Dr Jessica Nitschke, research associate, Department of Ancient Studies, Stellenbosch University

Mythology has helped humans throughout time to make sense of the world and the human condition – the same is true for the ancient Egyptians. This course will explore Egyptian philosophical ideas and mythological tales reflecting what they believed happened in Egypt before the time of the pharaohs. The first lecture will describe traditions surrounding the very moment of creation, comparing them with creation accounts from the Old Testament. The second will explore the trials and tribulations of the reign of Re over Egypt, including tales such as ‘Isis and the True Name of Re’ and ‘the Myth of the Heavenly Cow’. The last lecture will examine the mythological cycle surrounding Osiris and the subsequent battle of Horus and Seth for the right to the succession. This cycle is at the core of Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife as well as their conception of the institution of kingship.



1. In the beginning: creation through Egyptian eyes

2. The reign of Re

3. The myth of Osiris


Recommended reading

Pinch, G. 2004. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Assmann, J. 2001. The Search for God in Ancient Egypt. Translated by D. Lorton. Cornell: Cornell University Press.



Date: Wednesday 22–Friday 24 January  
Time: 11.15 am  
COURSE FEES: Full R354 Staff & Students R177
Venue: Classroom 2A Kramer Law Building UCT