Egyptian Mythology

The Egyptian Pantheons

Why do Egyptian gods sometimes have animal heads?

The Egyptians probably saw their gods not as literal physical beings, but as symbolic representations of aspects of nature and life in general. Animals have always been given symbolic value based on certain characteristics. The owl appears to be wise, the fox sly. In Egypt, animal heads signified certain characteristics of particular deities. Sekhmet was part lioness because, in the flood myth, for instance, she is ferocious and destructive. Amun is a creator god associated with fertility; he is depicted with a ram’s head because rams are associated with fertility. Hathor has a bovine attributes because she is a nurturer of children and of mothers in childbirth, and cows provide the sustenance of milk. It is also possible that certain animals were totems associated with particular cult centers or temples and would naturally have been connected with the gods of these centers and temples.


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