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Menthu-Ra


Menthu-Ra

In connection with the Amen-Ra must be mentioned an important form of the Sun-god which was called Menthu, or Menthu-Ra, though he was commonly described as "lord of Thebes," the chief seat of the worship was at Hermonthis, the Annu-Rest, i.e., "Heliopolis of the South," of the hieroglyphic texts. Menthu was probably an old local god whose cult was sufficiently important to make it necessary for the priests of Amen to incorporate him with the great god of Thebes, and he appears to have been personification of the destructive heat of the sun. The chief centers of his worship were Annu of the South, Thebes, Annu of the North, Tchertet, {Edfu, Dendera, and perhaps the temples of the First Cataract, and his commonest titles are, "Menthu-Ra, lord "of Thebes, king of the gods, he who is in his throne in Aptet, Merti, mighty one of two-fold strength, lord of the Thebes of the "North, Sma-taui, Governor of Behutet, lord of Annu of the South, "prince of Annu of the North," and "lord of Manu," i.e., the Libyan mountain. Menthu is mentioned in the pyramid Texts {Mer-en-Ra, line 784, together with a number of ancient gods, in such a way that we may be certain that his worship was widespread, even in the VIth Dynasty. Thus Khepera, and Nu, and Tem and Uash, the son of Seb and Sekhem, the son of Osiris, are entreated to hearken to the words which the dead king is about to address to them. Nekhebet of the Temple of Sar, in Heliopolis is said to protect him, he is identified with the star Apsh, and the gods who transverse the land of the Thehennu, and who live on the "indestructible heavens," are besought to allow him to be with them. Five obscure gods are next mentioned, i.e., Tchent, Kher, Shenthet, Khenu, and Benutch, and then it is said that "Seb harkeneth to him, Tem 'provideth him with his form, Thoth heareth to him. Tem "provideth him with his form, Thoth heareth for him that which "is in the books of the gods. Horus openeth out a path for him, "Set protecteth him, and Mer-en-Ra riseth in the eastern part of "heaven even as doth Ra. He hath gone forth from Pe with the "spirits of Pe, he is Horus and is fortified by the Great "and the Little Companies of the gods. He riseth in the "condition of a king, he entereth into heaven like Ap-uat, he hath "received the White Crown and the Green Crown, "his club is with him, his weapon {or scepter, "is in his grasp, his mother is Isis, his nurse is Nepthys, and the "cow Sekhat-Heru giveth him milk. Net "is behind him, Serqet is on his two hands ....... Let him pass, "and let his flesh pass, let him pass, and let his apparel pass, "for he hath gone forth as Menth, he hath gone down "like Ba, and he hath haunted like Ba-ashem-f. Of the origin and early history of Menthu nothing is known, but his worship must have been very ancient if we are to judge by the passage quoted above from the text of king Mer-en-Ra, for, although mentioned with the two obscure gods Ba and Ba-ashem-f, it is quite clear that he was a great god and the deceased hoped to resemble him in the Theban Recension Book of the Dead, but curiously enough, only as one of the number of gods. Thus, in Chapter cxl.6, together with Ra, Tem, Uatchet, Shu, Seb, Osiris, Suti, Horus, Bah, Ra-er-neheh, Tehuti, Naam, Tchetta, Nut, Isis, Set, Nepthys, Her-khuti, Hathor, Khepera, Amen, etc., who are entreated to bestow a garment of purity on the deceased. Menthu is usually depicted in the form of a man with the head of a hawk, whereon he wears a crown formed of the solar disk with the uraeus an d two high plumes ; as such he is styled "lord of Thebes." In a figure reproduced by Lanzone he has two hawks' heads, each of which is provided with the solar disk, two uraei, and two plumes ; in his right hand Menthu grasps the scimitar, which indicates that he was a god of war. Another proof of his warlike attributes is a scene in which he is depicted, with a long spear having a bronze or iron head, in the act of spearing a foe, whose hands and feet are tied together. In the city of Tchert, Menthu was worshipped under the form of a man with the head of a bull, but instead of the solar disk, sometimes with and sometimes without plumes. The warlike character of this local form of Menthu is indicated by the bow and arrows, and club, and knife which he was a personification of the fierce, destroying heat of the sun which warred against the enemies of the Sun-god, and smote them to the death with his burning rays which were like fiery spears and darts. In the narrative of the battle of Kadesh we are told that Rameses II. "rose up as up as Ra riseth, and took the weapons "of father Menthu" and that when he saw the foe before him "he raged at them like "Bar in his hour," he leaped into his chariot and drove headlong into the battle, wherein he, of course, gained a great victory. Elsewhere Menthu is often styled the "mighty bull," and it is possible that originally this god was nothing but a personification of the strength and might of the raging bull when fighting a foe, and that his worship in one form or another existed in predynastic times. It must, in any case, be very ancient, because when joined to Ra his name comes first in the compound name and we have "Menthu-Ra instead of Ra-Menthu. The pictures of the god reproduced by Lanzone prove that the god possessed other phases which are not at present well understood. Thus he is represented standing upright, with the head of a hawk, and he holds in the right hand what appears to be an ear of corn and in his left a vase, as if he were in the act of making offerings. In another scene the god, hawk-headed and wearing the solar disk encircled by a uraeus, is seated on a throne and is represented in the act of embracing a young Horus god who wears on his the solar disk with plumes, and a tight-fitting cap with a uraeus in front of it, and who stands on the edge of the throne by the side of the god.


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