Thoth - Encyclopedia




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THOTH, the Greek name of the Egyptian god of letters, invention and wisdom (e.g. Thowt, Zhwty), the mouthpiece and recorder of the gods, and arbiter of their disputes. Thoth is found on the earliest monuments symbolized by an ibis (Ibis aethio pica, still not uncommon in Nubia), which bird was sacred to him. In the Pyramid texts Thoth is already closely associated with the Osiris myth, having aided the god by his science and knowledge of magic, and demonstrated the justice of his claims in the contest with Set. Thoth presided over writing, measuring and calculation, and is prominent in the scene of the weighing of the soul. He was often identified with the moon as a divider of time, and in this connexion, during the New Empire, the ape first appears as his sacred animal. Thoth was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, and Hermes Trismegistus is a late development of the Egyptian god. Geographically the worship of Thoth in Lower Egypt centred in the Hermopolite nome, contiguous to the Busirite and Mendesian nomes. This was the district anciently called Zlhwt, and the god's name Zhwty means simply "him of Zlhwt." But Hermopolis Magna in Upper Egypt, now Eshmunain, was a city of greater political importance than Hermopolis in Lower Egypt.

See E. A. W. Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians; and specially EGYPT: Ancient, § Religion. (F. LL. G.)

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