thee, O creator of the gods, thou king of the North and the South. O Osiris, the all-conquering one, ruler of the world, lord of the heavens.

HYMN OF PRAISE TO THE SETTING SUN

About the mystery of the underworld and about travelling through the underworld.

When he sets on the underworld the gods adore him. The great god Ra rises with two eyes of sun and moon; all the seven gods welcome him in the evening into the underworld. They sing his praises, calling him Tmu. The deceased one says, "Praise be to thee, O Ra, praise be to thee, O Tmu. Thou hast risen and put on strength, and thou settest in glorious splendour into the underworld. Thou sailest in thy boat across the heavens, and thou established the earth. East and West adore thee, bowing and doing homage to thee day and night."

ABOUT THE COMING BACK INTO DAY OF DEPARTED SHADES.

Of the praises of entering the lower world and of coming out: Osiris in the scribe Ani says it is a good and profitable thing on earth for a man to recite this text, since all the words written herein shall come to pass.

I am Ra, who at my rising rule all things. I am the great self-made god.

I am yesterday and to-morrow. I gave the command, and a scene of strife among the gods arose. What is this? It is Amentet, the underworld.

What is this? The horizon of my father Tmu of the setting sun. All of my failings are now supplied, my sins cleansed as I pass through the two lakes which purify the offences which men offer the gods.

I advance on the path, descending to the realm of Osiris, passing through the gate Teser. O all ye who have passed this way in safety, let me grasp your hands and be brought to your abode.

O ye divine powers of Maert, the sworn foes of falsehood, may I come to you.

I am the great Cat of Ra himself, and therefore in his name which I bear, I can tread on all my enemies. O great Ra, who climbest the heavenly vaults and who sailest in thy boat across the firmament with undisputed authority, do thou save me from that austere god whose eyebrows are as menacing as the balance that weighs the deeds of men. Save me, I pray thee, from these guardians of the passages who will, if they-may, impede my progress. O Tmu, who livest in the august abode, god of gods, who thrivest upon damned souls, thou dog-faced, human-skinned one, devourer of shades, digester of human hearts, O fearful one, save me from the great soul-foe who gnaws and destroys shades of men.

O Chepera in thy bark, save me from the testing guardians into whose charge the glorious inviolate god has committed his foes; deliver thou me. May these never undo me, may I never fall helpless into the chambers of torture. O ye gods, in the presence of Osiris, reach, forth your arms, for I am one of the gods in your midst.

The Osiris in Ani flies away like a haw, he clucks like a goose, he is safe from destruction as the serpent Nehebkau . Avaunt, ye lions that obstruct my path. O Ra, thou ascending one, let me rise with thee, and have a triumphant arrival to my old earthly abode.

A LITANY ADDRESSED TO THOTH

If this chapter is recited over the deceased he shall come forth into the day and pass through the transformations which the departed one desires.

The speech of Ammautef, the priest: I have come to you, ye gods of heaven, earth, and the underworld, bringing with me Ani, the scribe, who has done no wrong against any gods, so that ye may protect him and give him good-speed to the underworld.

The speech of Ani himself: Praise be to thee, O thou ruler of Amenta, Unneferu, who presides in Abydos. I have come to thee with a pure heart, free from sin. I have told no falsehoods nor acted deceitfully. Give thou me in the tomb the food I need for the journey, so let me have a safe entrance to the underworld and a sure exit.

The speech of the priest Samerif: I come to the gods residing at Restau. I have brought you Osiris in Ani; grant him bread, water, and air, and also an abode in the Field of Peace called Sechithotepu.

The speech of Ani himself: Praise be to Osiris, everlasting lord, and to the gods of Restau. I come to thee knowing thy goodwill and having learned those rites which thou requirest for entrance into the lower world. May I have a safe arrival, and find food in thy presence.

Litany to Thoth: O thou who makest Osiris triumphant over his foes, make thou this scribe Nebenseri victorious over his foes. O Thoth, make Ani triumphant over his enemies, etc., etc.

OF MAGICAL PURPOSES

Chapter of the Crown of Triumph: Thy father Tmu has made thee this beautiful crown as a magical charm so that thou mayest live for ever. Thy father Seb gives thee his inheritance. Osiris, the prince of Amenta, makes thee victorious over thy foes. Go thou as Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, and triumph ever on thy way to the underworld.

Yea Osiris in Aufankh shall, through this recited text, live and triumph for ever and ever. Horus repeated these words four times, and his enemies fell headlong. And Osiris in Aufankh has repeated these words four times, so let him be victorious.

This chapter is to be recited over a consecrated crown placed over the face of the deceased, and thou shalt cast incense into the flame on behalf of Osiris in Aufankh, so securing triumph over all his foes. And food and drink shall in the underworld be reached him in the presence of Osiris its king.

Chapter about making the deceased remember his name in the underworld: Nu triumphant, son of Amen-hotep, says: Let me remember my name in the great House below on the night when years are counted and months are reckoned up. If any god come to me, let me at once be able to utter his name.

Chapter about not letting the heart of the deceased act against him in the underworld: My heart, received from my mother, my heart, without which life on earth was not possible, rise then not up against me in the presence of the gods in the great day of judgment when human thoughts, words, and acts shall all be weighed in a balance.

These words are to be inscribed on a hard green, gold-coated scarab, which is to be inserted through the mouth into the bosom of the deceased.

Chapter about repelling the ass-eater: Avaunt! serpent Hai, impure one, hater of Osiris. Get thee back, for Thoth has cut off thy head. Let alone the ass, that I may have clear skies when I cross to the underworld in the Neshmet boat. I am guiltless before the gods, and have wronged none. So avaunt! thou sun-beclouding one, and let me have a prosperous voyage.

Chapter about reserving for the deceased his seat in the underworld: Nu says: My seat, my throne, come ye to me, surround me, divine ones. I am a mummy-shaped person. O grant that I may become like the great god, successful, having seat and throne.

Chapter about coming forth into day from the underworld: He who knows this chapter by heart is safe against danger in this world and in all other abodes.

Nebseni, lord of reverence, says: I am yesterday and know to-morrow. I am able to be born again. Here is the invisible force which creates gods and gives food to denizens of the underworld. I go as a messenger to Osiris. O goddess Aucherit, grant that I may come forth from the underworld to see Ra's blazing orb. O thou conductor of shades, let me have a fair path to the underworld and a sure arrival. May I be defended against all opposing powers. May the cycle of gods listen to me and grant my request





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