Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt

Page: 71

The gods assembled secretly, so that the race of mankind might know nothing of their meeting. And when they were all gathered about the throne of Ra, he said to Nun, the oldest of the gods:

"O Nun, thou first-born of the gods, whose son I am, I pray thee give me thy counsel. The men whom I have created have conceived evil against me, even those men who have issued forth from mine eye. They have murmured in their hearts, saying, 'Behold! the king has become old, his bones are like silver, his limbs like gold, his hair like unto real lapis-lazuli.' Tell me what shall be done unto them? For this have I sought thy counsel. I will not destroy them till thou hast spoken."

Then answered Nun:

"O thou great god, who art greater than he who made thee, thou son who art mightier than his father, do thou but turn thine eye upon them who blaspheme thee, and they shall perish from off the earth."[Pg 167] Ra turned his eye upon the blasphemers, according to the counsel of Nun. But the men fled from the eye of Ra, and hid them in deserts and rocky places. Then did all the gods and goddesses give counsel to Ra that he should send his eye down among men to smite them sorely. And the eye of Ra descended in the form of the goddess Hathor, and smote the men in the desert and slew them. Then Hathor returned to the court of Ra, and when the king had given her welcome she said, "I have been mighty among mankind. It is well pleasing to my heart."

All night Sekhmet[9] waded in the blood of those who had been slain, and on the morrow Ra feared that Hathor would slay the remnant of the human race, wherefore he said unto his attendants, "Fetch to me swift messengers who can outstrip the wind." When the messengers appeared the majesty of Ra bade them bring a great number of mandrakes from Elephantine. These Ra gave to Sekhmet, bidding her to pound them, and when this was done he mixed the mandrakes with some of the blood of those whom Hathor had slain. Meanwhile servant-maids were busy preparing beer from barley, and into this Ra poured the mixture. Thus were seven thousand jars of beer made.

In the morning Ra bade his attendants carry the beer to the place where Hathor would seek to slay the remnant of mankind, and there pour it out. For the sun-god said within himself, "I will deliver mankind out of her hands."

And it came to pass that at dawn Hathor reached the place where the beer lay, flooding the fields four spans[Pg 168] deep. She was pleased with her beautiful reflection, which smiled at her from the floods; and so deeply did she drink of the beer that she became drunken, and was no more able to destroy men.

Henceforward festivals were celebrated with high revelry in commemoration of this event.