BUTO, the Greek name of the Egyptian goddess Uto (hierogl. W'zy·t), confused with the name of her city Buto (see Busiris). She was a cobra-goddess of the marshes, worshipped especially in the city of Buto in the north-west of the Delta, and at another Buto (Hdt. ii. 75) in the north-east of the Delta, now Tell Nebesheh. The former city is placed by Petrie at Tell Ferain, a large and important site, but as yet yielding no inscriptions. This western Buto was the capital of the kingdom of Northern Egypt in prehistoric times before the two kingdoms were united; hence the goddess Buto was goddess of Lower Egypt and the North. To correspond to the vulture goddess (Nekhbi) of the south she sometimes is given the form of a vulture; she is also figured in human form. As a serpent she is commonly twined round a papyrus stem, which latter spells her name; and generally she wears the crown of Lower Egypt. The Greeks identified her with Leto; this may be accounted for partly by the resemblance of name, partly by the myth of her having brought up Horus in a floating island, resembling the story of Leto and Apollo on Delos. Perhaps the two myths influenced each other. Herodotus describes the temple and other sacred places of (the western) Buto, and refers to its festival, and to its oracle, which must have been important though nothing definite is known about it. It is strange that a city whose leading in the most ancient times was fully recognized throughout Egyptian history does not appear in the early lists of nome-capitals. Like Thebes, however (which lay in the 4th nome of Upper Egypt, its early capital being Hermonthis), it eventually became, at a very late date, the capital of a nome, in this case called Phtheneto, "the land of (the goddess) Buto." The second Buto (hierogl. 'Im·t) was capital from early times of the 19th nome of Lower Egypt.
See Herodotus ii. 155; Zeitschr. f. ägyptische Sprache (1871), I; K. Sethe in Pauly-Wissowa, Realencyclopädie, s.v. "Buto"; D.G. Hogarth, Journal of Hellenic Studies, xxiv. I; W.M.F. Petrie, Ehnasya, p. 36; Nebesheh and Defenneh.
(F. Ll. G.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)