Horus is one of the most famous Egyptian gods. In fact, he was the first national god that all of Egypt worshiped. He is the falcon god, and he was worshiped for more than 5,000 years. Mention of him goes as far back as the late pre-dynastic period through to Roman times. The name “Horus” became the universal name for several different gods who people associated with falcons.

What Does He Look Like? 

Often, Horus is depicted as a man of royalty, one featuring the head of a falcon or sometimes a hawk. The Egyptian god frequently holds an ankh and a scepter, and when he has a red and white crown, the two colors represent the unity between lower Egypt and upper Egypt. Some sculptures show Horus with a hawk’s head and a lion’s body. He has even shown up as the sphinx. The name “Horus” is defined as “the one far above,” revealing that the people considered him above the other Egyptian gods. He has also been called the Sun God, God of the Dawn, Son of Truth and War God. The many names and forms of Horus have made it tough for Egyptologists to identify Egypt’s true falcon god.

Ra’s Son and a Creator 

Horus the Elder is the first known form of Horus. The initial signs of the god are from pre-dynastic upper Egypt. It is likely that neighboring tribes brought tales of Horus with them to Egypt. The Egyptians were quick to adopt him into their mythology. They named him the son of Ra as well as a creator god. The legends say that he chose the form of a falcon and took to the skies at the beginning of time, participating in the creation.

Horus is also known as Horus of Two Eyes. The god’s left eye represents the sun while his right eye represents the moon. Since Horus harnessed the power of the sun and the healing elements of the moon, he ruled the day and the night. Early on, the Egyptians thought that he was the brother of Seth, or Set, and Osiris, but over time, the people started to combine Horus and Ra into one god called Ra-Harakhte.

The Offspring of Osiris 

Around 2350 BCE, Egyptians believed that Horus was the offspring of Osiris and Isis. Referred to as Harsiesis, or Horus the Younger, this Horus was born as their son. During this time, Osiris was known as a god of prosperity and peace while Seth, who was thought to be Osiris’s younger brother, became jealous and attempted to destroy Osiris by trapping and drowning him. Seth then scattered parts of Osiris’s body all over the world. Isis gathered his body together. She and Anubis performed the first Egyptian embalming to ready him for the afterlife. Using magic, they brought Osiris back to life, and she became pregnant with Horus.

Bitter Enemies 

The first dynasty dates from c. 2925 to 2775 BCE, and at this time, the Egyptians believed that Horus and Seth were bitter enemies. It was thought that the two gods were in a battle over who would rule the world. Horus was favored among the other gods, causing Seth to become jealous and develop feelings of hatred toward Horus. Egyptian mythology shares numerous tales about the fights between Seth and Horus. Egyptians saw these battle tales as signs of hope because they were living during a time of invading occupiers and frequent rebellions. Horus defeating Seth was a powerful symbol to them.

One story tells how Horus and Seth transformed themselves into hippopotamuses to battle one another in the Nile River. Pharaohs took advantage of this story by arming themselves with a spear and reenacting the battle with a hippo to show the people how powerful they were.

The Protector of Pharaohs 

The Egyptians saw Horus as the protector of their pharaohs. Since he was a god that all of Egypt worshiped, leaders would use his name to unify the people. When the god was shown with a pharaoh, he was usually depicted as a hawk perched on the pharaoh’s shoulder with his wings spread protectively around the Egyptian leader’s head. Because the early Egyptians believed that Horus was the ruler of the Earth, pharaohs thought that they were the god in human form.

Cults and Temples 

Cults began to associate themselves with Horus during the late pre-dynastic times. While cults were a common thing for the Egyptian gods, many of them focused their attention on certain local gods. Horus was well-known throughout Egypt with numerous monuments, coffin texts and temple remains displaying his name or image.

The Eye of Horus 

The Eye of Horus was considered a powerful symbol, and it was frequently turned into an amulet. Egyptians wore it for protection, wisdom and prosperity. Legend holds that a battle between Horus and Set resulted in Horus’s left eye being ripped out of its socket. Thoth, the creator god, restored Horus’s eye. After the eye was restored, it was given the name “Wadjet,” which means whole one. The Eye of Horus was also called the Eye of Ra. When it was known as the Eye of Ra, it was considered a powerfully destructive force that was connected to the intense heat of the sun. In Greco-Roman temples, there are many portrayals of Horus’s eye being restored.

Facts About Horus 

1. Egyptians often painted the Eye of Horus on boats because they thought it would protect them from storms and shipwrecks.
2. The Eye of Horus was used to measure pigments and medicines.
3. It was thought that Horus moved from one pharaoh’s body to the next.
4. The most famous tribute to Horus is the Temple of Edfu.

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