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Hathor
Hathor
Cult Center: Dendera
Deity of: {{{Deity of?}}}
Consort: Horus, Ra? Thoth?, Sobek?
Sibling: Shu, Tefnut, Sekhmet (some accounts), Bast and Selkis
Symbol: {{{Symbol}}}
Parents: Ra
Offspring: {{{Offspring}}}

Hathor is one of the most famous goddesses of Ancient Egypt. She was known as "the Great One of Many Names" and her titles and attributes are so numerous that she was important in every area of the life and death of the ancient Egyptians. It is thought that her worship was widespread even in the Predynastic period because she appears on the Narmer palette. However, some scholars suggest that the cow-headed goddess depicted on the palette is in fact Bat (an ancient cow goddess who was largely absorbed by Hathor) or even Narmer himself. However, she was certainly popular by the Old Kingdom as she appears with Bast in the valley temple of Khafre at Giza. Hathor represents Upper Egypt and Bast represents Lower Egypt.

Association with Deities Edit

She was originally a personification of the Milky Way, which was considered to be the milk that flowed from the udders of a heavenly cow (linking her with Nut, Bat and Mehet-Weret). As time passed she absorbed the attributes of many other goddesses but also became more closely associated with Isis, who to some degree usurped her position as the most popular and powerful goddess. Yet she remained popular throughout Egyptian history. More festivals were dedicated to her and more children were named after her than any other god or goddess of Ancient Egypt. Her worship was not confined to Egypt and Nubia. She was worshipped throughout Semitic West Asia, Ethiopian, Somalia and Libya, but was particularly venerated in the city of Byblos.

As a Celestial deityEdit

She was a sky goddess, known as "Lady of Stars" and "Sovereign of Stars" and linked to Sirius (and so the goddesses Sopdet and Isis). Her birthday was celebrated on the day that Sirius first rose in the sky (heralding the coming innundation). By the Ptolemaic period, she was known as the goddess of Hethara, the third month of the Egyptian calendar.

As the mother goddessEdit

As "the Mistress of Heaven" she was associated with Nut, Mut as the queen of heavens. While as "the Celestial Nurse" she nursed the Pharaoh in the guise of a cow or as a sycamore fig (because it exudes a white milky substance). As "the Mother of Mothers" she was the goddess of women, fertility, children and childbirth. She had power over anything having to do with women from problems with conception or childbirth, to health and beauty and matters of the heart. However, she was not exclusively worshipped by women and unlike the other gods and goddesses she had both male and female priests.

As the goddess of beauty and gemstonesEdit

Hathor was the goddess of beauty and patron of the cosmetic arts. Her traditional votive offering was two mirrors and she was often depicted on mirrors and cosmetic palettes. Yet she was not considered to be vain or shallow, rather she was assured of her own beauty and goodness and loved beautiful and good things. She was known as "the mistress of life" and was seen as the embodiment of joy, love, romance, perfume, dance, music and alcohol. Hathor was especially connected with the fragrance of myrrh incense, which was considered to be very precious and to embody all of the finer qualities of the female gender. Hathor was associated with turquoise, malachite, gold and copper. As "the Mistress of Turquoise" and the "lady of Malachite" she was the patron of miners and the goddess of the Sinai Peninsula (the location of the famous mines). The Egyptians used eye makeup made from ground malachite which had a protective function (in fighting eye infections) which was attributed to Hathor.

Destructive Aspect of HathorEdit

However, she was also a goddess of destruction in her role as the Eye of Ra - defender of the sun god. According to legend, people started to criticise Ra when he ruled as Pharaoh. Ra decided to send his "eye" against them (in the form of Sekhmet). She began to slaughter people by the hundred. When Ra relented and asked her to stop she refused as she was in a blood lust. The only way to stop the slaughter was to colour beer red (to resemble blood) and pour the mixture over the killing fields. When she drank the beer, she became drunk and drowsy, and slept for three days. When she awoke with a hangover she had no taste for human flesh and mankind was saved. Ra renamed her Hathor and she became a goddess of love and happiness. As a result, soldiers also prayed to Hathor/Sekhmet to give them her strength and focus in battle.

Wife of ThothEdit

Of course, Thoth already had a wife, Seshat (the goddess of reading, writing, architecture and arithmetic), so Hathor absorbed her role including acting as a witness at the judgement of the dead. Her role in welcoming the dead gained her a further husband - Nehebkau (the guardian of the entrance of the underworld). Then when Ra and Amun merged, Hathor became seen as the wife of Sobek who was considered to be an aspect of Amen-Ra. Yet Sobek was also associated with Set, the enemy of Horus.

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