Reasons why the Eye of Ra went on a rampage

The Eye of Ra‘s rampage is one of the most vivid and significant tales in Egyptian mythology, symbolizing the destructive aspect of the sun and the balance between chaos and order. The story often features the goddesses Sekhmet, Hathor, or Tefnut as the embodiment of the Eye of Ra.

Here are the reasons and the background for the rampage:

Descent to Nubia

The Eye of Ra story is essentially about the sun god Ra‘s daughter, often represented as the lioness goddess Sekhmet, Tefnut, Hathor, or Bastet, depending on the version of the myth.

In one tale, humankind begins to speak ill of Ra, leading the sun god to send his Eye as the fierce lioness Sekhmet to punish the blasphemers. She goes on a rampage, slaughtering humans.

According to one version of the myth, humans began to mock and defy the sun god Ra as he aged. Their rebelliousness and lack of respect deeply upset him. In response to humanity’s defiance and to punish them, Ra decided to unleash his Eye upon them. Image: Egyptian god Ra with the sun disk atop his head

Rampage of the Eye

Sekhmet’s wrath was so immense that she began to exterminate humanity. Ra, seeing the extent of the destruction and fearing the annihilation of all humans, decided he had to intervene.

Sekhmet shown with her sun disk and cobra crown from a relief at the Temple of Kom Ombo.
Sekhmet from the temple of Mut at Luxor, granite, 1403–1365 B.C., in the National Museum, Copenhagen

READ MORE: Difference between Sekhmet and Bastet

Intervention of Ra

To prevent further bloodshed, Ra hatched a plan. He ordered that a vast amount of red beer be prepared. This beer was then poured over the land. Sekhmet, believing it to be blood, eagerly drank it. She became so intoxicated that she could no longer continue her rampage. This act transformed her from Sekhmet the destroyer into Hathor, the goddess of love and joy.

Upon waking, Sekhmet’s fury had dissipated, and she transformed into Hathor, the gentle and joyous goddess of love, music, and dance. This transformation signified the duality of the deity, from wrath and destruction to love and joy. Image: Sekhmet (left) and Hathor

Significance of the myth

Through these myths, the ancient Egyptians explained natural phenomena, expressed the duality of creation and destruction, and emphasized the importance of harmony and balance (Ma’at) in the world.

Did you know…?

In another version, the Eye of Ra (as Tefnut) felt disregarded and left Egypt for Nubia. Ra missed her and desired her return. He sent the god Thoth, the messenger and arbitrator among the gods, to persuade the Eye to come back. Thoth succeeded, and upon the Eye’s return, she found that Ra had grown a new eye. The returning Eye was then appeased by being designated as Ra’s consort and was also placed on his forehead in the form of the Uraeus (rearing cobra), becoming a protective deity.

READ MORE: Ancient Egyptian Symbols and their Meanings

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