The Destruction of Humankind
Mythology of Ancient Egypt
Before Egypt had a human King, its ruler was the god Re. In his declining years, angered by his subjects’ lack of respect, the God sent his Eye, deified as the goddess Hathor, to avenge him. The myth may have been created to explain the failure of a harvest.
Re, as a ruler of men, was past his prime. But his age did not prevent him from hearing that men were mocking him and plotting to overthrow him. Calling the gods to a secret conference, he asked their advice. Nun, as the eldest, was the one to whom he listened most avidly. Nun advised Re to punish the blasphemers by scorching them with his blazing Heat. However when Re did this his victims ran for shelter to the rocks and escaped his Fury. So he reconvened the gods, who told him to send his Eye in the form of Hathor to punish humankind.
In the guise of the lioness Sekhmet, Hathor perpetrated a Savage Slaughter. By the time she was recalled by Re, she had acquired an insatiable taste for blood and was determined to return to Earth to destroy the rest of humankind.
Re was alarmed. He had meant only to teach people a lesson, not to wipe them out. While Hathor rested, he sent Messengers to Aswan to bring back a consignment of red ochre. He ordered the high priest of Heliopolis to pound it. As this was done, the god ordered servant girls to brew barley beer. The two elements were mixed together to produce 7,000 jugs of an intoxicating drink that look like blood. Re ordered the jugs to be emptied over the fields where Hathor had planned her Destruction for the next day.
Hathor was taken in by the ruse. Flying over the fields she saw what she thought to be blood and swooped down for a drink. She imbibed too much and fell into a stupor. On regaining her senses, she had forgotten her original aim and set off home again.
As a reconciliatory gesture, Re decreed that the Egyptian people could drink as much as they liked at Hathor’s festivals, in commemoration of Hathor Lady of Drunkenness.