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The Gods of Ancient Egypt -- Horus


Horus

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Our Feature Story on Horus

Other Names: Heru, Hor, Harendotes/Har-nedj-itef (Horus the Avenger), Har-Pa-Neb-Taui (Horus Lord of the Two Lands)

Patron of: the living Pharaoh, rulers, law, war, young men, light, the sun, many others depending on the particular variant.

Appearance: His most common form is that of falcon-headed man, but he is also shown as a falcon, a lion with the head of a falcon, or a sphinx. He is also shown as a falcon resting on the neck of the pharaoh, spreading his wings to either side of the pharaoh's head and whispering guidance in his ear.

Description: It is nearly impossible to distinguish a "true" Horus from all his many forms. In fact, Horus is mostly a general term for a great number of falcon gods, some of which were worshipped all over Egypt, others simply had local cults. Yet in all of his forms he is regarded as the prince of the gods and the specific patron of the living ruler.

The worship of Horus was brought from the outside by neighboring tribes who invaded and then settled into Egypt. He was their god of war, but was quickly absorbed into the state religion, first as a son of Ra, then changing to become the son of Osiris. He was the protector and guide to the pharaoh and later pharaohs were believed to be his avatar on earth. Horus was also the patron of young men and the ideal of the dutiful son who grows up to become a just man.

The most popular story of Horus is the one in which he grows to manhood to avenge the death of his father Osiris by battling against his cruel uncle Set. In many writings, he is said to continue to battle Set daily to ensure the safety of the world.

Worship: Worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, even his variant forms were widespread.

Variants:

Harmakhet
God of the dawn and of the morning sun, he is also worshipped as a keeper of secret wisdom. Harmakhet's form is that of a sphinx or a sphinx with the head of a ram, often depicted as a companion to Khephri. It is thought that the Great Sphinx, staring at the eastern horizon, represents him.

Har-Pa-Khered/Harpokrates


Rarely found depicted without his mother Isis. He is shown as a nursing infant with the royal sidelock or sometimes even with a crown, thus demonstrating his right to kingship from the moment of his birth. His worship became very popular in the New Kingdom, spreading even into the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Har-Sa-Iset/Harsiesis


This is the form of Horus that is most familiar, the son of Osiris and Isis. He was conceived magically after the death of Osiris, and Isis hid him away on an island to protect him from Set. In this form he is worshipped as an infant and is beseeched to gain his mother's protection for the worshipper.

Horus Behudety/Horus of Edfu

God of the noontime sun. This particular variant was first worshipped in the western Delta and spread south, a cult center being established at Edfu. He is represented by a winged sun or as a lion with the head of a hawk. Horus Behudety fights constantly against Set and an army of darkness to ensure that the sun rises each day.

Horus the Elder (Haroeris)


An early form of Horus, when his cult was still new in Egypt. A god of light, his left eye was the sun and his right eye the moon. He was the brother of Osiris and Set, and the husband of Hathor.

Ra-Harakhte


A combined god of Horus and Ra, he was the god of the sun and took it on its daily path across the sky. He is represented as a falcon or a falcon-headed man wearing the solar disk and the double crown. Sometimes he is pictured wearing the atef crown and the uraeus.

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Last Updated: August 21st, 2011

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