Apis – Egyptian sacred bull
"The Apis ought ever to be regarded by us, as a fair and beautiful image of the soul of Osiris"
Roman historian Plutarch
Apis (or Hapi) was the sacred bull of the ancient Egyptians. They regarded Apis as the incarnation of their Gods Osiris and Ptah. Apis had a special place in the temple of Ptah at Memphis. There, the bull functioned as an oracle, phrasing Ptah’s wisdom. It was believed that when Apis died, a new Apis appeared and had to be searched for: he would be recognisable by certain sacred marks on his body, such as his black colour and a knot under his tongue. Apis was sometimes represented as a man with the head of a bull.
Where Osiris represented the spiritual nature of the lower world, Apis was the emblem of the material world. The Apis bull also symbolised the sacrilegious doctrine, in contradistinction to the divine teachings represented by the Uraeus worn upon the foreheads of the priests. The sacred bull also stood for youth and endless life. At each New Year, a bull was ritually slaughtered after which its flesh was eaten by the king. This was supposed to transfer the animal’s huge powers to the king, which earned him eternal life.