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Patrick Boylan - Thoth The Hermes Of Egypt.pdf (16.3 MB)

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1922. The purpose of this essay is to indicate the chief tendencies of ancient Egyptian speculation in regard to the god Thoth. Taking as the basis of his work a fairly complete examination of the chief references to the god in Egyptian literature and ritual, the author has tried to distinguish the more important phases of Thoth's character as they were conceived by the Egyptians, and to show how these aspects, or phases, of his being help to explain the various activities which are assigned to him in the Egyptian legends of... More >>>
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Author:      Patrick Boylan
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1922. The purpose of this essay is to indicate the chief tendencies of ancient Egyptian speculation in regard to the god Thoth. Taking as the basis of his work a fairly complete examination of the chief references to the god in Egyptian literature and ritual, the author has tried to distinguish the more important phases of Thoth's character as they were conceived by the Egyptians, and to show how these aspects, or phases, of his being help to explain the various activities which are assigned to him in the Egyptian legends of the gods and in the ritual of tombs and temples.

Thoth was considered one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon these animals were sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat.[2] His chief shrine was located in the city of Khmun[3], later renamed Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Hellenic Greeks' interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) and Eshmunen in the Coptic rendering. In that city, he led the local pantheon of the region known as the Ogdoad, and its eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

He was often considered as the heart, which, according to the ancient Egyptians, is the seat of intelligence or the mind, and tongue of the sun god Ra as well as the means by which Ra's will was translated into speech. He had also been related to the Logos of Plato and the mind of God (see The All). In the Egyptian mythology, he has played many vital and prominent roles in maintaining the universe, including being one of the two deities (the other being Ma'at) who stood on either side of Ra's boat. Later in ancient Egyptian history, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Taking as the basis of his work a fairly complete examination of the chief references to the god in Egyptian literature and ritual, the author has tried to distinguish the more important phases of Thoth s character as they were con ceived by the Egyptians, and to show how these aspects, or phases, of his being help to explain the various activities which are assigned to him in the Egyptian legends of the gods, and in the ritual of tombs and temples. An attempt has been made, in many instances, to discover the simple concrete meaning which often underlies characteristic epithets of the god, and the need of seeking groupings among epi thets which can in any way be associated with well-defined activities or aspects of the god has been emphasised.

About Author:

Boylan, Patrick Joseph (1879-1974), priest, biblical scholar, and Egyptologist, was born 2 December 1879 in Barrowhouse, near Athy, Co. Kildare, son of Patrick Boylan, a teacher at Shanganamore national school, and his wife Anne (nee Walker), of Queen's County (Laois). Educated at Shanganamore national school (1884-94) and Holy Cross College, Clonliffe (1895-1900), in 1898 he graduated BA (RUI) in mental and moral sciences, and MA (RUI) in 1899; he was subsequently awarded an RUI studentship of ?300. He entered St Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1900 and began theological studies; two years later he was awarded an RUI junior fellowship in mental and moral sciences worth ?800. He was ordained priest on 25 January 1903 and taught biblical studies and philosophy at Clonliffe. In October 1904 he registered at the University of Berlin (Die Koniglichen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat zu Berlin), apparently to learn Arabic so that he could study the Arabic commentaries on Aristotle. However, Hermann Junker (1877-1962), a young German priest, who later became professor of Egyptology at Vienna, persuaded him to take up the study of ancient Egyptian and become a worker on the great Egyptian dictionary under the supervision of Adolf Erman at Berlin. Boylan followed his friend's advice and his name appears in the preface of the Worterbuch der agyptische Sprache, part 1 (1926). Boylan's registration books (Anmeldbucher) for his years in Berlin show that he attended courses in Semitic languages, Celtic philology and even psychology.

Following his appointment as professor of scripture at Maynooth in 1905, Boylan had to take a break from his work at Berlin but he returned there for the summer semester 1907. In October 1907 he was examined for the degree of Ph.D. (RUI). He was in Berlin again in 1909, taking courses in Arabic, Persian and Russian in addition to Egyptian. He had the good fortune to study under some distinguished German orientalists, including Jakob Barth, Friedrich Delitzsch, Martin Hartmann, Eduard Sachau, and Hugo Winckler. He joined the staff at UCD in 1909, first as lecturer in eastern languages and then as professor of eastern languages (1912-56). He was a member of the UCD governing body (1944-70) and of the NUI senate (1934-59). In 1911 he was elected to the RIA and later served as RIA president (1952-5). He was chairman of the governing board of the School of Celtic Studies (DIAS) from its inception in 1941. He was appointed chairman of the censorship of publications board in 1930, serving until 1942. His publications included Thoth, the Hermes of Egypt (1922), for which the NUI awarded him the degree of D.Litt., The Psalms, 2 vols (1920-24); The epistle to the Hebrews (1922); St Paul's epistle to the Romans (1934).

Boylan became vice-president of St Patrick's College, Maynooth in 1922. Parish priest of St Michael's, Dun Laoghaire, from 1934, he was appointed vicar-general of the Dublin diocese in 1939. He died 22 November 1974 in Dun Laoghaire.