”What was a Queen of Egypt like?” I asked Mummific.
”Hmmm? Which one?” he had bent over a newspaper on our living room table. There was a big photograph of some beauty competition - someone had just been crowned to be Miss Universe or something like that, and the young lady in question was posing in bikinis and a long cape, with a silver crown on her hair. I was certain Mummific was farsighted - that’s how close his stump of a nose was to the picture.
”I mean what was her role? Or their roles, really. I understood you kings had several wives.”
”Yes, yes, we did. A king needs a son, and to have many wives made it more likely to get an heir… It was never certain who would survive childhood, you see.”
”Yes, I suppose child mortality was high…”
Mr Mummific managed to yank himself out of the world of earthly beauties. At least I think so - his nose rose from the newspaper, and he actually turned to look at me instead, even though I was well past my bikini years.
”It was, yes. Unfortunately. I lost many children myself, or so I was told.”
”Told? You were not in contact with them?”
”No, not much. Affairs of the state kept me and the Mrs traveling up and down the River. I had dozens of wives, if not hundreds, so taking them all along with the children would have been too difficult. So they lived in kenerets - you call these harems - all around the country and raised the children. And many died.”
”That is sad, I am sorry for your loss,” I sympathized.
”Well, hard to take it so badly anymore. After all, they are all there in the Afterlife with us now.”
Now that was an angle to this subject that I had not considered.
”But while alive, the queen of Egypt was supposed to give the king an heir. A son, preferably. But that was not her only role,” Mummific nodded to himself and raised his fingers to count.
”One: to give birth to the heir. Two: to fulfill religious roles - this was absolute necessity to keep the balance of things. Three: to act on behalf of the king when he was away on military campaigns or dead, which brings number four: to rule for the infant son, if the king died before the son grew up. No king of Egypt could rule without a wife. That was against Maat, the proper way of things. The creation has masculine and a feminine powers, and if the wife was missing, the king ruled with half a power only.”
Mummific had obviously spoken of this before, probably to the Egyptologists who had their Afterlife build right next to Duat.
”How did the Mrs fill the role of Queen of Egypt, if I may ask?”
Mummific threw a sideways glance at me which caused his eyes to get stuck in that position. Took him some serious eye-rubbing before the eyes returned to look forward again. By that time I was absolutely certain the eyes in question would pop out and roll under the sofa, and already saw in my minds eye how I would have to try and save them from our cats who liked to play hockey with any small round object. Luckily only one of his eyes was bulging out, and he promptly popped it back in with one of his fingers. For a while he squinted his eyes to make sure they were still working, and then glared at me again, this time avoiding any eye acrobatics.
”Now she was a very determined Great Royal Wife,” he said, ”And fulfilled her roles with great stamina and extreme vigor, but I would rather not talk about her. I would much rather talk about Nefertiti... Now she was a true Queen of Egypt... Or Nefertari... ”
Well, that was a fact I already knew.
”But could you tell about other queens of Egypt? The Great Royal Wives?”
”Yes, yes, I suppose you need to know about them too… And I know most of them. The Great Royal Wives’ Club, you see… Can you imagine what it is like to hear that cackling when they gather together… They take turns to entertain each other, and prepare for the party for months in advance. No king gets any peace in their palace when that happens… The Mrs ambushes me every time to change my wraps before the ladies arrive and the servants, damn them, obey her and chase me and drag me to her for re-wrapping. Why is it that women cannot let a man wear his favorite, comfortable, worn clothes?”
Mummific shivered so that his teeth (the few he had left) chattered. It looked like he would scoot off the ka-door in a few moments, if I did not change the subject. Which I did. It will take a long time to write about all the queens he knew - I try to remind him every now and again of the subject.
Below I will add information about the individual queens as we get along.
And here I have gathered facts about the role of the Egyptian queens, where they came from, and what was their role.
Thank you to Heidi Kontkanen for the permission to use her wonderful photos.