The ancient world was comprised of mysteries. There were no scientific explanations for the structure of the world, the existence of humans, or the meaning of life. To explain these dilemmas they turned to religion and mythology. However, as were often isolated geographically there was no universal answer to any of these questions, though many cultures many have derived similar solutions to certain questions, despite being separated by large physical distances, such as the Greeks and Egyptians. Although there are minor differences, Greek and Egyptian mythologies share many similarities.
One parallel between Greek and Egyptian creation stories is that they both begin with a God or Gods being created from the universe. The creation of the Greek world began when Eros(cupid) sprang from the great, shapeless mass of chaos and was later followed by Gaea(Earth), Erebus(darkness), and Nox(night). These later deities would become the ancestors of all other Greek Gods and Goddesses.(Footnote pg 56 The Literature and Mythology of Ancient Egypt) Similarly in Egyptian mythology, Ra came into being, and gave life to other Gods, “After I had come into being as the only God, there were three gods aside from me[Shu, Tefnut, and Nun].”(Kaster 56) Eventually, Shu and Tefnut begot Geb and Nut, who in turn created Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys. Creation by universe is a common factor in both Greek and Egyptian creation stories.
Another parallel between Greek and Egyptian creation stories is the concept of birth involving only one parent. For example, Athena is commonly described as “having sprung into life, fully armed, from the head of Zeus . . .”(Murray 95). Some myths also describe Aphrodite’s birth as involving one parent, Uranus. In Egyptian mythology, Ra gave life to Shu by masturbating, “I it was who aroused desire with my fist; I masturbated with my hand, and I spat it out from my own mouth. I spat it out as Shu . . .”(Kaster 56). In both Greek and Egyptian mythology, there are tales of giving birth without two parental figures, however the being who procreates is very powerful.
In Greek and Egyptian mythologies, there is a supreme God. In Greek tradition this was Zeus, “Zeus was now King of all the gods and lived on Mount Olympus.” (Corsar, Reid Rooney, and Smith 9) In Egyptian mythology, this position was first held by Osiris, and the other deities herald him by saying “He lives, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, beloved of Ra, living forever! Heir of Geb, Osiris, beloved of the gods, Osiris, given life, endurance, joy, health, all happiness, like Ra!” (Kaster 81) After being murdered by Set, he became ruler of the Netherworld, and was replaced as King of Upper and Lower Egypt, by his son, Horus. The idea of a supreme deity is common in both Greek and Egyptian traditions.
Some Greek deities can also be identified with Egyptian ones, in particular the Greek Dionysus and the Egyptian Osiris. They both preside over fertility, in...