AskDefine | Define beset

Dictionary Definition



1 annoy continually or chronically; "He is known to harry his staff when he is overworked"; "This man harasses his female co-workers" [syn: harass, hassle, harry, chivy, chivvy, chevy, chevvy, plague, molest, provoke]
2 assail or attack on all sides: "The zebra was beset by leopards" [syn: set upon]
3 decorate or cover lavishly with gems [syn: encrust, incrust] [also: besetting]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /bɪ'sɛt/
    Rhymes: -ɛt


  1. To surround or hem in.
  2. To attack, especially from all sides.
  3. To decorate something with jewels etc.
  4. Of a ship, to get trapped by ice.


get trapped by ice
to surround

Extensive Definition

Bes (also spelt as Bisu) was an Egyptian deity worshipped in the later periods of dynastic history as a protector of households and in particular mothers and children. In time he would be regarded as the defender of everything good and the enemy of all that is bad. While past studies identified Bes as a Middle Kingdom import from Nubia, some more recent research believes him to be an Egyptian native. Mentions of Bes can be traced to the southern lands of the Old Kingdom; however his cult did not become widespread until well into the New Kingdom.
His name appears to be connected to a Nubian word for "cat" (besa) which literally means "protector", and indeed, his first appearances have the suggestion of a cat god. Egyptians kept cats in order to attack snakes, and creatures that might ruin crop stores, such as mice, and so Bes was naturally singled out as worthy of worship in Egypt.


Modern scholars such as James Romano demonstrated that in its earliest inceptions, Bes was a representation of a lion rearing up on its hind legs.
After the Third Intermediate Period, Bes is often seen as just the head or the face, often worn as amulets. It is theorized that the god Bes came from the Great Lakes Region of Africa, coming from the Twa people (a pygmy group) in Congo or Rwanda. The ancient Twa were about the same height as the depictions of Bes. bes had two legs that looks like a lions back legs.
Dawn Prince-Hughes lists Bes as fitting with other archetypal long-haired Bigfoot-like ape-man figures from ancient Northern Africa, "a squat, bandy-legged figure depicted with fur about his body, a prominent brow, and short, pug nose."


Images of the deity were kept in homes to ward off evil as an apotropaic, and he was depicted quite differently from the other gods. Normally Egyptian gods were shown in profile, but instead Bes appeared in portrait, ithyphallic, and sometimes in a soldier's tunic, so as to appear ready to launch an attack on any approaching evil.
Bes was a household protector, throughout ancient Egyptian history becoming responsible for such varied tasks as killing snakes, fighting off evil spirits, watching after children, and aiding (by fighting off evil spirits) women in labour (and thus present with Taweret at births).
Since he drove off evil, Bes also came to symbolize the good things in life - music, dance, and sexual pleasure. Later, in the Ptolemaic period of Egyptian history, chambers were constructed, painted with images of Bes and his wife Beset, thought by Egyptologists to have been for the purpose of curing fertility problems or general healing rituals.
Many instances of Bes masks and costumes from the New Kingdom and later have been uncovered. These show considerable wear, thought to be too great for occasional use at festivals, and are therefore thought to have been used by professional performers, or given out for rent.
In the New Kingdom, tattoos of Bes could be found on the thighs of dancers, musicians and servant girls.
Like many Egyptian gods, the worship of Bes was exported overseas, and he, in particular, proved popular with the Phoenicians and the ancient Cypriots.

Notes and References


  • The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson. ISBN 0-500-05120-8
  • The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Ian Shaw. ISBN 0-19-280458-8
beset in Catalan: Bes
beset in Danish: Bes
beset in German: Bes (Ägyptische Mythologie)
beset in Estonian: Bes
beset in Spanish: Bes
beset in Esperanto: Beso
beset in French: Bès
beset in Italian: Bes (divinità)
beset in Lithuanian: Besas
beset in Hungarian: Bész
beset in Dutch: Bes (godheid)
beset in Japanese: ベス
beset in Norwegian: Bes
beset in Occitan (post 1500): Bès (Divinitat)
beset in Polish: Bes (bóg egipski)
beset in Portuguese: Bes
beset in Romanian: Bes
beset in Russian: Бес (египетская мифология)
beset in Sicilian: Bes
beset in Simple English: Bes
beset in Slovak: Bes
beset in Slovenian: Bes
beset in Finnish: Bes
beset in Swedish: Bes

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abashed, afflict, afflicted, aggravate, agitated, ail, annoy, annoyed, anxious, apply pressure, assail, assault, attack, badger, badgered, bait, baited, barred, be at, be the matter, bedevil, bedeviled, beleaguer, beleaguered, besiege, besieged, blandish, blockade, blockaded, bother, bothered, bound, box in, bristle, brown off, bug, bugged, bullyrag, bullyragged, burn up, buttonhole, cabined, cage, caged, cajole, cast down, chagrined, chamber, chapfallen, chivied, chivy, circle, cloistered, close in, closed-in, coax, compass, compel, complicate matters, concern, confined, confused, contain, coop, coop in, coop up, cooped, cordon, cordon off, cordoned, cordoned off, corral, corralled, cramped, crawl with, creep with, cribbed, devil, deviled, discomfited, discomforted, discommode, discompose, discomposed, disconcerted, disquieted, distemper, distress, distressed, disturb, disturbed, dog, dogged, drive, dun, embarrassed, encircle, enclose, enclosed, encompass, enshrine, envelop, environ, exasperate, exercise, exert pressure, fall, fash, fence in, fenced, fret, fretted, gem, get, gird, girdle, grip, gripe, grubby, harass, harassed, harried, harry, haunt, haunted, heckle, heckled, hector, hectored, hedge in, hedged, hem, hem in, hemmed, hold, hound, hounded, house in, hung up, hunt, ill at ease, immured, impel, importune, impound, imprison, imprisoned, incarcerate, incarcerated, include, inconvenience, inconvenienced, infatuate, infest, infested, invade, invest, irk, irked, jail, jailed, jewel, kennel, lay siege to, leaguer, leaguered, lousy, mew, mew up, mewed, miff, molest, mortified, nag, nag at, needle, needled, nettle, nipped at, not let go, nudzh, obsess, oppress, out of countenance, overrun, overspread, overswarm, paled, pedicular, pediculous, peeve, pen, pen in, penned, pent-up, perplex, persecute, persecuted, perturb, perturbed, pester, pestered, pick on, picked on, pique, plague, plagued, pluck the beard, ply, pocket, possess, pother, preoccupy, press, pressure, provoke, pursue, push, put out, put to it, put-out, put-upon, puzzle, puzzled, quarantine, quarantined, ragged, rail in, railed, ratty, ravage, ravaged, restrained, ride, rile, ring, roil, ruffle, shrine, shut in, shut up, shut-in, soften up, sore beset, stable, storm, strike, surround, swarm, swarm with, tease, teased, teeming, torment, tormented, trouble, troubled, try the patience, tweak the nose, uncomfortable, uneasy, upset, urge, vex, vexed, victimize, wall in, walled, walled-in, wheedle, work on, wormy, worried, worried sick, worried stiff, worry, wrap, yard, yard up
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