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Ancient Egyptian deities: Banebdjedet

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Banebdjedet

also Banebdjet, Banebdjed etc
 
Banebdjedet     A fertility god, the "Ba of the Lord of Mendes" was originally a ram with horns shaped like cork-screws, later he was often thought of as a billy-goat. He was the ba of Re, Shu, Geb and Osiris. He replaced the fish goddess Hatmehit as the main deity of Mendes. Later she became his consort and together they were parents to Harpocrates of Mendes.
    According to Herodotus his devotees did not sacrifice goats:
[2.42.1] Those, on the contrary, who possess a temple dedicated to Mendes, or belong to the Mendesian canton, abstain from offering goats, and sacrifice sheep instead.
[2.46.1] I mentioned above that some of the Egyptians abstain from sacrificing goats, either male or female. The reason is the following:- These Egyptians, who are the Mendesians, consider Pan to be one of the eight gods who existed before the twelve, and Pan is represented in Egypt by the painters and the sculptors, just as he is in Greece, with the face and legs of a goat. They do not, however, believe this to be his shape, or consider him in any respect unlike the other gods; but they represent him thus for a reason which I prefer not to relate. The Mendesians hold all goats in veneration, but the male more than the female, giving the goatherds of the males especial honour. One is venerated more highly than all the rest, and when he dies there is a great mourning throughout all the Mendesian canton. In Egyptian, the goat and Pan are both called Mendes.
Herodotus, Euterpe
According to Diodorus Siculus the ram represented the most basic of urges and was thus the prime originator of life:
The Egyptians have deified the ram for the same reasons for which the worship of Priapos was introduced among the Greeks: because of his member of procreation. They attribute the strongest copulation drive to these animals and consider the member, to which all living things owe their existence, to be worthy of veneration. They claim that it was considerd holy as the fount of animal life during secret initiation ceremonies in all other lands as well, it was this deity into the secrets of which the priests of Egypt when entering into the office of their fathers were initiated first. For the same reason the Pans and satyrs were venerated; and for the same reason their images in the temples were endowed with erect penes so that they would resemble the ram which was a very fertile animal. With such images the people wanted to express their thanks for the large number of their children
Diodorus Siculus [1]
    The cult of Banebdjedet at Mendes is claimed to have included sexual intercourse between humans and goats as part of fertility rites.[2] Herodotus reported a case of a woman having sex with a billy-goat and Strabo quotes Pindar saying: "Mendes, along the crag of the sea, farthermost horn of the Nile, where the goat-mounting he-goats have intercourse with women." [3] It has been suggested that the role of the billy-goat may have been played by a man in disguise.[4]
    After their death the holy goats were embalmed and buried..[5] In a Late Period book of temple rituals, which lists offerings to various deities, he is referred to as kA-sty, lit. copulating bull, who was on top of the Beautiful Ones, i.e. the cows.[6]
 
    In the mythology Banebdjedet was a god of some consequence, although playing a minor role over all. He was one of the umpires in the Contendings of Horus and Seth, having to decide who should inherit Osiris as ruler of the earth, and called the great living god
Footnotes:
[1] Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library I.88
After a German translation by Julius Friedrich Wurm
[2] Andrea M. Beetz, "Human sexual contact with animals", 5th Congress of the European Federation of Sexology, Berlin, June 29 - July 2, 2000, accessed 6 March 2010 at http://www.fifine.org/whitefangsTexte/72-Englisch.html
[3] Wolfgang Haase, Hildegard Temporini (eds.), Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt, Walter de Gruyter, 1984 p.1875
[4] Pierre Gordon, Sex and Religion, translated by Renée Spodheim, Social Sciences Publishers, 1949
[5] Lurker 1998, p.233
[6] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften => späte Ritualbücher => Tempelbibliotheken => Bibliothek eines Tempels im Delta (Heliopolis?) => pBrooklyn 47.218.50 ("Confirmation du pouvoir royal au nouvel an") => 1. Ritual(handlungen) des 'Grossen Sitzes', die während der Feste der Erde vollzogen werden
 

 
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