Plutarch, Moralia. Isis and Osiris

LCL 306: 92-93

Go To Section
Go To Section

Plutarch’s Moralia

(366)καὶ χάσμασι λεοντείοις τὰ τῶν ἱερῶν θυρώματα κοσμοῦσιν, ὅτι πλημμυρεῖ Νεῖλος

ἠελίου τὰ πρῶτα συνερχομένοιο λέοντι.

Ὡς δὲ Νεῖλον Ὀσίριδος ἀπορροήν, οὕτως Ἴσιδος σῶμα γῆν ἔχουσι1 καὶ νομίζουσιν, οὐ πᾶσαν, ἀλλ᾿ ἧς ὁ Νεῖλος ἐπιβαίνει σπερμαίνων καὶ μειγνύμενος· ἐκ δὲ τῆς συνουσίας ταύτης γεννῶσι τὸν Ὧρον. ἔστι δ᾿ Ὧρος ἡ πάντα σῴζουσα καὶ τρέφουσα τοῦ περιέχοντος ὥρα καὶ κρᾶσις ἀέρος, ὃν ἐν τοῖς ἕλεσι τοῖς περὶ Βοῦτον ὑπὸ Λητοῦς τραφῆναι λέγουσιν· ἡ γὰρ ὑδατώδης καὶ διάβροχος γῆ μάλιστα τὰς Bσβεννούσας καὶ χαλώσας τὴν ξηρότητα καὶ τὸν αὐχμὸν ἀναθυμιάσεις τιθηνεῖται.

Νέφθυν δὲ καλοῦσι τῆς γῆς τὰ ἔσχατα καὶ παρόρεια2 καὶ ψαύοντα τῆς θαλάττης· διὸ καὶ Τελευτὴν3 ἐπονομάζουσι τὴν Νέφθυν καὶ Τυφῶνι δὲ συνοικεῖν λέγουσιν. ὅταν δ᾿ ὑπερβαλὼν καὶ πλεονάσας ὁ Νεῖλος ἐπέκεινα πλησιάσῃ τοῖς ἐσχατεύουσι, τοῦτο μεῖξιν Ὀσίριδος πρὸς Νέφθυν καλοῦσιν, ὑπὸ τῶν ἀναβλαστανόντων φυτῶν ἐλεγχομένην· ὧν καὶ τὸ μελίλωτόν ἐστιν, οὗ φησι μῦθος ἀπορρυέντος καὶ ἀπολειφθέντος αἴσθησιν γενέσθαι Τυφῶνι τῆς περὶ τὸν γάμον ἀδικίας. ὅθεν ἡ μὲν CἾσις ἔτεκε γνησίως τὸν Ὧρον, ἡ δὲ Νέφθυς σκότιον τὸν Ἄνουβιν. ἐν μέντοι ταῖς διαδοχαῖς τῶν βασιλέων


Isis And Osiris

adorn the doorways of their shrines with gaping lions’ heads,a because the Nile overflows

When for the first time the Sun comes into conjunction with Leo.b

As they regard the Nile as the effusion of Osiris,c so they hold and believe the earth to be the body of Isis, not all of it, but so much of it as the Nile covers, fertilizing it and uniting with it.d From this union they make Horus to be born. The all-conserving and fostering Hora, that is the seasonable tempering of the surrounding air, is Horus, who they say was brought up by Leto in the marshes round about Butoe; for the watery and saturated land best nurtures those exhalations which quench and abate aridity and dryness.

The outmost parts of the land beside the mountains and bordering on the sea the Egyptians call Nephthys. This is why they give to Nephthys the name of “Finality,”f and say that she is the wife of Typhon. Whenever, then, the Nile overflows and with abounding waters spreads far away to those who dwell in the outermost regions, they call this the union of Osiris with Nephthys,g which is proved by the upspringing of the plants. Among these is the melilotus,h by the wilting and failing of which, as the story goes, Typhon gained knowledge of the wrong done to his bed. So Isis gave birth to Horus in lawful wedlock, but Nephthys bore Anubis clandestinely. However, in the chronological lists of the kings they record that

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_isis_osiris.1936