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Heriu-renpet in hieroglyphics
Old empire
G43 M4

Between the years /
(days) which are above the year

Heriu-renpet designated certain additional days in the Egyptian calendar , the Epagomenen . In the early days of the Old Kingdom , no assignment to specific Egyptian deities can yet be recognized for the five leap days , as the Egyptians assumed that the five transition days were ruled by the Chatiu demons .

Plutarch (Is. Et Os. 12) explains that Thoth ( Hermes ) won these five days in the game against Chons ( Selene ) in order to be able to make them available to Nut ( Rhea ). She needed this in order to be able to give birth to her children, some of whom were conceived in adultery, since a curse from her husband Geb ( Kronos ) weighed on her.


Old and Middle Kingdom

Sekhmet as the dangerous goddess of the plague

The month Wepet-renpet and the goddess Sopdet , embodied by the star Sirius , were originally closely related to Heriu-renpet . From the predynastic period to the end of the Middle Kingdom , Heru-renpet represented the time around the beginning of June , with the beginning of the New Kingdom around June 27 to July 3. The Heriu-renpet were still assigned to the Nile flood and the Achet season in the Old Kingdom and stood between the month of Ipet-hemet as the "year-end" and the Wepet-renpet as the "year opener".

With the worship of Osiris introduced in the 5th dynasty , a reference to other deities can be recognized for the first time in the pyramid texts . The sky goddess Nut watches over the Heriu-renpet. In this context she is considered the wife of Geb and "mother of the (five) gods, whose eldest god Osiris was slain by his brother Seth ". Nut "therefore lit her torches as stars ", which should take over the supervision in the sky. In the further course the Egyptians counted the five leap days as “the works of creation ” which “could not be interrupted under any circumstances”. If this commandment is not observed, “Heaven, earth and leap days will no longer be; there will be no more sacrifices to the gods and lords of Heliopolis ”. The cult of the "holy leap days" was connected with the Ninth of Heliopolis , who made sacrifices to Seth on the 17th of Shemu II in order not to endanger the order of the Maat .

In addition, the leap days were dominated by the Sopdet and their Memphite equation of Sachmet :

“The messengers of the Sekhmet carry the plague through the countries. Those who know the names of the leap days will neither go hungry nor thirsty. He will not fall victim to the annual plague. Sekhmet has no power over him. Do not do any work on grain or clothing on these bad days. Don't start a thing at all. "

During the leap days, the messengers of the Sekhmet refer to additional "sayings against the plague of the year" as "disease demons that follow the year" or "as leap days that do not let the year pass without raging".

The texts of the Rhind papyrus , which originated in the Middle Kingdom , show the Heriu-renpet's first assignments to certain deities: “On the day of Seth's birth, he let himself be heard (with thunder); on the day of Isis' birth the sky rains (tears) ”. The book of the leap days names further assignments in this context: The first day was "the festival of Osiris, who is like the Nile perch in his pond"; the second day as "the festival of Horus , who is a pure bull in his fields"; the third day as "the festival of Harachte , the falcon of everlasting beauty"; the fourth day as "the feast of Isis, as a child who is in his nest" and the fifth day as "the feast of the pure fish in front of the ship of Re".

In the festival calendar of the acrobatic troupe , which dates from the 35th year of the reign of Sesostris III. originates, the description of the leap days to the fourth Schemu month is documented, which thus have the character of a "year-end closing" and were occasionally marked as a special festival in the diagonal star clocks .

New kingdom

During the Ramesside period , the assignment of leap days changed. The fifth leap day now dated as the double birthday of Re-Harachte and Nephthys on the first day of the first Achet month. The third day is now dedicated to Seth, which was previously related to the fifth day.

Alan Gardiner as well as Richard-Anthony Parker suspect that the months in the course of calendar history changed the form of the year and shifted back by about 30 days. The reason for this was the link between Sopdet and the heliacal rise of Sirius, which began with the Heriu-renpet season until the end of the second millennium BC. Chr. Slowly migrated to the beginning of July and was ultimately responsible for the shifting of the months.

In 237 BC The five birthdays in the Canopus Decree became the birthday of Ptolemy III. added. Heriu-renpet followed immediately after the fourth month of the Schemu season .

Later division of the days

  • First additional day: Osiris's birthday
  • Second additional day: Horus' birthday
  • Third additional day: Seth's birthday
  • Fourth additional day: Isis' birthday
  • Fifth additional day: Nephthys birthday
  • (Sixth additional day: birthday of Ptolemy III (October 18) from 237 BC)

See also


  • Rolf Krauss : Sothis and moon dates: studies on the astronomical and technical chronology of ancient Egypt. Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 1985.
  • Richard-Anthony Parker : The calendars of ancient Egypt. Chicago Press, Chicago 1950.
  • Siegfried Schott : Ancient Egyptian festival dates. Publishing house of the Academy of Sciences and Literature, Mainz / Wiesbaden 1950.
  • Alexandra von Lieven : Wine, women and song - rituals for the dangerous goddess. In: Carola Metzner-Nebelsick: Rituals in Prehistory, Antiquity and the Present - Studies on Near Eastern, Prehistoric and Classical Archeology, Egyptology, Ancient History, Theology and Religious Studies. Interdisciplinary conference from 1-2. February 2002 at the Free University of Berlin. Leidorf, Rahden 2003, pp. 47-48.