“The Seven Hathor goddesses also could predict the future of a human being, for in the well-known “Tale of Two Brothers” it is related that, when the god Khnemu, at the request of Râ-Harmachis, had created for Bata a wife “who was more beautiful in her person than any other woman in all the earth, for the essence of every god was contained in her,” they came to see her, and that they spake with one voice, saying, “Her death will be caused by the knife.”
And this came to pass, for, according to the story, when the king whose wife she became heard from her first husband that she had left him and had wrought evil against him, he entered into judgment with her in the presence of his chiefs and nobles, and “one carried out their decree,” i.e., they sentenced her to death and she was executed.
Similarly, in another story, the Seven Hathors came to see the son who had been born to a certain king in answer to his prayers to the gods, and when they had seen him they said, “He shall die by means of a crocodile, or a serpent, or a dog.”
The story goes on to say how he escaped from the crocodile and the serpent, and though the end is wanting, it is quite clear that he was wounded by an accidental bite of his dog and so died. (See Maspero, Contes Égyptiens, pp. 29-46).
The moral of all such stories is that there is no possibility of avoiding fate, and it is most probable that the modern Egyptian has only inherited his ancestors’ views as to its immutability. (The uneducated Muhammadan believes that man’s fate is written upon his skull, and that the sutures are the writing. No man, however, can read them. See the words of Zayn al-Mawasif in Burton’s Alf Laylah wa Laylah, vol. viii., p. 237).
A man’s life might, however, be happy or unhappy according as the hour of the day or the day itself was lucky or unlucky, and every day of the Egyptian year was divided into three parts, each of which was lucky or unlucky.
When Olympias was about to give birth to Alexander the Great, Nectanebus stood by her making observations of the heavenly bodies, and from time to time he besought her to restrain herself until the auspicious hour had arrived; and it was not until he saw a certain splendour in the sky and knew that all the heavenly bodies were in a favourable position that he permitted her to bring forth her child.
And when he had said, “O queen, now thou wilt give birth to a governor of the world,” the child fell upon the ground while the earth quaked, and the lightnings flashed, and the thunder roared. (See Pseudo-Callisthenes, I. 12). Thus it is quite evident that the future of a child depended even upon the hour in which he was born.”
E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 223-4.