Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Thutmose III--a sickly youth?

Indeed, that Thutmose III may not have been well in his youth could be construed as a reason for Hatshepsut taking over the kingship. The name of a Chief Prophet of Amun during the reign of Thutmose, Menkheperreseneb, hints that perhaps there was a problem. In order to have been in his exalted office by at least Year 33 of the reign, this meant that the high priest must have been nearly as old as the king, himself. Since there were four prophets, it makes sense that the senior one would not have been a mere youth. The fact that he was given a name that meant “Menkheperre is healthy” [t would have been more unusual if that was really the situation at the time than if the opposite were true. Because such a name could be seen as a kind of wish, even a magical spell in favor of health being restored to the young king every time someone spoke the name of Menkheperreseneb. If the pharaoh had really been sound of body, then the name would have been the opposite of a charm but construed as something to tempt the evil eye and actually place the king in danger. A parallel is found in Jewish life of centuries past. A boy could be named “Alter” [meaning “the old one” in Yiddish] in the hope that he would not succumb to any illness in his childhood or youth. On the other hand, if someone said the baby looked healthy [though few would do so!] or even handsome, his mother would spit three times in order to ward off evil. The ideas of eastern peoples about certain things are essentially the same.

1 In fact, Menkheperreseneb outlived the sovereign and seems to have seen the reign of Amenhotep II.

2 The verb “to be” was usually omitted from names.

1 comment:

dgriffinsadel said...

Very interesting. According to Roehrig, (Royal Nurses and Tutors 1990) Menkhepersonneb's mother, Ti-Iunet was likely one of Thutmose III's nurses. She would have been in a position to know if there were problems with the young king's health.