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Osiris and Isis

And the Award for Greatest Wife Goes To…

Isis is not your ordinary heroine.

Mythology May kicked off with Banter and Books diving into Egypt’s twisted, tangled stories- namely the story of Osiris and Isis. Their story is central to Egyptian mythology, complete with the usual mix present in most mythologies: love, betrayal and murder.

And who doesn’t love a little murder?

It begins with the sky and the earth coming together in a union that shook the universe. From this love sprung four gods- Set, Isis, Osiris and Nephthys.

Osiris was the oldest and thus became the king (eldest sibling privileges and whatnot), he was well-loved and respected in all the realms. He ruled over the world of the living and ensured order and peace were maintained—your usual kingly duties.

Isis fell deeply in love with the King and the pair were happily married before you could say “wait, aren’t they siblings?”. Of course, this didn’t settle with their younger brother, Set.

As his jealousy ate him from the inside, the crafty god devised a plan to kill the ruler. While the loving couple was asleep, he crept into their room and loomed over their bedside. The night was young, the king was unaware and vulnerable. This was the perfect opportunity for a good murder.

The traitorous god menacingly pulled out from behind him a… measuring device?

Traditionally, a murderer would seize the chance to stab the king and be done with it.

Set doesn’t roll like that.

Instead, he carefully measured Osiris from head to toe and sneaked out of the room. Set’s plan was an easy one: trip up his brother’s ego and use it against him. He crafted a beautiful wooden chest embellished with golden sheets.

Set threw a party the next day inviting every friend including Osiris. He put up a simple challenge to his guests- whoever fits perfectly inside the wooden box could have it. This has got to be the most obvious trap in the history of traps. And yet, the king didn’t suspect a thing as friend after friend attempted to fit in the chest and failed.

To his credit, Osiris was hesitant at first, however, his friends managed to convince him. The King entered his coffin willingly, unaware of the deception. The chest was tailored to fit him perfectly. Perhaps this myth served as a warning to not fall for peer pressure. Don’t enter empty, shiny boxes, kids!

Set gleefully shut the lid and tossed the chest into the Nile. Ensuring that the box would sit at the bottom of the river. He went back to partying right after. Murder is hard work, that box wasn’t easy to make!

Upon hearing about his murder, Isis’ first instinct was to rush to the banks of the Nile and search for her beloved husband’s corpse. Egyptians are rather particular about the rituals required to enter the Afterlife- she wanted to ensure that Osiris would reach there. She scoured the depths of the Nile and finally pulled the chest out of its waters.

Upon hearing what his sister intended to do, Set rushed over to the chest and chopped up Osiris’ corpse into Gordon Ramsey approved pieces and scattered it across Egypt. Typical younger brother.

Isis returned to find the chest empty and her no good, terrible, very bad day gets even worse.

However, she was nothing if not determined. Isis transformed into a bird and flew over the skies of the country, collecting pieces of her dead husband. Set’s actions enraged her and during her flight, Isis decided that she wanted to yank the throne back in Osiris’ name.

Traditionally, one would usurp the throne by murdering the current king.

Isis doesn’t roll like that.

Instead, she built Osiris back as if he was her personal build-a-bear. Gently putting pieces together and wrapping them in magic linen.

After his mummy was complete, the queen enlisted the help of her friends and breathed life back into him for a single night. Isis’ plan was halfway complete. Osiris returned to the world of the living and he informed the merry band of necromancers that he was now the Lord of the Underworld. Isis was joyful at the news but she still desired revenge. She needed to procure an heir with Osiris’ lineage. And fast.

So, Osiris reunited with his wife for a final time and from this night came Horus, their only son. And an official competitor for the throne.

Thus began a battle that lasted for centuries between Horus and Set for the right to rule. Eventually, Isis’ son took the throne and her revenge was complete. If asked about the moral woven into this myth the answer could be…to never cross an angry necromancer. Or fall for peer pressure. And to beware beautiful boxes cause they just might be death traps.


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