The Ancient Egyptians believed that men and animals were equal and belonged to the same world order as all the elements in the universe, such as the sun, moon, sky, stars and river etc. One could not be considered without the other in their mythological beliefs.
Animals were thought of as the eternal souls of the gods; they were admired and respected but not usually worshipped. The quality within each animal which was either feared or admired by the Egyptians was worshipped as the divine quality of the god.
For example the cow and hippopotamus were protective, motherly creatures which, when their young were threatened could be very fierce. Their qualities could be found in protective goddesses such as Isis who was known as 'Mother of the King' amongst other titles and Tawaret 'Protector of women in Childbirth'. They are represented by the cow and hippo in many wall paintings, reliefs and sculptures.
Kings, gods and goddesses were often represented by powerful creatures such as the bull or lion.
Go forth like the Scarab in the early morning sun
and gently roll the flaming ball to where it once began.
Placed inside the heart of man the sacred words inscribed,
My Mother, my heart, my mother, my heart,
Do not go against me on the judgement day,
Its my way to the Afterlife.
"Ass meant 'beast of burden', its pet name was 'Eeyore'. It carried all the sheaves of wheat from field to threshing floor."