Horus History of the Egyptian God, Horus Term Paper

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Horus History Of the Egyptian God, Horus

Horus is one of the most important Egyptian gods and the Pharaoh was seen to be his earthly embodiment. At the same time, the Pharaohs were the followers of Ra and so Horus became associated with the sun as well and was seen as the son of the God, Osiris. In the common perception of Egyptian mythology, Horus is known as one of the offspring of the original pair of Egyptian gods, Ra and Rhea. Horus' siblings were Set, Isis, and Nephthys.

The mythological story continues with Osiris succeeding Ra as king of Egypt. Osiris is credited with bringing civilization to the Egyptians. Among the things he taught them were the uses of corn and wine, weaving, sculpture, religion, music and law. Set slew Osiris, and dismembered the body; but Osiris' consort, Isis, reassembled the body and brought Osiris back to life. Osiris then descended to preside over the land of the dead. Isis then called upon her brother, Horus, to destroy Set.

Horus succeeded in avenging the death of his father in the fight against Set. According to the myth, Horus loses his eye, which represents the moon, in the battle against Set that lasted eighty years. Horus was identified with Lower Egypt, while Seth represented Upper Egypt. The importance of Horus is further elevated due to fact that the Egyptian pharaoh was believed to be an incarnation of Horus. The name of Horus formed part of the pharaoh's name and the pharaoh was said to become Horus after death.

The name Horus comes from the Egyptian word 'Hor', which can be translated as 'face'. Horus was also worshiped as Mekhenti-irry, which means 'He who has on his brow Two Eyes', the sun and moon representing his eyes. (Horus: He who is above)

The followers of the god Horus invaded Egypt in the pre-dynastic past. Horus was venerated as a warlord during this time. He was also part of the state religion associated with the sun god Ra. (ibid) Many scholars point out that the history of the god Horus is complex and that Horus in fact is an ancient deity that antedates many of the later Egyptian gods and has many different forms in mythology. "HORUS (Egyptian Hor), the name of an Egyptian god, if not of several distinct gods." (1911 Encyclopedia)

There are a number of central strands that run though all the variations and different forms of this deity. One of these is the essential common denominator of the fight between good and evil, light and darkness. Horus is also associated with the meaning of many of the resurrection myths in Egyptian mythology. The origins of Horus are seen by many as being related to ancient resurrection and vegetation deities. "Egyptian resurrection mythology derived from earlier worship focused on vegetational seasons or solar and lunar cycles." (The Myth of Horus)

Another important defining characteristic of Horus is the symbol of the Falcon. Both Ra and Horus are depicted with the head of a flacon. Horus is often depicted with a falcon above his head, particularly in battle scenes against Set. "... The god Ra was depicted as a falcon, but there was another god of similar form who had been worshipped before him in the land of Egypt. This was the god Heru, or Horus, ' He who is above.' (ibid)

This flying falcon was later stylized as a flying disk. This 'sun-disk' forms an important part of the way in which Horus, with the aid of the god Thoth, succeeded in defeating his enemies.

Thereupon Horus sought the aid of the god Thoth, the master of all magic, by whose aid he changed himself into a great sun-disk, with resplendent wings outstretched on either side. Straight to the sun he flew, and from the heavens he looked so fiercely upon his enemies and Ra's, that they neither heard nor saw aright. Each man judged his neighbour to be a stranger, and a cry went up that the foe were upon them. Each turned his weapon against the other, the majority was slain and the handful of survivors scattered. And Horus hovered for a while over the battle-plain, hoping to find Set, but the arch-enemy was not there; he was hiding in the North Country. (ibid)

The functions of Horus are as diverse as his forms and in some instances he "acts as the usher guiding deceased persons to the land of the dead." (ibid)

In this regard the falcon imagery is important not only because it is one of the links that connects the god Horus to previous manifestations of the deity in early Egyptian history, but also because it refers to certain qualities that can be recognized through the different forms of the god.

To all forms of Horus the falcon was sacred; the name Hor, written with a standing figure of that bird, is connected with a root signifying upper, and probably means the high-flyer. The tame sacred falcon on its perch is the commonest symbol of divinity in early hieroglyphic writing; the commonest title of the king in the earliest dynasties, and his first title later, was that which named him Horus. Hawk gods were the presiding deities of Poi (Pe) and Nekhen, which had been the royal quarters in the capitals of the two primeval kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt, at Buto and opposite El Kab. A principal festival in very early times was the worship of Horus, and the kings of the prehistoric dynasties were afterwards called the worshippers of Horus.

1911 encyclopedia)

Essentiality, Horus represents the triumph of light over darkness or truth over error. One of the central problems in understanding the history of Horus is his many forms and names. This also alludes to the Egyptian mythological system of overlapping mythical gods

Horus was an amalgamation of other related deities, all of whom were sun gods and associated with the royal prerogative and the sky. Because Horus was a combination of other gods, it is rarely correct to refer to "Horus" as Horus was as much a family of related deities (though many had differing parentages) unified in one being; something similar occurs in many Christians' interpretation of the one God who manifests in three parts.

Wikipedia: Horus)

The following overview of the origins of the Horus myth, as well as some of the forms of the deity, illustrates this complexity and interchangeability of various forms of the gods.

With Horus the Elder we have a representation of the face of heaven or the face of day in contradistinction to the face of night as represented by Set. In this form he was seen as the son, and at other times, the husband of Hathor. He was also the brother of Osiris and Seth. He became the conqueror of Seth in 3,000 BCE when Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt and formed the United Kingdom of Egypt and he was depicted as a falcon-headed man, sometimes wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt. (ibid)

Horus the Elder has numerous wives and children.

Horus (the elder) had numerous wives and children, and his 'four sons' were grouped together and generally said to be born of Isis. The four were known as:



Hapi and Qebehsenuef. They were born from a lotus flower and were solar gods associated with the creation. "(ibid)

Horus (the younger), or Harpocrates as he was known by the Greeks, "is represented as a youth, and was the son of a Horus-god and the goddess Rat-Tauit, who appears to have been worshipped at Hermonthis in the form of a hippopotamus. Horus the Younger represented the earliest rays of the rising sun, and had no fewer than seven aspects or forms.

He was depicted as a naked boy with a finger in his mouth, sitting on a lotus with his mother. In this form, he was a fertility god and was depicted with a cornucopia. Har-pa-Khered became very popular during the time of the Roman Empire, when he was depicted riding a goose or ram"

The Myth of Horus)

An important form of the Horus myth is the Horus of the Two Horizons, or the Harmachis of the Greeks. "He was one of the chief forms of the sun-god Ra, and represented the sun in his diurnal course from sunrise to sunset. He thus included the personalities of Ra, Tem, and Khepera, and this affords a good example of the widespread system of overlapping that obtained in Egyptian mythology, and which does not appear to such an extent in any other mythology." (ibid)

As "Horus in the Horizon," he represented the rising sun and was associated with Khepera as a symbol of resurrection or eternal life. Khepera was a form of the sun-god Ra. The Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau is an example of this form of Horus. (Egyptian Myths)

One of the oldest versions of Horus was Heru-ur (also called Harmerti). This was a falcon…

Sources Used in Document:


1911 Encyclopedia. Horus. May 23, 2004. http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HO/HORUS.htm

Acharya, S. The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold. 2004. Accessed May 23, 2004.

Egyptian Myths. Ancient Egypt: the Mythology. May 24, 2004. http://www.egyptianmyths.net/horus.htm

Horus: He who is above. May 24, 2004. http://members.aol.com/egyptart/hormyth.html

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