Legends Of The Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations

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PLATE II. Horus driving his spear into the Hippopotamus-fiend; behind him stands one of his "Blacksmiths".

PLATE III. Horus driving his spear into the belly of the Hippopotamus-fiend as he lies on his back; behind stands on of his "Blacksmiths".

Horus and Isis capturing the Hippopotamus-fiend.

In the 363rd year of his reign Ra-Harmakhis[FN#23] was in Nubia with his army with the intention of destroying those who had conspired against him; because of their conspiracy (auu) Nubia is called "Uaua" to this day. From Nubia Ra-Harmakhis sailed down the river to Edfu, where Heru-Behutet entered his boat, and told him that his foes were conspiring against him. Ra-Harmakhis in answer addressed Heru-Behutet as his son, and commanded him to set out without delay and slay the wicked rebels. Then Heru-Behutet took the form of a great winged Disk, and at once flew up into the sky, where he took the place of Ra, the old Sun-god. Looking down from the height of heaven he was able to discover the whereabouts of the rebels, and he pursued them in the form of a winged disk. Then he attacked them with such violence that they became dazed, and could neither see where they were going, nor hear, the result of this being that they slew each other, and in a very short time they were all dead. Thoth, seeing this, told Ra that because Horus had appeared as a great winged disk he must be called "Heru- Behutet," and by this name Horus was known ever after at Edfu. Ra embraced Horus, and referred with pleasure to the blood which he had shed, and Horus invited his father to come and look upon the slain. Ra set out with the goddess Ashthertet (`Ashtoreth) to do this, and they saw the enemies lying fettered on the ground. The legend here introduces a number of curious derivations of the names of Edfu, &c., which are valueless, and which remind us of the derivations of place- names propounded by ancient Semitic scribes.

[FN#23] i.e., Ra on the horizon.

PLATE V. Horus standing on the back of the Hippopotamus-fiend, and spearing him in the presence of Isis.

The "Butcher-priest" slicing open the Hippopotamus-fiend.

In gladness of heart Ra proposed a sail on the Nile, but as soon as his enemies heard that he was coming, they changed themselves into crocodiles and hippopotami, so that they might be able to wreck his boat and devour him. As the boat of the god approached them they opened their jaws to crush it, but Horus and his followers came quickly on the scene, and defeated their purpose. The followers of Horus here mentioned are called in the text "Mesniu," i.e., "blacksmiths," or "workers in metal," and they represent the primitive conquerors of the Egyptians, who were armed with metal weapons, and so were able to overcome with tolerable ease the indigenous Egyptians, whose weapons were made of flint and wood. Horus and his "blacksmiths" were provided with iron lances and chains, and, baying cast the chains over the monsters in the river, they drove their lances into their snouts, and slew 651 of them. Because Horus gained his victory by means of metal weapons, Ra decreed that a metal statue of Horus should be placed at Edfu, and remain there for ever, and a name was given to the town to commemorate the great battle that had taken place there. Ra applauded Horus for the mighty deeds which be had been able to perform by means of the spells contained in the "Book of Slaying the Hippopotamus." Horus then associated with himself the goddesses Uatchet and Nekhebet, who were in the form of serpents, and, taking his place as the winged Disk on the front of the Boat of Ra, destroyed all the enemies of Ra wheresoever he found them. When the remnant of the enemies of Ra, saw that they were likely to be slain, they doubled back to the South, but Horus pursued them, and drove them down the river before him as far as Thebes. One battle took place at Tchetmet, and another at Denderah, and Horus was always victorious; the enemies were caught by chains thrown over them, and the deadly spears of the Blacksmiths drank their blood.