The name Osiris is a Greek translation of the Egyptian word which may have been pronounced Us-iri, which means "Throne of the Eye".

Also: Usiris, Asar, Aser, Ausar, Ausir, Wesir, Ausare, Osirus

Osiris is the ancient Egyptian God of the dead and ruler of the underworld. He is also lord of rebirth and resurrection and provides the gift of barley.

He is the huband of Isis and father of Horus.


Osiris is one of the oldest Gods for whom records exist from ancient Egypt with records dating back to 2400BC and sufficient evidence to believe he had been worshiped for quite some time before that. His worship continued into the Christian era. Plutarch and Diodorus Siculus recorded his story in narrative form. Prior to this, it was often illustrated in tomb decoration and pyramid texts.


Osiris was usually depicted as a man with green skin dressed in white wearing the crown of Upper Egypt and holding the cook and the flail as signs of his authority. His lower body appears mummified. The green skin is symbolic of rebirth.


Osiris is the son of the Earth God Geb and the sky Goddess Nut and brother to Isis, Seth and Nephthys. His son is Horus by Isis.


Osiris was a powerful Pharaoh in the land of the living, but Seth, lord of the Underworld wanted to rule the land of the living as well. So he had a beautiful chest made specifically to Osiris's measurements. Then he had a party and invited all of the Gods. When everyone was in a good mood, and maybe a little drunk, he showed the guests the chest and said that whoever could fit inside would receive it as a gift. Of course, it fit Osiris perfectly and as soon as he lay down inside the lid shut tight and could not be opened. Seth then sealed the coffin with led and threw it into the Nile river. Apparently, 72 other people helped him with this.

Isis upon discovering this news, immediately set out to find her husband. The coffin meanwhile floated down the Nile to Byblos (Lebanon) and got embedded in the trunk of a cedar tree which was then cut down and used to make a pillar to support the palace of the king of Byblos. Isis discovered this and explained it to the Queen who assisted her to extract the coffin without harming the palace. Isis then took the coffin back to Egypt.

Seth found out about this, and knowing that Osiris could be resurrected, he took the body from the coffin and cut it into 13 pieces which he scattered throughout the world. Isis searched and searched and found 12 of the missing 13 pieces, but Osiris's penis had been eaten by an oxyrhynchus fish and so he couldn't be fully put back together. Isis fashioned him a new penis out of gold (Or did not) and sang a song taught to Her by Geb and with the help of Anubis, she brought Him back to life. Shortly after, she and he conceived Horus. In the version of the story where she did not fashion Osiris a new penis, Isis conceived Horus by turning into a kite (the bird) and flying around Osiris.

But Osiris could not rule the land of the living anymore, so he was made lord of the dead instead.

Associated Traditions

The ancient Pharaohs would undergo certain rituals of imitation with Osiris in order to assure their resurrection after death. Later this developed into a mystery cult which allowed others to partake as well. This developed around the same time as the Demeter - Persephone Eleusinian mysteries and carried much the same significance.

As a life-death-rebirth deity, Osiris is associated with the cycles related to the annual planting and harvesting of crops.

See Also

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