Saturday, May 23, 2009

When Sekhmet Almost Destroyed Mankind

Taken from a side chapel of Sety I.

Stone carving of Sekhmet.

In the beginning mankind was grateful to Re for the benefits that he conferred upon them, and they worshipped him and supplied all things necessary for his service. After a while, however, they became tired of doing this and claimed that Re had grown old, and no need for further offerings, so supplies for the temples diminished.

Re consulted with the Council of the Gods as to what he should do, but he did it secretly so that mankind should not know what he was about to do. The gods came together and grouped themselves around Re, and asked him what he wished to say. Fist he consulted the god Nun, because he was the God of the Watery Waste and older than the other gods. Nun advised him to send his Eye against mankind. Now his Eye was his daughter Sekhmet, sometimes known as Hathor. In her form of Sekhmet she was a fierce lioness fond of hunting, and stood for thefierce rays of the midday sun. She went forth and slew man in the valley and in the desert where they had taken refuge. Then Re was sorry for mankind and called to the goddess to cease her work and come to him in peace, as mankind had been punished enough. But the lioness roared and said "I swore by my life that when I gained mastery over men it was very satisfying to my heart." Then again Re took council with the gods to see how he could stop Sekhmet's slaughter, as she was devouring mankind and wading in their blood.

The gods advised Re to give Sekhmet beer, of which she was very fond. So large quantities of beer were brewed and mixed with some Kharkady so that it resembled blood. Then when the goddess was resting this was poured upon the fields where she was about to hunt next morning, and it reached the height of four spans. And his Majesty Re said "I will protect men with this beer which I have made." And when the goddess went out at daybreak she found all the ground flooded with liquid. She admired her face in the flood, and then she drank the beer and her heart became glad, and she did not know in what part of the land she was, and because she was drunk she fell asleep and mankind was saved. And the Majesty of this god said to Sekhmet "Come in peace." Ever since that time jars of soporific beer have been prepared at the festivals of sekhmet-Hathor, and at Dendera there was a festival of Drunkeness.
- Egyptian Legends and Stories, M.V. Seton-Williams, Barnes&Nobles, 1999. Pg 22-23.

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