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Ancient Egyptian Gods
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Hathor (Hethert, Athyr)

Mistress of heaven

Symbols: cow, lioness, falcon, cobra, hippopotamus, sistrum (a rattle), musical instruments, drums, pregnant women, mirrors, cosmetics, papyrus reed, snake

Depiction: Hathor was depicted as a woman with the head of a cow, as a cow, or as a woman wearing cow horns and holding a solar disk. The Hathors, who served a similar role as the Fates in ancient Greek mythology, were depicted as seven young women who wore the headdress of Hathor, horns and the solar disk. The women played tambourines.

Mythology: In some myths, Hathor is the mother of Horus and thus each queen of Egypt was identified with her. The name Hathor means “house of Horus.” Because Hathor was the Egyptians’ goddess of love, the Greeks identified her with their goddess of love, Aphrodite. Her father, Re, created Hathor for the purpose of destroying men who disobeyed him and originally named her Sekhmet. Re had a change of heart and no longer wanted to destroy men, but could not stop his daughter from killing them. Instead of destroying Sekhmet, Re tricked her by disguising beer as blood which Sekhmet drunk. Sekhmet became so intoxicated that she could no longer kill men and was from then on known as Hathor. In Dendera, her cult center, Hathor was considered the goddess of fertility and childbirth and in Thebes she was considered the goddess of the dead.

The Hathors played an important role in the fate of all Egyptians. According to myth, seven Hathors were present at every birth and foretold each baby’s fate, its future, and it’s death at the moment it was born. The hour of a person’s birth foretold their future and to be born at some hours was bad luck. If a prince were born at a bad hour, it was believed that the Hathors would exchange the baby with a lucky one to insure the continued prosperity of the country.

 


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