CT 331

Feb. 29th, 2012 05:41 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
Spell 331 of the Coffin Texts is awesome. (I found my way to it via a discussion in The Coffin of Heqata.) The deceased identifies him or herself with Hathor, and gives us one of those glorious bursts of self-praise: she is "the Primeval, the Lady of All", from whom all the others gods flee (Cf the Exaltation of Inanna: "O my lady, the Anunna, the great gods, fluttering like bats fly off from before you to the clefts"). She calls herself "that Eye of Horus, the female messenger of the Sole Lord", and identifies herself with the Eye of Atum or Re, who set out to find and return Shu and Tefnut to their father. She also identifies herself with the goddesses Shesmetet and Wadjet.

Looks as though Willems translates CT 331 differently to Faulkner - for example, compare respectively "She claims to have the heart of a lion - a reference to the Destruction de Hommes? - and to have the lips of an executioner" and "my heart is the lion-god, my lips are the [sytyw]" ("the meaning of this last word is not known"). (Faulkner notes that one version has "my heart is the lion-god(s)" - Shu and Tefnut?)

Hathor remarks, "I have given my tears", which Willem interprets as a reference to the myth spelled out in Papyrus Bremner-Rhind XXVII,1-3, in which the Eye returns with Shu and Tefnut, "only to discover that Atum had made a new Eye... Distressed by this discovery, the eye wept (rmi), and humanity (rmt) originated in its tears." So Hathor is claiming to have created the human race.

(This self-praise continues in CT 332, but without explicit reference to the Eyes. There's a lot of Hathoric sky and light imagery, and an intriguing reference: "I am the third one, mistress of brightness, who guides the great ones who are languid on the paths of the wakeful." Willems suggests this Third One is Sothis.)

As Willems points out, here Hathor is the sun-god's protector and supporter, as befits his Eye. Discussing the prominent role of eyes in Egyptian myth, he remarks, 'First and foremost, there is the myth about the Eye of Horus, which was torn out by Seth but restored later by Thoth... Via the connection with Thoth, but also as the Left Eye of Horus, it was identified with the moon... but because Horus was sometimes interpreted as a solar deity, the 'Eye of Horus' could equally well be the sun." Then there's the myth of the Distant Goddess, in which the sun-god's eye departs for Nubia, and is brought back by another deity. Different versions of the myth involve different sun-gods, different Eyes of Re such as Hathor, Tefnut, and Wepset, and, as the god who brings her home, Onuris ("who brings back the distant one"), Shu, Thoth, or "forms of Horus". (And there's one where "a Hathor-like goddess went into the Libyan desert". Blimey.) Since the sun god can appear as Horus, Willem remarks, "it is not surprising that there was a degree of interference between the myth complexes concerning the Eye of Horus and the Onuris legend."

So, as Willems sees it, this spell combines the various eye myths, allowing the person reciting it to identify "with the solar eye in as many capacities as possible". (p 352)
ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
In her chapter for the Feminist Companion to the Bible, Lana Troy contrasts the Egyptian creation stories with the Biblical version of events. In the latter, gender only becomes "relevant" when human beings appear. In Egypt, however, says Troy, "the origin of all life, the source of both creators and creation, was not asexual, or presexual, but androgynous..." (p 239). (ETA: Englund remarks that the "absolutely homogenous" origin must contain "a potential heterogenity" to produce plurality; for the Egyptians, that heterogenity was the duality of gender, which was "only latent, only exist[ing] as a predisposition". (pp 20-21). I can't help thinking of the Big Bang - the tiny random flaws which gave rise to the large-scale structures of our universe, the asymmetry between matter and anti-matter, and most of all, the four forces which split apart from each other in those first fractions of a second.)

For example: Nun, the Father of the Gods, is a vast watery container, a sort of uterus; Nut, possibly his female counterpart, is the equivalent heavenly body of water through which the sun barque travels to be reborn each morning. The male creator deity Atum masturbates, swallows his semen, and spits out his children Shu and Tefnut; his hand becomes hypostastized as a goddess in her own right, and his mouth plays the role of a womb. Atum's Eye is also a female hypostasis, his "active element", which can retrieve Shu and Tefnut and return them to him. te Velde remarks that this female aspect of Atum or re is "carried over to Tefnut", Eye of Re (p 249); he connects the Eye's retrieval of the twins to the story of the Distant goddess, in which Shu or another god must in turn retrieve the sulking Eye of Re. Troy points out that the eye is womblike, a container of water whose tears produce the human race (p 263). Even in the Theban creation, where the waters of Nun are the god's semen, his semen becomes personified as a goddess!

OTOH, in the creation story from Esna, the creatrix Mehetweret appears to be solely female. Troy suggests this was conceivable to the Egyptians where male-only reproduction was harder to imagine. ETA: But Cooney - see below - quotes from an Esna hymn which describes Neith, aka Mehetweret, as "two-thirds male and one-third female". Also at Esna, Khnum not only "moulds" people, but also both begets and gives birth to them. (ETA: Englund: "All the gods of the Heliopolitan Ennead are hypostases of the androgynous Atum" (p 11).)

To come back to Troy, while male and female are both needed for the creation, they're not equal partners. She remarks, "Just as male fertility is incidental in the Esna version of creation, at Thebes the feminine reproductive mode is largely subsumed as an attribute of the male creator." (p 258) But the female aspect of the creator can also act independently, for example, in the conflict between father and daughter when the Eye returns to discover she's been replaced (resolved by the creator placing her on his forehead as the uraeus). (p 265)

One point which Troy makes which struck me as odd, however, was her suggestion that Seth and Nephthys "appear to reflect male and female characteristics in their most absolute form... The name Nephthys, in Egyptian Nbt-Hwt, 'Mistress of the House', suggests a personification of the womb", by parallel with Hathor's name, Hwt-Hr, "House of Horus", "referring to her role as his mother". But, as Troy notes, Set and Nephthys are childless (can you imagine how it might complicate the mythology if they weren't?!). Although later she is considered to be the mother of Anubis, surely Nephthys' most important role is as a sister, not a mother. te Velde points out that she is even "sometimes said to lack a vulva". (Pinch: "Perhaps because of her sham marriage, Nephthys is described in one of the Pyramid Texts [Utterance 534] as 'an imitation woman with no vagina.'" (p 171)) te Velde remarks that she "plays those parts in mythology that women without a husband filled in the Egyptian society, ie as a wailing-woman and nursemaid." (p 253) (ETA: Pyramid Text 1154 says of the king, "Isis has conceived (šsp) him, Nephthys has begotten (wtt) him."!)

Anywho, Troy concludes by pointing out that gender is "an indissoluble link between the divine and mortal worlds", something humans share with the gods. (By contrast, in the Bible, gender is "the culmination of the creator's labours", which is also "elevating".)

ETA: Bit more from my box o' photocopies. Kathlyn M. Cooney describes five Late Period / Ptolemaic bronze figurines of pantheistic deities, which combine not just human and animal elements, but male and female as well. "By combining numerous divine forms into a complex composite, these creative divinity figures incorporate as many magical and divine powers (b3w) as possible into one small statuette." Other than the creator gods, androgynous deities like this are rare (the ithyphallic Mut being one example). Cooney suggests such a figure combines "male potency for creation" with "female protection, as the catalyst and vessel for healing", and perhaps manifests the primal creator god "in visible form that is accessible to worshippers". (Another example would be Atum's parents in the Late Period Memphite Theology - Ptah-Nun, and Ptah-Naunet.)

ETA: Set's birth was "the beginning of confusion (hnnw)." :) (te Velde, p 252)

Cooney, Kathlyn M. Androgynous Bronze Figurines in Storage at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. in D'Auria, Sue H. (ed). Servant of Mut : studies in honor of Richard A. Fazzini. Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2008. pp 63-69.

Englund, Gertie. Gods as a Frame of Reference: On Thinking and Concepts of Thought in Ancient Egypt. Boreas 20 1991, pp 7-28.

Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian mythology : a guide to the gods, goddesses, and traditions of ancient Egypt. Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press, 2004.

te Velde, Herman. "Relations and Conflicts between Egyptian Gods, particularly in the Divine Ennead of Heliopolis", in Struggles of Gods. Papers of the Groningen Work Group for the Study of the History of Religions. Berlin, New York : Mouton, 1984. pp 239-257.

Troy, Lana. "Engendering Creation in Ancient Egypt: Still and Flowing Waters." in Brenner, Athalya and Carole Fontaine (eds). A Feminist Companion to Reading the Bible: approaches, methods and strategies (The Feminist Companion to the Bible, vol. 11). Sheffield, England, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997. pp 238-268.
ikhet_sekhmet: (the great tomcat)
Right then. The moon and the sun are linked as the eyes of a god in various places in Egyptian myth - I'll stick a bunch of notes behind the cut - but if my rummagings are correct, how the right eye, the solar Eye of Re, the ferocious goddess, overlaps with the left eye, the lunar Eye of Horus, is this: Thoth brings them both back.

I was familiar with two stories involving Thoth and an eye - the myth of the Distant Goddess, in which the Eye of Re decamps to Nubia in a huff, and Thoth (or Onuris, or Shu) is dispatched to get her back; and the healing of Horus' eye after Set's assault.

What I didn't know is that there's also a myth in which Horus's eye wanders off and Thoth returns it to him:
The eye of Horus sprang up as he fell on yonder side of the Winding Watercourse, to protect itself against (or, free itself from) Set.
Thot saw it on yonder side of the Winding Watercourse.
The eye of Horus sprang up on yonder side of the Winding Watercourse, and fell upon the wing of Thot on yonder side of the Winding Watercourse.
O ye gods, ye who ferry over on the wing of Thot to yonder side of the Winding Watercourse, to the eastern side of heaven, to speak with Set about that eye of Horus, may N. ferry over with you on the wing of Thot to yonder side of the Winding Watercourse, to the eastern side of heaven, that he, N., may speak with Set about that eye of Horus.
- Pyramid Texts 594-596
It'd make a great animated cartoon - Horus' eye either leaping out of his face (or perhaps off Set's forehead) and Thoth spotting it in time to catch it and fly it back to its owner. (Hmmm. I wonder if this is an image of the changeable moon travelling through the sky.)

Various other bits of the PT touch on the same story. Patrick Boylan discusses all this in a footnote:
"The legend of the flight and return of the eye is obviously similar in many respects to the legends of the Destroying Eye of Re, of the angry eye which becomes the serpent on the diadem of the sun-god, of Onuris who fetched the divine lioness from the eastern desert, and of Hathor of Byblos. All these legends are intricately interwoven - so much so, indeed, that it is often difficult to decide to which of them a particular feature or motif primitively belongs. Thoth is certainly associated primitively with the astral legend of the moon-eye that vanished and was found again. The primitive astral myth contains no suggestion of an angry eye of Horus. Thoth's function as pacifier of the eye is connected with the more reflective legends of the Eye as Serpent on the crown of Horus (in which Sechmet appears as the Eye in her form nsr.t, and Thoth is the shtp nsr.t). (p 32, fn 1)
It's a bit slack to just quote chunks of Boylan, but I'm knackered and he explains it so simply:
"The name of [Onuris] Ini hri.t, 'He who brings the one who was far away', refers probably to the bringing to Egypt from the mountain lands of the eastern deserts of a goddess in leonine form who was forced or induced to leave her desert home by an ancient battle-god in lion or falcon form. This ancient god was Horus the warrior-god who, because he brought to Egypt the stranger goddess, received the epithet Ini hri.t (Onuris) - 'He that fetches her that was far away'. Later this Hri.t came to be identified with the wd3.t and Ini hri.t was explained as 'He that brings the Eye that was far away'. Thus, the name of Onuris came to be written (as Thoth's could be, and sometimes was, written) as a deity carrying the wd3.t. (p 35)
And as a footnote to that lot:
"In some cases, of course, Thoth brings back to Horus (or Re) the right eye, or the Sun. This activity seems to be secondary or borrowed in the legends of the sun-god Re: it is based on his more primitive activity in connection with the moon." (p 35 fn 1)
So there you go - multiple versions of basically the same story, the eye leaving and being returned, with slippage between just which eye is doing the round trip.

More notes )


Andrews, Carol. "The Boar, the Ram-Headed Crocodile and the Lunar Fly". in Studies in Egyptian Antiquities: A Tribute to T.G.H. James (Occasional paper 123). London, British Museum, 1999. pp. 79 - 81.

Boylan, Patrick. Thoth, the Hermes of Egypt. Chicago, Ares Publishers, 1987. (A reprint of this, I believe.)

Darnell, J. C. 1997. The Apotropaic Goddess in the Eye. Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 24, pp 35-48.

Troy, Lana. "Mut Enthroned". in van Dijk, J. (ed.), Essays on Ancient Egypt in Honour of Herman te Velde, Groningen, 1997, pp.301-315.

Willems, Harco. The coffin of Heqata (Cairo JdE 36418): a case study of Egyptian funerary culture of the early Middle Kingdom. Leuven, Uitgeverij Peeters en Departement Oriëntalistiek, 1996.
ikhet_sekhmet: (snakes alive!)
Professor Betsy M. Bryan, Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptian Art and Archaeology, and Near Eastern Studies Professor at Johns Hopkins University, and currently excavating at Mut's temple in Karnak, wrote in Egypt's Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and His World:
"Amenhotep III built Soleb Temple as a cult place for the god Nebmaatra, lord of Nubia, a deified form of the king himself as the moon god Khonsu, the deity embodied by the lion. Mythological texts tell of the left or lunar eye, the feline goddess (Tefnut, Hathor, or Mehit, for example) who ravaged the enemies of Ra until she was appeased. Then she became the full moon, bringing increase and prosperity for the land. The temple of Soleb contains the ritual of the illumination of the dais during which the lunar eye of Horus, which had fled there in a damaged state, is made well and then illuminated as the full moon. An appeased lunar deity is at rest in the Soleb lions, but stays potentially violent once again as the moon wanes to become a dagger-shaped sickle. Amenhotep III's lions encapsulate his identification with the solar (as witness the use of red granite) and lunar cycles, as well as his constant vigilance to keep the cosmos in balance." (p 219)
OK, either this is way off beam, or - and let's be honest, this is rather more likely - there is a bunch of stuff Professor Bryan knows that I don't. A lunar version of the Eye of Re mythology?! This I have to see! (Alas, only the Khonsu as lion bit is sourced, but by heck I'll be following up the rest.)

ETA: lol, I posted about this last year, then apparently forgot all about it! That's what happens when you constantly jump from topic to topic...

Anywho, I'm just going to park a few relevant Google Books links here:

Between two worlds

Temples of Ancient Egypt

Amenhotep III: Perspectives on His Reign

And, thanks to Flickr, here's a snap of Nebmaatre. If I'm reading the hieroglyphs correctly, that's the god's name above his head, with no cartouche - he really is a god, and not just Amenhotep III wearing a Khonsu hat.

Kozloff, Arielle P., et al. Egypt's dazzling sun: Amenhotep III and his world. Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1992.


Jun. 24th, 2011 08:13 pm
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
I'm still gradually adding notes to my catch-all posting on Sekhmet; here's one for the closely related goddess Mut. (Also see the goddess: ithyphallic mut tag.)

  • Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe (eds). Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt. New York, Hudson Hills Press in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 1996.
    It's possible that the numerous Sekhmet statues found at Mut's Karnak temple were actually made for Amenhotep III's funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile, but later dispersed by Ramesses II. It was during his reign that the Isheru festival began to be celebrated at Karnak, and also that Mut really began to be called the Eye of Re (she's occasionally given this title, as well as "Lady of Terror", in the late 18th Dynasty), so the Sekhmet statues could have created or enhanced the link between Mut and the Eye of Re. (Even before this she could be shown as lioness-headed.) Mut is "one of the few goddesses who can appear as a cat, among whose meanings is the dangerous goddess appeased". The Ptolemaic entrance to the precinct shows the pharaoh as a musician: "I am the perfect sistrum player for the Golden Lady, who pacifies the heart of my mistress every day". [Hang on, isn't the Golden Lady Hathor? Find this text!] A Third Intermediate Period hymn from the daily temple ritual links Mut and Sekhmet as Eyes of Re "and refers to Mut's return and her appeasement, which includes rituals of music and dance." A possible political motive for linking Mut with Sekhmet would be their spouses: Amun-Ra of Thebes in Upper Egypt, and Ptah of Memphis in Lower Egypt. On one of Amenhotep III's statues, the two goddesses are called "united"; in the Ptolemaic period they could be seen as the serene and destructive aspects of the one goddess.
  • Bryan, Betsy M. "The Temple of Mut: New Evidence on Hatshepsut's Building Activity". in Roehrig, Catharine H., Cathleen A. Keller, and Renée Dreyfus (eds). Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven, Yale University Press, 2005.
    "The earliest cult place for Mut may have been constructed in the Middle Kingdom or the Second Intermediate Period, but remains of the original structure have yet to be identified." Hmmm, I'm not sure if that refers to the site at Karnak, or elsewhere. Further reading will clarify.

    "While the oldest known written reference to the temple dates to the Seventeenth Dynasty, it may be that a structure was erected in stone only in the Eighteenth Dynasty - perhaps during Hatshepsut's rule... during the co-regency Hatshepsut chose to carry out construction at the temple of Mut." Also at this time, "Mut's role as the divine consort of Amun-Re was emphasized in rituals for the god at Thebes". Describing the Hathor shrine, Bryan remarks that "Hatshepsut seems to have sought a special relationship with the goddess, presenting herself as a reborn Hathor".
  • te Velde, Herman. "Towards a Minimal Definition of the Goddess Mut". in Jaarbericht van het Voor-Aziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 26 (1979-1980), pp 3-9.
    Mut is more than the divine mother and spouse; she is often depicted with her consort Amun, but was also worshipped by herself - "near Antaeopolis as mistress of Megeb, in Memphis as Mut in the house of Ptah, in Gizeh as Mut-Khenty-Abu-Neteru, and at Heliopolis as Mut hr-snwt.s.)

    Te Velde remarks that Mut "does not play a striking part in Egyptian mythology". Mentions of Mut in the Pyramid Texts, Coffin Texts, and Book of the Dead are rare; in fact, she "hardly appears" until the 18th Dynasty. The earliest known representation of Mut is on a magic wand dating from about 1730 BCE (ie MK, Dynasty 13).

    The Isheru or Asheru was a "crescent-shaped lake", first given that name in the time of Amenhotep I, "where lioness-goddess were appeased". There was an Isheru of Wadjet near Memphis, of Bastet in Bubastis, of Sekhmet in Memphis.

    Mut's name is found in more personal Egyptian names than any other goddess, including many men's names.
  • te Velde, Herman. "Mut, the Eye of Re." in S. Schoske (ed). Akten des vierten Internationalen Ägyptologen-Kongresses München 1985 3, (Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur Beihefte 3), pp 395-403. Hamburg, Helmut Buske Verlag.

    The first mention of Mut is on a 17th Dynasty stela. Her relationship with Amun was not "fundamental in origin": even at Thebes, she had her own temple, and her own relations with other gods.

    At Luxor, a temple decoration dating from Amenhotep III's reign portrays Mut with a lioness head; but she was first called "Eye of Re" in the reign of Ramesses II (and was increasingly given this title from then on). The cult of the Eye of Re "received its established form in Ramesside times". A text from the time of Thutmose III mentions the "festive navigations" of Wadjet, Bastet, and Shesemtet; but in Ramesside times, it's always the navigation of Mut.
  • Troy, Lana. "Mut Enthroned". in van Dijk, J. (ed.), Essays on Ancient Egypt in Honour of Herman te Velde, Groningen, 1997, pp.301-315.

    The block containing Crossword Hymn to Mut includes a relief of a "line-up of at least nineteen gods" making "a gesture of adoration". "Mut as bearer of the Double Crown, mistress of heaven, the eye and daughter of Re, becomes in this hymn a vision of the solar goddess, daughter, mother, regent, and creator." She is "his daughter of his two eyes, she having appeared as his mother, through whom he is protected". She is the fiery uraeus on his brow, his crown, and his throne, and is herself "female king", "the occupant of the throne", her "authority emanat[ing] from Re"; rather than being identified with Ma'at, her relationship with Ma'at is that of a ruler, nourished by and creating Ma'at. "The text is replete with references to this goddess as a manifestation of the sun" -"the one who makes the lands live with her rays, this Sound Eye of Re", "the Akhet who illuminates the entire land with her rays". She is creator of water, land, and vegetation, gods, and human beings. The whole thing creates "a mirror image, in feminine form, of the male solar creator".

    Mut and Amaunet as Amun's co-consorts "create a reference to the Two Ladies". (The shared attribute of the red crown connects both goddesses to Neith, an "alter ego" of Mut in the Crossword Hymn.

    The goddess' two forms as "the uterine eye and the phallic uraeus suggests an androgyny which gives this daughter the capacity for independent creation." If she is separated from her father, he becomes helpless, she becomes dangerous; their reunion, in which she is pacified and gives birth to their son, is the basis of festivals and literature. She is "a female version of the Kamutef".

    Capel, Anne K. and Glenn E. Markoe (eds). Mistress of the House, Mistress of Heaven: Women in Ancient Egypt. New York, Hudson Hills Press in association with Cincinnati Art Museum, 1996.
    Bryan, Betsy M. "The Temple of Mut: New Evidence on Hatshepsut's Building Activity". in Roehrig, Catharine H., Cathleen A. Keller, and Renée Dreyfus (eds). Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh. New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New Haven, Yale University Press, 2005.
    te Velde, Herman. "Mut, the Eye of Re." in S. Schoske (ed). Akten des vierten Internationalen Ägyptologen-Kongresses München 1985 3, (Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur Beihefte 3), pp 395-403. Hamburg, Helmut Buske Verlag.
    te Velde, Herman. "Towards a Minimal Definition of the Goddess Mut". in Jaarbericht van het Voor-Aziatisch-Egyptisch Genootschap Ex Oriente Lux 26 (1979-1980), pp 3-9.
    Troy, Lana. "Mut Enthroned". in van Dijk, J. (ed.), Essays on Ancient Egypt in Honour of Herman te Velde, Groningen, 1997, pp.301-315.
  • ikhet_sekhmet: (lunar eclipse)
    Now this is odd.
    "Mythological texts tell of the left or lunar eye, the feline goddess (Tefnut, Hathor, or Mehit, for example) who ravaged the enemies of Ra until she was appeased. Then she became the full moon, bringing increase and prosperity for the land."
    That's more from Egypt's Dazzling Sun, this time considering the Prudhoe Lions aka the Soleb Lions at the BM. I've been ferretting out references which seem to indicate the moon was thought of as the "left eye" of Ra, corresponding to the sun as his "right eye", or that seem to link the two eyes. I've found more than I expected (of which more later) but nothing quite like this, which seems to just conflate the two outright. (Kozloff is pretty sharp with the footnotes, but doesn't give one for this bit.)

    The same article (page 219 of the exhibition guide, a book you wouldn't want to drop on your foot) notes that the temple of Soleb was dedicated to "Nebmaatra [ie Amenhotep III], lord of Nubia, a deified form of the king himself as the moon god Khonsu, the deity embodied by the lion." Amenhotep III built the temple; later, it was moved and reinscribed for Tutankhamen and Ay, with Nebmaatra being reidentified with another moon god, Iah. "Syncretized rather early, Iah and Khonsu are easily confused, since Iah was not uncommonly represented in an anthropomorphic striding form, as was Nebmaatra of Soleb."
    Kozloff, Arielle P., et al. Egypt's dazzling sun: Amenhotep III and his world. Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1992.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Endymion)
    Some more figures of interest (to me!) from Dr. Cruz-Uribe's catalogue of the gods of Hibis Temple:

    • Mut - lioness-headed, enthroned, holding the wedjat eye (p 2)
    • Mut foremost of the temple of Ptah - enthroned, mummiform, holding something (lost), wearing skullcap. (p 14)
    • "Female figure, with arms at sides, stands between two cats seated on stands." (p 13) Next to:
    • Mut, foremost of the "Horns of the gods". Falcon-headed, with small disc and uraeus, arms at sides. (p 13)
    • Mut, foremost of the temple of Ptah. Standing, wedjat eye on head. [Helck MDAIK 23 1968 p 123 line 11; Gardiner AEO II 125; Holmberg, Ptah, p 190] (p 13)

    • Sekhmet the great, beloved of Ptah - recumbent lion on pedestal (p 14) [Germond p 341]
    • Sekhmet, lady of (possibly siw or sinw?) - hedgehog (?) on pedestal. [Germond 92 no 26; Brunner-Traut Spitzmaus 161; Aufrere BIFAO 85 1985 23] (p 39-40)
    • Sekhmet in the mansion of the ka - enthroned, mummiform, lioness-headed, atef crown. (Shares a platform with Ptah.) (p 42)
    The ear is questionable. It may only be damage to wall. )
    Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. Hibis temple project, Vol 1: Translations, commentary, discussions and sign list. San Antonio, Texas, Van Siclen Books, 1988.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    The Lexikon gives, as one of the names of Bastet, B3stt-irt-Hr, "Bastet, the Eye of Horus", represented as a standing lioness-headed mummy wearing the white crown, and written like this:

    However, there's a note that both reading and interpretation are uncertain. So - this is my idea of fun - I've been banging and crashing about trying to find the original, which is on a naos for the god Sopdu dedicated by Nectanebo II. I got a crash course in inventory numbers trying to find "CG 70021". In the end, though, I simply stumbled across what I needed: the free online text of The shrine of Saft el Henneh and the land of Goshen by Edouard Naville.

    Read more... )

    ETA: and now, the punchline: a naos from Bubastis has Bastet call herself (unambiguously, this time!) "Eye of Horus".
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    "Words to be said by (to? before?) Bastet, mistress of Bubastis, the fear of whom is great in Iunet [Dendara], The Eye of Atum in Tarer [Dendara], the great Eye of Re who shines on the horizon, who brings light to men of light, whose face is beautiful, the uraeus of Horakhty.

    While the Mistress of the Two Lands, the Powerful One in the Divine, whose numen is recognised in the Temple of the Sistrum, shines in the sky, illuminates the shadow, brings light to all the shadow with her rays, she is the mistress of light amongst the goddesses, the people look on when she shines."

    Inscription from the temple of Hathor at Dendara (2nd register, tableau II, in which the pharoah offers the wadjet-eye) - my dubious translation from Cauville's French!


    Cauville, Sylvie. Dendara: Traduction. Orientalia Lovaniensia analecta 81. Leuven, Peeters, 1998.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Butterfly hair)
    "In order to understand the place of the moon in the cosmos, it should be remembered that the Egyptians conceived of the sky as a gigantic face which, like the human face, has two eyes. These are the sun and the moon, the right and left eye respectively. In a hymn we read: 'both thy eyes move in a circle, day and night; thy right eye is the sun-disc, thy left is the moon.'" (p 115)

    "Just as a sun-eye is mentioned in connection with Re, so is mention made of a moon-eye. In itself the sun-eye is constant. The moon-eye continually changes its shape. This fact has given rise to the forming of mythical conceptions about the wounding of the eye in which Thoth plays a prominent role." (p 117)

    In the Pyramid Texts, Horus and Seth battle; Horus damages Seth's testicles and Seth destroys Horus' eye. Thoth pacifies both combatants and heals their wounds. Bleeker suggests this is a "moon-myth": "It was only natural that this metamorphosis [the phases of the moon] be conceived of as a mutilation. Who is better able to heal this wound than the moon-good himself?... he makes the eye healthy and full again." (p 127) Seth makes off with Horus' eye, but Thoth retrieves it, saying: "I have returned from searching for the Horus-eye, I have brought it back." He makes the eye "full", that is, complete and intact: this is the wd3t-eye, "the symbol of divine life which can overcome death." (p 125) This is of course analogous to Thoth's retrieval of the sun-eye from a foreign land in the myth of the Distant Goddess.

    Bleeker, C.J. Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion. Leiden, Brill, 1973.
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    The book's been recalled by another borrower, so I'm just going to take some quick notes on things of interest to me.

    The twelve hours spent by the sun in the Duat are described in the Underworld Books found in the Valley of the Kings. Quirke describes an appearance by Sekhmet: "In the ninth and tenth hours too, the sun rests 'in his cavern'. Like the second hour, the ninth bears the name 'protector of her lord', while the tenth is 'the raging one, who boils alive the rebel'. As the name suggests, the damned receive their final punishment here, from eight lion-headed aspects of Sekhmet '(Divine) Fury' who have to 'allot the eye of Horus to the one in the Underworld'. There follow eight 'images made by Horus' to destroy the bodies of the foe." There's an accompanying illustration in which: "... lion-headed goddesses pour fire on the bodies of the evil in sand pits." (p 50)

    On the sed festival of Amenhotep III, and the statues in his funerary temple: "For Amenhotep III the incantations to appease the Furious Goddess, Sekhmet, at the end of the year became the mightiest litany ever sung, a chorus of perhaps 730 images of the goddess. These depict her as a lion-headed woman holding the sceptre of flourishing and the sign of life, in half of them seated, in the other half standing." (p 150)

    Caption on p 32: "Stela showing a woman and her daughter offering to a lion-headed goddess named in the hieroglyphic inscription as Mestjet, 'eye of Ra'. This is the only evidence for the name, but the depiction of the 'eye of Ra' as lion-headed goddess is widely attested."

    Quirke, Stephen. The Cult of Ra: Sun-Worship in Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson, London, 2001.
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    Hathor was a sky goddess - hence her name, "House of Horus". Watterson writes, "The Egyptians thought of her as a gigantic cow which straddled the earth, her legs marking the four cardinal points. Between her horns she carried the sun's disk; her belly was the sky, her hide and udders were the stars and planets." (p 113)

    The Narmer Palette is the earliest known representation of Hathor, and was probably an offering for Hathor's shrine. Watterson suggests the part-human, part-bovine face, uniquely shown from the front, was originally the goddess' fetish, and becamne stylised as her Bat symbol - the sistrum, Hathor's sacred rattle, could take this shape. Her son Ihy holds one.

    The Greeks equated Hathor with Aphrodite. She "was especially reversed by women." Wine and beer, and music and dance, were important in her rituals; "the king himself sang and danced before the goddess". (p 118) Along with Bes and Ta-weret, she was concerned with childbirth, and also suckled the king. The Seven Hathors, who foretold the fates of newborn children, appear in The Tale of the Two Brothers and The Doomed Prince.

    In the afterlife, Hathor, "Lady of the Sycamore", lived in a sycamore tree, which provided protection, food, and drink to the deceased. During the 18th Dynasty, she was merged with another cow goddess, Mehet-weret, becoming the patroness of the Theban necropolis. She was the goddess of foreign lands, and was worshipped at a mine in Sinai as "The Lady of Turquoise".

    Denderah, site of Hathor's most important temple, takes its name from the Egyptian Ta-neteret, "the goddess". Her statue went in procession each year for a sacred marriage to Horus of Edfu. She was identified with local goddess in many towns, for example with Mut at Thebes, and with Wadjet at Buto; she was so often identified with Isis that they'd basically fused by the Late Period.
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    "Though bizarre at first sight, these deities sporting the heads of falcons or lionesses on human shoulders lent physical form, in a strikingly succint fashion, both to the divine power of which the animal was the visible symbol and to its potential influence - through human agency - on earthly affairs." (p 122)

    Germond ponders representations such as the goose and ram for Amun-Re: "Are they gods or sacred animals?" He refers to a stela at Deir el-Medina which shows two geese, one captioned "the beautiful goose of Amun-Re", the other "Amun-Re, the beautiful goose". "... to the layman, [the animal] was often identified with the god himself, while for the priest and holy man it was understood more as one of the possible manifestations of the god." An animal may be the "repository of the divine soul" plus "a god in its own right." (p 122) For example, the Apis bull was "the living ba of Ptah"; the sacred falcons at Edfu and Philae were the ba of Re-Horakhte; the sacred crocodile at Kom Ombo was the ba of Sobek. (p 149)

    Germond notes the lack of male lion-gods, with only one example in Mahes; by contrast, there were thirty snake gods. He notes that Wadjet was associated with the Eye of the Sun, perhaps because of the burning feeling of a snakebite, and cites a myth in which Re's temporary eye is insulted when his original Eye returns, so is compensated by a place on his forehead. (p177-8)
    Germond, Philippe. An Egyptian Bestiary: Animals in Life and Religion in the Land of the Pharoahs. Thames and Hudson, London, 2001.
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    The California Museum of Ancient Art has numerous lectures available on CD. I've listened to several and they're terrific - talks given to a general audience by major experts.

    Buy, beg, borrow or steal the 2003 Channel 4 series Ancient Egyptians, which brings real events from the hieroglyphic record to life, complete with actors speaking in reconstructed Ancient Egyptian language. It's gripping, full of murder and drama and amazing things.

    Westenholz, Joan G. King by Love of Inanna - an Image of Female Empowerment?. Nin 1, 2000, pp 75-89. (I've been looking for this journal for ages!)

    "Dig Diary" of years of work at the Temple of Mut at Karnak.

    Day of the Vulture - a 2003 Mother Jones article about archaeological looting in Iraq.
    ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
    Here's that cat / lioness dichotomy again, in a pair of proverbs from The Teaching of Ankhsheshonq:

    "When a man smells of myrrh his wife is a cat before him."
    "When a man is suffering his wife is a lioness before him."

    I need to do some reading on Hathor this year, because of her close association with Sekhmet in the Destruction of Mankind, and also because she's associated with Tefnut in the Myth of the Eye of the Sun - there's that slippery interchangability between Egyptian deities, so several of them are "the Eye of Ra". (Hathor also flashes Ra in The Contendings of Horus and Seth and makes him laugh! Spot the parallel with Baubo in the story of Demeter's search for Persephone.)
    Houlihan, Patrick F. Wit and Humour in Ancient Egypt. Rubicon, London, 2001.


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    Plaything of Sekhmet

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