Amenhothep. That was what he had been called. Named after his father. But even his father regretted that. He was clearly not his father’s son. He came out misshapen, with a head too big and the shoulders of a woman. Not fit to be a king. Not even fit to be a prince. He didn’t hope to be invited anymore. He didn’t ask to go to ceremonies or carvings. Family sculptures were for the princely children. Siblings who came out looking normal enough, generic enough that any sculptor could make them beautiful, could make them look like a pharaoh should. Broad shoulders. Small waists. Perfect faces just waiting to be framed by royal adornments. His was truly a face only a mother could love.
And love she did. Fiercely. With a strength and ferocity that scared him.
But Amenhothep (Amenhothep IV, to be precise, because Amenhothep III was every bit the ruler he should have been) was different. Too different. Not eccentric in the way that was permissible for pharaohs. Not egocentric in the right way. His mother Tiye insisted that this second son bore his father’s name. Amenhothep. Amun is satisfied. It felt like such a lie. Even to the boy himself. Just imagine how his father felt. How could his seed produce something so perverse, so… otherworldly.
He spent his time alone. His mother called him special and he was sure that it was not a good thing.
Together, his family was set in stone. Older brother, two sisters, Mother, Father… without Amenhothep. Festivals, reliefs, religious ceremonies. Left alone, staring at the sky.
It was always Sopdet that caught his eye. The Dog Star. Sirius, Sothis, Sopdet. How could it not? The brightest star in the sky felt like home to him. It seemed to shine for him, to call his name in whispers in the night. The days when Sopdet disappeared were the worst. 70 days straight without that bit of comfort, that tiny speck of support from afar. Each year it brought a winter to his heart.
One night his mother even caught him.
“Your world is here, Amenhothep.” Tiye surprised him.
“I know,” he said, nearly disappointed.
“Are you watching Sopdet?”
“Yes,” he looked at the ground.
“It’s special to us. The birthplace of Isis.” He had heard the mythology. It was not new.
“And of your father,” she intimated. He turned to look at her. Was she being mythological? Spouting the stories that kept the pharoahs divine? That was unlike her, he knew. His mother was straightforward, powerful, and not prone to indulging folklore. And yet… His father was just a man normal and mortal, as much as he pretended otherwise, Amenhothep knew. He narrowed his eyes and Tiye sensed his suspicion.
“Not that father.” She walked away, ending the conversation.
Creative Commons love to Archer10 on flicker for the photo! Thank you!