Egyptian cow goddess and daughter of Nut and Ra. In early Egyptian mythology she was the mother of the sky god Horus, but was later replaced by Isis. Hathor became a protectress of Horus. She was depicted either as a cow or in human form wearing a crown consisting of a sun disk held between the horns of a cow.
Her name appears to mean "house of Horus", referring to her role as a sky goddess, the "house" denoting the heavens depicted as a great cow. Hathor was often regarded as the mother of the Egyptian pharaoh, who styled himself the "son of Hathor". Since the pharaoh was also considered to be Horus as the son of Isis, it might be surmised that this had its origin when Horus was considered to be the son of Hathor.
Hathor took on an uncharacteristically destructive aspect in the legend of the Eye of Ra. According to this legend, Re sent the Eye of Re in the form of Hathor to destroy humanity with Sekhmet, believing that they were plotting against him. However, Ra changed his mind and flooded the fields with beer, dyed red to look like blood. Hathor and Sekhmet stopped to drink, and never carried out their deadly mission.
Hathor was often symbolized by the papyrus reed, the snake, and the Egyptian rattle known as the sistrum. Her image could also be used to form the capitals of columns in Egyptian architecture. Her principal sanctuary was in Dandarah, where her cult may have had originated and was particularly worshipped in her role as a goddess of fertility, of women, and of childbirth. At Thebes she was regarded as a goddess of the dead called the "Lady of the West"
The Greeks identified Hathor with Aphrodite.
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