Study Guide

Thoth

  • Profile

    The original Bird Brain is far from stupid. Thoth was ancient Egypt's god of wisdom, who invented writing and worked as Ra's secretary. He's also a creator god who helped the eight gods of Hermopolis to set up the whole universe with his mad hacker skills. Usually he's associated with the ibis (a water bird, like a stork), and sometimes he's shown as a baboon. But no matter what form he's in, he's always carrying around a pen and papyrus to write down his latest invention.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Thoth

    Nickname

    Lord of Wisdom, Beaky, Divine Scribe, Noble Ibis, Brainiac

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Khmun (Hermopolis)

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Chief Knowledge Officer

    Education

    I invented education.

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Monarchist

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    This is the one question I can't answer. I have no idea.

    Siblings

    None

    Children

    None

    Friends

    Ra, Anubis, Seshat, Isis

    Enemies

    People who act stupid

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    In a relationship with Seshat, Ma'at, and/or Nehmet-awai (it's complicated)

    Interested in

    Smart chicks (Chicks? Bird god? Get it? I crack myself up.)

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Anything on PBS
    Jeopardy! (When you hear this music, does it make you look for an answer?) 
    The Big Bang Theory (Sheldon is one of my favorite humans, but he needs to relax.) 
    The Mentalist (There's more than one way to use your mind.) 

    Quotations

    "My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go."
    – William Shakespeare in Hamlet

    "All men by nature desire knowledge."
    – Aristotle

    "It's not that I'm so smart; it's just that I stay with problems longer."
    – Albert Einstein

    "Knowledge is power."
    – Sir Francis Bacon

    "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
    Nelson Mandela

    Books

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I could read these forever, though I usually figure out the mystery before I'm done.)
    Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (Never make fun of a guy with a big nose.)
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Burning books! The horror.)
    The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (I'm rather fond of this young wizard. He reminds me of Horus the Younger.)
    The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it from a creepy monkey's paw.)
    The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli (Wisdom is learning to be a good person, even if you're not perfect.)
    A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (I had to take notes to keep track of all the plot turns! Such imagination.)
    Aesop's Fables (Did you know that some of these fables, like The Lion and the Mouse, come from ancient Egyptian tales? Most people don't.)
    The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World by Jacques Bossier (What beautiful temples to books and knowledge!)

    Music

    Imagine by John Lennon (Imagination is one of my superpowers. Peace is pretty cool, too.)
    Where is My Mind by The Pixies (My mind is where it's always been. In my bird [or baboon] head….)
    I've Seen It All by Björk (Sometimes she dresses up like a bird. I think I like her.)
    Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants (I have a secret to tell….)
    Word Disassociation by Lemon Demon (The catchiest vocabulary lesson ever.)
    Technologic by Daft Punk (The Internet, by a creepy robot.)
    The A-B-C song (The hieroglyphic version goes: "Vulture, reed leaf, quail chick, mat, ancient Egyptian's where it's at…." Not really. I'm kidding.)

    Movies

    Megamind (I'm not much for villainy, but he tries hard.) 
    Pi (I'm not sure this made sense even to me, and I invented numbers!) 
    Inception (Talk about messing with your mind.) 
    Planet of the Apes (This film was so good, they made sequels, and even a modern version. What's so scary about apes?) 
    Night at the Museum (My kind of place!) 
    The Matrix Series (If this doesn't make you think, I don't know what will.)
    The Terminator Series (What happens when computers become too smart.) 
    A Beautiful Mind (Math is incredible, but it can make you crazy.) 

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Smart people
    Libraries
    Inventors
    Grammar

    Interests

    Linguistics
    Science
    Technology
    Robotics

    Groups

    Ancient Egyptian Gods  
    Egyptian Mythology 
    Scriptorium Fonts 

    • Spotter's Guide

      We're not surprised you're looking for Thoth. He is a pretty stellar teacher, after all.You can find him anywhere there's some learning going down, and you can't really miss him, since he often takes the form of an ibis or a baboon. Just make sure you come prepared; this guy asks questions.

      Sex: Male
      Age: Adult
      Build: Average male with an ibis' head (human form); can appear as a full ibis or as a full baboon
      Complexion: Tanned
      Hair Color: Unknown, but probably white (he's pretty old)
      Facial Hair: None, unless in baboon form. Then lots!
      Scars/marks/tattoos: None
      Jewelry and accessories: Sometimes a crown with a crescent moon and/or an ostrich feather (the symbol of Ma'at or truth and order)
      Clothing: A white kilt and a white sash from shoulder to hip, to indicate his status as a teacher and lecturer
      Armor: None
      Type of Weapon: His razor-sharp wit

      Typical Companions

      Anubis
      Isis
      Lots of scrolls and books
      Ma'at
      Ra
      Khonsu

      Known Hangouts

      Libraries
      The Hall of Two Truths (the hall of judgment in the afterlife)
      The science lab
      The moon

    • Sightings

      Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

      Eight-Town

      Khmun, the ancient Egyptian word for the number "eight," was the city of Thoth from the oldest times. There were eight very important gods in town, and Thoth was the boss of the Eight Gods, also called the Ogdoad. Later, the Greeks would call this town Hermopolis Magna, or "the Great City of Hermes." Modern Egyptians call it Ashmunein, from the Arabic version of Khmun. It was a huge city, almost as big as Thebes (modern Luxor), and Thoth taught its citizens well. In 200 CE, it had seven-story buildings, but most of them are gone today, after being destroyed so their stones could be re-used.

      Dec 21, 2019

      Coffin Texts of Thoth

      A number of scribes and government workers were buried at Deir el-Bersheh, near Hermopolis. They took Thoth's holy writing with them to their graves in the form of beautiful coffins inscribed with magical texts and hymns. These "Coffin Texts" are the older versions of the more famous "Book of the Dead." A Belgian team is currently studying these tombs. Their reports and their dig website must make the god pretty happy.

      Dec 20, 2019

      King of Egypt

      A mysterious Second Intermediate Period pharaoh named himself Djehuty, the ancient Egyptian form of the Greek god-name Thoth. Very little is known about Pharaoh Djehuty, except his important name, and the name of his wife, Queen Montuhotep. Perhaps we should ask the king's namesake for more information?

      Dec 20, 2019

      Taking Seth's Place

      Before the New Kingdom (starting in Dynasty 17), images of pharaohs being blessed by Horus the Younger and Seth, together as the lords of the Two Lands, were very common. After the Second Intermediate Period, Seth started disappearing from official images. Since the foreign rulers of that time favored Seth as their personal god, the later Egyptians decided they didn't want to be reminded of that time. Plus, Seth was a murderer. What to do? They replaced Seth on these images with Thoth, and so the blessing scenes continue, but with Thoth in Seth's place.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Ptah's Tongue

      The Memphite Theology, carved on the Shabaka Stone (a giant stone inscribed at the command of the 25th Dynasty pharaoh Shabaka), says that when Ptah created the universe, he did it by using his heart (which is named Horus the Younger), and his tongue (which is named Thoth). By this creation story, Thoth is the guy who created everything by speaking its names. Guess that really does mean that bird is the word?

      Dec 20, 2019

      Thoth's Emerald Tablets, and Other Prophecies of the Hermetica

      Thoth is an important character in the collection of religious and magic texts called Hermetica. In these texts, Thoth (who is called Thoth-Hermes) teaches wisdom and alchemy, and shares prophecies about many things. Most smart Greeks read the Hermetica, because they thought Egypt was cool, and they wanted to be smart like Thoth.

      Dec 20, 2019

      Blessing a New Library

      Thoth's image is sculpted in bronze on the doors of the Library of Congress. Good place for him!

      Dec 20, 2019

      Conan: The Book of Thoth

      The sorcerer-slave from Robert E. Howard's Conan books gets his own comic book series Thoth-Amon. For sure, he belongs in Slytherin.