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The Great Ennead of Heliopolis were the nine most important gods and goddesses worshipped in the city, as per the creation myth of Heliopolis.
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The word 'ennead' comes from the Greek word ennea, meaning nine. Ennead has thus since become a word to mean a group of nine. When referring to Egyptian mythology, the Ennead are generally the nine foremost deities of Heliopolis, though the term can also be used within Egyptian texts to refer to a council of the gods.
Ennead and Heliopolis
The nine gods and goddesses of the Ennead of Heliopolis were Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Set. Over time, with differing emphases placed on different gods by different Pharaohs, other deities were added into the Ennead, such as Nun and Ra, inevitably giving the Ennead as a whole a 'cult' status. Many aspects of the Ennead were absorbed into other city cult systems.
Ennead and creation
The original nine stem from a creation myth that was local to Heliopolis at first, but eventually became more popular and spread. The myth varies in detail greatly depending on the location and time of the writing, but the basic idea remains.
Atum was the creator god, having risen from the primeval waters of chaos (Nu), creating himself through his own will. He created a hill to stand on, which was said to be the spot on which the temple of Heliopolis was built. He created Shu, the air, and Tefnut, moisture, from himself. They in turn gave birth to Geb, the earth, and Nut, the sky. Geb and Nut then gave birth to Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys, who were the parents of the Pharaohs and other gods.
See also: Ogdoad
- Wikipedia. (2005). Ennead (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ennead). Retrieved on 02/28/2005.