Monday, 20 March 2017


“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - EdmundBurke

Apep or Apophis (Ancient Greek: Ἄποφις; also spelled Apepi or Aapep) was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth). He appears in art as a giant serpent. Apep was first mentioned in the Eighth Dynasty, and he was honoured in the names of the Fourteenth Dynasty king ‘Apepi and of the Greater Hyksos king Apophis.

Ra was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at. Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra, and also “the Lord of Chaos”. As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake or serpent leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. Comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. Apophis was a large golden snake known to be miles long. He was so large that he attempted to swallow the sun every day.[citation needed]

Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Storytellers said that every day Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god overthrown by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned. The Coffin Texts imply that Apep used a magical gaze to overwhelm Ra and his entourage. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, including Set and possibly the Eye of Ra. Apep’s movements were thought to cause earthquakes, and his battles with Set may have been meant to explain the origin of thunderstorms. In some accounts, Ra himself defeats Apep in the form of a cat.

Ra was worshipped, while apotropaic practices against Apep was widespread. Ra’s victory each night was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshippers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky. In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Chaos, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s evil for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra (burning of effigies of evil deities).

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