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Osiris: An Overview of Etymology, Attributes, Family Tree, and Mythology

Osiris is a prominent figure in Egyptian mythology, known as the god of the dead and the afterlife. He is often depicted as a mummified man with a crook and flail, symbols of his power and authority. According to myth, Osiris was the first pharaoh of Egypt and brought civilization to the land.

The name “Osiris” is derived from the ancient Egyptian word “wsjr,” which means “powerful” or “mighty.” He was worshipped throughout Egypt and was a central figure in many religious ceremonies and rituals. His cult arose around 2600 BCE, as those of competing deities, including Andjety of Busiris and Khentamentiu of Abydos, declined.

Osiris was a member of the Ennead, a group of nine gods who were believed to have created the world. He was the son of Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky. He was married to his sister, Isis, and had a son named Horus. His brother, Set, was jealous of his power and murdered him, but with the help of Isis, he was resurrected and became the god of the afterlife.


Osiris is a prominent figure in Egyptian mythology, revered as the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, resurrection, life, and vegetation. He is also known as the “Mighty One” and is considered a central figure in the pantheon of Egyptian gods.

Historical Significance

Osiris was a local god of Busiris in Lower Egypt. His cult arose around 2600 BCE, as those of competing deities, including Andjety of Busiris and Khentamentiu of Abydos, declined. His story provided his followers with reassurance for life after death, that the Nile would keep their lands fertile, and was an inspiration for what a king should be.

Cultural Impact

Osiris has had a significant impact on Egyptian culture and religion. He was worshipped throughout the country and was considered an important figure in the afterlife. His story has been depicted in various forms of art, including sculptures, paintings, and hieroglyphics. The ancient Egyptians believed that by invoking his name, they could receive his blessings and protection. Even today, his legacy continues to influence modern culture, with numerous books, movies, and TV shows featuring his story.

Overall, Osiris is a fascinating figure in Egyptian mythology, with a rich history and cultural significance. His story has inspired countless people throughout history and continues to be an important part of Egyptian culture to this day.


Name Origin

The name “Osiris” is the Greek rendering of the Egyptian name “Wsir” or “Asir”. The meaning of the name is not entirely clear, but it is often translated as “powerful” or “mighty”. Some scholars believe that the name may have originally meant “the one who sees the throne” or “the one who presides on his throne”.

Evolution of the Name

The name “Osiris” was not the original name of the god. In the early stages of Egyptian religion, he was known as “Asar” or “Asir”. The god was later referred to as “Usir” during the Old Kingdom period (2686-2181 BCE). The Greek name “Osiris” was introduced after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.

Over time, the name “Osiris” became more widely used and eventually replaced the original Egyptian name. The god’s name appears in many ancient texts, including the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and Book of the Dead.

In summary, the name “Osiris” is a Greek rendering of the Egyptian name “Wsir” or “Asir”. The meaning of the name is uncertain, but it is often translated as “powerful” or “mighty”. The name “Osiris” evolved over time and eventually replaced the original Egyptian name.



Osiris is often depicted as a mummified pharaoh wearing the Atef crown, which is adorned with ostrich feathers and a sun disk. The Atef crown represents Osiris’ role as king of the afterlife, while the ostrich feathers symbolize truth and justice. In some depictions, Osiris is also shown holding a crook and flail, which are symbols of his authority and power.

Symbols and Associations

Osiris is associated with several symbols, including the djed pillar, the ankh, and the lotus flower. The djed pillar represents stability and endurance, while the ankh symbolizes life and fertility. The lotus flower, on the other hand, is a symbol of rebirth and resurrection.

In addition to these symbols, Osiris is also associated with several animals, including the bull, the ram, and the crocodile. The bull represents strength and fertility, while the ram symbolizes leadership and power. The crocodile, meanwhile, is associated with the Nile River and represents fertility and regeneration.

Overall, Osiris’ iconography and symbols reflect his role as a powerful and benevolent god of the afterlife, fertility, and rebirth.

Family Tree


Osiris was the son of Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky. He was born along with his four siblings, Isis, Nephthys, Seth, and Horus the Elder. His parents were considered to be the first couple in the world, and Osiris was believed to have inherited his father’s power over the earth.


Osiris had four siblings, all of whom played critical roles in his story. His sister Isis was his wife and also a powerful goddess of magic and fertility. His other sister, Nephthys, was the wife of his brother Seth, who was the god of chaos and violence. Horus the Elder, his youngest brother, was a sky god and the protector of the pharaohs.

Consorts and Offspring

Osiris was married to his sister Isis, with whom he had a son named Horus the Younger. He was also believed to have had other consorts and children, including Anubis, the god of embalming, and Ma’at, the goddess of truth and justice. His family was central to his mythology, and he was revered as a protector of the dead and a symbol of fertility and rebirth.


Major Myths

Osiris was one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian mythology. According to the myth, he was the son of Geb, the god of the earth, and Nut, the goddess of the sky. He was the brother and husband of Isis, the goddess of motherhood and fertility. Osiris was known as the god of the afterlife, resurrection, and vegetation.

One of the most famous myths surrounding Osiris is the story of his murder by his brother Set. Set was jealous of Osiris’s power and popularity among the people of Egypt. He tricked Osiris into getting into a coffin and then threw it into the Nile River. Isis, with the help of her sister Nephthys, found Osiris’s body and brought it back to life using her magical powers.

Worship and Rituals

Osiris was widely worshipped throughout ancient Egypt, and his cult was especially popular during the New Kingdom period. Many temples were dedicated to him, including the Temple of Osiris at Abydos, which was believed to be the site of his burial.

The worship of Osiris involved many rituals and ceremonies, including the annual Osiris festival, which was held in honor of the god’s resurrection. During the festival, priests would perform a reenactment of the myth of Osiris, in which they would carry a statue of the god in a procession to his tomb and then back to the temple.

Afterlife and Resurrection

Osiris was closely associated with the afterlife and resurrection. According to the myth, he was the judge of the dead, and he would weigh the hearts of the deceased against a feather to determine their fate in the afterlife. Those whose hearts were found to be light as a feather would be allowed to enter the afterlife, while those whose hearts were heavy with sin would be devoured by a monster known as Ammit.

The myth of Osiris also emphasized the idea of resurrection and renewal. Just as Osiris was brought back to life by Isis, the Egyptians believed that they too could achieve eternal life through the power of Osiris. This belief was reflected in the practice of mummification, which was designed to preserve the body so that it could be resurrected in the afterlife.