Sited as the greatest building of his reign, the temple of Abydos was built as a national shrine, and is one of the greatest buildings in Egypt. It includes seven chapels in the sanctuary area which are dedicated to six major gods (Ptah, Re-Harakhte, Amun-Re, Osiris, Isis and Horus) and to Seti I himself - shown as a god.
It is here that there is the important king list which lists the names of kings from Menes (Narmer) to Seti I (although the Amarna kings have been omitted).
The rituals of the gods were acted out in this temple as well as the King's own mortuary ritual.
At the rear of the temple Seti built another structure called the Osirerion, which was entered through a long tunnel decorated with scenes from the book of Gates. The tunnel lead to a huge hall (100 X 65ft), and it was here that the body of Seti I rested before its final journey to the Valley of the Kings.
However, Seti I died during the temple's construction and it was left to his son, Ramesse II, to finish. (see below)
| The lord of the land arose
as king, to show honour to his father, in his first year, on
his first Journey to Thebes. He had caused the likenesses of
his father, who was King Seti I., to be sculptured, the one in
Thebes, the other in Memphis at the entrance gate , which he
had executed for himself, besides those which were in Nifur,
the necropolis of Abydos. Thus he fulfilled the wish which moves
his heart, since he had been on earth, on the ground of the god
Unnefer. He renewed the remembrance of his father, and of those
who rest in the under world, in that he made his name to live,
and caused his portraits to be made, and fixed tht revenues set
apart for his venerated person, and filled his house and richly
decked out his altars. The walls were rebuilt, which had become
old in his favourite house; the halls in his temple were rebuilt,
its walls were covered, its gates were raised up; whatever had
fallen into decay in the burial-place of his father in the necropolis
was restored, and [the works of art which] had been carried away
were brought back into the interior.
. . . .
The king (now) returned from the capital of the land of the South. [As soon as] the sun [had risen], the journey was commenced. As the ships of the king sailed on they threw their brightness on the river. The order was given for the journey down the stream to the stronghold of the city of Ramesses, the Conqueror.
Then the king, in order to behold his father, made the rowers enter the canal of Nifur, with the intention of offering a sacrifice to the beneficent god Unnefer with his choicest libations, and of praying to [the divinity] of his brother Anhur, the soul of Ra in . . . as which he abides there.
There he found the halls of the dead of the former kings, and their graves, which are in Abydos, hastening to the beginning of desolation. Their burial-places had become dilapidated from the foundations. [The stones were torn away] out of the ground, their walls lay scattered about on the road, no brick held to another, the hall 'of the second birth ' lay in ruins, nothing had been built up [for the father by his son], who should have been busied in preserving it according to his expectations, since its possessor had flown up to heaven. Not one son had renewed the memorial of his father, who rested in the grave.
There was the temple of Seti. The front and back elevations were in process of building when he entered the realm of heaven. Unfinished was his monument; the columns were not raised on their bases, his statues lay upon the earth; they were not sculptured according to the corresponding measure of 'the golden chamber.' His revenues failed. The servants of the temple without distinction had taken what was brought in from the fields, the boundary marks of which were not staked out on the land.
The king speaks to the chamberlain at his side: 'Speak, that there may be assembled the princes, the favourites of the king, the commanders of the body-guards, as they are (i.e. all of them), the architects, according to their number, and the superintendents of the house of the rolls of the books.'
When they had come before the king, their noses touched the ground, and their feet lay on the ground for joy; they fell down to the ground, and with their hands they prayed to the king. They praised this divine benefactor, while they exalted his grace in his presence.
. . . .
The king speaks to them after an interval: 'I have called you because of a determination regarding that which I am about to do. I have beheld the houses of the necropolis, the graves of Abydos. The buildings of them require labour from the times of their possessors down to the present day. When the son arose in the place of his father, he did not renew the memorial of his parent. In my mind I have pondered with myself the splendid occasion for good works for coming times (?). The most beautiful thing to behold, the best thing to hear, is a child with a thankful breast, whose heart beats for his father. Wherefore my heart urges me to do what is good for Meneptah. I will cause them to talk for ever and eternally of his son, who has awakened his name to 1ife My father Osiris will reward me for this with a long existence, like his son Horus. Let me do what he did; let me be excellent, just as he was excellent, for my parent, I, who am a scion of the sun-god Ra.
'[I gave orders for the buildings], I myself laid their foundation-stone to build [the work. I had an image] made of him who begat me, my father, of gold, quite new.
' In the first year of my reign as king I had given orders to provide his temple with stores. I secured to him his fields, [and fixed their boundaries,] and appointed him revenues for his worship, [and arranged the sacrifices of oxen and geese and bread] and wine and incense and other things. I planted for him groves to grow up for him. Thus was his house under my protection; I took upon myself all his buildings from the time that [I was crowned as king]. And thus I was a child [whose heart was full of thanks towards] his father who had exalted me.
'I will renew the memorial. I will not neglect his tomb as children are accustomed to do, who do not remember their father. [Men shall speak of me] as of a Son who did good, and shall estimate the strength of my father in me his child. I will complete it because I am lord of the land. I will take care of it because it is fitting and right.
'I clothe the walls in the temple of my parent. I will commission the man of my choice to hasten the buildings for him, to build up again what was sunken of its walls, [and to raise up] his temple wings on the [front side,] to clothe his house, to erect his pillars, and to place the blocks on the places of the foundation-stone'
Beautifully, shall the most splendid double memorial be made at once. Let it be inscribed with my name, and with the name of my father. As the son is, so was the father was thc father [who begat him].'
The king's friends speak in answer to the divine benefactor:
'[That which thou hast determined,] O King, do it. Remember that which was sunk in forgetfulness, renew the monuments in the necropolis, and all the plans which were behindhand, execute them as is right and fitting.-Thou art now king of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Do good even as thou wiliest. Let thy heart be satisfied in doing what is right. For that which is done for the honour of the gods, that will be accepted and [rewarded by thc immortals] when thou hereafter shalt rise to heaven. When thy grace raises himself to the orb of light, then shall the eyes see thy glorious virtues in the sight of gods and men. Thus do thou. Renew memorial after memorial to the gods. Therefore shall thy father Ra command that thy name shall resound in all lands, beginning in the south with Khent-hen-nefer, northwards from the shores of the sea as far as the nations of Ruthen. The foreign fortresses and towns of the king and the cities, well guarded and occupied with their inhabitants, and [the dwellers in all places, they speak of thee,] that thou art as a god for every one. They awake to offer incense to thee. Thus according to the will of thy father Tmu, the black land (Egypt) and the red land (Tesherit) praise thee, O King.
. . . .
When [this speech] from the lips of the princes before their lord [was ended,] then the king commanded, and gave commission to the architects, and separated the people of the masons and of the stonecutters with the help of the graver, and the draughtsmen, and all kinds of artists, to build the most holy place for his father, and to raise up what had fallen into decay in the necropolis, and in the temple of his father, who sojourns among the deceased ones.
Then [he began] to have the statues of his father carved from the first year. The revenues were doubled for his worship, his temple was enriched according to the number of its wants. He appointed its register of fields and peasants and herds. He named its priests according to their service, and the prophet, to raise in his hands [the incense-vessel], and he appointed the temple servants for the performance of the works for him. His barns were many, full of wheat [and his storehouses in all plenty]. His domain was immense in the South and in the North, and was placed under the administration of the superintendent of his temple. In such wise did King Ramses II. for his father, King Seti, under the protection
He repeated what he had done for his honour in Thebes, in On, and in Memphis, where his statues rested in their places, and in all the places of the granaries.
These are the words of King Ramses II., [to Sing] what he did for his father, the Osiris-king Seti. He speaks thus:
'Awake, raise thy face to heaven, behold the sun, my father Meneptah, thou who art like God. Here am I, who make they name to live. I am thy guardian, and my care is directed to thy temple and to thy altars, which are raised up again. Thou restest in the deep like Osiris, while I rule like Ra among men (and possess) the great throne of Tmu, like Horus, the son of Isis, the guardian of his father. Beautiful is that which I have done for thee.-
'Thou enterest on a second existence. I caused thee to be fashioned, I built thy house which thou didst love, in which thy image stands, in the necropolis of Abydos for ever. I set apart revenues for thee for thy worship daily, to be just towards thee. If anything is in my power, which seems to be wanting to thee, I do it for thee. Thy heart shall be satisfied, that the best shall be done for thy name. I appoint for thee the priests of the vessel of holy water, provided with everything for sprinkling the water on the ground, besides meat and drink. I myself, I myself am come here to behold thy temple near that of Unnefer, the eternal king. I urged on the building of it, I clothed [the walls], I did that which thou didst wish, that it may be done for thy whole house. I established thy name therein to all eternity. May it be done in truth, may it succeed according to my intention. I dedicated to thee the lands of the South for the service of thy temple, and the lands of the North, they bring to thee their gifts before thy beautiful countenance. I gathered together the people of thy service one and al}, assigning them to the prophet of thy temple. All thy property shall remain in one great whole, to keep up thy temple for all time. I made presents to thy silver chamber; it is rich in treasures which are well pleasing to the heart, and I apportioned to thee the tributes at the same time. I dedicated to thee ships with their freight on the great sea, which should bring to thee [the wonderful productions] of the holy land. The merchants carry on their commerce with their wares, and their productions of gold and silver and bronze. I fixed for thee the number of the fields according to the proportion of the claims [of thy temple]. Great is their number according to their valuation in acres. I provided thee with land-surveyors and husbandmen, to deliver the corn for thy revenues. I dedicated to thee barks with their crews, and labourers for the felling of wood, for the purpose of building what is wanting in ships for thy house. I gave thee herds of all kinds of cattle to increase thy revenues, according to what is right. I fixed for thee the tribute of birds in the marshes for thy necessary sustenance. I [caused to be delivered to thee] living geese, to keep up the breed of the birds. I gave to thee fishermen on the river and on all the lakes, to feed the workmen who 1oad the sea-going ships. I have provided thy temple with all kinds of guilds of my handi[craftsmen]. Thy temple servants have been made up to their full number from the best people, and the peasants pay their taxes in woven stuffs for thy drapery. Thy men-servants and maid-servants work in the fields in all the town districts. Each man thus performs his service, to fill thy house.
Thou hast entered into the realm of heaven. Thou accompaniest the sun-god Ra. Thou art united with the stars and the moon. Thou restest in the deep, like those who dwell in it with Unnefer, the eternal. Thy hands move the god Tmu in heaven and on earth, like the wandering stars and the fixed stars. Thou remainest in the forepart of the bark of millions. When the sun rises in the tabernacle of heaven, thine eyes behold his splendour. When Tmu (the evening sun) goes to rest on the earth, thou art in his train. Thou enterest the secret house before his lord. Thy foot wanders in the deep. Thou remainest in the company of the gods of the under world.
But I obtain by my prayers the breath (of life) at thy awaking, thou glorious one! and I praise thy numerous names day by day I who love my father.-I let myself be guided by thy virtue. So long as I stay on earth, I will offer a sacrifice to thee. My hand shall bring the libations for thy name to thy [remembrance] in all thy abodes.
'Come, speak to Ra [that he may grant long years] of life to his son, and to Unnefer, with a heart full of love, that he may grant length of time upon length of time, united to the thirty-years' feasts of jubilee, to King Ramses. Well will it be for thee that I should be king for a long time, for thou wilt be honoured by a good son who remembers his father. I will be a [protector and] guardian for thy temple day by day, to have regard to the wants of thy worship in every way. If I should hear of any injury which threatens to invade it, I will give the order immediately to remove it in every way. Thou shalt be treated as if thou were still alive. So long as I shall reign, my attention shall be directed continually to thy temple. My heart beats for thee; I will be thy guardian for the honour of thy name. If thou also remainest in the deep, the best, the very best shall be thy portion as long as I live, I, King Ramses