ancient egypt: history and culture
Ancient Egyptian deities: Behdety

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Winged sun disc     Behdety, ,[1] the One from Behdet, was the ancient sky god of the town of Behdet in the Delta, and was referred to as Lord of the Heavens. His connection with the sun is ancient: a comb dating to the reign of Djet at the beginning of the third millennium BCE shows a solar bark to which a pair of wings are attached. The bark was later replaced by the sun disc, and the winged sun disc, the symbol of Behdety had by the 5th dynasty, when a mortuary inscription of King Sahure included the picture of the winged disc and the inscription Horus of Behdet, become associated with Horus.
    Behdety became a deity especially protective of the king, and on either side of the sun disc a uraeus was added, the cobra deity Uto of Buto in Lower Egypt being in charge of the protection of the pharaoh, the mortal substitute of the divine ruler of Egypt, Horus.
[Winged sun disc]: Behdety, the great god, the one of the many-coloured plumage, lord of the Heavens: the perfect god, lord of the two lands Men-Maat-Re, who is given life like Re, every protection and all life be behind him.
The Beit Shean stela of Seti I, 19th dynasty [2]
It is interesting to note that this sun god offers protection by spreading his wings and thus affording a cool space, i.e. shade from the hot Egyptian sun:
Behdety spreads his arms for you as a cool space.
Amun temple at Karnak, 19th dynasty [3]
Horus of Edfu, Source: Jon Bodsworth
    The main cult centre of the Horus of Behdet in Ptolemaic times was at Edfu in Upper Egypt. Ptolemy III Euergetes II began building the temple, which is longer than 150 metres. It was dedicated in 142 BCE and completed in 57 BCE. Hathor of Dendera was the consort of Horus and her statue visited his temple every year and joined Horus at the Feast of the Beautiful Morning. At Edfu the Horus of Behdet, Hathor of Dendera and Harsomtus formed a divine triad. In the mammisi the birth of the child god Harsomtus and his growing up was celebrated.

Horus of Edfu
Courtesy Jon Bodsworth

    The Ptolemaic myth of Horus of Edfu describes the victory of Horus over Seth when Re sojourned in the 19th Upper Egyptian nome. The Behdetite and Harsiese slaughtered the enemies followers consisting of crocodiles and hippopotami after prior defeats of Seth's followers at Edfu, where Horus first took on the shape of the winged sun disk, at Tod, at Dendera (5th UE nome), and at Hebenu in the 16th Upper Egyptian nome. When the evil ones transformed themselves into crocodiles and hippopotami and attacked Re's solar barque, Horus killed them with a harpoon. The Sethians escaped north and Horus attacked them in the Delta in the shape of a lion, whereupon they fled south towards Nubia, where their revolt had begun. There Horus, again in the shape of the winged sun disc destroyed them utterly and returned to Edfu. The beginning of this war, 1st Tiby, was considered by the Egyptians a second New Year's Day, when the whole world was saved and recreated.[4]

[1] MdC transliteration, Wb vol. 1, 470.9
[2] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften: Historisch-rhetorische Königstexte (19.Dynastie) =>  Beth-Shan => 1.Beth-Shan-Stele => 2.Beth-Shan-Stele
[3] Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae Altägyptisches Wörterbuch, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften: Historisch-rhetorische Königstexte (19.Dynastie) => Karnak => Tempel des Amun => Hypostyl (Aussen)/Nordwand => Tor-Westflügel => Triumphszene und Topographische Listen
[4] Arno Egberts, "The Chronology of the Horus Myth of Edfu" in te Velde & van Dijk 1997, pp.47-54.
Lurker 1999, pp.74f
Shaw and Nicholson 1995, p.305
Herman te Velde, Jacobus van Dijk (eds), Essays on ancient Egypt in honour of Herman te Velde, Brill, 1997

© June 2010

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