(Satet) Satis is depicted typically as a woman wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt to which are attached antelope horns and a uraeus. Her principal functions, deriving from the location of her cult center at Elephantine, pertain on the one hand to the protection of Egypt’s southern border, which has naturally a spiritual as well as a political significance inasmuch as Egypt is a spiritual as well as a political territory, and on the other to the Nile’s annual inundation, which was, at least from a religious perspective, thought of as originating from subterranean caverns in the vicinity of Elephantine Island. A reference to these caverns is likely to be seen in PT utterance 508, in which the king, ascending to the sky, affirms that “Satis has cleansed me with her four jars from Elephantine,” a reference perhaps to the caverns from which the inundation is released. Satis has Khnum and Montu for consorts, and is frequently paired with Anukis, who is perhaps to be regarded as her daughter, although their relationship cannot be definitively determined from the surviving evidence. Satis and Anukis are sometimes conceived as dividing the function of superintending the Nile’s inundation, with Satis being responsible for the river’s rise and Anukis for its withdrawal. Satis is also strongly associated with the star Sirius – Sothis in Egyptian – the heliacal rising of which was regarded by the Egyptians as heralding the coming of the inundation and thus marks the beginning of the Egyptian calendar. Satis and Anukis also have a general protective function with respect to Osiris at his ‘tomb’ at Biga.

In PT utterance 439 the deceased king identifies himself with Satis, saying “I am Satis who takes possession of the Two Lands, the Burning One who receives her two shores,” linking Satis thus to Sirius, the brightest ‘burning’ star in the sky, while the two shores are ‘received’ in the inundation which claims them. The king, as Satis, goes on to affirm that “I have gone up to the sky and found Re standing that I might meet him; I will seat myself beside him,” referring possibly to the heliacal rising of Sirius, in which the star appears on the horizon just before the sun (Re). The rather fragmentary CT spell 937 states at one point, “Satis opens to me the cleared paths, and my glance falls on all of them, the evil ones who are in their caverns.” Here Satis blazes a trail for the deceased in the netherworld, shining light upon its hidden menaces. There is perhaps some implied reference again to the heliacal rising of Sirius, which ‘opens’ the year. The protection of Satis is characteristically localized to the symbolic southern frontier, as in CT spell 313, where among a series of protective incantations delivered on behalf of the deceased by Thoth is the charge that “Those who shall come against you [the deceased] from the South shall be driven off by Satis, Lady of Elephantine, who will shoot at them with her arrows, which are painful and sharp against them.”

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