The Book of the Dead

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What is the summary of the "Hymn to Ra" as he rises in the eastern part of Heaven?

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The text of the hymn to Ra was found inscribed on a door jam and on the wall of one of the corridors in the tomb of Ani. The poem is composed of three sections, each of which is attributed to a different person or group. The first section is attributed to Ra himself, who is described as "beautiful" and as having been made by Atum-Re. This situation changes in the second section, in which Osiris describes Ra's "true beauty" as incomprehensible. It is not until Ra responds to Osiris's prayer that we learn that he has actually created all things on earth.

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The hymn is in praise of Ra, the sun god. In the first section of the hymn, the scribe Ani praises the sun directly; it is "beautiful" when it rises and sheds its beams on the "lands of the South and of the North," and "all the gods rejoice" when they see the sun. The sun is the "king of heaven;" he journeys from sunrise to sunset each day in a boat, at the prow of which stands the god Thoth to "destroy utterly all thy foes." Ani prays that sun will make his body new again as he contemplates the beauty of the sun, and that the sun will lead him at last to the "Land of Eternity."

A second section is spoken by the god Osiris. Osiris praises the sun as the giver of unbreakable law; the truth of this law, and of the sun's true beauty, is "incomprehensible" to man; even though its beams fall on "all faces," its creation is nevertheless "hidden." Ra "moulds" his limbs each day as he travels across the sky, yet also "was never brought forth." Osiris prays that he will "unite" with the "holy and perfect Spirit-souls of Khert-Neter."

In a final section, Ra answers Osiris's prayer. Ra tells Osiris that he shall enter heaven, "sail over the sky," and that he shall make "the Disk [sun] to set every day." He foretells that Osiris will see the god Horus piloting Ra's boat across the sky, and that the gods Thoth and Maat will stand beside him, and that he will be with Ra when he comes to "make the hearts of the Spirit-souls to live."

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