Book of Thoth inspired one of the few stories about Thoth that es not involve some other god. A Ptolemaic papyrus tells of a Police named Neferkaptah, his family and their search for the °k of Thoth. A priest described the magical book to the prince in glowing terms:
|Depiction of Thoth as a baboon (c. 1400 BC), in the British Museum|
Thoth wrote the book with his own hand, and in it was all the magic in the world. If you read the first page, you will enchant the sky, the earth, the abyss, the mountains, and the sea: you will understand the language of the birds of the air, and you will know what the creeping things of the earth are saying, and you will see the fishes from the darkest depths of the sea. And if you read the second page, even though you are dead and in the world of ghosts, you could come back to earth in the form you once had.
And besides this, you will see the sun shining in the sky with the full moon and the stars, and you will behold the great shapes of the gods.
Naturally, the prince begged to be told where he could obtain the book, and after promising to provide his informant with an elaborate funeral he was told that the book was kept in the middle of the Nile near Koptos, locked in a series of valuable boxes. The prince ran to tell his wife Ahura this marvelous news, but she, fearful of the power of the gods, begged him not to search further. Undeterred by her warning, he set sail with his wife and son.
When they arrived in Koptos, they built a magical barge to search out the boxes on the river bed. After three days the crew found the boxes, but when Neferkaptah used sand to build a dam beside the boxes so that he could get into them, he discovered that they were guarded by great snakes, scorpions, and other crawling things that no man could kill. Neferkaptah, however, knew the magical spells to still these creatures, and walked through their midst unharmed. One by one he opened the boxes and soon arrived at the last, a golden one, where he found the Book of Thoth.
At once he used its wisdom to enchant nature the fish came up from the bottom of the river for him to see and he knew that the priest had spoken true. Calling for a sheet of papyrus and some beer he wrote down the magical words of the book, then washed the ink off with beer. He drank the beer and so drank the words of Thoth and knew them. This done, he sailed for home with his small family.
When Thoth discovered the theft of his book, his anger was terrible. He used the powers of the gods to pull the son and wife of Neferkaptah from the boat and drown them. Grief-stricken, the prince used his own magic and raised the body of his wife to the surface, only to be told that in the underworld she had seen Thoth with his anger unabated. Now Neferkaptah knew that the god’s magic was much stronger than his and that the end was inevitable. He wrapped the book to his chest with a fine piece of linen, for he was resolved that the god would never again have it, and shortly he too was pulled overboard to his death. The crew of the barge sailed on home and reported the sad news to the king, the prince’s father, who put on mourning clothes and went looking for his son’s body. He found it floating in the river with the book still bound to its chest. The prince was buried with the full honors due to the son of a king, and the Book of Thoth was buried with him. Thus was the vengeance of Thoth fulfilled, but the book remained with Neferkaptah.
Thoth normally appeared in one of two shapes: an ibis or a baboon. The baboon was probably the earlier representation of the since at an early time the Egyptians revered the baboon and associated it with the sun god because of its chatterings at dawn. Apparently, the wisdom of the ape was associated with the god of wisdom. In this form Thoth was depicted as an ape with a doglike face. The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel shows baboons 0'‘shipping the rising sun; giant apes stand at what used to be Sates of a shrine to Thoth at Ashmunein not far from Minia: and more ape statues can be found in the Egyptian Museum. In vignettes for the Book of the Dead this depiction of Thoth can be seen sitting on top of the scales in the trial, giving Thoth a double presence there since he also stood in his ibis form to record the verdict. This other depiction showed Thoth with a human body and an ibis head. The ibis was a long-beaked bird often seen in fields along the Nile, and according to one myth, when Ra made Thoth his deputy; he assigned him the ibis as a messenger to ease his burden. In either form, Thoth sometimes wore a lunar disk sitting in the crescent of a quarter moon, signifying his role as a moon god.
I did is the same as it is in the sacred book.” Close by the tomb is one of the most macabre sites in Egypt, an elaborate underground necropolis possibly covering hundreds of acres in which sacred ibises and baboons were mummified and buried by the thousand as sacrifices to Thoth.
Related Web Search :
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