Satellite? (Wee Queen)
June 27, 2010

Wee Queen, knee high to the King! (Reference photos here and here)

©Joan Ann Lansberry

One of definitions of 'satellite' is "someone or something attendant, subordinate, or dependent". Does it seem by the sculptural evidence that Queen Nefertari's world orbited that of her husband King Ramsesses II, represented in a much larger size? The author John Anthony West allows "These figures appear inconsequential and diminutive next to those of the king, enhancing Ramesses' reputation for megalomania among modern scholars. But it is interesting to observe, standing next to them, that even they are larger than life size." (_The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt_, page 433)

Yes, most of the royal power belonged to the king, as "women had little active part to play in diplomatic negotiations; they were important only in that they provided through marriage the means to cement international alliances." (_Women in Ancient Egypt_, by Gay Robins, page 34)

The purpose of the Great Temple of Abu Simbel (from whence the model for this illustration comes), is multi-purpose. "Egyptologists believe this temple was dedicated by the pharaoh to Re-Harakhte the sun-god of Heliopolis, Amun-Re the great god of Thebes, Ptah the creator god of Memphis, and as a tribute to Ramses II himself." _Aswan and Abu Simbel: History and Guide_, by Jill Kamil, page 123)

Okay, Ramsesses had sufficient regard for himself! But he had regard for his favorite Queen as well, Queen Istnofret, mother of Prince Khaemwaset, being second in favor. Queen Nefertari did get to be represented three times at Abu Simbel, once on the left side and twice on the right side.

As chief wife, Nefertari "appeared beside him on public occasions and official and religious ceremonies. During the first twenty years of his reign, her statues were often placed side by side with his. He built a tomb for her in the Valley of the Queens which remains one of the most beautiful and famous of the tombs of the Valley." (_The Mysteries of Abu simbel_, by Zahi Hawass, page 58)

Nefertari had many titles that designated her official standing:

Great of Praises (wrt-hzwt)
Sweet of Love (bnrt-mrwt)
Lady of Grace (nbt-im3t)
Great King’s Wife (hmt-niswt-wrt)
Great King’s Wife, his beloved (hmt-niswt-wrt meryt.f)
Lady of The Two Lands (nbt-t3wy)
Lady of all Lands (hnwt-t3w-nbw)
Wife of the Strong Bull (hmt-k3-nxt)
God’s Wife (hmt-ntr)
Mistress of Upper and Lower Egypt (hnwt-Shm’w-mhw)

Not only that, the queen's temple at Abu Simbel "Although dedicated to the goddess Hathor of Abshek, like that of her husband, the queen's temple, 120m north of Ramses II's temple, virtually deifies the human queen Nefertari." _Footprint Egypt_, by Cherine Badawi, page 302)

With all of this honor, Nefertari certainly didn't feel powerless and insignificant compared to her husband. She wasn't a mere 'satellite' at all!


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