Ennead

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The Ennead (Greek ἐννεάς, meaning a collection of nine things) was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology. The Ennead were worshipped at Heliopolis and consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys.

Contents

Terminology

Egyptian mythology established multiple such groupings of deities, known as Pesedjets. The Pyramid Texts of the 5th and 6th dynasties mention the Great Pesedjet, the Lesser Pesedjet, the Dual Pesedjet, plural Pesedjets, and even the Seven Pesedjets. Some pharaohs established pesedjets that incorporated themselves among the deities. The most notable case is Seti I of the 19th dynasty, who in his temple at Redesiyah worshipped a pesedjet that combined six important deities with three deified forms of himself.

The Greek term Ennead, denoting a group of nine, was coined by Greeks exploring Egypt, its culture and religion, especially after the conquest by Alexander the Great and during the subsequent rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Greek became the language of learned studies and hence Greek terms were used by Greek and Roman authors to describe Egyptian phenomena. These others also made use of parallels between Egyptian and Greek deities to identify the two.

Development of the Ennead

Among Egyptian pesedjets, the most important was the Great Pesedjet, also called the Ennead of Heliopolis, after its centre of worship. Heliopolis (Egyptian: Aunu, "place of pillars") was dedicated to the worship of the god Atum and thrived from the Old Kingdom until its decline unter the Ptolemaic rulers.

The development of the Ennead remains uncertain. Egyptologists have traditionally theorised that the priesthood of Heliopolis established this pesedjet in order to stress the preeminence of the sun-god above other deities, incorporating gods which had been venerated elsewhere for centuries while ignoring others. The most prominent of such deities was Osiris, god of vegetation and of the netherworld, who was incorporated into the Ennead as Atum's great-grandson. However, in the 20th century, some Egyptologists[who?] question the whole secenario.

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