(Hapi) Not to be confused with the son of Horus with the same name (see Hapy (1) here), Hapy is the God of the Nile, or, more strictly, of the Nile’s annual flood or inundation, which was responsible for Egypt’s agricultural productivity. Hapy is depicted anthropomorphically, with blue skin or other color symbolic of the Nile, with drooping male breasts and sometimes a pot belly, wearing a skimpy loincloth, generally with a clump of papyrus reeds on his head and often carrying bundles of papyrus and lotus or trays piled with offerings, representing the bounty of the Nile. Sometimes representations of Hapy bear the facial features of the reigning monarch, identifying the monarch as the source of the land’s prosperity, not merely through the performance of his ritual duties, but also through his just governance. Sometimes Hapy appears doubled, wearing the heraldic papyrus of Lower Egypt and sedge of Upper Egypt and tying these two plants together around the hieroglyph for ‘union’ to symbolize the role of the Nile in uniting Egypt’s north and south. The Nile’s inundation was attributed to a quantity of water being released, at divine behest, from twin subterranean caverns in the vicinity of Elephantine (although these caverns, like the exact moment at which the inundation shall commence, are paradigmatic in Egyptian thought for that which is secret); hence, in the Great Hymn to the Aten, the Hapy of Egypt, who emerges from the underworld, is contrasted with the “Hapy from heaven for foreign peoples,” that is, the rain upon which Egypt’s neighbors depended for their agricultural production (Lichtheim vol. 2, p. 99). Reference is also made to ‘Hapy of the Sky’ as maker of rain in a spell for water in the Book of the Dead (60). Hapy’s emergence from these subterranean caverns is the source of Hapy’s affirmation, in CT spell 318, that he fashioned the netherworld himself. In these caverns Hapy slumbers during the off-season, rejuvenating himself: “It is the house of sleep of Hapy, he grows young in it in his time,” (Lichtheim vol. 3, p. 97). Hapy’s flooding of the fields, which are personified as the Goddess Sekhet, is envisioned sexually: “Bounding up he [Hapy] copulates, as man copulates with woman, renewing his manhood with joy,” (the ‘Famine Stela’, in Lichtheim vol. 3, p. 97). The extent of the inundation, whether adequate, insufficient, or excessive, symbolized in Egyptian thought the very concept of the limit or boundary and of the limits placed upon human life by such inscrutable phenomena as the variability in the inundation; hence in the ‘Instruction of Ankhsheshonq’, it is said that “When Hapy comes he sets limits for everyone,” (Lichtheim vol. 3, p. 173) and by the same token “One sets no limits for him,” (‘Hymn to Hapy’, in Lichtheim vol. 1, p. 207). Every year, it is said that Khnum fashions Hapy anew, that is, the ‘body’ of the inundation is a different one each time, both regular and variable, comparable and incommensurable because it is only the present inundation which truly matters to the people and other animals who depend upon it. Inevitably, the quantity of the inundation was taken as an index of the virtue present in the population and in the government: “When free men are given land, they work for you like a single team; no rebel will arise among them, and Hapy will not fail to come,” (‘The Instruction Addressed to King Merikare’, in Lichtheim vol. 1, p. 103). Since all the produce which goes to the Gods as offerings depends upon Hapy, it can be said that he “gives sacrifice for every God,” (‘Hymn to Hapy’, in Lichtheim vol. 1, p. 206) or even that he has “made the Gods … all the Gods live according to <his> decree,” (CT spell 321). Furthermore, since books are written on papyrus “all books of godly words … exist through him” (ibid., p. 207). In spell 317 of the Coffin Texts, a ‘transformation’ spell which allows one to become Hapy, Hapy is said to be older than the primeval Gods of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad, and perhaps in connection with this reference is made here to eight Hapys. In CT spell 320 Hapy affirms that he is “in charge of births,” because of his general function of providing sustenance and/or because of an analogy between the Nile’s inundation and the waters of birth.

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