Nine deities associated with a cult center such as Heliopolis.

The Greek term enneas, equivalent to the Egyptian pesedjet (nine), may refer to any group of nine gods. In the Pyramid Texts, for example, we find the Great Ennead, Lesser ennead, Dual Ennead, plural enneads, and even the seven enneads.

As three (plurality) multiplied by itself, the number nine seems to have represented the concept of a great number and was used of many groups. Most commonly, the number appears in conjunction with the Great Ennead of Heliopolis which bound together nine ‘related’ deities. The group consisted of Atum, the so-called ‘father’ of the Ennead, his ‘children’ Shu and Tefnut, ‘grandchildren’ Osiris, isis, Seth, and Nephthys. A variant of this ennead included Horus the Elder as second-born after Osiris.

Although the members of enneads are often specified, the number most often represents a general, all-encompassing group. The nine gods who stand before Osiris in the sixth hour of the underworld thus represent the rule of that deity over all the netherworld gods, just as the ‘nine bows’ symbolize all Egypt’s traditional enemies.


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