The Metropolitan Museum has many things to attract and hold your attention, even contemplation.
Among the most wonderful--but it's a tight contest as my loyalties change by the moment, depending on which exhibit I'm looking at--are found in the Egyptian area, where the Temple of Dendur and the mummies and other amazing artifacts and treasures from the period when Egyptian civilization was at its peak can be found. Right outside the Temple of Dendur stand two powerful statues of the goddess Sakhmet. I had never heard of this formidable goddess, but now know that she is one of the most powerful. She is not only the goddess of war, but of pestilence and of lots of bad things that can befall people to whom she takes a dislike. At the same time, though, she is the goddess of healing, perhaps based on the belief that since she knows how to inflict sickness, she may as well know how to heal. Or her acolytes can be directed to do the healing, if she wants to wage riot elsewhere.
In any event, on our trip to the Metropolitan Museum last weekend, my friend Ellie and I went back a couple of times to read the inscription that had so enthralled Ellie. It remained exciting even upon the third reading, and prompted us to purchase a catalogue of names and terms from that Egyptian period, including coverage of Sakhmet.
I've been thinking about Sakhmet at work today. She has the head of a lioness and the body of a woman. Perhaps she is the first artistic rendition of the woman who has the nerve and the skills and the courage to "lean in," as Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg advises young ambition women to do.
Sakhmet did more than lean in. She took over, ravaged her enemies and, when the spirit moved her, took care of those too sick to oppose her.
Sounds like a feminist plan, don't you think?