Monday, 9 October 2017


“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.” - Ovid

In Egyptian mythology, Herishef or Heryshaf, (Egyptian Ḥry-š=f “He who is on his lake”), transcribed in Greek as Arsaphes or Harsaphes (Ἁρσαφής) was an ancient ram-god whose cult was centred in Heracleopolis Magna (now Ihnasiyyah al-Madinah).

He was identified with Ra and Osiris in Egyptian mythology, as well as Dionysus or Heracles in Greek mythology. The identification with Heracles may be related to the fact that in later times his name was sometimes re-analysed as Ḥry-šf.t “He who is over strength”. One of his titles was “Ruler of the Riverbanks”. Heryshaf was a creator and fertility god who was born from the primordial waters. He was pictured as a man with the head of a ram, or as a ram. Among his epithets are also “Mighty Phallus,” “Majesty of the Gods,” and “Lord of the Blood”.

The Palermo Stone records that his cult dated back to the first dynasty of Ancient Egypt (the Early period) but the earliest known temple dedicated to him at Hwt-nen-nesu is dated to the Middle Kingdom. However, we know that he was fairly powerful during the First intermediate Period when Hwt-nen-nesu briefly became the capital of Lower Egypt. The Temple of Herishef was expanded during the New Kingdom by Ramesses II who added a number of huge granite columns with palm leaf capitals and remained active until well into the Ptolemaic Period.

Herishef is a god who was exceptionally popular in antiquity, with numerous feast days dotting ancient calendars, and was even elevated to the status of Supreme High God of the unified Egyptian State during the 9th and 10th Dynasties under the Herakleopolitan Kings. Despite his prominence in historical Egyptian religion, Herishef fell into almost total obscurity.

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