APIS or Hapis, the sacred bull of Memphis, in Egyptian Hp, Hope, Hope. By Manetho his worship is said to have been instituted by Kaiechos of the Second Dynasty. Hape is named on very early monuments, but little is known of the divine animal before the New Kingdom. He was entitled "the renewal of the life" of the Memphite god Ptah: but after death he became Osorapis, i.e. the Osiris Apis, just as dead men were assimilated to Osiris, the king of the underworld. This Osorapis was identified with Serapis, and may well be really identical with him (see Serapis): and Greek writers make the Apis an incarnation of Osiris, ignoring the connexion with Ptah. Apis was the most important of all the sacred animals in Egypt, and, like the others, its importance increased as time went on. Greek and Roman authors have much to say about Apis, the marks by which the black bull-calf was recognized, the manner of his conception by a ray from heaven, his house at Memphis with court for disporting himself, the mode of prognostication from his actions, the mourning at his death, his costly burial and the rejoicings throughout the country when a new Apis was found. Mariette's excavation of the Serapeum at Memphis revealed the tombs of over sixty animals, ranging from the time of Amenophis III. to that of Ptolemy Alexander. At first each animal was buried in a separate tomb with a chapel built above it. Khamuis, the priestly son of Rameses II. (c.1300 B.C.), excavated a great gallery to be lined with the tomb chambers; another similar gallery was added by Psammetichus I. The careful statement of the ages of the animals in the later instances, with the regnal dates for their birth, enthronization and death have thrown much light on the chronology from the XXIInd dynasty onwards. The name of the mother-cow and the place of birth are often recorded. The sarcophagi are of immense size, and the burial must have entailed enormous expense. It is therefore remarkable that the priests contrived to bury one of the animals in the fourth year of Cambyses.
See Jablonski, Pantheon, ii.; Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, ii. 350; Mariette-Maspero, Le Sérapéum de Memphis.
(F. Ll. G.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)