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Maahes

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Maahes (also spelled Mihos, Miysis, Mios, Maihes, and Mahes) was an ancient Egyptian lion-headed god of war,[1] whose name means "he who is true beside her". He was seen as the son of a lion goddess (Bastet in Lower Egypt or Sekhmet in Upper Egypt) whose nature he shared. His father was said to be a human unaware of the goddess' intention to conceive. Maahes was a deity associated with war and weather, and was considered the protector of matrilineality and of the high priests of Amun, as well as that of knives, lotuses, and devouring captives. His cult was centred in Taremu and Per-Bast.

Origin

The first recorded reference to Maahes is from the New Kingdom. Some Egyptologists have suggested that Maahes was of foreign origin; [2] indeed there is some evidence that he may have been identical with the lion-god Apedemak worshipped in Nubia and Egypt's Western Desert.

As a lion-god and patron, he was also considered the son of Ra and of Bastet,[3] the feline war goddess and patron of Lower Egypt as well as Sekhmet, the lioness war goddess and patron of Upper Egypt. Since his cult was centred in Per-Bast (Bubastis in Greek) or in Taremu (Leontopolis in Greek), he was more known as the son of Bastet. As he became a tutelary deity of Egypt, his father was said to be the chief male deity at the time - either Ptah, or Ra who had by this time already merged with Atum into Atum-Ra. In his role of son of Ra, Maahes fought the serpent Apep during Ra's nightly voyage.

Considered to have powerful attributes, feline deities were associated with the pharaohs, and became patrons of Egypt. The male lion hieroglyph was used in words such as "prince", "mashead", "strength", and "power".

Name

Maahes' name begins with the hieroglyphs for the male lion, although in isolation it also means (one who can) see in front. However, the first glyph also is part of the glyph for Ma'at, meaning truth and order and so it came to be that Maahes was considered to be the devourer of the guilty and protector of the innocent. Some of the titles of Maahes were Lord of Slaughter,[4] Wielder of the Knife, and The Scarlet Lord. Maahes was rarely called by his name and came to be referred to, somewhat misleadingly, as "Lord of Slaughter." The "Lord of Slaughter" terminology was adopted during the Persian and later Roman periods when foreign conquerors met with fierce resistance from Maahes chiefs and their supporters. Cambyses ill-fated army which intended to destroy the Maahes Caste and their High Priest of Amun, the Oracle at Siwa, vanished in the desert during a sudden sand storm. The Maahes were known as Lord of the Storm and Lord of the Powerful Ka in reference to legends giving them powers to control the weather.

Depictions

Maahes was pictured as a man with the head of a male lion, occasionally holding a knife and wearing the double crown of Egypt, or the atef crown. [5] Sometimes Maahes was identified with Nefertem[6] and was shown with a bouquet of lotuses near him, but he was also depicted as a lion devouring a captive.

Sacred animals

Tame lions were kept in a temple dedicated to Maahes in Taremu, where Bast/Sekhmet were worshipped, his temple was adjacent to that of Bast. [7] The ancient Greek historian Aelian wrote: "In Egypt, they worship lions, and there is a city called after them. (...) The lions have temples and numerous spaces in which to roam; the flesh of oxen is supplied to them daily (...) and the lions eat to the accompaniment of song in the Egyptian language", thus the Greek name of the city Leontopolis was derived.

References

  • Manfred Lurker, Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons, Routledge 1987, ISBN 0710208774
  • Alan W. Shorter, (1937) The Egyptian Gods: A Handbook, Routledge 1978, ISBN 0710000375

Footnotes

  1. Lurker, op.cit., p.215
  2. Walter Yust ed., Encyclopædia Britannica: A New Survey of Universal Knowledge, 1956, p.54
  3. Shorter, op.cit,, p.134
  4. Lurker, op.cit., p.215 .
    The epithet was used for many Egyptian gods: Thoth (cf. Erik Hornung, The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West, 2001, p.6), Wepwawet (cf. Egypt: Temple of the Whole World : Studies in Honour of Jan Assmann, Brill 2003, ISBN 9004132406, p.106), Set (cf. Homer William Smith, Man and His Gods, 1952 p.20) etc.
  5. Shorter, op.cit., p.134
  6. Shorter, op.cit., p.134
  7. Caroline Seawright, Maahes, God of War and Protection, The Leonine Lord of Slaughter...- map of temples

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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Maahes. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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