The Great Goddess Hathor is the Mother, the Daughter, and the Wife of Ra. Like all the other Daughters of Ra, also Hathor is a manifestation of His Eye (the Right Eye), but, as it is said in this Sacred Hymn from Her Temple at Iunet testifying Her pre-eminence among all the Daughters of Ra, Hathor is the
“Female Horus-Ra, Venerable,
Female Sun, Queen of the Two Lands,
the Shining One Who illuminates the darkness,
the beloved Uraeus of “He Who shines like Gold”,
She Who shines with the Ba (the Soul) of Ra.
The Divine Youth (Ra) shone in the Lotus Flower at the time when He rose from the Primeval Waters of Nun, and an oozing fell from His eye, on His face, and then upon the sand, and a beautiful woman was born from it.
She Who shines like Gold, Her name is “Eye of Ra”,
among all His Daughters She is the One that Ra loves the most.
Iunet (Dendera) is Her in replacement of Iunu (Heliopolis);
the Creator begot Her in Heliopolis,
He gave to Her His own seat on Heaven,
He Who rules the entire cosmos from His Throne.
She is the One Who illuminates His eyes;
He (Ra, the Creator) doesn’t watch anyone before Her.
Queen of the Gods, Sovereign of manifold appearances,
She is Hathor the Great One, Lady of Iunet (Dendera),
Eye of Ra, Lady of Heaven,
Sovereign of all the Gods, She is the Mighty Maat,
She Who is in the House of the sistrum (Iunet, Dendera)”.
(Hymn to the Goddess Hathor from the Pronaos of Her Temple at Iunet, Dendera)
in fact all the Daughters of Ra like Sekhmet, Bastet, Tefnut, Mehyt, Uadjet, and Menhyt, are manifestations/forms/aspects of Hathor (as it is testified also by many myths, first of all the “Myth of the Heavenly Cow” also known as “the Myth of the Destruction of Mankind).
Hathor is also identified with the Udjat, the Left Eye, the Eye of Horus:
“I am Hathor Who brings Her Horus and Who proclaims Her Horus
(…) I am that Eye of Horus, the female messenger of the Sole Lord”
(from the Coffin Texts, spell 331)
“I am the Fiery Eye of Horus, Which went forth terrible,
Lady of Slaughter,
Who came into being in the Flame of the Sunshine,
to Whom Ra granted appearings in glory,
Whose children Ra-Atum made enduring.
What Ra said about Her:
‘Mighty is the fear of You,
Mighty is Your striking Power,
Great is Your Magic in the bodies of Your foes,
and the hostile ones have fallen on their faces because of You.
All human beings have been in the sleep of death because of You and through Your Power,
and those who shall see You shall be afraid of You in this vigorous form of Yours Which the Lord of the Enneads has given to You’,
so He spoke to me, so said the Lord of the Enneads of me.
I have become the Eye of Horus, and vice versa,
I am indeed She Who shoots, and vice versa,
I am She Who triumphs,
the Companion of Ra.”
(from the Coffin Texts, spell 316)
In Her aspect/manifestation of the “Great Celestial Cow”, the Goddess Hathor, the “Golden One”, is the mother of Ra and of the Sovereign (called and represented also as Her calf), connected with the creation of the cosmos, with the Netherworld and the afterlife.
“Hathor, Lady of Iunet, Eye of Ra, Lady of the Sky”
hieroglyphs from the ceiling of the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera)
Temple of Horus at Behdet, eastern tower of the Pylon:
detail of the Goddess Hathor
Hathor enthroned, wearing a composite Red Crown with the Atef-Crown, holding the papyrus-scepter and the Ankh;
detail from the rear wall of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), west side, second register (second scene)
Hathor-headed columns from the Hypostyle Hall of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes; in the background, the entrance leading to the inner part of the Chapel.
one of the four-faced Hathoric capitals of the Kiosk located within the sacred enclosure of the Temple of Mandulis at Talmis (ca. 50km south of Aswan, now called “Kalabsa”), Lower Kush/Nubia; above, an Uraeus standing inside a shrine and wearing the Solar Crown
Hathor-headed capital from the Great Temple of the Goddess Bastet at Bubastis (Lower Egypt), Festival Hall of King Osorkon II; now in the Louvre Museum…
the Goddess Hathor, cedar panel from an Hathoric Column
380–200 BCE; now in the Metropolitan Museum…
the Hathor-head standing on the symbol for “gold”, flanked by the Two Uraei with hanging shen-rings (symbol of eternal protection”).
From the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera)
capital carved with the image of the Goddess Hathor; mid-6th century BCE, from Kition/Larnaca, Kypros; now in the Louvre Museum…
“the head of the Goddess, dressed in a wig that scrolls down on either side of the face, rests on a papyrus flower decorated with pointed leaves and lotus buds. On top of the wig, on the front, is a “naiskos,” or small temple, in whose door is an Uraeus, flanked by scrolling stems from which spring papyrus flowers. On the back is a Tree of Life surmounted by a scrolled volute on which stand two sphinxes back-to-back.”
free-standing pillar capital carved with the image of the Goddess Hathor; on the top there is a little naos, in whose door is an Uraeus.
From the Royal Palace of Amathus (Kypros), ca. 500 BCE; Archaeological Museum of Lemesos (Kypros)
the Hathor-head standing on the symbol for “gold”
Ptolemaic stela; now in the Metropolitan Museum…
blue-painted jar decorated with a series of Hathor heads and personified Ankh-signs (the symbol of Life); each Ankh has two outstretched arms painted red and the Eye of Horus painted in the loop at the top.
From the Royal Palace of King Amenhotep III, West Thebes; ca. 1390–1353 BCE, now in the Metropolitan Museum…
the Goddess Hathor,
pottery fragment, late 18th Dynasty; now in the Manchester Museum…
gold pendant with the Hathor-head,
from Kypros; now in the Metropolitan Museum…
ring with glass cameo decorated with the head of the Goddess Hathor;
I century CE, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna…
sistrum in the form of a naos with Hathor Heads (both front and back), from Bubastis (Lower Egypt):
at the base of the naos there is an Uraeus, and nine Uraei with the Solar Crown below; the Hathor head wears a floral necklace with seven chains, and there are two lateral Uraei (each wearing the Solar Crown).
Dated to the XXVI Dynasty (the Saite Dynasty, 664–525 BCE); now in the British Museum…
faience Hathor head from sistrum handle,
from the Temple of King Thutmose IV at Uaset-Thebes; now in the Petrie Museum…
granodiorite barque with a statue of Queen Mutemuia in the guise of the Goddess Mut; at the prow of the barque is represented the head of the Goddess Hathor in the shape of a sistrum.
Queen Mutemuia was the wife of King Thutmose IV and mother of King Amenhotep III.
ca. 1400 BCE, from the Sacred Precinct of Amon-Ra (Ipet-Sut) at Uaset-Thebes; now in the British Museum…
ivory cosmetic spoon: on the handle is represented the Hathor-head flanked by the two Uraei (both wearing the Solar Crown); the discoid bowl of the spoon represents the life-giving Sun.
ca. 1295–1070 BCE; now in the Metropolitan Museum…
- HATHOR AS THE COW-GODDESS:
the Seven Hathors represented as the “Seven Celestial Cows”, together with the “Bull of Heaven”, and the “Four Rudders”;
scene from the CXLVIII spell of the “Book of Coming Forth by Day”, from the “House of Eternity” of Queen Nefertari, QV66, Valley of the Queens, West Diospolis Megale/Thebes.
On the wall at right, Queen Nefertari is represented standing in adoration, and the accompanying text states:
“Words spoken by the King’s Great Wife, Nefertari, Beloved of Mut, Whose word is right and true, before the Great God Osiris” (the “Bull of Heaven” is also the “Bull of the Netherworld”, identified with Osiris)
The names of the Seven Cows are:
(upper register, from right to left)
“Mansion of the Kau (the spirits), Queen of all”,
“Silent one, Who dwells in Her place”,
“She of Chemmis, Whom the God made noble”,
“Storm in the sky, which wafts the Gods aloft”.
(lower register, from right to left)
“Possessor of Life, the vari-coloured”,
“The Greatly Beloved, red of hair”,
and “She whose name has power in Her craft”.
The name of the Bull is: “The Bull, male of the heard, Who dwells in the red castle”.
Before the cows and also before the Bull is an offering table for the nourishment of the deceased
In the lower register are represented the four rudders, connected with the cardinal points:
(from right to left)
“Beautiful Rudder of the North Sky”,
“Beautiful Rudder of the East Sky, Guide of the Two Lands”, “Beautiful Rudder of the South Sky”
and “Beautiful Rudder of the West Sky”.
Hathor in Her highly sacred form of Cow,
detail from the north wall of the Hypostyle Hall of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes
Queen Hatshepsut enthroned, and Hathor in Her form of sacred cow licking the Queen’s hand;
scene from the facade (outer wall, north side) of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes
Queen Hatshepsut enthroned, and Hathor in Her form of sacred cow licking the Queen’s hand; behind Hathor is represented Anubis (holding the Uas-scepter of Power and Dominion);
scene from the facade (outer wall, west side) of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes
Hathor in Her form of sacred cow (wearing the Solar Crown with the Uraeus and an Hathoric necklace), coming out from a shrine; below it, Uas-Djed-Ankh group signs standing on neb-baskets (meaning “all Dominion, Stability, and Life”);
scene from the north wall of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes
Hathor in Her form of sacred cow, standing in a shrine, and Queen Hatshepsut sucking Her divine milk; at left, before Hathor, is represented Amon-Ra.
Scene from the south wall of the Chapel of Hathor, “Temple of Millions of Years” of Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset-Thebes
scene from the wall of the eastern exterior colonnade of the “House of Birth” of the Temple of Isis at Philae, second register:
(from left to right) King Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos kneeling on the symbol of the Union of the Two Lands (lotus and papyrus entwined);
the Seven Hathor-Goddesses playing the tambourines before Isis and Hathor, both enthroned.
Temple of Isis at Philae, scene from the entrance-gate of the west tower of the First Pylon leading to the “House of Birth”, interior, west side, third register:
(from left to right) the Seven Hathor-Goddesses playing the tambourines; and King Ptolemy VI Philometor kneeling on the symbol of the Union of the Two Lands (lotus and papyrus entwined) and offering wine to Harsiesi (Horus son of Isis) and Isis.
From Lepsius, “Denkmäler aus Ägypten und Äthiopien”, IV-26
Temple of Isis at Philae, entrance-gate of the west tower of the First Pylon leading to the “House of Birth”, interior, west side, detail of the third register:
the Seven Hathor-Goddesses playing the tambourines; and King Ptolemy VI Philometor kneeling on the symbol of the Union of the Two Lands (lotus and papyrus entwined) and offering wine to Harsiesi (Horus son of Isis) and Isis (not visible in the photo).
Hathor-Goddesses playing the tambourine,
columns of “House of Birth” of the Sanctuary of Horus at Behdet
- HATHOR AND OTHER DEITIES:
the ceiling of the North Gate of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet:
the Female Winged Solar Orb representing Hathor, flanked by the Two Uraei (above), and the Winged Scarab with the Solar Orb, representing Horus of Behdet
the King (the Emperor Domitian) pouring a libation before Hathor and Horus of Behdet,
scene from the east wall of the Monumental Gate of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera)
the King (the Emperor Domitian), holding a rod, a mace, and a scepter, consecrates the “Great Offering” to Hathor and Horus of Behdet; before Hathor there is a small image of the Chld God Ihy (son of Hathor) playing the sistrum.
Scene from the south wall (outer side) of the Monumental Gate of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera)
the Monumental Gate of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), detail of the lintel (looking towards the Temple of Hathor), west side:
Hathor and Horus enthroned;
at left, the image of the King (the Emperor Domitian) offering a statuette of Maat to Hathor and Horus (that is the offering of righteousness and truth to the Gods) and the small image of Ihy playing the sistrum and the menat-necklace have been impiously destroyed by the christians…
detail of the Monumental Gate of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), west jamb (looking towards the Temple of Hathor), first register:
the King (the Emperor Domitian) making adorations and offering fields to Hathor and Horus; in front of Hathor there is a small image of Ihy playing the sistrum and the menat-necklace before the King.
top frieze of the rear wall of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), detail:
to the center, the Hathor-head standing on the symbol for “gold”, flanked by Horus (to the left, holding the Menat-necklace) and Harsomtous (to the right, holding the sistrum), and by two crowned cartouches. To the left Outo/’Uadjet’ (wearing the Red Crown), and to the right Nekhbet (wearing the Red Crown), both standing on the symbol for “gold”, spreading Their wings as a sign of protection, and holding a fan with the shen-ring (symbol of eternal protection). At each extremity is depicted the kheker-frieze.
to the center, (above) the Winged Solar Orb spreading His lotus-like rays, and the Two Goddesses (Outo and Nekhbet) as sacred Uraei holding fans; below, the Akhet-sign (the Horizon) of two Mountains of the East and of the West between which rises the Sun (inside the Sun is represented Hathor), flanked by Iah (the Moon-God, to the left) offering the Udjat-Eye and by Ra (to the right, holding the sistrum).
At the left and right extremities are represented two crowned cartouches, and Outo and Nekhbet as winged lioness-headed Uraei.
rear wall of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet, first register (detail of the central scene):
the Hathor-head flanked by Isis (to the left, wearing the Red Crown with the Atef-Crown and holding the papyrus scepter) and Hathor (to the right, wearing the Double Crown with ram’s horns and two feathers, and holding the Uas-scepter of Power and Dominion).
(The head of Hathor has been impiously defaced by the christians… )
Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), rear wall, central scene of the base:
-to the left, Queen Kleopatra VII and Her son King Ptolemy XV bringing offerings to Isis, Osiris, and Harsomtous; before Isis is represented Harsomtous the Child playing the sistrum;
-to the right, Queen Kleopatra VII and King Ptolemy XV bringing offerings to Hathor, Horus of Behdet, and Harsomtous (falcon-headed); before Hathor is represented Ihy the Child playing the sistrum and the menat-necklace.
scene from the exterior wall of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera):
the King (wearing the Double Crown) playing the sistra before Hathor (wearing a composite Red Crown with the Atef-Crown) and Horus of Behdet (wearing the Double Crown)
Temple of Hathor at Iunet (Dendera), III and IV scenes from the west side of the rear wall:
(to the left) Maat making adorations to Hathor and Harsomtous;
(to the right) Touayt, the Goddess of the North, holding up the Sky before Ra-Harakhty.
To the right, one of the two lion protomes of the Temple’s rear wall
the first intercolumnar wall (south outer face) of the “House of Birth” of the Sanctuary of Hathor at Iunet:
-the King (the Emperor Traianus) making adorations and offering a clepsydra to Hathor suckling Ihy; behind Her, Ihy in His aspect of youthful God wearing the Double feathered Crown and holding the scepter and the flail;
at left and at right are represented the Two Goddesses as Uraei entwined around a papyrus (Uadjet, at left, wearing the Red Crown) and a lotus stem (Nekhbet, at right, wearing the White Crown).
-on the lintel is represented the Winged Solar Orb (Horus of Behdet) flanked by the Two Uraei; on the top of it, a row of Uraei wearing the Solar Crown;
- in the lower register, papyrus flowers and Rekhyt-birds (representing the Egyptians, that are the devotees of the Gods of Egypt)
the King offering two mirrors to Isis, Hathor, and Harpokrates;
scene from the enclosure wall of the Temple of Arensnuphis (Jrj-ḥms-nfr) at Philae
the King presenting the Wreath of Triumph to Hathor and Isis,
scene from the Temple of Neith and Khnum at Iunyt (Latopolis)
-Assimilations with other Goddesses-
Hathor-Khentet Iabet (“the Foremost of the East”):
Temple of Horus at Bedhet, western tower of the Pylon, III register, II scene:
the King (Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos) presenting the Two Crowns (the White and the Red Crowns) to Horus of Behdet; behind Horus are represented Hathor Khentet-Iabetet (the “Foremost of the East”) and Harsomtous.