Back to Home Page or Contents or Egyptian Mythology or Article Index

Apis


Apis, an Egyptian bull god, was the personification of the creator god Ptah in Memphis. He is an intermediary between the supreme god and human beings. His mother Isis could engender him in a lightening flash. The bull is depicted as being totally black, except for the small white triangle on its forehead, and having vulture wings. Between the horns are surmounted the dun disc, or in later times the moon, and the uraeus.

The cult of the bull is very ancient and is attested in Egypt since around 3000 BCE. According to the Greek author Herodotus, huge statues of Apis supported the temple of Ptah in Memphis. In a ritual of vitality, the king paced along side the bull to renew his strength. The average lifespan of an Apis bull was fourteen years, after which it was mummified and interred in huge sarcophagi, which was placed in the catacombs at the necropolis at Seqqara. The bull also possesses strong underworld connections.

According to the Hebrew Biblical tradition, Apis was the god, which Aaron modeled the Golden Calf after thinking it would be better to make an image of Jehovah in the well-known form of Egyptian idolatry than to risk the total alienation of the people to false gods. A.G.H.


Sources:

Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 21
Smith's Bible Dictionary, Philadelphia, A. J. Holman, Co., Revised Ed., p. 1

Home    Alchemy    Ancient Beliefs    Buddhism    Christianity    Demonology    Divination    Goddess and witchcraft    Great Mysteries    Hinduism    Islam     Judaism    Magic    Neo-paganism    Other    Paranormal    Past and present Beliefs    People    Places    Religions and sects    Rituals and texts    Shamanism    Stones    Theosophy African Mythology    Asian Mythology    Buddha Mythology    Egyptian Mythology    Greco-Roman Mythology    Greek Mythology    Hindu Mythology    Native American    Persian Mythology    Roman Mythology    South American Mythology