16 November 2004

Osiris and Isis

The opera The Magic Flute contains many references to the myth of Osiris and Isis [Wikipedia].

In the opera, Tamino the prince and Papageno the bird-catcher search for their true loves. They meet, respectively, Pamina and Papagena but are eventually separated. After taking on an adventure, they meet up with a secret society that submits them to several trials of bravery. Upon success, they are reunited with their loves.

The Osiris and Isis story is summarized in the Wikipedia entry. Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys are siblings. Set is jealous of Osiris and drowns him in the Nile. Their sisters, Isis and Nephthys, use magic to bring him back to life. Set finds out and chops Osiris into 15 pieces then scatters them across the country. Isis finds and reassembles them, but he is kept alive with her magic only long enough for her to get pregnant with their son Horus.

In several scenes in the opera, Tamino and Papageno survive various trials and are transformed as heroes. In another scene, Pamina assists Tamino out of the darkness of Tamino's final test. Wir wandeln ... durch des Todes duestre Nacht (We walk .. through death's gloomy night). These scenes reference the aspects of the myth where Isis, in love with Osiris, brings him back from the dead.

Below is the genealogy of Osiris and Isis, along with the gods' characteristics and secondary names:

The group from Ra down to the four children are called the Ennead [Wikipedia]. They are the nine most important gods and goddesses of Egyptian mythology.

[ posted by sstrader on 16 November 2004 at 7:33:42 PM in Culture & Society ]