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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Epithets, Divine


The almost infinite number of epithets applied to Egyptian deities attests to the complex and diverse nature of Egyptian gods. In general, epithets outline a deity’s character, describe his/her physical appearance and attributes, and give information about the cult. Epithets immediately follow the deity’s name and can be made up of several distinct components. In hymns and ritual scenes, epithets often occur in long strings. It is useful to distinguish between epithets that identify a unique aspect of a deity’s personality (“personal epithets”) and epithets that refer to a particular situation or activity (“situational epithets”); in the latter case, the epithet can be applied to multiple deities.

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