(Sopd, Sopdu, Sopedu) Soped’s name apparently comes from an Egyptian word meaning, literally, ‘sharp’, but which also bore a similar range of metaphorical meanings to that which ‘sharp’ has in English, i.e., ‘skilled’ or ‘effective’. The literal ‘sharpness’ which is said of Soped is that of his beak (e.g., “sharp of teeth” in PT utterance 222), for he is depicted often as a hawk, especially with a headdress of two tall plumes (these plumes possibly an astral phenomenon of some kind, viz. CT spell 61, “you shine in the plumes of Soped”) and a flail perched at his shoulder. Soped is also depicted anthropomorphically in the manner of a native of what was the far east for Egyptians, namely the Sinai and Arabia, for Soped characteristically represents the direction of the east in all of its connotations, both political and cosmological. When he appears in anthropomorphic form, Soped wears the beaded-and-tasseled shesmet belt (see Shesmetet) and his plumed headdress. Soped is regarded as the son of Sah (the constellation Orion) and Sothis (Sopdet; the star Sirius). His consort is Khensut.

In a text spoken by Geb in PT utterance 306, it is said of the deceased king that “the Fields of Rushes worship you in this your name of Dwaw [‘dawn’] as Soped who is under his ksbt-trees,” the Fields of Rushes being a marshy place in the east of the sky from which the sun emerges at dawn, while the ksbt is a type of fruit-bearing tree frequently associated with Soped but not readily identifiable. A significant reference to Soped begins in PT utterance 578 with an address to the deceased king as Osiris, saying “you shall not go into these eastern lands, you shall go into those western lands by the road of the Followers of Re,” apparently referring to an undesirable eastern entry to the netherworld which is referred to in certain other texts (e.g., CT spell 548/BD spell 93, “Not to ferry a man to the east in the realm of the dead,” also called, “Spell for not dying again in the realm of the dead”). The entourage of Osiris is charged with announcing him (i.e., the deceased) to Re “as one whose left arm is raised,” an apparent reference to the gesture of the raised arm which has the power to ward off evil forces and which is symbolically represented by the flail poised over the upraised arm, a symbolism especially associated with Min. The text goes on to identify the deceased king with Soped, in whose name the king takes into his embrace certain unidentified persons, of whom it is said only that “You [the deceased] do not know them … You it is who prevent them from becoming inert in your embrace; you go up to them empowered, effective … in this your name of Soped. Your flail is in your hand, your sceptre is at your hand, the slayers fall on their faces at you, the Imperishable Stars [the northern circumpolar stars] kneel to you.” Apparently the eastern realm of the netherworld, in which certain unfortunate dead are slain a second time, and which is not a suitable place for Osiris, is to be penetrated by Soped, who subdues the slayers and rescues the anonymous dead from oblivion. CT spell 458, however, “Not to die a second time in the realm of the dead,” opposes Horus and Soped: the deceased affirms, “the messengers of Soped have no power over me, for I am Horus, son of Osiris,” and Soped is clearly charged with performing executions in the netherworld in an ancient commentary on BD spell 17 and in BD spell 130. CT spell 783 affirms of the deceased, “your son Soped the sharp-toothed acts as protector from whoever would harm you in the eastern desert.”

CT spell 270 is for “Becoming Soped,” (i.e., invoking Soped), but it is very short and virtually unintelligible in parts; its formula, however, minus the problematic portion, is that “N. [the deceased] has gone forth upon the water which surrounds him, N.’s plume is on his head, N.’s eyes are ka’a [possibly ‘spirit-powered’, cf. the use of the word in PT utterance 689, concerning the Eye of Horus] … N. is lord of the deserts, N. is Soped, eldest of the Gods.” Soped occurs in contexts where the cardinal points are being secured, e.g., in CT spell 313, where the deceased is assured that “Those who shall come against you from the East shall be doomed to Soped, Lord of the East, and they shall be driven off with your knives in them,” or in CT spell 636, “Spell for a man to have power through his magic [heka] in order that he may establish himself in the realm of the dead,” where “Soped in the east” is one of four deities charged with bringing the deceased’s ka [spirit; for the relation between ka and heka see Heka] to his body. Breaking the pattern, however, is BD spell 32, in which, of the “four crocodiles that come to take a man’s magic away from him in the God’s domain,” it is the crocodile from the south against whom Soped is invoked.

Allen, T. G. 1974. The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [BD]
Faulkner, R. O. 1969. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [PT]
Faulkner, R. O. 1973-8. The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts. 3 vols. Warminster: Aris & Phillips Ltd. [CT]

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