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OSIRIS
An Egyptian god, who, with his sister and wife Isis (q.v.), enjoyed in Egypt the most general worship of all the gods. He is the male god of the fructification of the land. From him comes every blessing and all life; he gives light and health; he causes the Nile to overflow with its fertilizing waters, and all things to continue in their established order. He is always represented in human shape and with a human head (see cut). His hue, as that of a god who bestows life, is green; his sacred tree is the ever-green tamarisk. The Greeks identified him with Dionysus. Originally he ruled as king over Egypt, where he introduced agriculture, morality, and the worship of the gods, until his brother Typhon (Set) contrived by deceit to shut him up in a chest and put him to death by pouring in molten lead. The murderer cast the chest into the Nile, which carried it into the sea. After long search the mourning Isis found the chest on the coast of Phoenicia, at Byblus, and carefully concealed it. Nevertheless Typhon discovered it in the night, and cut the corpse up into fourteen pieces, which he scattered in all directions. Isis, however, collected them again, and buried them in Phil' or Abydus, in Upper Egypt. When Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, grew up, he took vengeance upon Typhon when, after a most obstinate struggle, he had defeated him in battle. Although Osiris lived no longer upon the earth, he was ever regarded as the source of life. In the upper world he continues to live and work by the fresh power of his youthful son Horus, and in the lower world, of which he is king, the spirits of those who are found to te just are awakened by him to new life. His hue as ruler of the lower world is black, his robes white, his symbol an eye opened wide as a sign of his restoration to the light of day. Osiris, by his ever-renewed incarnation in the form of the black bull Apis, the symbol of generative power, assures for the Egyptians the endurance of his favour, and the consequent continuance of their life in this world and the next. In this incarnation he is called Osarhapi (Osiris-Apis), the origin of the Greek Serapis (q.v.) or Sarapis. The fortunes of Osiris were celebrated in magnificent annual festivals connected with mourning ceremonies, in which the Egyptians, as is observed by the ancients [e.g. Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, 32, and 'lian, De Nat. Animalium 10, 46], lamented in Osiris the subsidence of the Nile, the cessation of the cool north wind (whose place was taken for a time by the hot wind Typhon), the decay of vegetation, and the shortening of the length of the day.

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