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Ennead
Ancient Egypt
Some of the Enneade depicted in the Papyrus of Ani
NumberNine

The Ennead or Great Ennead was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology worshipped at Heliopolis: the sun god Atum; his children Shu and Tefnut; their children Geb and Nut; and their children Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.[1] The Ennead sometimes includes Horus the Elder, an ancient form of the falcon god, not the son of Osiris and Isis.

Status within ancient Egypt

The Great Ennead was only one of several such groupings of nine deities in ancient Egypt. Claims to preeminence made by its Heliopolitan priests were not respected throughout Egypt, as each nome typically had its own local deities, whose priests insisted stood above all others;[2] even in the nearby city of Memphis , which along with Heliopolis is contained within the limits of modern Cairo, the priests of Ptah celebrated him as singularly superior to the Nine — In addition to Memphis having its own creation myth, the contemporaneous city of Hermopolis had another creation story, the Ogdoad, that accounted for the physical creation of the universe by eight (different) primordial gods.[2]

Name in Egyptian, Greek, and Latin

Z2
Z2
Z2
N9
X1
R8R8R8
psḏt
The Ennead[3](p 2464)
in hieroglyphs

The English name ennead is a borrowing via Latin of the Greek name enneás (ἐννεάς), meaning "the nine".[4] The term was a calque of the Egyptian name, written psḏt and also meaning "the Nine". Its original pronunciation is uncertain, since hieroglyphs do not record vowels, but may have been /piˈsiːcʼat/ in Old Egyptian, /piˈsiːtʼaʔ/ in Middle Egyptian, and /pəˈsiːtʼə/ in Late Egyptian. Egyptologists conventionally transcribe it as Pesedjet.

History

The ancient Egyptians created several enneads as their unification under Dynasty I brought numerous local cults into contact with one another. The ancient Egyptian mythology often had many different explanations for the same phenomenon. This concept is especially unique because no single story was more accurate than another, but rather the truth was a mix of them all.[1] The Pyramid Texts of Dynasties V and VI mention the "Great Ennead", the "Lesser Ennead", the "Dual Ennead", and the "Seven Enneads". Some pharaohs established enneads that incorporated themselves as gods. The most notable case is Seti I of Dynasty XIX, whose mortuary temple at Redesiyah celebrated an ennead of six major gods and three deified forms of himself. The ennead mentioned in the Egyptian calendar of lucky and unlucky days,[5][full citation needed] may reference the Pleiades.[6]

The most important was the "Great" or "Heliopolitan Ennead" of Awanu (Ancient Egyptian: I͗wnw), known under the Greeks and Romans as Heliopolis. It celebrated the family of the sun god Atum (sometimes referred to as Atum-re[2]) and thrived from the Old Kingdom to the Ptolemaic period.

Its development remains uncertain, although it appears to have first appeared when Ra's cult – supreme under Dynasty V – declined in importance under Dynasty VI. Egyptologists have traditionally theorized that the Heliopolitan priesthood established it to establish the preeminence of Atum over the others, incorporating some major gods in lesser positions and omitting others entirely. The most prominent of such deities was Osiris, god of vegetation and the afterlife, who was incorporated into the ennead as Atum's great-grandson. However, in the 20th century, some Egyptologists[who?] question the whole scenario. After the Great Ennead was well established, the cult of Ra – identified with Atum – recovered much of its importance until superseded by the cult of Horus. The two were then combined as Ra-Horus of the Horizons.

Mythology

According to the creation story of the Heliopolitan priests, the world originally consisted of the primordial waters of precreation personified as Nun.[1] From it arose a mound on the First Occasion.[1] Upon the mound sat the self-begotten god Atum, who was equated with the sun god Ra. Atum evolved from Nun through self-creation.[1] Atum either spat or masturbated, producing air personified as Shu and moisture personified as Tefnut. The siblings Shu and Tefnut mated to produce the earth personified as Geb and the nighttime sky personified as Nut.

Geb and Nut were the parents of Osiris and Isis and of Set and Nephthys, who became respective couples in turn. Osiris and Isis represent fertility and order, while Set and Nephthys represent chaos to balance out Osiris and Isis.[2] Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, is often included in this creation tradition.[1] Due to the duality of Ancient Egyptian myths, this is only one of many creation stories.[2] The Egyptians believed no specific myth was more correct than the other, rather that some combination of these myths was correct.[1] This creation story, the Heliopolitan tradition, is one of physiological creation.[2] The other major creation traditions are the Memphite Theology and Hermopolitian Ogdoad creation myth.[2]

Gallery

Variant hieroglyphs for the Ennead

N6
D46
R8R8R8G7Z3
     
N9 X1
Z2
R8
     
N6
X1
R8R8R8A40Z3


N6
X1 Z4
R8R8R8G7Z3
[3](p 1229)
     
N9
X1
R8Z3
     
N6X1R8R8R8


N9
X1
R8R8R8A40Z3
     
N9
X1
A40
Z2
     
N9
X1
R8R8R8G7


N9
X1
R8R8R8
     
N9
Y1
R8A
     
N10
Y1
R8AG7Z3A
[3](p 1233)


R8 R8 R8
R8 R8 R8
R8 R8 R8
[citation needed]
           
N9
Y1
R8AR8AR8A
N9
Z3A Z3A Z3A
R8AR8AR8A
(properly
Z16H
)[3](p 1232)
           
F37
X1
Z2
Z2
Z2
R8R8R8
(properly
F37J
, a variant with a plain line at a 45° angle)[3](p 518)

A dual Ennead (Psḏty) was written

R8AR8AR8AR8AR8AR8A

[3](p 1702)

In popular culture

Most of the Ennead are portrayed in Gods of Egypt (2016 movie); the main focus of the movie is the conflict between the protagonist god Horus versus the antagonist god Set.

In the first episode of the 2022 Marvel Cinematic Universe television miniseries Moon Knight, Steven Grant points out a problem with some of the museum's marketing material that seems to refer to the Ennead as a pantheon consisting of seven, rather than nine, gods.

In the BL manhwa ENNEAD, written and illustrated by Mojito, Set (using the name Seth) is the main character. It draws heavily upon classic Egyptian mythology and centers on the conflict between Horus and Seth.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dunand, Françoise; Zivie-Coche, Christiane (2004). Gods and men in Egypt : 3000 BCE to 395 CE. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801488532. OCLC 937102309.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Clifford, Richard (1994). Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible. Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association. pp. 99–116. ISBN 9780915170258. LCCN 94026565 – via archive.org.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Vygus, Mark (April 2015). "Middle Egyptian Dictionary" (PDF). Pyramid Texts Online.
  4. ^ "Ennead, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Papyrus Cairo 86637.
  6. ^ Jetsu, L.; Porceddu, S. (2015). "Shifting milestones of natural sciences: The ancient Egyptian discovery of Algol's period confirmed". PLOS ONE. 10 (12): e0144140. arXiv:1601.06990. Bibcode:2015PLoSO..1044140J. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144140. PMC 4683080. PMID 26679699.

Bibliography