ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian bestiary: Goats

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Goats

Source: Excerpt, British Museum website     The economic importance of goats among sedentary Egyptians was minor, which is reflected in the scarcity of their depictions. But many Bedouin tribes were dependent on goats and sheep for their very existence.
    Wild goats lived in the mountainous regions of the country. Thutmose IV, like many other pharaohs, enjoyed hunting
Behold, he did a thing that gave him pleasure upon the highlands of the Memphite nome, upon its southern and northern road, shooting at a target with copper bolts, hunting lions and wild goats, coursing in his chariot, his horses being swifter than the wind.
The Sphinx Stela [1]

    The only major centre of goat worship was at Mendes (Djedet). The holy billy goat Ba-neb-djedet (Ba of the Lord of Djedet - bA -nb-Ddt )[2] was a fertility deity originally probably rather in the shape of a ram than a goat, as described on a stela now at the Cairo Museum:
The living ram, the primordial principle of virility, first of the gods [3]
    Identified with Ptah he was said to have begotten Ramses III. After their death these goats were embalmed and ceremonially buried.

Goat mounting woman Graeco-Roman plaster mould of what appears to be a billy-goat mounting a woman.[4]

Now the reason why those of the Egyptians whom I have mentioned do not sacrifice goats, female or male, is this:--the Mendesians count Pan to be one of the eight gods (now these eight gods they say came into being before the twelve gods), and the painters and image-makers represent in painting and in sculpture the figure of Pan, just as the Hellenes do, with goat's face and legs, not supposing him to be really like this but to resemble the other gods; the cause however why they represent him in this form I prefer not to say. The Mendesians then reverence all goats and the males more than the females (and the goatherds too have greater honour than other herdsmen), but of the goats one especially is reverenced, and when he dies there is great mourning in all the Mendesian district: and both the goat and Pan are called in the Egyptian tongue "Mendes". Moreover in my lifetime there happened in that district this marvel, that is to say a he-goat had intercourse with a woman publicly, and this was so done that all men might have evidence of it.
Herodotus, Histories II.46
Project Gutenberg
    In the Contendings between Horus and Seth Ba-neb-djedet was called upon to judge between the two gods:
Then Atum, the great prince who is in Heliopolis, said: "Have Banebdjede, the great living god, [summon]ed that he may judge between the youths."
Banebdjede, the great god who resides in Sehel, and Ptah-Tatenen were brought before Atum, and he told them: "Judge between the two youths and stop them from being engaged so in quarreling every day."
Thereupon Banebdjede, the great living god, answered what he had said: "Do no have us exercise (our) authority ignorantly. Let a letter be sent to Neith the Great, the God's Mother. As for what she will say, we shall do it."

Footnotes:
[1] J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt Part Two, § 813
[2] A few words about the transliteration and pronunciation of ancient Egyptian.
[3] After Georges Michaïlidis, Moule illustrant un texte d'Hérodote relatif au bouc de Mendès
BIFAO 63 (1965), p.144
[4] Georges Michaïlidis, Moule illustrant un texte d'Hérodote relatif au bouc de Mendès, BIFAO 63 (1965), Plate VI
 

 
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