Ancient Egypt eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

XI.

QUEEN HATASU AND HER MERCHANT FLEET.

Hasheps, or Hatasu, was the daughter of the great warrior king, Thothmes the First, and, according to some, was, during his later years, associated with him in the government.  An inscription is quoted in which he assigns to her her throne-name of Ra-ma-ka, and calls her “Queen of the South and of the North,” But it was not till after the death of her father that she came prominently forward, and assumed a position not previously held by any female in Egypt, unless it were Net-akret (Nitocris).  Women in Egypt had been, it is true, from very early times held in high estimation, were their husbands’ companions, not their playthings or their slaves, appeared freely in public, and enjoyed much liberty of action.  One of the ancient mythical monarchs, of the time before Sneferu, is said to have passed a law permitting them to exercise the sovereign authority.  Nitocris of the sixth dynasty of Manetho ruled, apparently, as sole queen; and Sabak-nefru-ra of the twelfth, the wife of Amenemhat IV., reigned for some years conjointly with her husband.  Hatasu’s position was intermediate between these.  Her father had left behind him two sons, as well as a daughter; and the elder of these, according to Egyptian law, succeeded him.  He reigned as Thothmes-nefer-shau, and is known to moderns as Thothmes the Second.  He was, however, a mere youth, of a weak and amiable temper; while Hatasu, his senior by some years, was a woman of great energy and of a masculine mind, clever, enterprizing, vindictive, and unscrupulous.  The contrast of their portrait busts is remarkable, and gives a fair indication of the character of each of them.  Thothmes has the appearance of a soft and yielding boy:  he has a languishing eye, a short upper lip, a sensuous mouth and chin.  Hatasu looks the Amazon:  she holds her head erect, has a bold aquiline nose, a firmly-set mouth, and a chin that projects considerably, giving her an indescribable air of vigour and resolution.  The effect is increased, no doubt, by her having attached to it the male appendage of an artificial beard; but even apart from this, her face would be a strong one, expressive of firmness, pride, and decision.  It is thought that she contracted a marriage with her brother, such unions being admissible by the Egyptian marriage law, and not infrequent among the Pharaohs, whether of the earlier or the later dynasties.  In any case, it is certain that she took the direction of affairs under his reign, reducing him to a cipher, and making her influence paramount in every department of the government.

[Illustration:  HEAD OF THOTHMES II.]

[Illustration:  HEAD OF HATASU.]

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Ancient Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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