Thoth was the Egyptian god of wisdom and knowledge. Honored as the inventor of writing and the founder of branches of learning such as art, astronomy, medicine, law, and magic, he was the patron god of scribes. Ancient Egyptians associated Thoth with the moon and identified him as the son—or heart and tongue—of Ra, the supreme sun god.

According to legend, Thoth possessed books of wisdom that contained secret information about nature and magic. Although the books were hidden, certain scribes had access to them.

patron special guardian, protector, or supporter

scribe secretary or writer

underworld land of the dead

Thoth played a key role in the Egyptian story of the afterlife. Known to be fair and impartial, Thoth judged the souls of the dead by weighing their hearts against a feather that represented truth. After recording the results, he told Osiris, ruler of the underworld, whether the individual had led a just life. In works of art, Thoth appears as either a human with the head of an ibis—a bird with a long, curved bill—or a baboon that supports the moon on its head.

See also Afterlife ; Egyptian Mythology ; Moon ; Osiris ; Ra (Re) ; Underworld .

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