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Geb (earlier incorrect reading: Seb) Egyptian earth-god. The name is probably an old word for ‘earth’, which later fell into disuse; in the Pyramid texts we are told that the dead enter ‘geb’. One myth relates how the earth-god copulated with the sky-goddess (→ Nut) to beget the sun, thus becoming ‘father of the gods’. The kings of Egypt designated themselves as ‘heirs of Geb’. When the god is represented anthropomorphically he is usually wearing the crown of Lower Egypt on his head. Exceptionally he may also be shown with a goose decorating his head (in the script, the goose is his determinative sign).

Geb (Keb, Qeb, Seb) (earth) In Egyptian mythology, god who personified the earth’s surface; the brother-husband of the sky goddess Nut. According to one myth, Geb was separated from Nut by the god Shu at the request of the sun god Ra, who was angered over their sexual embrace. Thus, the sky above and the earth below were created. The separation, however, left Geb inconsolable, and he cried so fiercely his wailing could be heard day and night, and his tears filled the oceans and seas.

Geb was often portrayed in Egyptian art in grief, lying under the feet of Shu, his head raised on one arm and one knee bent. He is identified in some myths as the father of Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, Set, and Horus, and as such he was known as “father of the gods” or “chief of the gods.” It was also common to regard Geb as the appointed “heir of the gods” and the leader of the great Ennead. Geb also was portrayed as a man wearing on his head a goose, which is the hieroglyph of his name. The animal was also sacred to him, Geb being called Kenken-ur (the great cackler), referring to the belief expressed in some myths that he laid the egg from which the world sprang. In classical Greek times Geb was identified with Cronus, who was the father of the great Olympian deities.



Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow– Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante


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