When Osiris Ruled on Earth

The traditional image of Osiris sitting, wearing his Atef crown, with the crook (heqa) and the flail (nekhakha) crossed on his chest, often surrounded by his sisters Isis and Nephthys, as seen on the funeral papyrus vignettes, a reminder that before reigning over "the west", meaning in the beyond, the god indeed governed, according to the legend, the world of the living. However, on examination of the multiple sources - classic or Egyptian, religious, magical or literary - relative to this terrestrial existence, it turns out that numerous convergences allow a coherent reconstruction, and probably a close enough narrative plot to the official biography" which a cultured Egyptian had to know. We are also able to, beyond doubt, to search for the political circumstances which, in Pharaonic history, conditioned this "historical" progress of the Osirian figure.

The Theban Birth.

Osiris, eldest son of Geb, the god of the earth, and of Nut, the goddess of the sky, was the first of the five children (Osiris, Horus the ancient, Seth, Isis and Nephthys) born successively on each of the five additional so-called "epagomenal" days, which finishes the solar year of 360 days. "The first (epagomenal) day was born Osiris. At he moment the delivery was completed, a voice announced: 'The master of all things comes today'. Some tell that in Thebes a certain Pamylès, who was in the process of drawing water, heard, coming from the temple of Zeus (Amon), an order proclaiming that the Great King, Benefactor, Osiris, was born " (Isis et Osiris, 12) [1] .
This public proclamation of the birth of the hereditary prince is probably inspired by an authentic institutional reality. In the tales of the Papyrus Westcar, written to the Middle Kingdom, the arrival in the world of each of the first three kings of the Vth Dynasty, Userkaf, Sahure and Neferirkare-Kakai, is systematically accompanied by an official declaration from the goddess Meskhenet: "A king who will exercise royalty in this entire land !" (P. Westcar 10,13-14,21 and 11,1). The choice of the city of Thebes is not fortuitous: it is a question of making it sacred, by attributing to it a privileged place, a city in which royal power is already prominent, to this stage of the development of the myth, to the rank of dynastic capital.
The question arises, from then on, as to the exact moment where one officially fixes this detail in the biography of Osiris. Several texts from the Ptolemaic temple at Dendara make allusion to this [2] . In Karnak, the temple of Opet, built on the supposed place of the birth of Osiris, does not fail to celebrate the event [3] . But the tradition is more ancient. Already by the time of Saite -XVIth Dynasty-, an inscription engraved on a statuette of the Osiris-king indicates that Thebes was the god's city (Cairo CG 38368).
In actual fact, one would be tempted to return to the great times of glory of Thebes back in this legendary period, that is to say in the beginning of the XVIIIth Dynasty, after the expulsion of the Hyksos by the brothers Kamosis and Ahmoses, or even to the beginning of the XIIth Dynasty, after the reunification of the Two-lands by Montuhotep II. Some arguments, as we will see, could support this last hypothesis.

The size of Osiris.

Osiris was a giant, a natural action of the human mind granting exceptional proportions to an outstanding being. In an apparently anecdotal way, a text from the temple of Dendara teaches us that he measured eight cubits, six palms and three fingers, that is close to 4.60 m. (Dend. II, 101,3)  [4]  !
Everything considered, this notation could be mostly based on objective observations: the one of the huge statuaries, often "Osirian", which populated the divine or funeral temples of the valley of the Nile. of the famous snake of the tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor, the likely image of the creator-god, Lord of the Land of Punt, the place of origin. One also thinks of the twenty-one cubits - 11 m.—assigned to the god Onuris (Shu), son of the creator and grandfather of Osiris, in a tale of Ptolemaic times (the Dream of Nectanebo)  [5], or, according to Manethon, to the five cubits and three palms—2.84 m. - of the next to last king of the 2nd Dynasty (Peribsen ?), and to the four cubits, three palms and two fingers - 2.35 m. - of a Sesostris [6] .
Finally, in the narration of the birth of the three kings of the Papyrus Westcar, every child's size is mentioned carefully: in (royal) cubits, or 52.3 cm. (P. Westcar 10,10,18 and 25). In spite of the heterogeneous character of the sources, the regrouping of this data poses a question: the sacred annals which, according to Diodore of Sicily, scrupulously recorded the (adult) size of successive kings, make it possible to note a progressive reduction, from the first divine generations to the human Pharaohs ?
If such was the case, we would see a regular process of "deterioration", quite similar to the one which one can observe in the sources of Manethon about the times of divine reigns, and which maybe already existed in the famous Turin Cannon composition to the New Kingdom. Indeed, according to some, the Dynasty of the gods spread on 11,985 years, Ptah (Hephaistos) having reigned 9,000 years, Re (Helios) 992 years, Shu (Agathodaimon) 700 years, Geb (Cronos) 501 years, Osiris and Isis 433 years, and Seth (Typhon) 359 years [7] .
An Egyptian tradition, originally of the city of Xois, in Lower Egypt, attributed to Amon, the creator god, a reign of 7,000 years [8] .
A mythological narrative celebrating, the "Myth of Horus", engraved on the walls of the Ptolemaic temple of Edfu, mentions "the year 363 of His Majesty the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Re-Horakhty" [9] .
Be that as it may, it is precisely because he had taken note of the exact size of Osiris, different from that of the other divinities, that Seth can put into execution the machiavellian plan, of which it will be mentioned later.

The two coronations of Osiris.

According to the biographical note at Dendara, Osiris, crowned in Herakleopolis, chose the god Thoth as vizier and appointed two generals, Hu (language) for Upper Egypt, and Sia (intellect) for Lower Egypt (Dend. II, 101,6-7). Diodore echoes a similar tradition:Osiris chooses Hermes (Thoth) as counsellor, Heracles (Horus ?) as strategist of the whole country, Bousiris as governor of the Delta and the East, and Antee as governor of Upper Egypt and the West, but nothing is said of the enthronement place (I, 17,3). The nome of Upper Egypt, goes back to at least the Middle Kingdom. Thus, in formula 313 of the Coffin Texts, the deceased, assimilated in Osiris, declares: "I have been crowned sovereign of the sky and king of the land, and my adversaries fell from fear while seeing me exalted with my great atef crowns, coming from Heracleopolis " (CT IV, 87m-88a).
Perhaps it may be objected that a divergent and former tradition, makes of Heliopolis the city where Osiris received the the sekhem sceptre or the heqa (t) crook: "Execute the orders, you who hate sleep, weakened him (Osiris), arise, you who are in Nedit: prepare your perfect bread in Pe (Buto), take your sekhem sceptre to Heliopolis !". No contradiction yet, between these two traditions. Because, while mentioning Nedit, a neighbouring place of Abydos, where Seth perpetrated his attempt against Osiris, this passage of the Pyramid Texts (TP 247, § 260a-c), resumed on stelae of the Middle Kingdom (Louvre C 30, l. 5-6) or, later again, in the Chapter 181 of the Book of the Dead, prove that what is question here is not of the first reign of Osiris, but that of the second enthronement of the god, the one which dedicates his sovereignty over the world of the dead. Promoted king of the living in Heracleopolis, Osiris was crowned lord of the beyond in Heliopolis.

The titulature of Osiris.

Become king, Osiris had to establish the five constituent names of his official protocol: the Horus name, the Nebty name, the Gold Horus name, the name of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt (coronation name, or prenomen) and the name of the son of Re (birth name, or nomen).
Several versions of the Osirian titulature have been passed on to us, without these variants, besides, it doesn't really affect the fundamental will of the scribes - theologians to produce an effect of credibility: Egyptian history abounds with fluctuating titulature or those deliberately modified during the reign.
The same Tentyrite text which gives the size of Osiris presents a complete version of his titulature: "Horus, The one with the powerful strength, Nebty, The one with the powerful vigour, Gold Horus of Osiris, King of Upper and Lower Egypt Osiris, Son of Re triumphant Wennefer" (Dend. II, 100,13 - 101,2).
One notes that the birth name of the god is Wennefer, "The Perfect one", Osiris being only his coronation name, as stipulated already, which means the one surrounded by a cartouche, on a stela of the XIIIth Dynasty (British Museum 236 [1367]).
The temple at Dendara repeatedly gives, as a variant of the Horus name, "The one who stopped the massacre in the Two-lands". So, in a chapel on the roof of the temple, one invokes Osiris as the "Lord of Egypt, who governed the inhabitants of the desert, who governed the foreign regions as Horus, The one who stopped the massacre in the Two-lands" (Dend. X, 240,2-3)  [10] .
Several centuries previously, the statuettes the Osiris-king from Ethiopian times or Saite (XXVth -XXVIth Dynasty) assign to the god this same Horus name [11] . But one can also go back in time, since this name is represented on at least two stelae of the Middle Kingdom, of which one is preserved to the Cairo museum (CG 20242), and the other, dated precisely from year 8 of Sesostris I, in the Louvre museum (C 2).
Formula 148 of the Coffin Texts, on the other hand, already reveals "Osiris who put an end to the massacre in the Two-lands" (CT II, 211c). The "massacre" in question would be the cannibalism to which Osiris would have put a end to, according to Diodore (I, 14) or, better still, the civil war which necessarily precedes all reunification ?
Be that as it may, the high dating of these documents, as will be seen, is of a great interest.
One will note, from the passage, that a similar historicisation process, by recourse to the creation of an embryo of protocol, also affects the god Geb, father of Osiris, on two sarcophaguses of the Middle Kingdom; formula 131, to which one wanted to give the outer form of a royal decree, starts with a serekh in which appears the Horus name of Geb: "The Great, the eldest, the Lord of the Field of Reeds" (CT II, 151b).
Our knowledge of the Osirian protocol admittedly does not stop there. Toward the end of the famous tale of Horus and Seth, composed maybe under Ramesses IV, the solar god of Heliopolis, Re-Horakhty, decides to send a message to Osiris, king of the beyond, to solicit his opinion on the litigation opposing the two rivals.
Diligently, Thoth, the scribe of the gods, starts his letter with the complete statement of the titulature of the sovereign of the dead: "The Bull Lion who hunts for himself, the Nebty The one who protected the gods and subjugated the Two-lands, the Gold Horus The one who invented men for the first time, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt the Bull who resides in Heliopolis, the Son of Ptah Beneficiant of the Two Banks, crowned father of his Ennead, feeding on gold and on any sacred earthenware" (P. Chester Beatty I, recto 14,7-9)  [12] .
This sequence, as can be seen, is radically different from the previous. His chronological antecedence in relation to the titulature given at Dendara doesn't necessarily impose it as more authentic: the archive documents used by the Tentyrite scribes could have been inspired by more ancient sources. But nothing says, especially, that the protocol of the king of the dead must be identical to the one of the terrestrial reign. Just as the places of coronation are distinct, Heracleopolis for the terrestrial reign and Heliopolis for the reign in the underworld, it is perfectly logical that the titulature each correspond to a specific expertise, also differentiating themselves. Some suggest 433 years, but the Manethon sources, and their interpretations, don't agree.
The twenty-eight years mentioned by Plutarch (Isis and Osiris, 42), seem very modest for one divine reign, more derisory still if it concerns his time of life, but have nevertheless the merit to evoke a lunar cycle, perfectly suitable to the god's personality.
The nature of the reign of Osiris is more interesting. According to Diodore, "Osiris, who wanted to serve humanity and to acquire glory, gathered a great army and formed the project to traverse the whole inhabited land and to teach to human kind the art of planting the grapevine and sowing wheat and barley. Indeed, he thought that while removing men from the wild state, while making them adopt a regime of civilised life, he would be made, by the importance of these good deeds, worthy of immortal honours. And it is indeed what happened" (I, 17,1-2)  [13] .
The text of Plutarch is similar: "During his reign, Osiris started by delivering the Egyptians from destitution and savagery, made them understand agriculture, gave them some laws and taught them to honour the gods, then he left by the whole world to bring civilisation, without having, only rarely, to resort to the weapons, almost always achieving the will of his intentions by the charm of his persuasive word and by the resources of song and music" (Isis and Osiris, 13).
These accounts, touching the invention of agriculture, are confirmed by a great number of Egyptian sources, to start with the personal declaration of Osiris in the Ramesside tale of Horus and Seth: "It is I who created the barley and wheat to make the gods live and, after the gods, the herd of man !" (P. Chester Beatty I, recto 14,12). in the same way, a stela of the XVIIIth Dynasty, previous to the time of Amarna, particularly instructive on Osirian theology, names the god: "The one who established ma'at on the Two Banks" (Louvre C 256, line 9)  [14] .
We possess here, without doubt, the Egyptian counterpart of the Hellenic concept of civilisation. The secondary theme of the sovereign charming humanity with his melodious voice, a priori, is a surprise. The commentators saw in the work, justifiably, the interpretatio graeca which tempts to bring back a very exotic Osiris in the lap of the Dionysian tradition. But for the egyptologist, this music evokes the prosody of royal speeches and official eulogies much more than the one of drinking songs. Because, let's emphasise it, it is about persuasion, and, therefore, about political propaganda. However the motive of speech as a rhetoric weapon brings us back to the Middle Kingdom. To Sesostris I "possessor of charm, great gentleness, who conquered by love", as he is described in the tale of Sinuhe, or to Sesostris III whose "language embraced the Nubians, and whose speeches made the Asians flee" (P. Kahoun), or better yet to this instruction of the future king Merykare, in a fictitious Teaching assigned to his father Khety, Pharaoh of the Xth Dynasty, but whose writing is not prior to the Middle Kingdom: "Become a craftsman of language and you will triumphant, because his language is the king's sword! Words are worth more than all fighting".

Isis, Great Royal Wife.

The civilising actions led by Osiris on the whole of the known world, moved him away for a long time from his palace and his country. It was incumbent then upon his wife to look after the maintenance of order inside the borders. According to Diodore, the god himself confided the totality of power to Isis (I, 17,3) ; Plutarch adds: "During his absence, Typhon (Seth) abstained from all insurrection, because Isis assured the power with much of vigilance and circumspection " (Isis and Osiris, 13).
The Ptolemaic temples provide multiple evocations of this royal Isis. She is "the lady of the people, the royal wife, great of the sky, powerful on land, the mistress of Egypt and the desert" (Edfu I, 310-311,7-8). A text of the temple of Dendara goes as far as assigning her a real Pharaonic titulature: "the feminine Horus Isis the venerable, the Lady of the Two-lands, sovereign of that which surrounds the Disk, with venerable praises, with venerable love, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt Isis, of whom the true name is Hatmehyt, the one who protects the ames sceptre, the executor (?) of the numerous knives (with which) one fights until this day, the wife, Coiled one (?), the venerable, the hand [of the god], the adorned, the lady of the palace, the lady of the beautiful appearance with verdant charm, who fills the palace with her perfection, with the sparkling apparition, provided with the khekeru material, the lady of the blue (khepresh) crown and mistress of the seshed headband of Isis, the one who comes in procession out of the divine palace, the clouds being impregnated with the perfume of her dew, [mistress] of the South and the North, powerful and venerable, the great in the sky and on land, mistress of all women, lady of the menat and mistress of the sistres to pacify the heart of The-one-who-is-awakened (Osiris), Isis, whose true name is Golden, whose father names himself Geb and whose mother names herself Nut gave to the world the gods" (Dend. II, 100,6-11)  [15] .
One has the right to wonder if this devolved sovereignty in Isis is not an echo of the eminent political role that several queens of the New Kingdom played. Not to mention, for example, the hymn to Ahhotep, the mother of Ahmosis, founder of the Dynasty, on a stela found in Karnak, where the king invites Egypt to honour his mother, who exercised the reality of power when he was occupied repulsing the Hyksos into Palestine: "Make praise to the mistress of the country, the sovereign of the borders of the Haunebut, whose name is raised in all foreign regions, who governed the population, wife of king, sister of sovereign, sister of king, august mother of king, who knows the affairs of state, who united Egypt, gathered his nobles, united them, brought back his fugitives, regrouped his dissidents, pacified Upper Egypt and pushed back its rebels, the royal wife, Ahhotep !" (Cairo CG 34001) ?
Like Ahhotep, the historic figures of Ahmes-Nefertary, the divine wife of Amenhotep I, of Tiy, the wife of Amenhotep III, without forgetting Hatshepsut, who of course decided to become Pharaoh, certainly contributed to forge the mythical picture of this sovereign Isis.
But one of the direct prototypes of our queen Isis, as found in the temple of Dendara, seems to be the famous wife of Ramesses II, Nefertari, which an inscription from the Luxor temple describes thus: "The princess, with venerable praises, lady of charm, soft of love, mistress of the South and North, whose arms are gracious when she holds the sistres to pacify her father Amon, with venerable love when she wears the seshed headband, the chantress with the beautiful face, gracious when she wears the two feathers, most venerable of the Palace Harem; one is delighted with that which comes out of her mouth, although she says, it accomplished for her all good things she desires, all her words delight everyone, because everyone lives to hear her voice, the king's venerable wife, his beloved, the wife of the victorious Bull, the lady of the Two-lands, Nefertari, beloved of Mut" [16] .
Another source suggests a possible influence of the history of the New Kingdom on the development of the myth of the terrestrial royalty of Isis. A stela from the Louvre museum, already quoted, describes the assignments of the sister and wife of Osiris thus: "His sister assured his protection, she repelled the enemies, who undoes the actions of the troublemakers by the formulas of her utterances, whose words are complete, the infallible speeches, and the final orders" (Louvre C 256, l. 13-14). The second part of the text, which makes allusion to the search of the dismembered body and to the childhood of Horus, suggests that this first part doesn't describe the magic protection assured by Isis after her spouse's death, but certainly her function as queen in the absence of the Pharaoh.

An involuntary adultery.

To be just, it is necessary announce that a mistake blemishes the exemplary reign of Osiris. Still the god is not actually responsible.
According to Plutarch, "Isis learned that Osiris, confusing her with their common sister, had by mistake had a love relationship with this one (Nephthys). A clue informed him of it: the garland of melilot (sweet clover) which Osiris had left with Nephthys. She (Isis) put herself in search of the child which had been born of this union, which her mother had rightly exposed after the childbirth, by fear of Typhon (Seth, the husband of Nephthys). She discovered him, no without a lot of pain and effort, thanks to dogs who guided her. She took care to raise him, and he became her bodyguard and her follower, under the name of Anubis. It is said that he watches over the gods as the dogs watch over men" (Isis and Osiris, 14).
This tradition is confirmed by a magic papyrus preserved to the national Library of Paris: "It is Isis who comes at noon from the mountain in summer, the virgin covered with dust; her eyes are filled with tears, her heart is full of grief; her father Thoth the great comes to her and ask her: 'Why, Isis my daughter, virgin covered with dust, your eyes are they full of tears, and your heart full of grief, and the […] of your soiled dress ? Full of tears !'. She answered him: 'It isn't my fault, oh my father, oh cunning Thoth, oh sly Thoth. I have been betrayed by my companion. I discovered a secret: yes, Nephthys lay down with Osiris […] my brother, the son of my own mother' " [17] .
The manuscript, written in old Coptic, dates from the IVth century of our era, but the substratum of the legend - the sexual intercourse of Osiris with the two sisters - continues up at least to the New Kingdom, judging by an allusion to a quarrel of Isis and Nephthys in the Chapter 183 of the Book of the Dead. As for the subject of Anubis son of Osiris, is even more ancient [18] .
One will also notice this curious passage from the Pyramid Texts where it is question of a dangerous Nephthys designated by the name, not very courteously, of "Substitute, who doesn't have a vagina" (TP 534, § 1273b).
The detail of the garland (or rather crown) of melilot, reported by Plutarch, deserves that a consideration [19] . This object constitutes for Isis - and for Seth, husband of Nephthys, who will discover it in his turn - a certain proof of the passage of Osiris and, therefore, of his disloyalty. This plant being renowned for growing on the fringe of the desert, Plutarch himself advances a very convincing explanation (Isis and Osiris, 38) : likened to the flooding of the Nile, the moods of Osiris fertilise the land of the valley (Kemet), symbolised by the body of Isis; in these conditions, any plant emerging out of the cultivated zone betrays, ipso facto, an Osirian irruption in the desert area (Desheret) which represents Nephthys. The presence of the Osirian melilot in Sethian territory, thus provides the manifest indication of an extra-conjugal first rate flood. By the same stroke, the form of Isis "which comes at noon from the mountain in summer", in the Coptic magic manuscript, is fully justified: this is in the desert, at the height of the heatwave, in a place and in a time where all vegetation was necessarily suspected, that the unfortunate wife discovered the irrefutable proof of an illegitimate link.
To finish, one should add that a plaited plant crown formed a main part part of the objects linked with love in the literature of the New Kingdom. In a poem, for example, the girl declares to her beloved: "I want to take your plaited crowns when you return inebriated; you will be lying in your chamber, while I will be caressing your feet" (P. Harris 500, recto 7,11-12)  [20] .
The episode of the involuntary adultery would probably have given rise to tragedy in the Athens of Pericles, and the Viennese psychoanalyst would probably have conceived some "Osirian complex". In Egyptian culture, it is used primarily as mythical reference intended to reinforce the capacity of a magic formula. All the affair rests on an inauspicious confusion, as Plutarch points out: Osiris mistakes Nephthys for Isis, a tragic-comedy mistake resulting from their twin birth.

The plot of Seth.

But it is necessary to leave the theatre of conjugal events to arrive at what constitutes the real Osirian drama.
About the return of Osiris, Plutarch told us, Typhon (Seth) "plotted against him, after having insured the complicity of seventy-two conspirators, assisted also by the presence of a queen of Ethiopia named Aso. In secret, he took the measurements of the body of Osiris and manufactured according to these measurements a beautiful chest magnificently worked. He brought into the banqueting room, and the guests, who saw it, were seized with pleasure and admiration. Then Typhon, by way of a game, promised to make gift of it to whoever, stretching himself in it, would find it to his size. All tried in turn, but no one was suited. Finally, Osiris stretched himself in it. Then all the accomplices of Typhon hurried and folded back the lid, which they fixed on the outside with nails and sealed it with molten lead. Then they transported the chest down to the river and it descend toward the sea by the Tanitic tributary, which for this reason the Egyptians today still call the abhorrent, the cursed" (Isis and Osiris, 13)  [21] .
To this day, no explanation has been proposed for the number of the seventy-two conspirators. As for the enigmatic Aso, assistant of Seth, personification of winds which blow in Ethiopia, according to Plutarch, her name can evoke that of Isis, well known for her sorceress's expertise, and for which the Meroitic transcription - "Achi" or "Ochi" - would explain the anthroponyme of Plutarch. One also thinks of the "Nubian from the plateau", in a magic papyrus of the Middle Kingdom, susceptible to harming the newborn child (P. Berlin 3027,2, 8).
But, to come from there in the heart of the narrative, it is necessary to recognise that the theme of the plot carried out against the king encounters many echoes in Egyptian history.
The Pharaohs Teti, Pepy I and Merenre II, of the VIth Dynasty, Amenemhat I, of the XIIth Dynasty, Ahmosis, Tutankhamun (?) and Ramesses III, of the New Kingdom, were some of the targets, and sometimes victims, of daring conspiracies. One would not be surprised, in these conditions, that the official mythographies elaborated this Sethian episode to explain some accidents of history and, especially, to legitimise in advance a repression of scale and relentless punishment. The recent record of an established regicide, like the one of Amenemhat I at the beginning of the XIIth Dynasty, of which one knows that it was exploited politically by his son and successor Sesostris I, may have played an important part in the conception of this mythical episode ?

Osiris and Sesostris.

P.P. Koemoth was the first to see, in the historicisation of the Osirian myth, the likely effect of royal propaganda [22] .
His commentary of the Tentyrite text relative to Osiris "Lord of Egypt, who governed the inhabitants of the desert, who governed the foreign regions as Horus The one who put stop the massacre in the Two-lands" carefully suggests that this historicisation could have intervened very well during the reign of Sesostris I, "in order to magnify the picture of the latter in the eyes of his subjects. Sesostris would have appeared to them then as the image of a celebrated mythical king having worked for the glory of Egypt, at the dawn of time".
In fact, several indications, in this investigation on the theme of the terrestrial reign of Osiris, drive us to the XIIth Dynasty and, more precisely, to Sesostris I.
A Theban birth, in the dynastic capital of Amenemhat and Sesostris, a titulature that seems have been composed, in part at least, at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, an Osiris using the persuasive speech in governmental fashion, in the image of what the sovereigns of this time claimed, a tragic end, which could evoke the assassination Amenemhat I.
Which would clarify this passage where Manethon indicates that the Egyptians placed Sesostris, for his exploits, immediately after Osiris.
One will add that the Egyptian language suggested an obvious word game between the proper name "Sesostris" (s-en-usire) and the expression "the second of Osiris" (sen-usir).
Definitely, Sesostris I, whose legendary figure progressively nourished the military exploits of Sesostris III, was not the first, nor especially the last to find advantage to the broadcasting of this "biography" of Osiris: the historic experience of the New Kingdom, illustrated notably by the conquests of Thutmosis III and the privileged role of some royal wives, must certainly enrich, as one sees it, the mythical narration.
The Ethiopian kings of the XXVth Dynasty, who resumed for their own benefit the Pharaonic ideology, then the sovereigns of the Saite renaissance also contributed, in all probability, to the re-activation of the myth. One can wonder if Alexander the Great's character didn't appear to some Hellenised Egyptians or Egyptionised Greeks as the Messianic reincarnation of the prototype Osirian king, conquering and civilising.

    [1]  All excerpts of Plutarch are mentioned here in the translation of Chr. Froidefond, Plutarch. Œuvres moral V/2, Ises and Osiris, Ed. "Les Belles Lettres", Paris, 1988.
    [2]  Dend. II, 100-101 ; other references in S. Cauville, Dendara. Les chapelles osiriennes. 2. Commentaires, Bibliothèque d’étude 118, IFAO, Le Caire, 1997, p.236-238.
    [3]  C. De Wit, Les inscriptions du Temple d’Opet à Karnak III, BiAeg XIII, Bruxelles, 1968, p. 146-147.
    [4]  See J. Yoyotte, "Une notice biographique du roi Osiris", BIFAO 77,1977, p.145-149.
    [5]  G. Maspero, Les contes populaires de l’Égypte ancienne, Paris, 1882,4e ed. 1911, p. 215-222.
    [6]  Manethon, Aegyptiaca, fgt 35-36; W.G. Waddell, Manetho, Loeb Classical Library, p.70-71,1940, reprint 1980.
    [7]  Ibid., fgt.
    [8]  See S. Sauneron, "Les 7000 de Xoïs", Villes et légendes d’Égypte, 2e ed., BdE 90, IFAO, Cairo, 1983, p.171-174.
    [9]  Edfou VI, 109.
    [10]  See S. Cauville, Dendara. Les chapelles osiriennes. 3. Index, BdE 119,1997, p.381-382. The translation of this passage by S. Cauville (“you govern”), which doesn't take into account the verbal morphology, cannot be sustained: it is necessary to respect the accomplished indicated by the Egyptian form (lit. “while you governed”), since it is exactly the question here of the first terrestrial reign of the god.
    [11]  H. de Meulenaere, B. von Bothmer, "Une tête d’Osiris au Musée du Louvre", Kemi XIX, 1969, p.9-16.
    [12]  See W. Westendorf, "Eine Königstitulatur des Osiris", HÄB 30,1990, p.253-361.
    [13]  Translation of P. Bertrac, Y. Vernière, Diodore, Bibliothèque historique, Book I, Les Belles Lettres, 1993.
    [14]  Voir A. Moret, "La légende d’Osiris à l’époque thébaine d’après l’hymne à Osiris du Louvre", BIFAO 30,1931, p.725-750 and pl.III.
    [15]  This text, of which nothing exist today, to our knowledge, has no published translation, it can be interpreted thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Daisy Morfin (Centre for Egyptology Fr. Daumas, University Paul Valéry, Montpellier III) ; I send him here my deepest acknowledgements.
    [16]  Hieroglyphic texts in K.A. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions II/21, Blackwell, Oxford, 1979, p.849,4-8.
    [17]  P.Bibl.Nat. Suppl. gr. n° 574 = PGM IV, 94-104 ; English translation in H.D. Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, 2nd ed., 1992, p.39 ; French translation in A. Verse, Manuel de magie égyptienne, Paris, 1995, p.15. See J.G. Griffiths, Plutarch’s De Iside et Osiride, Cambridge, 1970, p.316-317 ; J. Quaegebeur, OLP 22,1991, p.118-122.
    [18]  See J. Quaegebeur, "Anubis, fils d’Osiris, le vacher", StudAeg 3,1977, p.119-130.
    [19]  I am very thankful to M. Jean-Claude Grenier, professor to the Paul Valéry university (Montpellier III), for me to have suggested this commentary.

    [20]  See B. Mathieu, La Poésie amoureuse de l’Égypte ancienne. Recherches sur un genre littéraire au Nouvel Empire, BdE 115, IFAO, Le Caire, 1996, p.64-65 and 80.
    [21]  On the death of Osiris, one should refer to the article of N. Guilhou, in this same issue.
    [22]  A name of Horus for king Osiris, GM43,1994, p.89-96.