Hathor was one of the most important and complex goddesses of ancient Egypt. A mother goddess who created and maintained all life on earth, Hathor was also worshiped as goddess of the sky, fertility, music, and dance and as the symbolic mother of the pharaoh, or ruler. The Egyptians associated the goddess with sexual love, and her festivals included singing, dancing, and drunken ceremonies. The ancient Greeks identified Hathor with their own goddess of love, Aphrodite.

cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god

underworld land of the dead

Hathor was linked with the cult of the dead as well. In this role, she provided food to the dead when they arrived in the underworld. Anyone who carried her clothing would have a safe journey through the underworld. Many foreign lands around Egypt were considered to be under her protection, especially those from which the Egyptians obtained important resources, such as timber or minerals. In one inscription, she is called the "mistress of turquoise." Hathor is usually portrayed as a cow or a woman with a cow's head or horns. Some statues show her as a cow suckling the pharaoh with the milk of life.

See also Egyptian Mythology ; Venus .

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