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Horus in hieroglyphics



Horus falcon
Early days

Old empire

New kingdom
N31 A40


Greco-Roman time

The Distant / Who
is above
Greek Horos
Coptic ϩ ⲱⲣ
Horus standing.svg
Horus with what scepter and ankh and double crown ( Pschent )
Horus as falcon.svg
Horus as a falcon

Horus (also Horos, Hor ) was a main god in the early mythology of Ancient Egypt . Originally a god of the sky, he was also the god of kings, a god of worlds or light and protector of children. In the Middle Kingdom , Horus is listed as the deity of the first and eleventh Upper Egyptian Gaues ( Ta-seti and Seth -Tier-Gau), in the Greco-Roman period, however, as the god of the 16th Upper Egyptian and 14th  Lower Egyptian Gaues . Mostly he was depicted as a falcon .


Horus is the Latinized form of the ancient Egyptian word Ḥr , which is often rendered as "Hor". The name refers to his status as a sky god. Like other gods, Horus appeared in various forms in the Old Kingdom :


Images of the god Horus are certainly among the most numerous of a god in Egypt. It is almost omnipresent in both texts and images. Horus is represented as a falcon or as a standing person with a falcon's head, who sometimes wears a double crown . In the Greco-Roman times, the god was often depicted as a legionnaire . The motif of Isis nursing the Horus boy is also occasionally found on Roman coins with portraits of empresses. These are not only coins minted in Alexandria for the Roman province of Egypt, but also imperial Roman coins that did not circulate in Egypt. Such influences document the willingness of Roman culture to accept originally foreign mythology.

Isis breastfeeding the Horus boy on the reverse of the denarius with Julia Domna on the portrait side

historical development


Horus has undergone numerous changes in the historical development of Egyptian mythology: Different creatures in the shape of a falcon emerged, each of which is embedded in its own myth and therefore has different characteristics and places of worship. The entire myth about Horus is therefore very complex and sometimes appears very complicated.

The oldest being of the god Horus, however, was that of a sky god. The two celestial bodies, the sun and the moon, were considered the eyes of the god, the right eye being the so-called sun eye and the left eye being the moon eye . Different myths entwine around both eyes. The god's wing tips touched the boundaries of the earth. A derived from the early days icon , which is a pair of wings, of Re coming sun boat shows and it seated falcon is as contamination considered various sky images. This representation is considered to be the forerunner of the symbol of the winged sun ( Behedeti ) that appeared later on .

In its meaning as the emblem of a victorious people, Horus advanced to the god of war and war leader, which led to the belief that the king ( Pharaoh ) was his earthly embodiment. From that time on, the kings of Egypt had the falcon god Horus in their king's title . The meaning of Horus as the god of heaven and the king is considered to be of the same age or of the same time.

Because the kings worshiped the god Re at the same time , Horus was identified with the sun. However , according to the popular beliefs, which are contrary to the state religion , Horus had meanwhile been equated with the son of Osiris . The resulting interrelationships between the two identifications of a god led to different myths being formed. Despite the differences between these two Horus gods, the Egyptians later merged the sun Horus with the god of the same name of the Osiris cult to form a god Horus. However, this merging process ( syncretism ) led to different results in different cult centers, so that finally there were fifteen different Horus gods.

Despite these many special forms, a rough classification can be made through the history of descent, which was ascribed to Horus in the myth:

  • As the son of Atum or Re , Geb or Nut , Horus belongs to the sun cult.
  • As the son of Isis and Osiris, he belongs to the Osiris myth .

More forms of the god Horus

Surname Representation in hieroglyphics transcription short description / meaning Name variant
Bḥdtj "The one from Edfu". Originally from the 4th / 5th Lower Egyptian Gau .
G5 N27
X1 Z4
Ḥr-3ḫtj "The horizontal Horus", "Horus of the two horizons". God of the morning sun. A sub-form of the god Horus. Hor-Achti
G5 Aa15
Ḥr-m-3ḫt "Horus in the Horizon". Personification of the rising sun. Most famous representation: Great Sphinx of Giza . Houroun (French)
G5 G36
Ḥr-wr "Horus the Great" or "Horus the Old". Her-ur
Ḥr-Rʿ "Horus, the sun". The god protects the king from sickness and calamity. Hor-Re, Re-Hor
G5 G39 Q1 X1
Ḥr-s3-3st "Horus, son of Isis". Name for the god Horus in his capacity as son. Harsiesis
G5 F18
Ḥr-Bḥdtj "Horus of southern Edfu".
Horus Junmutef
G5 O28 G14 X1
Ḥr-Jwn-mw.t = f "Horus, his mother's pillar". Term for the god Horus in his capacity as the family support and protector of Isis.
G5 F36 M13 T3
Ḥr-sm3-t3wj "Horus who unites the two countries". Hor-Semataui

Importance to royalty

Horus name from Wadji in Serech

Horus was the king god. The falcon itself represented a totem in prehistoric times , which was revered as a later Gauzeichen by the nomadic tribes in the Upper Egyptian area . The king has been equated with the god of heaven since the beginning of the prehistoric and early dynastic times : Horus revealed himself in the person of the king; the living king was Horus.

Horus in the title of king

The rule of Horus was the model for all kings of Egypt. They took on the title "Living Horus", and so the Horus name is the oldest Egyptian king title. He is z. B. Has already proven Hor and Scorpio I for the kings . The title is symbolized by a falcon sitting on a rectangle, the serech . This contains the so-called palace facade in the lower part and above it the name of the king. On the so-called Narmer palette , which dates to the 0th Dynasty, a hawk is depicted, which is called Horus. Up until the 4th dynasty , the name of Horus was the only name of the king ( Pharaoh ), but in the same dynasty the name of Gold Horus (also gold name) was added as a further royal title.

The Horus Throne

Through his coronation as king of Egypt, the ruler became Horus. This was not only expressed by the name of Horus itself. Texts on steles speak of the fact that the king came to "the throne of Horus of the living": The king sat on the throne of Horus. One of the best-known steles on which this sentence can also be found is the so-called restoration stele of Tutankhamun , where u. a. means: “Appeared on the throne of Horus of the living” and “to create a king forever, a Horus who lasts for all time”.

Worship and places of worship

Statue of Horus in the Temple of Edfu
Name of Hathor in hieroglyphs: Ḥwt Ḥr , translated: "House of Horus"

Before the unification of the empire , Horus lived in Hierakonpolis, Upper Egypt . Other places of worship were Letopolis and Wawat, an area south of the 1st Cataract , in the lower part of Nubia . Edfu was only added later. Here he was worshiped as a trinity together with his wife Hathor and their son. In Kom Ombo he was worshiped as Haroeris and the son of Re , in Heliopolis, however, as Harachte, the god of the morning sun. As Harpocrates, however, he was venerated in Achmim , Philae , Edfu, Alexandria , Pelusium and the Fajum , among others . As a later deity of Lower Egypt , he was ultimately regarded as the lord of the fertile land of all of Egypt.

Egyptian mythology

Due to the historical development and his different forms of being, Horus is represented in various myths in Egyptian mythology. Both Harsiese ("Horus, son of Isis") and Hor-pa-chered ("Horus, the child") belong to the Osirism myth , whereas the essential forms of Horus as Haroeris, Horus-Behedeti, Harachte and Harmachis are linked to the sun cult . This gives rise to the various descriptions of its origin.

In the Osiris myth he is the son of Osiris and Isis . But also Hathor , whose name is translated as "house of Horus", was regarded as his mother, although the inscriptions in the temple of Edfu refer to her as his wife. Horus does not belong to the circle of the Ninth of Heliopolis , since the king ( Pharaoh ) embodies him as the son of Osiris. Thus he is facing the Ninth. Horus was born during the month of Ka-her-ka (October / November).

As "Horus the Elder", also "Horus the Old" (Haroeris, also Her-ur or Her-wer ) he and Isis were the parents of the four Horus sons (also Canopic gods) Amset , Hapi , Duamutef and Kebechsenuef . The sons of Horus were not only responsible for protecting the canopic jars , but they were also appointed by their father as guardians of the four cardinal points to which they were sent as coronation messengers.

The quarrel between Horus and Seth

This probably best known myth about Horus is the fundamental question about the succession to the throne after the death of his father Osiris, which is fought out between him and his brother Seth . A narrative variant of the dispute between Horus and Seth was written in the New Kingdom during the reign of Ramses V :

The infant Horus, Harsiese (son of Isis), was conceived by Isis through the mating of her deceased husband Osiris. Isis raised him in the swamps near Buto . When Horus finally matured into a man, he began waging war against Seth to regain his father's throne. He had many other gods as allies and gained the title Harendotes : the protector of his father in battle . Although Horus was very successful in the battles against Seth and his forces, he repeatedly recovered from his wounds and Horus was unable to defeat him. The war dragged on, and the cunning Seth tried to gain advantages by bringing the dispute over the succession to the court of gods.

The trial lasted eighty years without the gods of the tribunal reaching a decision. The members of the Court of Heliopolis always agreed with the last speaker they had summoned as a witness and consequently kept changing their views. Most of the judges spoke for Horus, while Re-Harachte, who presided, favored Seth, since he was the son of the Nut . Finally, Shu and Thoth stood up for Horus, who wanted to uphold justice from violence. Isis, who assumed that the dispute was now over, announced that it was the will of the court that the "eye", the symbol of royal power, be given to Horus. Re-Harachte , thus relieved of his leadership of the judgment, grew angry and prevented the gods from handing the eye to Horus. Seth, meanwhile, regretted having brought the case to court, and since he was no longer very convinced of his arguments, he suggested a duel. Thoth resisted, and so the judgment had come to a deadlock again. Other gods were summoned, including the ram of Mendes , who appeared with Ptah , and the goddess Neith . She spoke out in favor of granting the throne to Horus and that Seth should receive compensation by doubling his property and that he should have two more wives ( Astarte and Anath ). The divine judges now believed they had finally found a solution, but Re-Harachte was annoyed. Then the other gods became angry, and only Hathor succeeded in appeasing Re-Harachte and persuading him to return to judgment.

The court met again, but the discussion of whether the direct descendants' succession rights were more important than the special suitability of another heir to the throne did not lead to a decision. Isis had been excluded from the trial by Seth and bribed the ferryman of the gods, Anti, to take her to the trial island. Here she turned into a young girl. When Seth saw the girl, he left his place and lay in wait for her and Isis told him a story: Her husband, a shepherd, had died and she was left alone with her little boy. Later a stranger came who threatened to beat the son, take the cattle away and drive them away. And so she asked Seth for help against the stranger. Seth, who wanted to please her, replied: “Should cattle fall to strangers when a man has a son for heir?” After these words, Isis turned into a Milan , flew away and called to Seth that he had pronounced his own judgment . Seth was annoyed that she had fallen for their ruse and complained to Re-Harachte about it. However, the latter could do nothing but confirm the judgment, and Seth replied that Seth had judged himself. Re-Haracht grew impatient and ordered the gods to crown Horus immediately.

Seth did not agree and suggested another duel. The gods agreed to the fight in which both would turn into hippos . The winner would be the one who stayed underwater the longest. Isis was certain that Seth, whose natural form was that of the hippopotamus, would kill her son Horus. She attached a harpoon to a long rope and threw it into the water. Her first throw, however, hit Horus, and when she realized her mistake she threw the harpoon again, this time hitting Seth. Seth pleaded with his sister to free her because of their two mothers, and Isis released him. Angry about his mother's weakness, Horus jumped out of the water and cut off her head. The gods then decided to punish Horus, but could not find him. Seth, however, found him on the mountain, ripped out his eyes and buried them in the earth. When Seth returned to the gods, he declared that he could not find Horus. In one version of the myth Horus was found lying on the slope by Thoth, in another by Hathor. Hathor washed his eye sockets with gazelle milk, which gave him back his eyesight. Together they returned to the judgment of the gods. Yet another argument broke out, and slander, fraud and violence were mutually used to produce an outcome. Isis foiled an attack by Seth against Horus, and Horus tried to deceive Seth in a duel in which he seriously wounded Seth. Still no decision could be made, so the court called Neith again, but Neith could not help.

Finally, Thoth suggested turning to Osiris about a final judgment, who spoke in favor of his son. Osiris scolded the gods for the length of the judgment and for treating Horus so badly. Osiris claimed that he was the god of vegetation and that the other gods owed him thanks for grain and cattle, for no other god except himself had performed such services. This remark made Re-Harachte angry and he replied to Osiris that there would be grain even without him. With his answer Osiris ended the dispute and established the balance of power for the God of the living and the dead. He praised the supreme god of the Ninth and pleaded that Maat had been disregarded. He did not express his real threat that "messengers with the wild faces" would be available to him: These messengers could take the heart of every god or mortal who has done evil. In addition, it was destined that every being would come to the West, the land of the dead. And there everyone is subject to the judgment of Osiris, who is ultimately lord over all. This threat did not remain ineffective: The verdict was hastily passed in favor of Horus, and Seth was brought before the gods in chains. After intercession, Re-Harachte took him as “son of Nut and his son” so that “Seth may henceforth live with him, thunder in heaven and be feared”. Horus took over his inheritance, received the title "Horus, Lord of Both Lands" and became ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt.

In Greek mythology, Horus is equated to the god Apollo by Interpretatio Graeca .

The eye of Horus

Eye of Horus bw.svg

In one version of the myth The Controversy of Horus and Seth , Seth stabs Horus in both eyes (see above), in another version, however, Horus only lost his left eye, the so-called moon eye, in the fight against Seth. This is called the "Horus eye", also called the " Udjat eye ". It is the whole or healthy eye . In both versions of the myth, however, Horus regains his eyesight by Thoth healing the eye.

Signet from EgyptAir with Horus


A connection to Horus is also very popular in today's Egypt, probably also due to the Muslim Arabs' appreciation for hunting falcons . The national airline Egypt Air has Horus as its signet and logo, business class was previously called Horus Class . Ships sailing on the Nile have applied the Eye of Horus to the bow on both sides to avert misfortune.

See also


Web links

Commons : Horus  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. Christian Leitz u. a .: LGG. Leuven 2002, p. 233.
  2. a b Rolf Felde: Egyptian gods. Wiesbaden 1995, p. 25.
  3. Ursula Kampmann: The coins of the Roman Empire. 1st edition, Battenberg 2004, Munich / Gietl, Regenstauf 2004, ISBN 3-89441-549-5 , p. 215 No. 50.38.
  4. W. Helck, E. Otto: Kl. Lexikon der Ägyptologie. Wiesbaden 1999, p. 127.
  5. Veronica Ions: The gods and myths of Egypt. Klagenfurt 1988, p. 66.
  6. Veronica Ions: The gods and myths of Egypt. Klagenfurt 1988, p. 67.
  7. Manfred Lurker: Lexicon of the gods and symbols of the ancient Egyptians. Bern u. a. 1998, p. 101.
  8. Hermann A. Schlögl: Akhenaten, Tutankhamun. Facts and texts. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1983, ISBN 3-447-02337-6 , p. 129.
  9. Rolf Felde: Egyptian gods. Wiesbaden 1995, p. 26.
  10. The complete myth in translation and with explanations can be found in: Günther Roeder: Ägyptische Mythen und Legenden. Zurich 1960; as well as in the four-volume series The Egyptian Religion in Texts and Pictures (= library of the ancient world. ). Artemis-Verlag, Zurich 1959–1961; and by Veronica Ions: The Gods and Myths of Egypt. Klagenfurt 1988.