Bes (Egyptian mythology)

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Bes in hieroglyphics
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Bes is a deity that originally came from Sudan and was worshiped in ancient Egypt from the 12th Dynasty onwards. The female counterpart to Bes is especially in the Greco-Roman period Beset.


In the Egyptian world of gods, Bes is considered the patron god who exercised his protection during the night. He protected those who worshiped him from dangerous desert animals, which he destroyed with knives. Among them in particular snakes, which is why Bes was often depicted as a snake strangler or snake devourer.

However, he is also seen as the god of conception and birth and his images are therefore often found in women's rooms and on the headboards of beds (especially wedding beds). On the one hand, it was supposed to keep evil spirits away from the house and, on the other hand, was also considered a protector of pregnant women , women who have recently given birth and newborns . Gradually he grew up as the patron god of the child of God - that is, the descendants of the king ( Pharaoh ). For example, Bes was one of the gods who were present at the birth of Queen Hatshepsut .

However, Bes was also considered the god of whims and merrymaking and so he danced to entertain the gods and played the harp , lyre or tambourine .

The young Horus ( Hor-pa-chered ) was sometimes depicted with the face of Bes.

Beset is often used as a partner. But he is also considered a partner of the Taweret (Thoeris).


Bes amulet, 6th to 4th century BC Chr. ( Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna )
Statuette of Bes, 2nd century BC Chr., State Museum Württemberg , Stuttgart

Bes belongs to the group of dwarf gods who have appeared since the Middle Kingdom and in which animal and human features are united. He was depicted with a grimacing face , a lion's mane and the deformity of a cripple , often with a high crown of feathers. He has had wings on his back since the New Kingdom . His representation is mostly from the front, which suggests that the origins of this god are not Egyptian. Occasionally, however, there are also images in the profile.

Cult and cult places

Since Bes was also god of whims and merrymaking, dance and music were essential components of his cult. In the later period he was venerated in Saqqara , in the Greco-Roman period in Antinoupolis and in the temple of Seti I in Abydos . As an oracle deity, Bes was worshiped in Abydos until the time of Emperor Constantine . Furthermore, amulets with his pictures testify that a more widespread worship of this god took place in the Mediterranean area up to the Roman period.


Statue of the female demon Beset in the Sudan National Museum

The Balearic island of Ibiza may have been named after Bes .

See also


  • Franz V. Ballod: Prolegomena to the history of the dwarf gods in Egypt. Buchdruckerei von H. Liessner and D. Sobko, Moscow 1913, DNB 580807150 , OCLC 458596338 (also: University of Munich, dissertation of July 18, 1912 (June 1912), 105 pages, 119 illustrations; notice et cote du catalog de la Bibliothe? ? que national de France: Prolégomènes de l'histoire des dieux nains de l'Egypte / Веденіе въ исторію бородатыхъ карликообразныхъ , German, abstract).
  • Mary Barnett: Gods and Myths of Ancient Egypt. Gondrom, Bindlach 1998, ISBN 3-8112-1646-5 .
  • Hans Bonnet : Lexicon of the Egyptian religious history. Nikol, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-937872-08-6 .
  • Rolf Felde: Egyptian deities. 2nd enlarged and improved edition. R. Felde self-published, Wiesbaden 1995.
  • Lucia Gahlin: Egypt. Gods, myths, religions. A fascinating guide through the mythology and religion of Ancient Egypt to the magnificent temples, tombs and treasures of the first high culture of mankind. Edition XXL, Fränkisch-Crumbach 2005, ISBN 3-89736-312-7 .
  • Veronica Ions: The gods and myths of Egypt (= the great religions of the world - gods, myths and legends ). Neuer Kaiser Verlag - Book and World, Klagenfurt 1988.
  • Manfred Lurker : Lexicon of the gods and symbols of the ancient Egyptians. Special edition, Scherz, Bern / Munich / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-502-16430-4 .

Web links

Commons : Bes  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Veronica Ions: The great religions of the world. Klagenfurt 1988, pp. 108-110.
  2. a b Rolf Felde: Egyptian gods. Wiesbaden 1995, p. 12.
  3. Manuel Bendala Galán: The oriental religions of Hispania in pre-Roman and Roman times . In: Rise and Fall of the Roman World . Vol. II.18.1, 1986, p. 365.