Who Is Afraid of Cats

Cats Mythos Second Life

You have dog lovers and you have cat lovers. Now personally, I am a dog lover, but Ancient Egyptians may have given cats the personality to conquer the world, and since we are in Mythos, it’s time to have a look at The Cat, on special request by Joyce Redrose-O’Black.

Cats

The first appearance of a cat in ancient Egypt art was around 1950 B.C.E. Someone painted a domestic cat on the back wall of a limestone tomb some 250 kilometers south of Cairo (image below). In the centuries that followed, cats became a fixture of Egyptian paintings and sculptures, and were even immortalized as mummies, as they rose in status from rodent killer to pet to god.

Historians took all this as evidence that the ancient Egyptians were the first to domesticate the feline. That is, until 2004, when researchers discovered a 9500-year-old cat buried with a human on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, revealing that cats had been living with people thousands of years before Egypt even existed. [1]

cats - Mythos Second Life - Mythology
First Appearance of a Cat in Egyptian Art

Bastet

The Ancient Egyptians held cats in the highest esteem. The penalties for injuring or killing a cat were severe. They worshipped Bastet, a cat goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman. The main center for the worship of Bastet was in northern Egypt at the city of Bubastis. The festival honoring Bastet was described as one of the largest and most enthusiastically celebrated in all of Egypt by the visiting Greek historian Herodotus. Large catteries were maintained by the Temple priests and a vast cemetery of mummified cats has been excavated outside of Bubastis. Thousands of small cat sculptures, probably left with offerings to the Temple by devotees, have also been recovered at Bubastis. [2]

Bast - Mythos Second Life
Bastet at Mythos

Mafdet

But the first Egyptian cat goddess was called Mafdet, the deification of justice and execution. She was a lion-headed goddess [3]. In early Egyptian mythology, Mafdet (also spelled Maftet) was a goddess who protected against snakes and scorpions and was often represented as either some sort of felid or mongoose.

She is present in the Egyptian pantheon as early as the First Dynasty. Mafdet was the deification of legal justice, or possibly of capital punishment. She was also associated with the protection of the king’s chambers and other sacred places, and with protection against venomous animals. [4]

Egypt_balsameringsguden_anu

Sphinx

And what about the famous sphinx, a lion with a human head?

The Great Sphinx of Giza is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most well-known statues, but basic facts about it are still subject to debate, such as when it was built, by whom and for what purpose.

But the name ‘Sphinx‘ was given to it about 2000 years after the date of its construction, by reference to a Greek mythological beast with a lion’s body, a woman’s head and the wings of an eagle, although, like most Egyptian sphinxes, the Great Sphinx of Giza has a man’s head and no wings. The English word sphinx comes from the ancient Greek Σφίγξ, apparently from the verb σφίγγω (sphingo / to squeeze), after the Greek sphinx who strangled anyone who failed to answer her riddle. [5]

Giza - Mythos Second Life
Sphinx of Giza

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