Season: 4-5, Episodes: 23, Faction: Freighter/Survivors/DHARMA Initiative
Dr. Daniel Faraday was a physicist and professor who parachuted onto the Island from a helicopter sent by the freighter Kahana. He was distinguished by his polite demeanor and his scientific insight into the Island’s mysterious properties. He was the son of Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore, both former Others. Daniel spent his entire adult life studying space-time. His experiments with time travel debilitated his girlfriend and damaged his memory, forcing him to flee his Oxford professorship, but his illness was healed with his arrival on the Island. He harbored romantic feelings for science team colleague Charlotte Lewis until her death from temporal displacement. When the time flashes started, he assumed an early leadership role in Sawyer’s group due to his expertise in quantum physics and protectiveness of Charlotte. When the flashes through time stopped, stranding James “Sawyer” Ford’s group in 1974, he joined the other survivors in becoming part of the DHARMA Initiative. Under unknown circumstances, he became a DHARMA Initiative scientist working in Ann Arbor, but returned to the Island in 1977, where, after a frenzied attempt to change the past, he unwittingly was shot and killed by his mother, who was with The Others at the time. His plans to detonate the hydrogen bomb Jughead were carried on by Jack Shephard.
5×14 – The Variable
Daniel was born on the mainland (as there is a birth certificate for him) and was the son of Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore, although he did not know the identity of his father (that was left blank on the birth certificate). Eloise also changed his last name to Faraday so Charles could not find him. He was a very gifted scientist, but enjoyed music more. One day, when Daniel was playing the piano, his mother, Eloise, told him that he should not waste time on such things as music, focusing on science instead. To prove it, she asked how many beats of the metronome had Daniel counted since he started playing. Daniel responded that he counted 864 beats (8×108). Eloise told Daniel that he had a unique destiny and must develop his skills. Daniel tried to convince his mother to let him continue playing music, claiming that he could “make time,” but Eloise disagreed. (“The Variable”)
5×14 – The Variable
Several years later, Daniel graduated from a doctoral program at Oxford University. He was the youngest doctor to ever graduate from Oxford. As Daniel and his girlfriend, Theresa Spencer, walked out of the college they were met by Eloise, who requested to have dinner alone with Daniel, without Theresa. Theresa complied despite Daniel’s protests, leaving Daniel and Eloise to go to the restaurant.
At an Indian restaurant Daniel expressed his discontent with Eloise’s behaviour towards Theresa, as she was his girlfriend. Eloise told him that he had no time for women, and that he must focus entirely on his work. Daniel mentioned that he had received a grant from Charles Widmore. After hearing this Eloise relented, apologizing to Daniel and telling him that she was not there to argue with him. Before she left she gave Daniel a wrapped gift. When opened, it was revealed to be a leather journal. (“The Variable”)
As a Professor
5×03 – Jughead
In 1996, Daniel Faraday had become a professor at The Queen’s College, Oxford University. He was conducting unauthorized experiments involving time travel, and had created a machine that allowed a living creature’s consciousness to travel through time. (He tested it on a rat named Eloise). His research was funded by Charles Widmore. (“Jughead”)
4×05 – The Constant
When visited by Desmond Hume, who claimed to know about the machine, Daniel initially believed that a colleague was playing a practical joke on him, but when Desmond mentioned Eloise, Daniel’s lab rat, he believed Desmond. In his lab, Daniel tested the numbers Desmond supplied to him. He used the machine on Eloise, enabling her to unerringly complete a maze that she would not be taught how to run for another hour. Daniel’s blackboard revealed his interest in the Kerr metric as part of his theory of time-transported consciousness.
A being that undergoes time-transported consciousness, according to Daniel’s explanation to Desmond, must identify a constant, something existing in both periods of time travel that can serve as an anchor for the being’s consciousness; failure to find a constant results in instability of consciousness, and the resulting stress can lead to brain aneurysm and eventual death. At some point, Daniel identifies Desmond as his constant, noting so in his journal. (“The Constant”)
5×01 – Because You Left | 5×08 – LaFleur
During his days as a Professor, Daniel also studied the DHARMA Initiative and wrote all he knew about it in his journal. This would later help him when he eventually joins the DHARMA Initiative. (“Because You Left”) (“LaFleur”)
5×03 – Jughead
Eventually, after testing his theories on himself, Daniel performed the same experiment on his girlfriend and lab assistant, Theresa Spencer. The experiment apparently resulted in Theresa becoming permanently mentally ‘unstuck’ in time, with her condition deteriorating to the point that she became permanently bedridden. Soon after this accident, Daniel left Oxford for America, and all records of his stay at Oxford were deleted. Charles Widmore agreed to pay for Theresa’s care, but Daniel never saw her again. (“Jughead”)
5×14 – The Variable
Daniel’s experiments on himself also appear to have wreaked havoc with his memory. (“The Variable”)
In the US
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
As of 2004, Daniel was living in Essex, Massachusetts under the watch of a caretaker. Daniel appeared to be suffering from a medical condition related to memory loss, brought on by years of time-travel experiments. When he saw a news report covering the discovery of the Oceanic Flight 815 wreckage, he became visibly upset, but didn’t know the reason. (“Confirmed Dead”)
5×14 – The Variable
Soon after this, Charles Widmore visited Daniel. Widmore told him that the plane Daniel saw on TV was not Oceanic Flight 815, but rather a fake plane, planted underwater by Widmore himself. He told Daniel that the real Flight 815 had crashed on a miraculous island, and offered him the chance to go there, promising that it would cure him. (“The Variable”)
Several days later, Daniel was playing piano at his home, trying to remember the Chopin piece he was playing when he was ten, when he was visited by his mother. She persuaded him to accept Widmore’s offer and go to the Island, assuring him that she would be proud of him if he did so. Daniel agreed to accept the offer. (“The Variable”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
Shortly thereafter, he was recruited to a team, organized by Matthew Abaddon and led by Naomi Dorrit, that was sent to the Island aboard the freighter Kahana. (“Confirmed Dead”)
On the Island (Days 91-100)
4×01 – The Beginning of the End
While flying to the Island, the helicopter Daniel was traveling in encountered electrical problems and the passengers were forced to bail out. Miles pushed Daniel out first, who encountered Jack and Kate in the jungle upon landing. He introduced himself and claimed to be there to rescue them. He explained that he had lost his pack which contained his phone when he bailed out, so Kate gave him the phone she had taken from Naomi. He called Minkowski to report contacting the survivors. Minkowski asked Daniel if he was on speaker, causing Daniel to then excuse himself to talk privately. While he was talking to Minkowski, Jack and Kate saw the gun he was concealing. Daniel explained that the rest of his team all had GPS units which were tracked by the phones, and enlisted Jack and Kate’s help in finding the rest of the team. (“The Beginning of the End”) (“Confirmed Dead”)
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
While walking through the jungle they found a metal box from the chopper. Jack opened it up, revealing a gas mask and other quarantine equipment. Daniel said that he could not explain what it was there for since he was not in charge of packing. Jack remained doubtful and suddenly asked him why he brought the gun, prompting Daniel to reveal that rescuing the survivors was not their primary objective. As Daniel was about to explain what they were doing on the island, Miles’ signal appeared on the satellite phone. They reached the cove where Miles appeared to be dead. Miles surprised Jack and held him at gunpoint, convinced Kate had killed Naomi. Daniel told him to stop, that they were good people who were trying to help, only to have Kate try to steal his gun. They travel to Naomi’s body where Miles “talked” to her to confirm that Jack and Kate were not the ones who killed her.
Daniel paid attention to the Island’s unique physical properties, observing that the scattering of light on the Island seemed unusual. Kate noticed Daniel’s harmless nature and asked him to put away his gun, though Daniel claimed that Miles would kill him if he did. As Charlotte’s signal appeared on the phone, Jack ordered them to put their guns down as Juliet and Sayid had taken up shooting position on Daniel and Miles. They complied and began to follow Charlotte’s signal into the jungle. Sayid questioned them, allowing Daniel to reveal his name and his profession as a physicist, though he “doesn’t like being pigeonholed.” Sayid took Miles’ phone to see that Charlotte’s signal was moving quickly toward them, only to find Vincent with the GPS tracker, revealing that Locke had captured her.
The group then saw Frank’s flare. When they reached him they found him unconscious, though he woke up and said that he managed to land the chopper just over the hill. Daniel and Kate retrieved Naomi’s body and brought it back to the chopper, which had landed safe and sound. (“Confirmed Dead”)
4×03 – The Economist
Daniel, tired of sitting around the helicopter, began unloading pieces of equipment. He set up a tripod with a guidance apparatus on top, and phoned the freighter to ask Regina for a ‘payload’. He was visibly upset when it didn’t arrive at the expected time. When the payload (a rocket) arrived later, the clock inside it reported a different time than its synchronized partner held by Daniel, a difference of 31 minutes. Daniel was somewhat shaken by his discovery of the time differential between the Island and the rest of the world, murmuring “This is not good.” He was later happy to see the rescued Charlotte and declined a seat on the helicopter soon leaving the Island. Daniel told Frank that on his flight back to the freighter he should be sure to follow the exact bearing he had flown on their way to the Island, no matter what. (“The Economist”)
4×04 – Eggtown
After returning to the beach with Jack, and Juliet, Daniel and Charlotte played a memory game involving cards. After guessing only two out of three correctly, he felt he was making no progress. He and Charlotte were then questioned by Jack and Juliet about their inability to reach the freighter on the satellite phone, which they used to contact Regina on an “emergency line”. She told them that, even though the helicopter took off a day previous, Frank, Sayid, and Desmond had not yet made it to the freighter. (“Eggtown”)
4×05 – The Constant
After being interrogated by Jack and Juliet all night, Daniel revealed that the survivors perception of the passage of time differed from its actual passing, though Charlotte prevented him from saying any more. Daniel reassured Jack that everything would be fine as long as Frank had stayed on the correct bearing, otherwise there would be “side effects.”
After the beach was finally contacted by Sayid, Daniel learned of Desmond’s becoming unstuck in time. Daniel told Jack and Juliet that people having recently been exposed to high levels of radiation or electromagnetism could become “confused” when traveling to and from the Island. He only clarified by saying the condition was “not amnesia.” He asked to speak to Desmond and asked him what year he thought it was, learning that Desmond’s consciousness from 1996 had jumped forward in time. Daniel tells Desmond to travel to Oxford when he returns to 1996 in order to find Daniel. In order for Daniel’s past self to believe Desmond, Daniel gives him information from his journal that only he would know: a setting of 2.342, an oscillation of 11 Hertz, and the name of Eloise. This information was used by Desmond in the past to establish his constant. Daniel told Jack that the displacement was unpredictable, ranging between minutes and years for different people. That evening, he was seen on the beach, leafing through his diary. He found a note he had written for himself back in 1996: “If anything goes wrong, Desmond Hume will be my constant.” (“The Constant”)
4×06 – The Other Woman
That night, he and Charlotte slipped out of the beach camp in order to venture to the Tempest in order to shut it down and prevent the possible threat of toxic gas being spread by Ben. At a stream, Daniel expressed doubt in his ability to perform his task, but was reassured by Charlotte. They were confronted by Kate en route to the beach from the Barracks, who became suspicious at their obvious lies. She searched through their pack and found a gas mask, only to be knocked out by Charlotte. Daniel and Charlotte continued on to the Tempest and broke in by sparking the wires outside the door. While Daniel struggled to neutralize the gas, he was confronted by Juliet, who was subsequently knocked into a brawl with Charlotte. With minutes to go and his gas mask ripped off, Daniel frantically typed the keyboard, and stopped the disaster with seconds to spare. He remarked that it was “a close one” and stayed behind to shut down the station while Juliet and Charlotte left. (“The Other Woman”)
4×07 – Ji Yeon
After returning to the beach, Daniel attempted to fix the satellite phone (which was broken during Charlotte and Juliet’s confrontation the previous day), and was approached by Sun. She told him of her pregnancy and asked him if they were actually going to rescue the survivors, to which he answered that it was not his decision and would not reveal whose decision it was. (“Ji Yeon”)
4×09 – The Shape of Things to Come
Daniel was among the people on the beach who ran to the edge of the water in response to Bernard’s cries for help and Vincent’s barking. After the body had been pulled onto the sand, Daniel shared Ray’s identity as the freighter’s doctor.
Daniel was provided with the materials to fix the satellite phone enough to communicate in Morse code, and they attempted communication that night. Daniel transmitted “What happened to doctor?” and when the freighter replied, he told Jack the response was “Friends are fine. Helicopters coming in the morning.” Bernard, however, knew Morse code and said Daniel lied because the real reply stated, “What are you talking about? Doctor is fine.” Under pressure from an angry Jack, Daniel revealed the freighter never planned to rescue any of the survivors, which left Jack stumbling away, upset and in apparent pain. (“The Shape of Things to Come”)
4×10 – Something Nice Back Home
Daniel and Charlotte were still being interrogated by Rose and Bernard the next morning over the rescue situation when Jack stepped in to calm the crowd, only to collapse with pain. Juliet gave Sun a list of medical instruments to get from the Staff in order to perform an appendectomy on Jack. Daniel stepped in and offered to help, explaining that he had performed some animal dissections and knew what the supplies looked like. Though aware of the survivors’ distrust of them, Juliet agreed for Daniel and Charlotte to travel with Jin and Sun. Upon reaching The Staff, he volunteered to go inside the station first in a gesture of chivalry toward Charlotte. Jin noted that Daniel seemed to have a crush on her. Daniel collected the supplies and brought them back for Jack’s surgery. (“Something Nice Back Home”)
When Jin discovered that Charlotte spoke Korean, he threatened to break Daniel’s fingers one at a time if they didn’t take Sun off the Island when the helicopter arrived. (“Something Nice Back Home”)
He was then asked by Jack to call Frank’s satellite phone, where they heard Keamy ordering Frank to land the copter. Daniel, hearing The Orchid mentioned, realizes that they need to get off the island immediately, because Keamy is following the secondary protocol. After Jack and Kate set off to follow the signal, Daniel witnesses Sayid returning on the Zodiac raft. While Sayid attempts to follow Jack and Sawyer, Daniel volunteers to begin ferrying the survivors back to the boat. Sayid reluctantly agrees. After Kate returns and gives Aaron to Sun, Daniel takes off on the Zodiac raft with Jin, Sun, and three other redshirts. They reach the boat, and as soon as everyone is on the Kahana safely, Daniel turns the raft around and returns to get more people. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”)
After making it back to The Island for more people, Daniel tells Miles and Charlotte that they have to be on the raft with next group if they want to leave the island. Miles says he wants to stay; Charlotte, on the other hand, isn’t sure. When Daniel returns, Charlotte tells him that she’s staying for now. Daniel replies that there might not be a next time and that she may never get off the island. After Charlotte kisses him goodbye, he gets the raft and begins ferrying more people to the Kahana. When the Kahana explodes and the second purple sky event happens, Daniel and the people on the Zodiac raft are seen out in the ocean just before the island moves. (“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”)
Associated LOST Themes & DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members & Lovers
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 & 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
(Khons, Khensu, or spellings with ‘Ch-’) A complex and enigmatic deity, Khonsu is depicted in either of two forms, as a boy with the braided side-lock of youth or as a hawk-headed man, in either case generally bearing the lunar disk and crescent on his head. In his anthropomorphic depiction, Khonsu usually wears a close fitting or mummiform garment similar to that worn by Ptah and an elaborate necklace like the menit of Hathor. Khonsu was worshiped at Thebes as the son of Amun and Mut.
Khonsu has a single occurrence in the Pyramid Texts which is nevertheless notable insofar as it is said here (utterances 273-4) that “It is Khonsu who slew the lords, who strangles them for the King and extracts for him what is in their bodies, for he is the envoy who is sent to punish,” [trans. mod. in accord with Lichtheim, vol. 1, p. 37] the passage going on to describe how the deceased king “eats their magic and gulps down their spirits.” The role of Khonsu as envoy is perhaps echoed in his name, usually derived from the transitive verb khenes, ‘to travel through or traverse’, as in CT spell 806, “You travel to and fro as Khonsu,” or in a healing spell (no. 78 in Borghouts) which states that Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep “travels through all the lands every day.” Another theory as to the meaning of his name, more speculative, would interpret it as ‘royal placenta’, the placenta being regarded in some other East African cultures as a still-born twin, which would ostensibly account for Khonsu’s lunar associations on the principle that if the pharaoh is solar, his twin must be lunar (Frankfort 1978 pp. 70-2).
CT spells 187 and 195 speak in cryptic terms of an encounter by the operator with Khonsu, who is either going to or coming from Punt (present-day Somalia). Khonsu proceeds either to cause the operator to be acclaimed in some fashion by large numbers of family members and fellow-citizens “who are raised up” (187), or to join with them, perhaps at a festival of the new moon (195). In a similar vein perhaps is the operator’s affirmation in CT spell 334 that “acclamation is given to me in this my name of Khonsu,” or in BD spell 153B that “Khonsu is in me … I have sought the warmth of the multitude.” Khonsu seems to be one who generates respect in CT spell 257, “To become one honored with the king”: “Prepare a path for me that I may pass on it, for I am one honored of Khonsu, I issue from his mouth [i.e. he speaks of me] in the presence of Re.”
The violent side of Khonsu’s nature in the passage from the Pyramid Texts is reinforced in later texts. Hence in CT spell 945 the operator affirms that “My striking-power is Khonsu,” and spell 310 calls Khonsu “the raging one.” Some of Khonsu’s belligerence is to be attributed to his lunar nature, for the moon battles the darkness on behalf of the sun and dominates the night sky. Thus a hymn to Khonsu (La Lune, Mythes et Rites p. 43) states that “He takes the place of the sun when that one descends into the netherworld.” Also presumably testifying to Khonsu’s wrathful aspect are statements such as those in CT 311, that Khonsu “lives on hearts,” and 994 that he “lives on heads.” This terminology is relatively common – PT utterance 665 has the resurrected king “living on the hearts” of certain spirits, utterance 273-4 on the “hearts” and “magic” of the “Wise Ones” – and it is impossible to determine whether it is to be understood in the sense of eating, as would be a straightforward rendering of ankh m —, or as some kind of metaphor. Similarly, in CT spell 311 the operator ‘becoming’ Khonsu affirms that s/he has “bread consisting of men” and “offerings consisting of children.” Spells 310 and 311 in the Coffin Texts are for “becoming Khonsu in the realm of the dead.” Their content seems to have been largely absorbed into spell 83 of the Book of the Dead, which has however the title “Transforming into a benu,” or ‘phoenix’, and retains only a single reference to Khonsu. The operator invoking Khonsu claims here to have penetrated into all the limbs of Osiris – perhaps infusing them with new life as the moon waxes – to have “grown as do plants,” and to have covered him/herself “as does a tortoise,” that is, with a protective shell, perhaps analogous to the dark moon; similarly, a hymn says that Khonsu “comes as a child, head down, hidden in his crescent,” that is, at the new moon (La Lune, p. 43). Hymns to Khonsu emphasize in his nature the contrast between the waxing and waning phases of the moon. Thus one hymn states, “He [Khonsu] is conceived the day of the new moon, he is brought into the world on the second day of the month, he becomes an old man after the fifteenth day,” (ibid.). The same hymn also compares Khonsu to a “shining bull” in the moon’s waxing phase and to an ox (i.e., a castrated bull) in its waning phase, and states that as the waxing moon Khonsu make the bulls erect, makes the cows pregnant, and fortifies the egg in the body. In CT spell 310, the operator ‘becoming’ Khonsu affirms that he “does not die on this day of the rams, when the sperm was taken away from this spirit,” which has been interpreted as referring to the loss of virility symbolized by the waning moon.
Healing deities in Egyptian religion are also frequently violent, because they must do battle with the demons who cause sickness. Sekhmet is the classic example, and spell 311 compares the flame which comes from Khonsu’s mouth to the knife wielded by Sekhmet. The crescent moon was apparently also compared to a knife. Khonsu’s effectiveness as a God of healing is recorded by the ‘Bentresh stela’, which tells the story of a foreign wife of Ramses II whose younger sister Bentresh falls ill and is cured by Khonsu. One of the interesting features of this stela are its reference to the interaction between two different forms of Khonsu, ‘Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep’ and ‘Khonsu-the-Provider’ (or perhaps ‘Khonsu-Determiner-of-Fate’, pa ir sekher or iri sekheru). The king reports Bentresh’s illness to Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep, who himself proceeds to Khonsu-the-Provider, “the great God who expels disease demons,” and dispatches him to the land of Bakhtan, where Bentresh lives, to cure her. When Khonsu-the-Provider returns, having accomplished his task, “He [Khonsu-the-Provider] placed the gifts of every good thing which the prince of Bakhtan had given him before Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep, without giving anything to his own house,” (p. 93 in Lichtheim, vol. 3).
Reference is occasionally made to ‘the three Khonsu’, which apparently refers to Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep, Khonsu wen nekhu, or ‘the protector’, and Khonsu-the-Provider. This trinity is sometimes depicted with Khonsu-the-Protector and Khonsu-the-Provider as baboons sitting to the right and left of the anthropomorphic Khonsu. Another aspect of Khonsu we know of is Khonsu heseb ahê, ‘Reckoner-of-the-Lifetime’. This function may be alluded to in texts referring to something written by Khonsu which seems to pertain to the culmination of life. Thus in CT spell 649, an unidentified “Messenger” is asked to “open a path for me [the operator], for I am Khonsu about to write what is true,” and in the Dispute Between a Man and His Ba, the man attempting to convince his ba, or soul, to go along with his wish to end his life, swears “May Khonsu defend me, he who writes truly!” (p. 164 in Lichtheim vol. 1).
That Khonsu may have played a role in adolescent initiation is suggested by the statement from CT 310 that “to me [Khonsu] belong the two braided locks which are upon the shorn ones,” for this refers to the side-lock, which would have been cut and dedicated to a deity upon coming of age. However, this sentence also been linked to CT spell 154 (BD spell 115), for “knowing the souls of Heliopolis,” which refers to a man with a braided lock in Heliopolis, perhaps representative of a class of priests (J. Zandee, Bibliotheca Orientalis 10, 1953 p. 112). The crescent moon may have been represented by the braided lock, or even the markings colloquially known as the ‘man (rabbit, etc.) in the moon’. An unusual reference to Khonsu’s side-lock occurs in CT spell 1007, “To open the gate of the horizon,” in which Khonsu is asked to “throw open the great door.” “I will swim by means of you,” the operator says to Khonsu, “I will fill my mouth with the braided lock of the God. Ho! Lift me up! Ho! Raise me aloft!” – apparently intending to take the side-lock in his/her teeth and let Khonsu lift him up into the sky.
Other Names: Khons, Chons, Khensu
Patron of: the moon, time, knowledge.
Appearance: A young man in the posture of a mummy with the royal sidelock and punt beard. He wears the moon disk on his shoulders.
Description: Khonsu is the son of Amun and Mut, and is the god of the moon. He is also revered as the god of time, and is thus regarded as one of the companions of Thoth. Khonsu is a great lover of games, and is frequently shown playing a game of Senet against Thoth for one thing or another.
Worship: His cult center is at Thebes where he forms a triad with Amun and Mut.
Khonsu (alternately Chonsu, Khensu, Khons, Chons or Khonshu) is an Ancient Egyptian god whose main role was associated with the moon. His name means “traveller” and this may relate to the nightly travel of the moon across the sky. Along with Thoth he marked the passage of time. Khonsu was instrumental in the creation of new life in all living creatures. At Thebes he formed part of a family triad with Mut as his mother and Amun his father. At Kom Ombo he was worshipped as son of Sobek and Hathor.
Typically he is depicted as a mummy with the symbol of childhood, a sidelock of hair, as well as the menat necklace with crook and flail. He has close links to other divine children such as Horus and Shu. He is sometimes shown wearing a falcon’s head like Horus, with whom he is associated as a protector and healer, adorned with the sun disk and crescent moon.
He is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, in which he is depicted in a fierce aspect, but he does not rise to prominence until the New Kingdom, when he is described as the “Greatest God of the Great Gods”. Most of the construction of the temple complex at Karnak was centered on Khonsu during the Ramesside Period. His temple at Karnak is in a relatively good state of preservation, and on one of the walls is depicted a cosmogeny in which Khonsu is described as the great snake who fertilizes the Cosmic Egg in the creation of the world.
Khonsu’s reputation as a healer spread outside Egypt; a stela records how a princess of Bekhten was instantly cured of an illness upon the arrival of an image of Khonsu. King Ptolemy IV, after he was cured of an illness, called himself “Beloved of Khonsu Who Protects His Majesty and Drives Away Evil Spirits”. Locations of Khonsu’s cult were Memphis, Hibis and Edfu.
His name reflects the fact that the Moon (referred to as Aah in Egyptian) travels across the night sky, for it means traveller, and also had the titles Embracer, Pathfinder, and Defender, as he was thought to watch over night travelers. As the god of light in the night, Khonsu was invoked to protect against wild animals, increase male virility, and to aid with healing. It was said that when Khonsu caused the crescent moon to shine, women conceived, cattle became fertile, and all nostrils and every throat was filled with fresh air.
Khonsu can also be understood to mean king’s placenta, and consequently in early times, he was considered to slay the king’s (i.e. the pharaoh’s) enemies, and extract their innards for the king’s use, metaphorically creating something resembling a placenta for the king. This bloodthirsty aspect leads him to be referred to, in such as the Pyramid texts, as the (one who) lives on hearts. He also became associated with more literal placentas, becoming seen as a deification of the royal placenta, and so a god involved with childbirth.
Khonsu gradually replaced the war-god Monthu as the son of Mut in Theban thought during the Middle Kingdom, because the pool at the temple of Mut was in the shape of a crescent moon. The father who had adopted Khonsu was thought to be Amun, who had already been changed into a more significant god by the rise of Thebes, and had his wife changed to Mut. As these two were both considered extremely benign deities, Menthu gradually lost his more aggressive aspects.
In art, Khonsu was depicted as a man with the head of a hawk, wearing the crescent of the new moon subtending the disc of the full moon. His head was shaven except for the side-lock worn by Egyptian children, signifying his role as Khonsu the Child. Occasionally he was depicted as a youth holding the flail of the pharaoh, wearing a menat necklace. He was sometimes pictured on the back of a goose, ram, or two crocodiles. His sacred animal was the baboon, considered a lunar animal by the ancient Egyptians.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
In Greek mythology, Minos was a king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every year he made King Aegeus pick 7 men and 7 women to go to Daedalus’ creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by The Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The Minoan civilization of Crete has been named after him by the archaeologist Arthur Evans. By his wife, Pasiphaë, he fathered Ariadne, Androgeus, Deucalion, Phaedra, Glaucus, Catreus, Acacallis and Xenodike. By a nymph, Pareia, he had four sons, Eurymedon, Nephalion, Chryses and Philolaus, who were killed by Heracles in revenge for the murder of the latter’s two companions; and by Dexithea, one of the Telchines, he had a son Euxanthius. Some say his wife was not Pasiphae, but Crete.
Minos, along with his brothers, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon, was raised by king Asterion (or Asterius) of Crete. When Asterion died, his throne was claimed by Minos who banished Sarpedon and, according to some sources, Rhadamanthys too.
The literary Minos
Minos appears in Greek literature as the king of Knossos as early as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Thucydides tells us Minos was the most ancient man known to build a navy. He reigned over Crete and the islands of the Aegean Sea three generations before the Trojan War. He lived at Knossos for periods of nine years, where he received instruction from Zeus in the legislation which he gave to the island. He was the author of the Cretan constitution and the founder of its naval supremacy.
On the Athenian stage Minos is a cruel tyrant, the heartless exactor of the tribute of Athenian youths to feed to the Minotaur.
To reconcile the contradictory aspects of his character, as well as to explain how Minos governed Crete over a period spanning so many generations, two kings of the name of Minos were assumed by later poets and rationalizing mythologists, such as Diodorus Siculus and Plutarch— “putting aside the mythological element”, as he claims— in his life of Theseus. According to this view, the first King Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa and brother of Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. This was the ‘good’ king Minos, and he was held in such esteem by the Olympian gods that, after he died, he was made one of the three ‘Judges of the Dead’, alongside his brother Rhadamanthys and half-brother Aeacus. The wife of this ‘Minos I’ was said to be Itone (daughter of Lyctius) or Crete (a nymph or daughter of his stepfather Asterion), and he had a single son named Lycastus, his successor as King of Crete. Lycastus had a son named Minos, after his grandfather, born by Lycastus’ wife, Ida, daughter of Corybas. This ‘Minos II’— the ‘bad’ king Minos— is the son of this Lycastus, and was a far more colorful character than his father and grandfather. It would be to this Minos that we owe the myths of Theseus, Pasiphaë, the Minotaur, Daedalus, Glaucus, and Nisus. Unlike Minos I, Minos II fathered numerous children, including Androgeus, Catreus, Deucalion, Ariadne, Phaedra, and Glaucus— all born to him by his wife Pasiphaë. He was the grandfather of King Idomeneus, who led the Cretans to the Trojan War.
Doubtless there is a considerable historical element in the legend, perhaps in the Phoenician origin of Europa; it is possible that not only Athens, but Mycenae itself, were once culturally bound to the kings of Knossos, as Minoan objects appear at Mycenaean sites.
Minos himself is said to have died at Camicus in Sicily, whither he had gone in pursuit of Daedalus, who had given Ariadne the clue by which she guided Theseus through the labyrinth. He was killed by the daughter of Cocalus, king of Agrigentum, who poured boiling water over him while he was taking a bath. Subsequently his remains were sent back to the Cretans, who placed them in a sarcophagus, on which was inscribed: “The tomb of Minos, the son of Zeus.”
The earlier legend knows Minos as a beneficent ruler, legislator, and suppressor of piracy. His constitution was said to have formed the basis of that of Lycurgus for Sparta. In accordance with this, after his death he became judge of the shades in the underworld. In later versions, Aeacus and Rhadamanthus were made judges as well, with Minos leading as the “appeals court” judge.
The mythological Minos
Asterios, king of Crete, adopted the three sons of Zeus and Europa, Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus. According to the Odyssey he spoke with Zeus every nine years or for nine years. He got his laws straight from Zeus himself. When Minos’ son Androgeos had won the Panathenaeic Games the king, Aegeus, sent him to Marathon to fight a bull, resulting in the death of Androgeos. Outraged, Minos went to Athens to avenge his son, and on the way he camped at Megara where Nisos lived. Learning that Nisos’ strength came from his hair, Minos gained the love of Scylla and her aid in cutting off her father’s hair so that he could conquer the city. After his triumph, he punished Scylla for her treachery against her father by tying her to a boat and dragging her until she drowned. On arriving in Attica, he asked Zeus to punish the city, and the god struck it with plague and hunger. An oracle told the Athenians to meet any of Minos’ demands if they wanted to escape the punishment. Minos then asked Athens to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every nine years to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, the offspring from the zoophilic encounter of Minos’ wife Pasiphae with a certain bull that the king refused to sacrifice to Poseidon, which he had placed within a labyrinth he commanded his architect Daedalus to build. The Minotaur was defeated by the hero Theseus with the help of Minos’ daughter Ariadne.
Poseidon, Daedalus and Pasiphaë
Minos justified his accession as king and prayed to Poseidon for a sign. Poseidon sent a giant white bull out of the sea. Minos was committed to sacrificing the bull to Poseidon, but then decided to substitute a different bull. In rage, Poseidon cursed Pasiphaë, Minos’ wife, with zoophilia. Daedalus built her a wooden cow, which she hid inside. The bull mated with the wooden cow and Pasiphaë was impregnated by the bull, giving birth to a horrible monster, again named Asterius, the Minotaur, half man half bull. Daedalus then built a complicated “chamber that with its tangled windings perplexed the outward way” called the Labyrinth, and Minos put the Minotaur in it. To make sure no one would ever know the secret of who the Minotaur was and how to get out of the Labyrinth (Daedalus knew both of these things), Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus, along with the monster. Daedalus and Icarus flew away on wings Daedalus invented, but Icarus’ wings melted because he flew too close to the sun. Icarus fell in the sea and drowned.
Minos’ son Androgeus won every game in a contest hosted by Aegeas of Athens. Alternatively, the other contestants were jealous of Androgeus and killed him. Minos was angry and declared war on Athens. He offered the Athenians peace if they sent Minos seven young men and seven virgin maidens to feed the Minotaur every nine years (which corresponded directly to the Minoans’ meticulous records of lunar alignments – a full moon falls on the equinoxes once every eight years). This continued until Theseus killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, Minos’ lovestruck daughter.
The Death of Minos
Minos searched for Daedalus by travelling from city to city asking a riddle; he presented a spiral seashell and asked for it to be strung all the way through. When he reached Camicus, Sicily, King Cocalus, knowing Daedalus would be able to solve the riddle, fetched the old man. He tied the string to an ant, which walked through the seashell, stringing it all the way through. Minos then knew Daedalus was in the court of King Cocalus and demanded he be handed over. Cocalus managed to convince him to take a bath first; then Cocalus’ daughters and Daedalus, with Minos trapped in the bath, scalded him to death with boiling water.
After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades together with Aeacus and Rhadamanthus. Radamanthus judged the souls of Asians, Aeacus judged Europeans and Minos had the deciding vote.