Osiris appeared for the first time in Busiris, where he took the place of the shepherd-god Andjeti, assimilating all his qualities.
The most ancient version of Osiris’s undertakings is on the Texts of the Pyramids where the god is included in the Ennead of Heliopolis and presented as Geb’s and Nut’s son and Isis’s, Seth’s and Nefti’s brother.
Seth, helped by Thot, makes Osiris die, who had succeeded his father Geb, to usurp his heavenly throne. Then Isis and Nefti look for their brother’s body, and, when they find it, they give it to other gods so they can give him back life.
Some elements of Osiris’s legend appear in a later epoch, among these the embalming by Anubis mentioned in one of the Texts of the Sarcophaguses (Middle Reign).
Anyway, since the Texts of the Pyramids don’t demand to report the whole legend, but they limit to mention only a few episodes of it, it seems that many elements, available only in the myth reported by Plutarco (treatise on Isis and Osiris), should go back to a more ancient epoch.
In Plutarco’s opera, Geb and Nut have, besides their four children mentioned in the Texts in the Pyramids, a fifth child, Haroeris (Horo, the firstborn) and the five royal deliveries are one after the other in five epagomeni days. Soon Osiris succeeds his father Geb and reigns with his sister-bride Isis, giving men knowledge on agriculture and on religious practices. Jealous of his brother’s beneficial reign, Seth, with sixty-two conspirators, closes Osiris in a trunk, during a banquet, and throws it in the Nile.
Isis goes to search for the coffin, that the waves have pushed up to the phoenix shores of Byblos where a heather has blossomed. The king of Byblos extracts from the beautiful plant a pilaster and Isis, arrived in the city, makes them offer it to her as a gift with the coffin from which the heather had blossomed and she brings it with her in the Chemnis swamps, in Buto, where she gives birth to Horo.
Seth, knowing about the facts, takes advantage from Isis’s absence to get possession of the coffin, reduce Osiris’s body in fourteen pieces and scatter them in all Egypt. Isis, starts again her journey to find the pieces of her husband and each time she finds one, she buries it on the place and builds sanctuaries. At this point the legend has to different epilogues: one wants Osiris to stay in the reign of the dead and become its king; the other, that Thot, Anubi, Isis and Nefti reunite the pieces of his split body and render it immortal with mummification.
The two different versions, have made possible the legend of Osiris as a divine sovereign, but at this point, there is a determining element: the sovereign Osiris begins to distinguish himself for the strong contrast between his behavior in life and the brutality of his death, and it’s exactly this part that grants the fortune and the diffusion of the legend.
Gardiner has strongly underlined the relation between the myth Osiris and the specific character of the Egyptian monarchy. In fact, the god is always represented as the sovereign of the whole Egypt, even if he doesn’t wear the white crown of the South.
He is always considered as the dead king who became a god, while his successor is Horo’s incarnation, Osiris’s son. The Osiris celebrations, that took place at the end of the floods, only lately had agrarian characteristics as in the beginning they were celebrations for the dead sovereign’s resurrection in his son. So the cerimonial relevant to the resurrection celebrations, renewed the mystic history of Osiris and Horo, a legend in which other elements of Osiris’s cult, found their justification and their roots.
Osiris is related to the waters of the Nile to which his body gives the fecundation power. In some versions of the legend in fact, instead of going down the Nile in a coffin, Osiris is directly drowned in the Nile; moreover, when Seth cuts him in pieces, his male sexual organ isn’t found because, it fell in the Nile where it was eaten by an ossirinco , a fish that in the homonym nomos was attributed to Seth.
Fecundating God, Osiris is also maser of vegetation and, as this, dies in the period of the flood, to be born again in spring, after staying underground like the sown wheat.
This specific aspect was greatly considered by the Egyptians who, for the god’s celebration, that took place before the sowing, reproduced with mud a model of his body and put inside it some seeds that should sprout, covering the statue with thick little leaves.
In the tombs many examples of this kind of votive objects have been found. Moreover, the speculation of Eliopolis has made Osiris a cosmic God. This conception is explained only if it’s admitted that, from the pre-dynastic period, the dead sovereign was assimilated to Osiris. This assimilation, however, was immediately included in the dogma of the king’s solar destiny: the latter reaches Ra in the sky, while Osiris performs at the same time the divine character of the dead king.
At the end of the Ancient Reign, Osiris is also assimilated to the “Great God” (heavenly God) as before him, Horo was. This conception is bound to the one that considers Osiris god of the dead.
The dead king continues to reign over the inner world, that is the image of the earthly world, as the dead Osiris reigns over this “antipodico” world. On the other hand, as the sun enlightens the world of the living and the moon the one of the dead, Osiris was identified also with the moon(Aah).
Certainly the doctrine of the sovereign who continues to live and to reign in the other world, rendered in the end Osiris, the god of the dead and identified with the funeral divinities of the Egyptian cities, first, among all, with Khentiamentiu, “The westerners’ master (he who presides)” in Abido, near This, that will be the cradle for the first tinita dynasties.
Osiris’s death and his resurrection had a ritual reproduction.
His resurrection was particularly reproduced with the representation of the God returning on a holy boat among the joyful crowd.