Nitokris

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Portrait of the Ghoul-Queen Nitokris

Nitokris (AKA: Queen Nitokris, Ghoul Queen Nitokris, Nitocris, Nitocrys, Lady of the Pyramid, Subterranean Nymph)

Origin: The Historian Herodotus referred to a legend of Nitocris in his writings, and her legend may be older still; it is unclear whether Nitocris ever actually existed, as her name might have come from a misreading of poorly-preserved inscriptions....


In the Mythos

Hieroglyphic "Nitokris"

Then we saw the vast pyramids at the end of the avenue, ghoulish with a dim atavistical menace which I had not seemed to notice in the daytime. Even the smallest of them held a hint of the ghastly — for was it not in this that they had buried Queen Nitokris alive in the Sixth Dynasty; subtle Queen Nitokris, who once invited all her enemies to a feast in a temple below the Nile, and drowned them by opening the water-gates? I recalled that the Arabs whisper things about Nitokris, and shun the Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon. It must have been over her that Thomas Moore was brooding when he wrote a thing muttered about by Memphian boatmen— "The subterranean nymph that dwells 'Mid sunless gems and glories hid — The lady of the Pyramid!" The whispers of Arabs are very wild, and cannot be relied upon. They even hint that old Khephren — he of the Sphinx, the Second Pyramid, and the yawning gateway temple — lives far underground wedded to the ghoul-queen Nitokris and ruling over the mummies that are neither of man nor of beast... ghoul-queen Nitokris... beautiful Queen Nitokris, whom I saw in profile for a moment, noting that the right half of her face was eaten away by rats or other ghouls.....
— H.P. Lovecraft, "Under the Pyramids (fiction)"

An Egyptian queen alleged to have reigned at the end of the 6th Dynasty of Egypt (~2180 BC); Herodotus' infamous legend, paraphrased by Lovecraft, holds that Nitocris avenged her brother's murder by inviting the assassins and their supporters to a great subterranean feast, locking them in, and then drowning the feast-chamber with water. According to Lovecraft, Nitokris' exploits also include becoming an immortal "Ghoul-Queen" living in a chasm beneath the tombs of Egypt, married to the mummy of King Khephren (nearly 400 years her senior) and a partner to that king's monstrous worship of an unknown horror beneath the pyramids, and rulers over a subterranean ghoul kingdom housing a monstrous army of animated hybrid, quasi-human, and semi-human mummies, some of which were stitched together from disparate body parts.... Nitocris is supposed to have been beautiful in life, but her face appears to have been disfigured after her death and entombment, the right side gnawed upon by rats or "other ghouls".

Heresies and Controversies

  • Nitokris bore a son by her mummified husband Khephren, 400 years her senior; the boy, named Nophru-Ka, was chosen as a vessel for the "reincarnation" (mind transfer) of Nephren-Ka, crowned an Avatar of Nyarlathotep on Earth. (YSDC, loosely inspired by The Brotherhood of the Beast)


Keeper Notes

Cult

Description of Cult: (TO DO)

Associated Mythos Elements


Quotes

In a line southwest from this [is] the Second Pyramid, built a generation later by King Khephren, and though slightly smaller, looking even larger because set on higher ground.... Near the edge of the plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face probably altered to form a colossal portrait of Khephren, its royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx — mute, sardonic, and wise beyond mankind and memory.... The gate-chapel leading to the Second Pyramid, nearly buried in the drifting sands, yawns subterraneously southeast of the Sphinx. Persistent tradition dubs it the "Temple of the Sphinx"; and it may perhaps be rightly called such if the Sphinx indeed represents the Second Pyramid’s builder Khephren. There are unpleasant tales of the Sphinx before Khephren — but whatever its elder features were, the monarch replaced them with his own that men might look at the colossus without fear.... Then we saw the vast pyramids at the end of the avenue, ghoulish with a dim atavistical menace which I had not seemed to notice in the daytime. Even the smallest of them held a hint of the ghastly — for was it not in this that they had buried Queen Nitokris alive in the Sixth Dynasty; subtle Queen Nitokris, who once invited all her enemies to a feast in a temple below the Nile, and drowned them by opening the water-gates? I recalled that the Arabs whisper things about Nitokris, and shun the Third Pyramid at certain phases of the moon. It must have been over her that Thomas Moore was brooding when he wrote a thing muttered about by Memphian boatmen — "The subterranean nymph that dwells 'Mid sunless gems and glories hid — The lady of the Pyramid!" The whispers of Arabs are very wild, and cannot be relied upon. They even hint that old Khephren — he of the Sphinx, the Second Pyramid, and the yawning gateway temple — lives far underground wedded to the ghoul-queen Nitokris and ruling over the mummies that are neither of man nor of beast.... It was of these — of Khephren and his consort and his strange armies of the hybrid dead — that I dreamed, and that is why I am glad the exact dream-shapes have faded from my memory. My most horrible vision was connected with an idle question I had asked myself the day before when looking at the great carven riddle of the desert and wondering with what unknown depths the temple so close to it might be secretly connected. That question, so innocent and whimsical then, assumed in my dream a meaning of frenetic and hysterical madness... what huge and loathsome abnormality was the Sphinx originally carven to represent? ...God keep the memory of those Arab legends out of my head! The mummies without souls... the meeting-place of the wandering kas... the hordes of the devil-cursed pharaonic dead of forty centuries... the composite mummies led through the uttermost onyx voids by King Khephren and his ghoul-queen Nitokris.... Directly in front of this yawning Polyphemus-door the things were throwing objects — evidently sacrifices or religious offerings, to judge by their gestures. Khephren was their leader; sneering King Khephren... crowned with a golden pshent and intoning endless formulae with the hollow voice of the dead. By his side knelt beautiful Queen Nitokris, whom I saw in profile for a moment, noting that the right half of her face was eaten away by rats or other ghouls. And I shut my eyes again when I saw what objects were being thrown as offerings to the foetid aperture or its possible local deity. It occurred to me that judging from the elaborateness of this worship, the concealed deity must be one of considerable importance. Was it Osiris or Isis, Horus or Anubis, or some vast unknown God of the Dead still more central and supreme? There is a legend that terrible altars and colossi were reared to an Unknown One before ever the known gods were worshiped....
— H.P. Lovecraft, "Under the Pyramids (fiction)"

Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of the moon over the rock tombs of Neb, nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris beneath the Great Pyramid....
— H.P. Lovecraft, "The Outsider (fiction)"

By burial this night / Nitocrys weaves the spell / Down the vault's misty light / The lurking Sphinx dwells
Agony and nightmare / To Yog Sothoth they moan / Nightfall, morbid affair / Bear the faceless one
In the nuclear domain / Arcades lost in eternal skries / Written by the insane / Nitocrys' orders must (be obeyed)
Mummy's rebirth by wrath / Below the temple of Nile / Vanished in Osiris' path / Above us reigns the Necrophile
Agony and nightmare / To Yog Sothoth they moan / Nightfall, morbid affair / Bear the faceless one / Morbid tales....
— Celtic Frost, "Morbid Tales"

Nitocris succeeded her brother; he had been the king of Egypt, and he had been put to death by his subjects, who then placed her upon the throne. Determined to avenge his death, she devised a cunning scheme by which she destroyed a vast number of Egyptians. She constructed a spacious underground chamber and, on pretense of inaugurating it, threw a banquet, inviting all those whom she knew to have been responsible for the murder of her brother. Suddenly as they were feasting, she let the river in upon them by means of a large, secret duct.
— Herodotus

References