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The cult of Hathor

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Worshipped from the earliest times as a cow goddess, Hathor acquired manifold attributes – body of the sky, living soul of trees, goddess of gold and turquoise, music and revelry – but remained essentially nurturing. Her greatest role was that of wet nurse and bedmate for Horus, and giver of milk to the living pharaoh. In her human aspect (with bovine ears and horns), the goddess paid an annual visit to Horus at his temple in Edfu. Her barque, escorted by priests and cheered by commoners, proceeded upriver, where Horus sailed out to meet her on his own boat. After much pomp and ritual, the idols were left alone to reconsummate their union while the populace enjoyed a Festival of Drunkenness, which led the Greeks to identify Hathor with their own goddess of love and joy, Aphrodite.

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