1902 Encyclopedia > Anubis


ANUBIS, an Egyptian deity, called in hieroglyphs Anepu or Anup, and in Coptic, Anob or Anoub. It appears from the hieroglyphic legends that he was the son of Osiris and Isis, not Nephthys, as stated by Plutarch. His name has no particular meaning in hieroglyphs, although it resembles the Coptic anebe, the appellation of a particular kind of dog. His worship was of the oldest period, and is found in tombs at Memphis, of the age of the 4th dynasty, at which period all dedications ran in his name instead of that of Osiris, which did not appear till the 6th. At this time he is always styled resident in the sacred abode, and attached to the land of Ut, and lord of the Taser or Hades. At the earliest period he presided over the funeral rites and embalming of the dead, on account of having rendered these offices to his father Osiris. In this character he is seen raising the mummy on its feet to receive the sepulchral sacrifices and libations, or else laying it out on the bier, to which the soul flies down to visit or be reunited to the body. In the great judgment Anubis, with Thoth, attends to the balance placed in the Hall of the Two Truths, where the soul is tried by Osiris as judge of Hades, and the heart of the dead is weighed against the feather of Truth. Besides his sepulchral character, Anubis was also called Ap-heru, "opener of the roads" or " paths," which were supposed to lead to heaven. Of these there were two, the " northern and the southern." As lord of the northern road he was lord of Sais, while as ruling the southern, he was lord of Taser or Hades. In this character he was often represented as a jackal seated on a pylon or gateway, the jackal being his sacred animal or living emblem. This may be considered the type of the celestial Anubis, and as such he was styled lord of the heaven, and opener of the solar disk. Anubis is represented with the head of a jackal, seldom with that of a man, and rarely with any head attire, although at the Roman period his head is surmounted by the pschent, or crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. In other respects his type is that of other Egyptian deities. In the tablets and other monuments of the 18th and later dynasties, Anubis is introduced as following, or as part of, the cortege of Osiris ; sometimes he is worshipped alone; but he was a subordinate god of the third order, supposed to have reigned over Egypt as one of the kings of the 2d dynasty of gods. The principal site of his local worship was Lyco-polis, or El Siut, the capital of the 13th and 14th(orLyco-polite) nomes, and at the 17thorCynopolite nome; but he appears also as one of the gods of the 18th or Oxyrhynchite nome, and as such is styled lord of Sep. In this character he is said to have defeated the opposers of his father Osiris, which accords with the story of Diodorus, that Anubis was the general of Osiris in his Eastern expedi-tion. The introduction of Anubis into the Isiac worship about the 1st century B.C., gave rise to various esoterical explanations not found in the hieroglyphs. He is stated to have been the son of Nephthys and Osiris, and dis-covered by dogs, and hence had a dog's or jackal's head; also that he represented the horizontal circle which divides the invisible world, called by the Egyptians Nephthys, in contradistinction to Isis, or the visible, or to have been like Hecate. He was also supposed to mean time and universal reason. But these explanations are not found in the hieroglyphs, and the change of his head to that of a dog instead of a jackal, was not Egyptian. On Roman monuments of the 1st and 2d century A.D., his form is combined with that of Hermes, and passed by the name of Hermanubis, in his character of the infernal Mercury. In the days of Tiberius, the seduction of a noble Roman lady in his temple at Rome, with the connivance of the priests, led to the suppression of his worship, but at a later period the Emperor Commodus, infatuated with the Isiac worship, shaved his head like an Egyptian priest, and carried in procession the figure of the god. The idea that his name meant gold, as suggested by the learned, is con-futed by the hieroglyphs; nor are the statues found of him either gold or gilded, while in the Egyptian paintings he is always coloured black, and never yellow or golden, as the goddesses often are. The jackal was his sacred living animal, and was embalmed after death, and this animal represented, according to Clement of Alexandria, either the two hemi-spheres which environed the terrestrial globe, or the tropics. Figures of Anubis in porcelain are not uncommon in Egyptian collections, having been attached to the outer network of bugles which covered the mummies, but in other materials they are much rarer. The jackal, his animal and emblem, is, however, often placed on chests, or other sepulchral monuments. His worship commenced at the earliest period of Egyptian history, and continued, in one form or another, till Egyptian paganism was superseded by Christianity. He was, in fact, one of the oldest, if not the oldest deity of the paganism of the world.

(Wilkinson, Mann, and Oust. voL iii. p. 440, ff.; Birch, Gallery of Antiquities, p. 43 ; Bunsen, Egypt's Place, vol. i. 2d ed. p. 240; Plutarch, De Iside,c. 14; Josephus, Ant. xviii. c. 6 ; Brugsch, Die Geographie des alten Aegyptens, L taf. 23, 25; Jablonsky, Panth. Aegypt. iii. p. 3,ff.) (s. B.)

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