Who Is Osiris?

Osiris was the Egyptian god of fertility and the guardian of the underworld. He was married to his sister, Isis, and fathered a son, Horus, who was the god of the sky. The pharaohs of Egypt identified with Horus during their reign, and with Osiris when they died.

This relationship between the pharaohs and the gods Osiris and Horus was the way that the rulers of Egypt upheld divine kingship and retained absolute authority over their people. Egyptian mythology states that Osiris was responsible for bringing the arts, literature, music, agriculture and religion to his people. He was believed to be a great ruler.

Osiris's brother, Seth, was jealous of his brother and killed Osiris in an effort to take the kingdom for his own. Isis brought Osiris back to life by turning into a bird and flapping her wings to force life back into Osiris's body. Isis and Osiris then conceived Horus before Seth killed Osiris once again by cutting him up into 14 pieces and scattering them across Egypt.

With the help of the god Anubis, Isis was able to recover the pieces of Osiris and put them back together. She wrapped the body of Osiris in linen, and Anubis said an incantation that brought Osiris back to life. Osiris then went to reside in the underworld and judge the souls of the dead.