Season: 4, Episodes: 1, Faction: N/A
Florence was John Locke’s foster mother. She fostered John shortly after his birth. She was the mother of Melissa (and maybe of Jeannie as well).
4×11 – Cabin Fever
Florence once told five-year-old John that there was a man to see him and that he should be on his best behavior. Richard Alpert introduced himself and told John that he runs a school for special children and has reason to believe that he was one of them and wanted to test him.
Afterwards, she entered the room and asked how John did. Richard responded that John was not quite ready for his school and walked out of the house. Florence scolded John, asking what he did, and he looked down dejectedly. (“Cabin Fever”)
On the Island
1×16 – Outlaws
It is unclear if Florence is the same foster mother that John told about in “Outlaws”. After his sister Jeannie fell off the monkey bars and broke her neck, the foster mother blamed herself. She stopped eating and sleeping. The neighbors started talking, afraid she might do something to herself. About six months after Jeannie’s funeral, a golden retriever came padding up the driveway, walked right into the house, sat down on the floor, and looked right at John’s foster mother. She looked back and burst into tears. She believed that the dog contained Jeannie’s spirit. The dog slept in Jeannie’s old room, on Jeannie’s old bed, and stayed with them until the foster mother passed away five years later. It then disappeared. (“Outlaws”)
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Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
Seshat is the divine patroness of scribes—her name simply means ‘the Scribe’ or ‘the Writer’—and is closely linked to Thoth. Egyptians distinguished conceptually between “words” (mdw) and “writing” (drf or sesh). Thoth, although ultimately responsible for both, is associated more strictly with the former and Seshat with the latter (Saleh 1969, 24). Seshat is regarded as the inventor both of writing, of reckoning, especially in the archaic form of notching palm-leaf stalks, and measurement in general—she “reckons all things on earth” (Edfou I, 291). She records the royal name at birth and writes it on the leaves of the sacred ished, or persea tree, at Heliopolis; she records the royal titulary at the coronation; she grants the king sed-festivals, commemorating his accession and renewing his sovereignty; she keeps count of the spoils brought back by the Pharaoh from foreign lands; and she marks the king’s lifespan by notching off years on the palm-stalk, an image augmented by a symbol signifying a limitless quantity, indicating that the king’s reign is eternal. In temple foundation scenes, Seshat holds the string which is used to mark out the structure’s perimeter. This ritual, called the “stretching of the cord,” expresses her grasp of all the subtle forces that must be harmonized in order for the sacred structure to fulfill its function. In general, Seshat guarantees that rituals of all kinds are performed according to the instructions in the holy books. In Egyptian thought the concept of fate (shaï) is always imagined in connection with writing, and hence Seshat is a Goddess of fate as well, which in Egyptian theology paradigmatically involves reckoning the lifespan. The divine command is written down, not as a mere record, but to render it concrete, and the writing of it is inseparable from its enforcement. Seshat is depicted anthropomorphically, usually carrying the equipment of a scribe, wearing a headband and with a sign over her head consisting of a pair of downward pointing bovine horns enclosing a palmette with seven leaves which may represent a scribe’s brush. This sign is apparently indicated by a common epithet of Seshat, Sekhefabwy or Sefkhetabwy, ‘She who releases the two horns’, suggesting that the inversion of the horns—a typical headdress of Goddesses such as Hathor—implies their activation. The epithet may also incorporate the word sefekh, meaning seven, so that the epithet would mean ‘Sevenfold of the two horns’. According to Wainwright 1940, the ‘horns’ of her headdress were originally the month-sign with two feathers atop it; he also notes that the seven-petalled flower or palmette often occurs alone in monuments of the first-dynasty king Narmer (c. 3150 BCE). In PT utterance 364, Nephthys collecting together the parts of the body of Osiris is compared to Seshat, “Lady of Builders,” inasmuch as the temple is like a divine body.
In CT spell 10, Seshat is said to open the portal of the netherworld for the deceased, in which we may understand the ‘portal’ in question to be the successful mastery of ritual under Seshat’s guidance. A similar interpretation can be assumed for phrases such as “your mother Seshat clothes you,” (CT spell 68). Again, when Seshat is invoked to help build a mansion in the netherworld for the deceased (e.g., CT spell 709), one may think at once both of Seshat’s role with respect to sacred buildings, as well as of the role of ritual texts and afterlife literature such as the very Coffin Texts themselves in constructing a dwelling in the netherworld. A juxtaposition of Seshat and Ihy, the divine musician and son of Hathor, in CT spell 746 seems to symbolize command over both the lyrics and the music or, so to speak, the letter and the spirit of the ritual text: “My hands are those of Seshat who is in my mouth as Ihy.” An especially clear role is established for Seshat by CT spell 849, “To open the tomb and to bring writings to a man in the realm of the dead, which brings Thoth and Seshat to the deceased, each “in his/her shape,” to “bring to him [the deceased] this writing,” for “it is his recognition, it is his being made a spirit in the Island of Fire [a location in the upper sky] … so that N. may see those who are yonder among the blessed.” BD spell 169, “for setting up the bier,” portrays the resurrected state of the deceased: “Thou coolest thyself on the cedar tree beside Weret-Hekau [‘the one great of magic’, an epithet of several Goddesses, but especially Wadjet], while Seshat is seated before thee and Sia [divine personification of perception] is the magical protection of thy body.”
In the fragmentary demotic composition which has been labelled the “Book of Thoth” (trans. Jasnow and Zauzich 2005), Seshat is generally referred to by the epithet Shêï or Shaï, “the primeval one,” which is not to be confused with the word shaï, “fate,” and its personification, the God Shai, although such a confusion may have been encouraged. A “chamber of darkness” (ê.t-kky) features prominently in the “Book of Thoth,” and Seshat is referred to in this text as well as in inscriptions from Edfu as “Mistress of the rope, foremost one of the chamber of darkness,” possibly referring to Seshat’s role in the ceremony of “stretching the cord.” Alternatively, the epithet might be read as “Mistress of the sustenance of the foremost one of the chamber of darkness.” Seshat is associated as well in this text with a “ritual of entering the chamber of darkness,” and the aspiring initiate expresses a desire “to bark among the dogs of Shêït the great,” i.e. Seshat (B07, 17; compare the Egyptian text entitled “Dialogues of Dogs,” supposedly translated into Greek by Eudoxus (Diogenes Laertius 8. 89). The text also refers to Seshat as a “huntress” and “trapper” (C04.1, 12-13). At Esna Seshat is depicted holding a net with Khnum, and she was associated with a “House of the Fish-net” at Thoth’s cult center of Hermopolis. The symbolism of the net in Egyptian theology extends from the dangerous nets in the netherworld (CT spells 477-480, BD spell 153) to the depictions of fishing and fowling that decorate the walls of tombs and the literary depiction of the king’s enjoyment of such activities in the fragmentary hieratic text known as “The Pleasures of Fishing and Fowling” (in Caminos 1956); and it would be naïve to think the positive depictions to be any less weighted with symbolic significance than the negative ones. In another passage of the “Book of Thoth,” the aspiring initiate, designated “the one who loves knowledge,” questioned about whether he has crossed certain bodies of water—in the sense of netherworld ferryboat spells like BD spell 99—states in reply, “I have caught their fish. I have trapped the best of their exotic birds,” (L01.5, 10/13).
An unusual characterization of a learned scribe is as one “whom Thoth himself has taught, into whose mouth Seshat has spat,” which is uncannily reminiscent of a Greek myth recounted by Apollodorus, in which Polyeidos deprives Glaukos of the arts which Glaukos has learned from him by having Glaukos spit into his mouth.
Seshat (Sashet, Sesheta), meaning ‘female scribe’, was seen as the goddess of writing, historical records, accounting and mathematics, measurement and architecture to the ancient Egyptians. She was depicted as a woman wearing a panther-skin dress (the garb of the funerary stm priests) and a headdress that was also her hieroglyph – which may represent either a stylized flower or seven pointed star on a standard that is beneath a set of down-turned horns. (The horns may have originally been a crescent, linking Seshat to the moon and hence to her spouse, the moon god of writing and knowledge, Thoth.)
She was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh at various times, and who kept a record of his life:
It was she who recorded the time allotted to him by the gods for his stay on earth.
She was associated with the pharaoh at the ‘stretching the cord’ foundation ritual, where she assisted the pharaoh with the measuring process. During New Kingdom times, she was shown to have been involved in the sed (jubilee) festival of the pharaohs, holding a palm rib to show the passage of time. She kept track of each pharaoh and the period for which he ruled and the speeches made during the crowning rituals. She was also shown writing down the inventory of foreign captives and captured goods from campaigns.
One of the most important ceremonies in the foundation of Egyptian temples was known as Pedjeshes (Pedj–“to stretch,” Shes–“a cord”) and it forms the subject of one of the chief monumental ornaments in the temples of Abydos, Heliopolis, Denderah, and Edfu. The reigning pharaoh and a priestess personifying Seshat, the goddess of writing, proceeded to the site, each armed with a golden mallet and a PEG connected by a cord to another PEG. Seshat having driven her peg home at the previously prepared spot, the king directed his gaze to the constellation of the Bull’s Foreleg (this constellation is identical with Ursa Major, “Great Bear,” and the “hoof” star is Benetnasch, Eta Ursae majoris). Having aligned the cord to the “hoof” and Spica as seen through the visor formed by Seshat’s curious headdress, he raised his mallet and drove the peg home, thus marking the position of the axis of the future temple.
– Cyril Fagan, Zodiacs Old and New (1951)
Seshat has no temples that have been found, though she did have a priesthood in early times. Along with her priestess’, there were a few priests in the order – the Slab Stela of Prince Wep-em-nefret, from the Fourth Dynasty, gives him the title of Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priest of Seshat. It was at a later time that the priests of Thoth took over the priesthood of Seshat.
Seti I, at Abydos, dedicated part of his temple to the goddess:
The staircase of the temple … bears an address in 43 columns of the goddess Seshat to the king (KRI I, 186-188). The text displays a rigid scheme which deals with the temple itself and its two groups of occupants (the king and the gods) and in which pseudo-verbal/ temporal aspects and non-verbal sentences/ a-temporal aspects alternate. The author demonstrates that the three main elements, temple, gods and king, have each their proper place in the sophisticated and complicated structure of the text. The address consists of three parts. The first concerns the temple, its conception and its realisation. The second presents the gods who live there and guarantee its sacral nature. The third part is devoted to the king, the celebrant par excellence, who certifies its functioning. This last part has a very intricate structure, with reference to the Horus and solar aspect of the king, the Osirian aspect, and the relationship between the two. At the conclusion of the address Seshat speaks, in order to fulfil her usual task of registering the divine kingship of the pharaoh as living Horus, according to the orders of Ra and the decree of Atum. – Dominique Bastin, De la fondation d’un temple: “Paroles dites par Seshat au Roi Sethi Ier,”
Thoth was thought to be her male counterpart and father, and she was often depicted as his wife by the Egyptians. Some believe her to be an example of Egyptian duality, as she bears many of the traits of Thoth. She was thought to be linked with the goddess Nephthys who was given the title ‘Seshat, Foremost of Builders’ in the Pyramid texts. She was also identified with Isis. Safekh-Aubi (Sefekh-Aubi) is a title that came from Seshat’s headdress, that may have become an aspect of Seshat or an actual goddess. Safekh-Aubi means ‘She Who Wears the Two Horns’ and relates to the horns that appear above Seshat’s standard.
The Egyptians believed that Seshat invented writing, while Thoth taught writing to mankind. She was known as ‘Mistress of the House of Books’, indicating that she also took care of Thoth’s library of spells and scrolls. It was as ‘Mistress of the House of Architects’ that she helped the pharaoh set the foundations of temples with indication that she set the axis by the aid of the stars.
Pharaoh Hatshepsut depicted both Seshat and Thoth as those who made the inventory of treasures brought back from Punt:
Thoth made a note of the quantity and Seshat verified the figures.
Seshat was the only female that has been found (so far) actually writing. Other women have been found holding a scribe’s writing brush and palette – showing that they could read and write – but these women were never shown in the act of writing itself.
She was a rather important goddess, even from earlier times in the Pyramid texts. She was the first and foremost female scribe – accountant, historian and architect to both the pharaoh and the gods. She was the female goddess of positions belonging mostly to men. Yet she did not have a personal name, only a title – Seshat, the Female Scribe.
In Egyptian mythology, Seshat (also spelled Safkhet, Sesat, Seshet, Sesheta, and Seshata) was the Ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. She was seen as a scribe and record keeper, and her name means she who scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and is credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying. These are all professions that relied upon expertise in her skills. She is identified as Safekh-Aubi in some late texts.
Mistress of the House of Books is another title for Seshat, being the deity whose priests oversaw the library in which scrolls of the most important knowledge was assembled and spells were preserved. One prince of the fourth dynasty, Wep-em-nefret, is noted as the Overseer of the Royal Scribes, Priest of Seshat on a slab stela. Heliopolis was the location of her principal sanctuary. She is described as the goddess of history.
In art, she was depicted as a woman, with a stylised papyrus plant above her head. The papyrus symbolised writing because the ancient Egyptians wrote on a material derived from papyrus. The papyrus plant, her symbol, was shown as having six spurs from the tip of the central stem, making it resemble a seven-pointed star. Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (1479-1425 B.C.E.) called her Sefket-Abwy (She of seven points). Spell 10 of the coffin text states “Seshat opens the door of heaven for you.”
Usually, she also is shown holding a palm stem, bearing notches to denote the recording of the passage of time, especially for keeping track of the allotment of time for the life of the pharaoh. She also was depicted holding other tools and, often, holding the wound cords that were stretched to survey land and structures.
She frequently is shown dressed in a cheetah or leopard hide, a symbol of funerary priests. If not shown with the hide over a dress, the pattern of the dress is that of the spotted feline. The pattern on the natural hide was thought to represent the stars, being a symbol of eternity, and to be associated with the night sky.
As the divine measurer and scribe, Seshat was believed to appear to assist the pharaoh in both of these practices. It was she who recorded, by notching her palm, the time allotted to the pharaoh for his stay on earth.
Seshat, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom, in her papyrus headdress and wearing her leopard skin – relief from Karnak Temple
Seshat assisted the pharaoh in the stretching the cord ritual. This ritual is related to laying out the foundations of temples and other important structures in order to determine and assure the sacred alignments and the precision of the dimensions. Her skills were necessary for surveying the land after the annual floods to reestablish boundary lines. The priestess who officiated at these functions in her name also oversaw the staff of others who performed similar duties and were trained in mathematics and the related store of knowledge. Much of this knowledge was considered quite sacred and not shared beyond the ranks of the highest professionals such as architects and certain scribes. She also was responsible for recording the speeches the pharaoh made during the crowning ceremony and approving the inventory of foreign captives and goods gained in military campaigns. During the New Kingdom, she was involved in the Sed festival held by the pharaohs who could celebrate thirty years of reign.
Later, when the cult of the moon deity, Thoth, became prominent and he became identified as a god of wisdom, the role of Seshat changed in the Egyptian pantheon when counterparts were created for most older deities. The lower ranks of her priestesses were displaced by the priests of Thoth. First, she was identified as his daughter, and later as his wife. However, as late as the eighteenth dynasty, in a temple constructed during the reign of Hatshepsut, there is an image of the pharaoh directing Thoth to obtain answers to important questions from Seshat. After the pairing with Thoth the stylised papyrus of Seshat was shown surmounted by a crescent moon, which, over time, degenerated into being shown as two horns arranged to form a crescent shape, but pointing downward (in an atypical fashion for Egyptian art). When the crescent moon symbol had degenerated into the horns, she sometimes was known as Safekh-Aubi, meaning she who wears the two horns. In a few images the horns resemble two cobras, as depicted in hieroglyphs, but facing each other with heads touching.