Feature: The Goddess of Love

Few deities have such varied characteristics as Hathor, the goddess of love and sensual pleasures, and the patron of music and dancing. The Greeks appropriately associated her with their goddess Aphrodite. Like most Egyptian gods, Hathor was known by a range of titles, including ‘the golden one’, ‘she of the beautiful hair’ and ‘lady of drunkenness’, representing the joyful intoxication involved in her worship. As the ‘Lady of the West’ she was also protector of the dead. She is usually represented as a woman, a cow, or a woman with a headdress of cow’s horns and sun disc, as she was the daughter of the sun-god Ra. She was also a maternal figure and as the wife of Horus she was often portrayed as the divine mother of the reigning pharaoh. In a famous statue from Deir Al Bahri in Luxor she even appears in the form of a cow suckling Amenhotep II (1427–1400 BC). Confusingly, she shared many of these attributes with the goddess Isis, who was also described as the mother of the king. In the end, Isis essentially overshadowed Hathor as an ubermother when the legend of Isis and Osiris expanded to include the birth of Horus.