by Ivan Petricevic
It is said that the
Book of Thoth contains a number of
spells, one of which allows the reader to understand the speech of
animals, and one of which allows the reader to perceive the gods
Legend says that he who
read the contents of the book would obtain the means to decipher the
secrets and master the earth, the sea, the air and the celestial
One of the most mysterious books to have ever been mentioned in the
history of mankind is the Book of Thoth - a sacred and
mysterious book of the ancient Egyptians, written by an ancient God.
According to historical records, the Book of Thot was a
collection of ancient Egyptian texts which were written by
Thoth - the ancient Egyptian god of writing and
They include numerous texts that were claimed to exist by ancient
authors and a magical book that appears in an Egyptian work of
The Book of Thoth appears fragmented in diverse papyri, the
majority pertaining to the second century of the Ptolemaic period.
The Book of Thoth is cited for the first time in the
so-called Turis papyrus, published in Paris at the end of the
eighteenth century, which describes a failed attempt to kill a
pharaoh, using a series of spells taken from the Book of Thoth.
writes how the,
Papyrus, it does not exist but was probably derived from the
well-known Turin Papyrus.
Turin Papyrus of Kings, also
known as the Turin Canon, is a hieratic manuscript of the 19th
dynasty of Egypt, listing the kings of Egypt from the earliest
times to the reign of Ramses II (1279–13 BC), under whom it was
only does the Turis resemble the Turin in name, but also in date
In addition, there are
different versions, although the compilations have led to
reconstruct a history common to all of them, basically a dialogue in
which there are two interlocutors, the god Thot and a disciple who
"aspires to know", although there is another god, probably Osiris,
who also speaks with the disciple.
The literary framework could be compared with the Greek hermetic
texts, which also show dialogues between Hermes-Thot and his
disciples; however, the presence of some texts prior to the
first-century place it ahead of the first Greek hermetic
The name of 'Book of Thot' has been applied to numerous texts.
Manetho - an ancient Egyptian priest - claimed that Thot had
written 36.525 books, although some investigators like Seleukos
affirm that they were around 20,000.
The fictional Book of Thoth appears in an ancient Egyptian
story from the Ptolemaic period which speaks of a brave ancient
Egyptian prince called Neferkaptah who decides to recover the
Book of Thoth, hidden at the depths of the Nile.
The book, written by Thoth, is said to contain two spells, one of
which allows the reader to understand the speech of animals, and one
of which allows the reader to perceive the gods themselves.
"The Book is at
Koptos in the middle of the river.
In the middle of the
river is an iron box,
In the iron box is a bronze box,
In the bronze box is a keté-wood box,
In the keté-wood box is an ivory-and-ebony box,
In the ivory-and-ebony box is a silver box,
In the silver box is a gold box,
And in the gold box
is the Book of Thoth.
Round about the great
iron box are snakes and scorpions
and all manner of
crawling things, and above all
there is a snake
which no man can kill.
These are set to
guard the Book of Thoth."
The fictional Book of
Legend suggests that the book was originally hidden at the bottom of
the Nile near Coptos, where it was locked inside a series of boxes
guarded by serpents no man could kill.
The brave ancient Egyptian prince Neferkaptah decided to recover it.
He fought the serpents and succeeded retrieving it, but in
punishment for his theft from Thoth, the gods killed his wife Ahwere
and son Merib.
Neferkaptah eventually committed suicide and was said to have been
entombed along with the book.
Generations later, the story's protagonist, Setne Khamwas (a
character based on the historical prince Khaemwaset), manages to
steal the book from Neferkaptah's tomb despite fierce opposition
from Neferkaptah's ghost.
Setne eventually meets a beautiful woman who seduces him into
killing his children and humiliating himself in front of the
He discovers that what he had seen was in fact an illusion put forth
by Neferkaptah, and in fear of further retribution, Setne decides to
return the book to Neferkaptah's tomb.
At Neferkaptah's request, Setne finds the bodies of Neferkaptah's
wife and son and buries them in Neferkaptah's tomb, which is then
sealed for eternity.
The story is meant to reflect the ancient Egyptian belief that the
gods' knowledge is not meant for ordinary humans to possess.
Fragments have been found in,
It was believed that he
who read the contents of the book would obtain the means to decipher
and master secrets related to the earth, the sea, the air and the
It also conferred the faculty of,
language of animals
giving life back
to the dead
acting on distant
and nearby minds
The church father
Clement of Alexandria, in the sixth book of his work
Stromata, mentions forty-two books
used by ancient Egyptian priests that he says contain,
"the whole philosophy
of the Egyptians".
All these books,
according to Clement, were written
Hermes (an ancient pre-existing Greek god that the Greeks
likened to Thoth, claiming they were one and the same god, due to
the fact they had similar qualities, i.e. both invented writing).