Bes, egyptian god of dancing = herakles??


Active Member
Short, ugly, comical and fierce, Bes was the Egyptian god of music and dance, and the protector of households, young children, childbirth and pregnancy.

Apart from his attributes, were there any particular stories about him, and where did he come from?
Is he connected to the Herakles of Greek mythology, viz;
Bes is bearded and wears a lion skin cloak. He can strangle lions, bears and snakes with his bare hands. He is a sign of fertility. He is an enemy of all things evil. He protects the sky god from evil and is associated with the sky and birthing godesses. He is portrayed as ugly and a buffoon, but also fierce.
Herakles is bearded and wears a lion skin cloak. He strangled snakes in his cradle and slew the Nemean Lion through strangulation. He was known for his ardour and had many children. He slew many evil monsters. He protected the gods on Mount Olympus from the attack of the Gigantes. He was associated with Zeus' wife Hera, the gooddess of marriage, and was married to Hebe, the goddess of the household. He is occassionally portrayed as ugly and stupid, but is also very fierce.


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Yes, in their capacities as deities of childbirth, pregnancy and fertility. They were sometimes identified as a married couple, but that's probably due to their joint responsibilities. Tawaret was part crocodile, part lion, part hippopotamus, and like Bes was of fierce countenance, but could have a benevalent nature. They make a rather odd couple. Wonder if they had any children?

Apparently the Mediteranean island of Ibiza takes it name from a Phoenician colony there called Ibossim c.600 BC, named after the god of dance and music, Bes.


Active Member claims that Veronica Ions says the following in her Egyptian Mythology.

After the triumph of Christianity Bes did not immediately vanish from the memory of man; for we are told of a wicked demon named Bes whom the holy Moses had to exorcise because he was terrorising the neighbourhood. To this day, it would seem, the monumental southern gate of Ipet-Isut (Karnak) serves as a dwelling-place for a knock-kneed dwarf whose gross head is embellished with a formidable beard. Woe to the stranger who, coming across him in the dusk of evening, laughs at his grotesque figure! For the monster will leap at his throat and strangle him. He is the Bes of ancient Egypt who, after long centuries, is not yet resigned to abandoning altogether the scenes of his earlier greatness.

The only other occurrence of Bes that I've been able to find in an actual story has him as the protector of Heru [Horus] when this god was growing up in the Nile Delta. His origin is apparently an area of warm debate, with theories bouncing between him being a native of Egypt to his having originated from Central Africa, among the Pygmies, or from someplace in East Africa between Sudan and Somalia, in which region the ancient Egyptians placed their own origin as a people. Beyond this there are claims that he was a normal-sized man, or, on another end of the spectrum, rather some sort of feline creature rearing up on its hind legs.

The similarities you've cited between him and Herakles are striking, but don't you think he resembles Dionysos and Priapos a lot more than Herakles? Dionysos was also a physically powerful figure, and as divinites both he and Priapos are a lot more closely associated with fertility and festivity than Herakles is. (Recall the story about how the boy Herakles was such a terrible music student that he killed his music instructor Linos by braining him with his own lyre?) Dionysos has close links with lions, leopards and panthers, which in Egypt represented royalty and priesthood, with at least the latter of which (if not the former as well), again, Dionysos bears closer connections than Herakles. I would also argue that Dionysos' links with childbirth and the goddesses related to it are stronger than Herakles' links with the same. Beyond this we have Herodotos' identification of Herakles with Khonsu, although this might not be a very strong argument, since the latter was the moon-god, and we don't seem to have too many things in Greek myth by which to pair Herakles with the moon. I will acknowledge, however, that this Cyprian sculpture of Bes is of quite rather Herculean aspect:

Otherwise the only links that seem to exist between Herakles and dwarfism are two adventures in which he encounters dwarves, first the Libyan Pygmies whose king, his own cousin the giant Antaios, he kills, and then the twin gnomes called the Kerkopes [Cercopes] whose lives he spares after he comes upon them during his time in the employ of Queen of Omphale of Lydia. Incidentally there are references to Antaios and Herakles having been the same size, which has got to mean either that Herakles was gigantic or that Antaios was really only a giant in the eyes of his Pygmy subjects in Libya.

I don't know that Bes or Taweret are ever ascribed any children, although Bes's wife Beset, clearly a mere feminisation of him [in the Ptolemaic period], was sometimes called the mother of Heru [Horus].