Horus is one of the oldest and most important deities in the Ancient Egyptian religion. He was worshipped from at least the late Pre-dynastic period through Greco-Roman times. (Remler) Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as different gods by some Egyptologists. However these different forms may possibly be different perceptions of the same god who served many different functions. (Remler) The earliest recorded form, dating around the 25th century B. C. , is Horus the Falcon who was the patron god of Nekhen in Upper Egypt and who is the first known national god. Meltzer)However the most widespread and popular story, and the one that I will focus on, describe Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris. (Meltzer) Isis was said to be the daughter of the gods Geb and Nut. She was thought of as the perfect example of the Egyptian mother and wife. She was therefore considered the symbolic mother of all the Pharaohs. (Shaw)Osiris was one of the oldest and most worshipped gods in ancient Egypt. He was generally referred to as the god of the Afterlife. This would make him one of the most revered gods because the ancient Egyptians felt that the Afterlife was more important than actual life.
They often referred to their dead as the “living ones”. (Meltzer)Horus served many functions in Egyptian mythology, but mostly he was known as either the god of the Sky or the god of both War and Protection. He was also considered the role model for all of the Pharaohs. Each ruler was looked upon as a living Horus. His other roles will be mentioned later. Horus in Egyptian is pronounced Haru, meaning Falcon. Horus has also been translated to mean “He who is above, over”. Horus also appears as the Egyptian name Har-Si-Ese which means “Horus, son of Isis”. Horus was also sometimes known as Nekheny, meaning “Falcon”. Meltzer) In the majority of Egyptian hieroglyphics the Pharaoh is often portrayed as Horus. Countless depictions of the Pharaoh almost always featured him wearing the Eye of Horus and with Isis as his mother. As mentioned before, Pharaoh was looked at as the living version Horus in life so when he went to the Afterlife he would be greeted by Osiris as a son. The idea of a Pharaoh as being the son of Osiris seems to have changed to Pharaoh as the son of Ra during the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt but the ruler while alive was always considered as the living Horus. (Meltzer) Horus was the son of the goddess Isis.
He was formed from all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris. She then used her magic powers to conceive her son. Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she ran away to the Nile Delta to hide from her brother Seth, who had killed Osiris and knew he would want to kill their son. Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It was said that the sun was his right eye and the moon was his left eye, and that they traveled across the sky when he flew over as a falcon. This is why he is sometimes referred to as Harmerty – Horus of two eyes.
Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the Contesting’s of Horus and Seth. (Remler) In this story Seth, sometimes referred to as Typhon,(Shaw) the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had a bloody battle for Egypt. They had always each other since Seth had killed Horus’ father, Osiris, and tried many times to kill Horus as a child. Neither was the clear winner but in the end the rest of the gods took Horus’ side. In the battle two important things happened. Seth lost a testicle which explains why the desert which he ruled over was in fertile.
Then Horus had his left eye gouged out which explained why the moon was so much weaker than the sun. They would go on to have many more battles. The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power. The symbol is seen on images of Horus’ mother, Isis, and on other gods associated with her. Horus was also said to be a god of war and hunting. After the death of his father Horus took it upon himself to wage war against Seth and his forces. In one story Osiris appears to Horus from the underworld and asks him “And what is the most glorious deed a man can do? Horus was said to have replied“To avenge the injuries done to his father and mother. ” (Shaw) The Horus falcon often appears is hieroglyphs which shows a lion hunting. This made him a symbol of majesty and power as well as the model for the Pharaohs. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Horus-15) Other gods would later be referred to as gods of war Isis told Horus to protect the people of Egypt from Seth, the god of the desert. As mentioned before, Horus had many battles with Seth. These battles were not only to avenge Osiris but also to figure out who the rightful ruler of Egypt was.
In these battles, Horus came to be associated with Lower Egypt (where Horus was worshipped), and became its patron. One story shows how Horus was on the verge of killing Seth but Isis, who was Seth’s sister, stopped him. Isis injured Horus, but eventually healed him. They both went to appeal to the various other gods to have them proclaim who was the winner once and for all and they eventually sided with Horus. Seth refused to give in, and the other gods were getting tired of the fighting that had continued for 80 years. Horus and Seth then challenged each other to a boat race, where they each raced in a boat made of stone.
Horus and Seth agreed, and the race started. Horus had tricked Seth however. Horus’ boat was made of wood but painted to look like stone. Seth’s boat sank, but Horus’s did not. Horus then won the race, and Seth stepped down and officially gave Horus the throne of Egypt. But after the New Kingdom, Seth still was considered Lord of the desert and its oases which were greatly inferior to the fertile delta of Lower Egypt which Horus ruled over. While researching Horus it was important to understand just what his significance was in the lives of Ancient Egyptians.
Was he just another one of their many gods or was he placed on a higher level than most? There are many heroic stories about Horus. The fact that the Egyptian people considered Pharaoh, their all-powerful rulers as living version of Horus tells us something. This is proof that he was one of the most important gods in the ancient Egyptian religion. It shows that Horus was the role model for all Egyptians. They were always hoping to conduct themselves in a manner that was Horus-like. Not surprisingly there have actually been many comparisons between the roles of Jesus in Christian religions and Horus in the religion of ancient Egypt. (Meltzer)
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