Negotiating the Cosmos: Mythology & Religion in Ancient Egypt


Photograph of ancient Egyptian paintingOverview:
The gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt are amongst the most evocative images of an ancient culture with a complex, and sometimes contradictory, understanding of their cosmos and the beings that functioned within it.

Some of their names are familiar: Osiris, Anubis, and Isis, but how were they understood and comprehended by the Egyptians themselves?

This series aims to unravel some of the mysteries of Ancient Egyptian mythology and its deities by taking a closer look at six of the major gods and goddesses, and examining the mythology and beliefs associated with them. Alongside this you will gain an understanding of how religion functioned on a broad scale within Ancient Egyptian society, both elite and commonplace.

Target audience:
The general public, students of religion, history, mythology, anyone with an interest in Ancient Egypt.

Learning objectives:
By the end of this course, you will:

  • Appreciate the breadth and complexity of Ancient Egyptian religion
  • Understand how the Ancient Egyptians included religion in every aspect of life
  • Be aware of the changes within Ancient Egyptian religious thought over the pharaonic period
  • Understand how six of the major deities were perceived and their interactions 
  • Gain insight into the functional aspect of Ancient Egyptian religious practice
  • Recognise how Ancient Egyptian religion influenced other ancient nations

Course outline:
Topics for the lecture presentations include the following:

  • Re, the Sun god and god of Creation
  • Osiris, King of the Afterlife and the Underworld
  • Isis, the Divine Mother and goddess of magic
  • Horus, the falcon god and god of divine kingship
  • Hathor, the golden goddess and god of benevolent/destructive power
  • Anubis, the canine god and god of the dead.

There will be time for questions and group discussion.

There is a short break halfway through each session and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments if you wish.

Sarah Vidler is a freelance consultant, guide and teacher of ancient Egyptian archaeology. She has led and co-led the two Victoria University study tours to Egypt.

“Great course, Sarah is such a great lecturer and knows her subject incredibly well”, More Notorious Names from Ancient Egypt participant (2018)

“Sarah was excellent. A passionate, knowledgeable and enthusiastic presenter - a very enjoyable course!”, More Notorious Names from Ancient Egypt participant (2018)

“The lecturer has an informal, at times humorous, style which is easy for an amateur audience to listen to but she also has an impressive depth of knowledge and scholarship which provide the basis for her lectures”, More Notorious Names from Ancient Egypt participant (2018)

Relevant links:
School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email:

Please note: Courses need a minimum number of enrolments to go ahead. If your course doesn’t reach the number required, we’ll have to cancel it. If this happens, we’ll contact you by phone or email about a week before the scheduled start date and arrange a full refund. Please check your emails regularly.