- This page is about the Egyptian deity. For the fantasy character, see Horus (Warhammer 40,000).
Horus (Greek, Egyptian names Hor, Heru-sa-Aset, Her'ur, Hrw, Hr, and Hor-Hekenu) is the falcon-headed god of ancient Egyptian mythology. He was the son of Ausare (Osiris) and Aset (Isis), the river and land gods. The Eye of Horus became an important Egyptian symbol of power.
Like many other gods the nature of what he was and the legends and stories that went with him changed over the course of history. 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.
Heru-ur (also called Harmerti) is the oldest version of Horus, and was a falcon creator-god who was known for restraining Apep. His eyes were the Sun and the Moon; during a new Moon, he was blind and was called Mekhenty-er-irty ("he who has no eyes") and upon the return of his sight, he was called Khenty-irty ("he who has eyes"). While blind, Horus was quite dangerous, sometimes attacking his friends after mistaking them for enemies. He was a son of Geb and Nut and was the patron god of Sekhem/Sokhmît/Letopolis .
As a child, Horus was called Har-pa-khered ("Horus the child" and called Harpocrates by the Greeks) and was a son of either Osiris and Isis or Banebdjetet and Hatmehit. 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 (note Banebdjetet, his father, was a ram god).
Later Horus became absolutely aligned as a son of the dead body of Osiris and Isis (alternatively: he emerged from Saosis' acacia tree). This is very often cited as "the" Horus in many scholarly works. In truth, this Horus was called Har-sa-iset or Harsiesis.
As Har-nedj-itef (Harendotes in Greek), Horus was Osiris' bodyguard in the underworld, called the Duat.
As Behedti, Horus was the patron deity of Behdet (cur: Edfu), where he was strongly associated with the falcon.
As Chenti-irti, Horus was a falcon-god of law and order.
Later still he became associated with the sun god Ra where they combined especially at Iunu (Heliopolis) and became Ra-Herekhty (also Ra-Heru-akhety, Her-akhety ("Horus of the two horizons"), Har-em-akhet ("Horus upon the horizon"), Horakhety, Harmachis (Greek)), god of the morning sun.
Anhur was Horus as a union with Shu.
In the 3rd millennium BC, Set became the patron god of the pharaohs (replacing Horus in the form of Har-mau or Harsomtus) after overthrowing Horus in the form of Har-wer or Haroeris. Later a story became popular that Set had killed Horus' father Osiris, and Set was thought of more and more as an evil god. So Har-mau was again made the pharaohs' patron in this myth: A war between Set and Horus ensued, lasting for eighty years. Har-mau tore off one leg and the testicles of Set, who in turn took out Har-mau's left eye (hence he is referred to as "the one-eyed god"). His eye was later returned to him. Horus won the war (with the support of Neith) and became the ruler of Lower and Upper Egypt. Seth was castrated or killed or moved in with Ra and became the voice of thunder.
Horus was the father of the four gods associated with the canopic jars of Egyptian funerary beliefs: Imset, Hapi, Duamutef, and Kebechsenef.
Last updated: 06-02-2005 04:02:08