For some reason I really enjoyed writing that title. She’s mine, all mine!
Now for your regularly scheduled programming.
Yesterday we talked about obesity in ancient Egypt and I let you all in on a little secret: Hatshepsut was obese at the end of her life. Amalia, Gary, and L.T. then asked if I would be incorporating that little historical tidbit into my book and if that knowledge colored my perception of Hat.
The short answers? No and no.
Now for the long answers. Being obese in ancient Egypt would not have been the norm- this is a pre-industrial civilization and while the Egyptians were much better off than their friends in Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, (compliments of the Nile’s clockwork flooding), we’re still not talking about a land of good n’ plenty. So only those who were extremely well off would have had the privilege of love handles, double chins, and spare tires. Like Hatshepsut.
But it doesn’t matter what Hatshepsut looked like- she’s a rockstar! I plan on doing a full-length post featuring all of my hero’s accomplishments in the future, but the short list includes her magnificent temple at Deir el-Bahri, successful forays into Egypt’s neighboring countries to quell some miscreant rebels, reopening trade with the mythical land of Punt, beginning tomb building in the Valley of the Kings, and keeping peace in Egypt for her twenty-some-odd year reign. And she was a woman- the first woman Pharaoh in Egypt to seize the throne in a time of peace. And she was the first woman to successfully rule the country. The two other female Pharaohs before her each managed to end their family dynasties and plunge Egypt into chaos.
In my world, Hatshepsut led a life of luxury and enjoyed her honeyed rolls and spiced wine. Who wouldn’t get a little soft after twenty years of ruling a peaceful country with a smorgasbord of new trade goodies coming to your table?
Now onto the harder question. Did I incorporate Hatshepsut’s weight into my novel? I actually did in the first draft, but it got cut. I got all psychological into why Hatshepsut gained weight, but it just didn’t work for the story. My betas didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. It became one of those unnecessary descriptions. You know the kind: blue eyes, blond hair, pink shirt, heart-shaped lips, 100 pounds overweight.
So in the end I’ve alluded to her health problems at the end of her life. Most Egyptians only made it to an average of 30 years during the New Kingdom so Hatshepsut would have been darn near ancient hovering somewhere around 50 years old. She had arthritis, diabetes, a tumor in her left iliac bone, and an abscessed tooth with an infection that spread to her bloodstream and killed her.
So, when you all read my published book, you’ll know that Hatshepsut was also a tad on the round side toward the end. But everyone else will just hear her complain about her creaking bones and a tooth that really needs pulled.
If being overweight was a luxury, wouldn't it have been a sign of her awesomeness and therefore not carry the same stigma that being overweight carries today? So, being overweight was proof of her success, rather than something to be frowned upon?
Fascinating info! I never would've thought any ancient Egyptians were overweight. I love learning new facts. 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog and following!
Amalia- I've often wondered that myself, if ancient societies had the same idea as the Polynesians- bigger is better. But I think if that were the case the art would have reflected many more hefty Pharaohs. There simply aren't any. But then again, there aren't any depictions of old Pharaohs either, not even Ramesses II and he lived to be over 90 years old! So I guess my answer is, "I don't know."
Abby- Thanks for stopping by and following! I got quite a kick out of your blog today!
Wow… I can't imagine thinking of fifty as ancient. Those were different times. I feel for her on the tooth thing. I really should have had all my wisdom teeth yanked when they came in, and I'm paying for that now.
Stephanie: good point. I'm trying to think if that holds true in more modern societies where bigger was better– that it wasn't reflected in art, but I'm coming up empty. Not that I've studied art history at all…
On another note: I actually almost titled my post for tomorrow "My Thor" but stopped myself and retitled it before I saved, so when I saw your title, it made me laugh a little bit.
Wendy- I feel your pain! I got my wisdom teeth pulled when I was 18. One was already coming in and it was murderous. I tried to remember that when my daughter was teething and have a little extra patience for the poor thing.
Amalia- Great minds think like me! Hehehe!
On the topic of wisdom teeth, I've only had two pulled (on the same side), so I have a bit of a lopsided mouth. Sigh.
On the subject of chubby ladies in art, there's always Peter Paul Rubens, who seemed to like his women with a little meat on their bones… if you know what I mean.
But I didn't know that there were hefty Egyptians way back when… so thanks for that, Steph. Learn something new every day!
On whether obesity was a status symbol back in the good old days…the neolithic venus figurines found across Europe might be relevant if only we had some idea what they meant. They are almost all rotund.
How cool that we'll know a little secret that other readers won't. I'll feel really special when your book comes out. 🙂
"…if only we had some idea what they meant" made me crack up a little bit. Too true, Gary, too true. The joys of history!
I really am excited to read your book! Hatshepsut sounds like a fascinating character (even if she was a little heavy).
We need a nickname for this girl. I'm sure you're used to it by now, but typing Hatshepsut slows me down every time. Hatty? 🙂
Well yay! I kinda figured if you included it, that's how you would– more alluding to it than anything else. That way, you're not being historically inaccurate, but you don't show something that isn't necessarily important to how she ruled, etc., though it's pretty important to how she died.
Also: nice Alliterati logo 🙂 Yay! Thanks for putting it up!
You have no idea how excited it makes me that you all are interested in Hat and the book!
*breaks out in an Egyptian happy dance*
L.T.- I wanted to put up the Alliterati logo when I first started following you, but I didn't feel like I was part of the club yet. Now I'm one of the cool kids! 🙂
And we can go with Hat or Hatty for a nickname. I didn't do one in the book, except for a particular term of endearment she picks up along with way. I wish the Egyptians had easier names- it would certainly help my readers out!
Stephanie, you were always one of the cool kids 🙂
I like reading "Hatshepsut"– it rolls off the mental tongue. Sort of. It's mostly the typing of it that's hard.
Listen to me whining, haha.
Oh, my goodness! You wrote a historical novel! *gasp of surprise* — *sigh of envy* Once, long ago, I had every ambition to do the same, but somehow I ended up veering into the realm of the speculative.
Anyway, I'm so glad I checked out your blog, too. All this information is fascinating! Wow, my history teachers were always my favorite. I understood their language, I guess. But, anyway, I don't mean to hijack the discussion here. Sorry about that.
Cort- Thanks for stopping by! I have great admiration for speculative writers- I couldn't create my own world. The details would kill me!