The Freud Museum

Baboon of Thoth

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3133, Baboon of Thoth, Roman Period; 30 B.C. - A.D. 395

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Egyptian
Material: Marble
Dimensions: h. 8 in / 21.5 cm

Thoth, the ibis-headed god of the moon and intellect, was often represented as a seated baboon. The Egyptians believed the baboon was the spirit of Thoth. The orb crowning his head represents the crescent moon. After death, the Egyptians believed that Thoth, because of his scribal duties, was in charge of the scale in the Weighing of the Heart, a ceremony in which the deeds and virtues of the deceased were judged. This small statue was probably an offering during the Classical Period, when Thoth increased in popularity due to his association with the Greek messenger god, Hermes.

Freud would have been interested in the conflict between animal instinct and human intellect in Thoth’s representation as a baboon. In much of his work, Freud sought to examine the influence of instincts, such as sexuality and aggression, on the expression of intellect.

See this object on our Collections site here 

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