Mehy - Facts not Fantasy
Name: Bei Mehy handelt es sich um die Kurzform des theophoren Namens Gott xyz - m - HAb wie Amenemhab oder Haremhab.
Titel und Namen von Mehy - Detail aus OIP 107, pl. 29
Mehy - Detail aus OIP 107, pl. 29
Quellen: Schlachtenreliefs Sethos' I. auf der Nordaußenwand des Hypostyls von Karnak
Möglicherweise ebenfalls Mehy in OIP 107, pl. 23
Frage nach Existenz eines Angehörigen des Hofstaats mit dem Namen xyz-m-HAb
Außer einem zerstörten Graffito eines [...] n nb tA.wj Hrw-m-HAb in Gebel es-Silsilah West, der die Kartuschen Sethos' I. verehrt, gibt es keinerlei Hinweise auf einen Würdenträger, der mit Mehy identifiziert werden könnte.
Dazu KRI I, 320,10 bzw. Barguet (1952), BIFAO 50, pl. III.
Mehy - English summary
In my opinion the question of the role the dubious figure Mehy played at the early Ramesside court is a very difficult one. He appears several times as a later addition to the battle scenes of Seti I. on the northern outer wall of the great hypostyle hall in the temple of Karnak, not being part of the original conception of the reliefs and only to be erased or usurped by the figures of crown prince Ramesses or an anonymous official. Much ink was spilled to illuminate the alleged influence this otherwise unknown personality probably had on Seti I. and later on his son und successor Ramesses II. If we examine the evidence and just stick to the pure facts we can only come to the conclusion that we don't know anything about Mehy except for his titles, his outfit and the equipment he carries. And we get a glimpse of the duties he performs during the wars of Seti I. Everything else is just mere speculation.
What did he do to receive this exceptional honour to be depicted together with his lord?
Maybe he displayed extraordinary virtues and was extremely loyal to the king but to assume that he was more than just a servant or a personal attaché or liaison officer to Seti I. cannot be proven. If he would be considered heir apparent of the king one might wonder why he only holds the titles of a fan-bearer and a troop commander instead of jr.j-pa.t and jm.j-r' mSa (wr). For this reason, the allegation, he was seen as a threat by Ramesses II. and therefore being erased from the reliefs of Seti I., is totally unfounded.
Why did Ramesses II. then erase Mehy's figure from the battle scenes of his father to replace it with his own?
Ramesses had his figure inserted in the war reliefs of Seti I. to create proof for his assertion that he was a commanding officer of the army at a very young age as it was postulated in the dedicatory inscription at Abydos or the text of the Kuban stela. He wanted to verify that he was indeed participating in his father's campaigns and gather experience on the battlefield since his childhood days.
Is there a link between the extensive depictions of Ramesses' offsprings and Mehy?
It was very important for the kings of the early 19th dynasty to link themselves with their predecessors and family members. Seti I. acted like that in favour of his own parents, especially his father and predecessor, and then Ramesses II. emulates his father's actions. If you look at the abundance of evidence, for example the monuments made for Ramesses I. by Seti I., the depiction of Ramesses' maternal grandparents in the Ramesseum, the 400-year-stela and the processions of Ramesses' offsprings etc. it becomes quite clear how important family relations and tracing the lineage of the reigning king back to his ancestors were for the Ramessides.
We also must keep in mind that the 19th dynasty was still very young and its legitimacy may still have been in doubt. This could also be a reason why Ramesses depicted his own children so often, namely to prove that he is in fact the life-giver and creator the pharaoh is supposed to be. It has nothing to do with Mehy but with the role the king has to fulfil.
In that context the depiction of the royal children may also serve as proof the succession to the throne is safe. Apart from that we can assume that Ramesses II. as father cared for his children and wanted to place them under the protection of the gods. And it's certainly due to the rising number of his offsprings that he depicted them in a procession one after the other.
It's just the easiest way to get them all together - maybe even chronologically according to their age.
Even the „public visibility“ of royal children is nothing Ramesses has invented – he was the king of copy - and therefore the depiction of his offsprings doesn't represent such a drastic change as some scholars may believe. Due to the lack of evidence we just don't know if Ramesses' predecessors, 18th dynasty kings like Amenhotep III. oder Thutmose III. whom he idolized, also depicted their offsprings in their mortuary temples like Ramesses did as their remains are in a very poor shape of preservation.
If you go back in time you will find that the many representations of the daughters of Ahenaten and Nefertiti, who appear alongside their parents even on private altars, reveal a completely different picture. And that Akhenaton didn't show off with his sons in public may have something to do with the fact he had none except for the not very viable and crippled Tutankhaton/Tutankhamun, a product of the incestous relationships in his family, who later on married his sister to produce two female babies which were stillborn or died during pregnancy.
In fact, the threat of the extinction of the royal line due to health issues - a fate which ended the 18th dynasty at least - is a far more plausible reason for the depiction of Ramesses' children and the continuous underlining of family ties in the early Ramesside era. They document that the new dynasty was indeed a prospering, healthy one with loads of possible heirs to the throne and that therefore the future of Egypt was safe and bright.
OIP 107, pl 29
...to be continued...