Heracles and Busiris, vase painting

Busiris (Βούσιρις) is the Greek name of a place in Egypt, which in Egyptian, was named djed (also spelt djedu). The location was a centre for the cult of Osiris, thus the reason for the greeks choosing the name. The word Busiris was also used as shorthand for chief god of Busiris, an attribute of Osiris.

In Greek mythology, there was a king of of Egypt, named Busiris, sometimes considered the son of Poseidon. Busiris sacrificed all visitors to the gods, hoping to avert a famine. sacrificed all visitors to the gods, hoping to avert a famine. Herakles defied him and broke his shackles at the last minute. This part of the mythology concerning Herakles appears to be a corruption of a myth concerning Osiris' sacrifice by Set, and subsequent resurrection (see Legend of Osiris and Isis). The annual sacrifice appears to be a greek metaphor, representing the apparent freezing of the sun's path, on its ecliptic, during the two weeks after the solstice (its being bound), and its near sacrifice (i.e. the solstice itself).

Heracles and Busiris

Apollod. 2.5.11

....After Libya he traversed Egypt. That country was then ruled by Busiris, a son of Poseidon by Lysianassa, daughter of Epaphus. This Busiris used to sacrifice strangers on an altar of Zeus in accordance with a certain oracle. For Egypt was visited with dearth for nine years, and Phrasius, a learned seer who had come from Cyprus, said that the dearth would cease if they slaughtered a stranger man in honor of Zeus every year. Busiris began by slaughtering the seer himself and continued to slaughter the strangers who landed. So Hercules also was seized and haled to the altars, but he burst his bonds and slew both Busiris and his son Amphidamas.

Heracles and Busiris British Museum E38.

Heracles and Busiris (?), Louvre G50

The fictional king Busiris also appears as the leader of a revolt in Lucian's True Story (2.23).

Mythology Images

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