(Month) Montu is usually depicted as a hawk-headed man, wearing a crown with two tall plumes, a solar disk and uraeus, and often wielding the scimitar or khepesh. Warrior kings of the New Kingdom frequently identify themselves with Montu, for example in the famous inscriptions of Ramses II describing the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites in Syria (trans. in Lichtheim, vol. 2, pp. 57-72), where the king is repeatedly compared to Montu or identified as Montu’s son. A fragmentary papyrus gives a putatively first-person account of Montu’s intervention on behalf of Tuthmosis III in battle against the Syrians, a trinity of Montu Gods coming to the pharaoh’s aid in the form of a wind: “Let one of the hostile winds come to me, while three Montus are in it, being hidden … Montu, lord of Hermonthis, was at my right arm; Montu, lord of Djerty [Tuphium] at my <left?> … and Montu, lord of Thebes, exterminated them in front ,” (Botti 1955, p. 66). Montu was also incarnate in the sacred Buchis bull. Montu’s consorts are Tjenenet, Iunyt, and Raettawy. The modern name of the town of Armant (Coptic Ermont), where Montu’s primary cult center was located, preserves his memory. The importance of Montu’s cult at the four sites of Thebes, Medamud, Armant and Tod led to the concept of a tetrad of Montu Gods, “four bas [souls/manifestations] united as one,” and sometimes further identified with Re (Armant), Shu (Tod), Geb (Medamud), and Osiris (Thebes) (Klotz 2012, p. 148). The four Montus can in turn be given a primordial cosmogonic significance through identification with the four male members of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad.

The earliest references to Montu speak of him not as a warrior God, but as a God of the sky and stars. PT utterance 503 affirms, “When Montu is high, I will be high with him; when Montu runs, I will run with him,” and utterance 555 says “I have gone up to the sky as Montu.” Utterance 412 combines the astral theme of transposing the deceased king to his new life among the stars with a suggestion of the martial potential of Montu: after identifying the deceased king with Orion and Sirius, the spell says, “May the terror of you come into being in the hearts of the Gods … like the lock of hair which is at the head of the Montu-stars,” (trans. mod; Faulkner sees in the passage a reference, rather, to the hairstyles of certain similarly-named tribesmen). Even after Montu’s image as a warrior God was firmly established, his celestial aspect is recalled in his occasional characterization as “son of Nut,” (Bisson de la Roque 1941, p. 23). Montu is sometimes joined with Seth: “Montu and Seth are the magical protection to the right and the left of the king,” (ibid., p. 25). On the other hand, the ritual slaughter by Montu of Tod of the enemies of Re at Djedem can be equated either with the battle against Apophis or that against Seth (Klotz 2012, pp. 159-167).

A spell (no. 2 in Borghouts) to repel a physical attack invokes Montu. The operator addresses a clump of earth in his hand, calling Montu, “the star of the Gods,” to come to him, identifying himself with Montu, and then, presumably speaking in the voice of Montu, promising to take away the opponent’s strength and to “put it into my hand,” that is, like the clump of earth. The God who lends to the pharaoh or to the great Gods his prowess in combat could thus be invoked to do the same on behalf of an ordinary person.

Bisson de la Roque, Fernand. 1941. “Notes sur le dieu Montou.” BIFAO 40: 1-49.
Botti, Giuseppe. 1955. “A Fragment of the Story of a Military Expedition of Tuthmosis III to Syria (P. Turin 1940-1941).”  JEA 41: 64-71.
Klotz, David. 2012. Caesar in the City of Amun: Egyptian Temple Construction and Theology in Roman Thebes. Turnout: Brepols.

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One Response to “Montu”

  1. […] Edward. “Montu.” Henadology: Philosophy and Theology.Werner, Edward Karl. “The God Montu: From the Earliest Attestations to the End of the New […]

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