Other Names: Anpu, Inpu, Ienpw, Imeut (Lord-of-the-Place-of-Embalming).
Patron of: mummification, and the dead on their path through the underworld.
Appearance: A man with the head of a jackal-like animal. Unlike a real jackal, Anubis' head is black, representing his position as a god of the dead. He is rarely shown fully-human, but he is depicted so in the Temple of Abydos of Rameses II. There is a beautiful statue of him as a full jackal in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Description: Anubis is an incredibly ancient god, and was the original god of the dead before Osiris "took over" the position. After that point, Anubis was changed to be one of the many sons of Osiris and the psychopomp (conductor of souls) of the underworld. His totem of the jackal is probably due to the fact that jackals would hunt at the edges of the desert, near the necropolis and cemeteries throughout Egypt.
Prayers to Anubis are found carved on the most ancient tombs in Egypt, and his duties apparently are many. He watches over the mummification process to ensure that all is done properly. He conducts the souls through the underworld, testing their knowledge of the gods and their faith. He places their heart on the Scales of Justice during the Judging of the Heart, and he feeds the souls of wicked people to Ammit.
In some stories, Anubis is the son of Ra and Nephthys, or Set and Nephthys (probably due to Set and Anubis having the same totem animal). Some have Heset as his mother, and still others say Bast. This apparent confusion is still another sign of Anubis' origins in the most ancient of times. He also has a daughter, Kabechet, who helps him in the mummification.
Worship: Worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, his cult center was Cynopolis.
A combination of the Greek god Hermes and Anubis. As their functions as psychopomps were similar, they were combined by the Greeks into a single form. Hermanubis also appears in alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Anubis is the Greek name for a jackal-headed god associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. In the ancient Egyptian language, Anubis is known as Inpu, (variously spelled Anupu, Ienpw etc.). The oldest known mention of Anubis is in the Old Kingdom pyramid texts, where he is associated with the burial of the king. At this time, Anubis was the most important god of the Dead but he was replaced during the Middle Kingdom by Osiris.
He takes various names in connection with his funerary role, such as He who is upon his mountain, which underscores his importance as a protector of the deceased and their tombs, and the title He who is in the place of embalming, associating him with the process of mummification. Like many ancient Egyptian deities, Anubis assumes different roles in various contexts, and no public procession in Egypt would be conducted without an Anubis to march at the head.
Anubis was the god to protect the dead and bring them to the afterlife. He was usually portrayed as a half human, half dog, or in fully canine form wearing a ribbon and holding a flail in the crook of its arm. It was strongly associated with cemeteries in ancient Egypt, since it was a scavenger which threatened to uncover human bodies and eat their flesh The distinctive black color of Anubis "did not have to do with the jackal [per se] but with the color of rotting flesh and with the black soil of the Nile valley, symbolizing rebirth."
Anubis is depicted in funerary contexts where he is shown attending to the mummies of the deceased or sitting atop a tomb protecting it. In fact, during embalming, the "head embalmer" wore an Anubis costume. The critical weighing of the heart scene in Book of the Dead also show Anubis performing the measurement that determined the worthiness of the deceased to enter the realm of the dead (the underworld). New Kingdom tomb-seals also depict Anubis atop nine bows that symbolize his domination over the foes of Egypt.
Anubis and Other Gods
Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was god of the underworld. He was said to have a wife, Anput (who was really just his female aspect, her name being his with an additional feminine suffix: the t), who was depicted exactly the same, though feminine. He is also said to have taken to wife the feminine form of Neheb Kau, Nehebka, and Kebechet, the goddess of purification of body organs specially placed in canopic jars during mummification. Kebechet is also shown as his daughter in some places. Anubis was the son of Osiris, the god of the underworld, and Nephthys, Set's sister and wife. Nephthys was very angry since Set killed Osiris so she left him and assisted Isis, Osiris's wife and Nephthys ran away with her son, Anubis.
Following the merging of the Ennead and Ogdoad belief systems, as a result of the identification of Atum with Ra, and their compatibility, Anubis became a lesser god in the underworld, giving way to the more popular Osiris during the Middle Kingdom. However, "Anubis was given a place in the family of gods as the...son of Osiris and Nephthys, and in this role he helped Isis mummify his dead father." . Indeed, when the Myth of Osiris and Isis emerged, it was said that when Osiris had died, Osiris' organs were given to Anubis as a gift. With this connection, Anubis became the patron god of embalmers: during the funerary rites of mummification, illustrations from the Book of the Dead often show a priest wearing the jackal mask supporting the upright mummy.
Since he was more associated with beliefs concerning the weighing of the heart than had Osiris, Anubis retained this aspect, and became considered more the gatekeeper and ruler of the underworld, the "Guardian of the veil" (of "death"). Consequently, he was said to protect souls as they journeyed there, and thus be the patron of lost souls (and consequently orphans). Anubis was frequently depicted in editions of the Book of Dead as performing the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony on the mummy and statues of the deceased, as well as escorting the spirit of the deceased into the presence of Osiris in the underworld. Subsequently, the god is often shown weighing the heart of the deceased against the feather of truth (Ma'at) in the presence of Thoth (as scribe, writing down the recordings) and Osiris (as judge). Rather than god of death, he had become god of dying, and consequently funeral arrangements. It was as the god of death that his identity merged with that of Wepwawet, a similar jackal-headed god, associated with funerary practice, which had been worshiped in Lower Egypt, whereas Anubis' cult was centered in Upper Egypt.
However, as lesser of the two gods of the underworld, he gradually became considered the son of Osiris, but Osiris' wife, Isis, was not considered his mother, since she too inappropriately was associated with life. Instead, his mother became considered to be Nephthys, who had become strongly associated with funerary practice, indeed had in some ways become the personification of mourning, and was said to supply bandages to the deceased. Subsequently, this apparent infidelity of Osiris was explained in myth, in which it was said that a sexually frustrated Nephthys had disguised herself as Isis in order to appeal to her husband, Set, but he did not notice her as he was infertile. However, Isis' husband Osiris mistook Nephthys for his wife, which resulted in Anubis' birth. Other versions of the myth depict Set as the father, and it remains unclear as to whether Set was truly infertile or not.
Perception outside Egypt
In later times, during the Ptolemaic period, as their functions were similar, Anubis came to be identified as the Greek god Hermes, becoming Hermanubis. The centre of this cult was in uten-ha/Sa-ka/ Cynopolis, a place whose Greek name simply means "city of dogs". In Book XI of "The Golden #####" by Apuleius, we find evidence that the worship of this god was maintained in Rome at least up to the 2nd century. Indeed, Hermanubis also appears in the alchemical and hermetical literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Although the Greeks and Romans typically scorned Egypt's animal-headed gods as bizarre and primitive (they mockingly called Anubis the "Barker"), Anubis was sometimes associated with Sirius in the heavens, and Cerberus in Hades. In his dialogues (e.g. Republic 399e, 592a), Plato has Socrates utter, "by the dog" (kai me ton kuna), "by the dog of Egypt","by the dog, the god of the Egyptians" (Gorgias, 482b), for emphasis.