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Ancient Egyptian deities: Hathor, the Seven Hathors, Ihy
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Hathor, the Seven Hathors, Ihy


Hathor     Hathor, daughter of the Sun god Re, was goddess of the sky and of love, mirth, and beauty. But, as so much else in Egyptian mythology, relationships and functions of the deities are not always clear-cut:
Nekht, the captain of soldiers, the royal scribe, singeth a hymn of praise to Ra, and saith:- Homage to thee, O thou glorious Being, thou who art dowered [with all sovereignty]. O Tem-Heru-Khuti (Tem- Harmakhis), when thou risest in the horizon of heaven a cry of joy goeth forth to thee from all people. O thou beautiful Being, thou dost renew thyself in thy season in the form of the Disk, within thy mother Hathor.
From the Papyrus of Nekht, Brit. Mus. No. 10471, Sheet 21
As the goddess of fertility as well, she personified the creative power of nature. In art she was often depicted with the head or the whole body of a cow, and at times as a cobra. As the protectress of the city of the dead at Thebes, she became Goddess of the Dead.
The Osiris Ani [whose word is truth, saith]:- I eat bread. I drink ale. I gird up my garments. I fly like a hawk. I cackle like the Smen goose. I alight upon that place hard by the Sepulchre on the festival of the Great God. That which is abominable, that which is abominable I will not eat. [An abominable thing] is filth, I will not eat thereof. That which is an abomination unto my KA shall not enter my body. I will live upon that whereon live the gods and the Spirit-souls. I shall live, and I shall be master of their cakes. I am master of them, and I shall eat them under the trees of the dweller in the House of Hathor, my Lady. I will make an offering. My cakes are in Tetu, my offerings are in Anu. I gird about myself the robe which is woven for me by the goddess Tait. I shall stand up and sit down in whatsoever place it pleaseth me to do so. My head is like unto that of Ra. I am gathered together like Tem.
From the Papyrus of Ani: The chapter of making the transformation into Ptah.

During certain festivals, the priests of Horus of Edfu celebrated rites in association with priests of his consort, Hathor of Dendera, and of their offspring Harsomtus.

    Hathor took on an uncharacteristically destructive aspect in the legend of the Eye of Re. According to this legend, Re sent his Eye in the form of Hathor to destroy humanity, believing that they were plotting against him. However, Re changed his mind and flooded the fields with beer, dyed red to look like blood. Hathor stopped to drink the beer, and, having become intoxicated, never carried out her deadly mission.
    But, as Dr. Bleeker points out,[5] in the Book of the Dead, Spell 39, Hathor incites battle to repulse Apap[6], encouraging the company of the gods to "take up your weapons".

    Her name appears to mean "house of Horus", referring to her role as a sky goddess, the "house" denoting the heavens frequently depicted as the Heavenly Cow. Hathor was often regarded as the mother of the Egyptian pharaoh, who styled himself the "son of Hathor": both Pepi I and Merenre, for instance, bore the title "Son of Hathor". Since the pharaoh was also considered to be Horus as the son of Isis, it might be surmised that this had its origin when Horus was considered to be the son of Hathor.
    During the early Old Kingdom only the kings seem to have ascended to the heavens after death, becoming immortal. With passing time, at first noblemen and later the common populace as well began to look forward to their deification after their death

.... Awake out of thy sufferings, O thou who liest prostrate. They (the gods) keep watch over thy head in the horizon. Thou art lifted up, thy word is truth in respect of the things which have been done by thee. Ptah hath cast down headlong thine enemies. This work was ordered to be done for thee. Thou art Horus, the son of Hathor, Nesert, Nesertet, who giveth back the head after it hath been cut off. Thy head shall not be carried away from thee, after [it hath been cut off]; thy head shall be carried away from thee, never, never! ......
From the Papyrus of Nebseni, Sheet 21: The chapter of the head-rest [or pillow]
    Hathor had many other names such as "The Mistress of Heaven", "The Lady of the Stars", "The gold that is Hathor" and "The Golden One", pointing to her close relationship with Re. During the Old Kingdom she assumed the properties of an earlier bovine goddess, Bat, and the Greeks identified her with Aphrodite. She was among the most important of Egyptian deities
The names of the gods of the Great Company:- 1. Ra Harmakhis, the Great God in his boat. 2. Temu. 3. Shu. 4. Tefnut. 5. Keb. 6. Nut, the Lady of Heaven. 7. Isis. 8. Nephthys. 9. Horus, the Great God. 10. Hathor, Lady of Amentet. 11. Hu. 12. Sa.
From the Papyrus of Ani

Dendara-     At Denderah ( 650 km south of Cairo), there is a well preserved temple dedicated to Hathor where she was particularly worshipped in her role as a goddess of fertility, of women, and of childbirth, while at Thebes she was regarded as a goddess of the dead.
    Built on the site of an earlier Hathor temple dating from the Middle Kingdom, the present structure was built during the late Ptolemaic period (late 2d to 1st century BC), with later additions in Roman times. Its façade contains six ornately decorated columns whose capitals are shaped in the form of Hathor's head, represented as a woman with bovine ears. Within the temple are two staircases leading to upper sacred chambers, one of which contained a stone relief depicting the zodiac (now in the Louvre, Paris). On the outer wall of the temple are reliefs showing the famous Cleopatra and her son Caesarion.

    Abu Simbel , or Ibsambul, located 282 km (175 mi) south of Aswan, Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, is the site of two famous rock-hewn temples built during the reign of Ramses II (1304-1237 BC). The smaller temple, also decorated with religious scenes, was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and the deified Nefertari.

Mural in Hathor's shrine- Shrine of Hathor:
Hatshepsut and Thutmose III bringing offerings to Hathor
At the far right Hatshepsut is seen nursing from the divine cow


Hymn to Hathor from Denderah

The King, Pharaoh, comes to dance,
He comes to sing;
Mistress, see the dancing,
Wife of Horus, see the skipping!
He offers it to you,
This jug;
Mistress, see the dancing,
Wife of Horus, see the skipping!
His heart is straight, his inmost open,
No darkness is in his breast;
Mistress, see the dancing,
Wife of Horus, see the skipping!
Accessed December 2003

The Seven Hathors

Two of the Seven Hathors Two of the seven Hathors of Denderah
Source:, December 2003

    The Seven Hathors were goddesses often present at birth. They predicted the fate of the newly-born as in the Tale of the Doomed Prince or the Tale of the Two Brothers, Anpu and Bata, and were protective deities. Goddesses of love, they were hoped to further love interests, when invoked by charms.
Hail to you, Re-Horakhty, father of the gods! Hail to you, Seven Hathors, who are adorned with bands of red linen! Hail to you, gods, lords of heaven and earth! Come, (make) So-and-so (fem.) born of So-and-so come after me like a cow after fodder; like a servant after her children; like a herdsman (after) his herd. If they do not cause her to come after me, I will set (fire to) Busiris and burn up (Osiris).
Deir el Medina, New Kingdom [4]
    They also foretold the future generally and were consequently connected with the Nile inundation and the abundance of the grain harvest.[3]

The Seven Hathors The seven Hathors and the Sky-Bull
Tomb of Nefertary
Courtesy Jon Bodsworth

One was called "Lady of the House of Jubilation" or "Lady of the Universe", there were two Mistresses of the West one named "Sky-storm" and the other "You from the Land of Silence", two Mistresses of the East named "You from Khemmis" and "Red-hair" respectively, and two Ladies of the Sacred Land, one called "Bright Red" and the other "Your Name Flourishes through Skill".[1] The Hathors, local manifestations of the same goddess, came from various, changing places. Mariette lists Dendera, Cusae, Nehet, The Two Mountains (modern Gebelein), Eileithyaspolis, Mafek, Kepenut (Byblos) and Diospolis Parva. A different composition of the group is listed in a Litany of the Hathors.[2]
    When they are depicted as cows they are often accompanied by the sky-bull, called Bull of the West, Lord of Eternity.


    Hathor's infant son Ihy was worshipped at Iunet (modern Dendera). He is shown holding a sistrum or a menat.[7] His name has been interpreted as meaning 'sistrum player' or 'calf'. He was associated with Harsomptus at Edfu. While his mother usually is thought to be Hathor, there are instances where he was considered the son of Isis, of Nephthys or of Sekhmet. Horus is generally the father, but Re is also mentioned at times.[8]
[1] George Hart, The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Routledge 2005, p.64
[2] Ernest Alfred Wallis Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians Or Studies in Egyptian Mythology, Courier Dover 1969 , p.434
[3] Gerald Massey, The natural genesis: or second part of A book of the beginnings, 1883, p.6
[4] Andrea Griet McDowell, Village Life in Ancient Egypt: Laundry Lists and Love Songs, Oxford University Press 2002, p.33.
[5] Claas Jouco Bleeker, Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion , Brill 1973, p.51
[6] Apap: also Apepi, Apophis. Snake in the underworld, enemy of Re, trying to destroy the sun.
[7] Lurker 1998, p.132
[8] Wilkinson 2003, pp.132f.

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