Set and Horus (Part Two)

Horus in the form of a falcon


 Horus is one of the most important gods in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. When dead, a pharaoh is identified with Osiris, when alive the pharaoh is identified with Horus, the falcon-headed son of Osiris. Horus is also one of the oldest gods, and though it is not certain when the Egyptians began to worship him, it is belived that the falcons depicted on the Narmer Palette (31st century B.C.) were a depiction of him. Originally Horus was associated with the sky, but in the ‘Pyramid Texts’ he was already described as the sun-god, and in the New KIngdom it was believed that the great sphinx of Giza was actually a statue of Horus. However, today he is best known as the son of Isis and Osiris, and the rightful heir to the throne of Egypt. He was born in the Delta, where Isis hid him from his uncle Seth until he was old enough to claim his throne. The origin of this myth is unknown and it is entirely possible that originally it was about a different god that was later fused with Horus (which shows that there are many gods and goddesses that we don’t even know about). 

Horus was originally depicted as a falcon, sometimes together with the Set-animal indicating the strong association that existed between the two, though he could also be depicted as a falcon-headed crocodile. As the son of Isis and Osiris, Horus is depicted as a man-child or as a human  adult, though many times he is depicted as a man with the head of a falcon. There are many cult sites that were associated with Horus, and more often than not, he was worshiped along with other gods and goddesses. In Southern Egypt, for example, he was worshiped along with his wife Hathor and their son Harsomptus (obviously here Horus was not the Horus from the Isis and Osiris myths). 

 Horus was closely linked to the kingship and this was mostly because of the stories and legends of how he succeeded after a long time to get the throne back from his uncle Seth. These stories involved trials. Yes, trials, just like nowadays, with Horus and his mother as the plaintiffs and Seth as the defendant, the judge was Ra (in one form or another) and the jury were the other gods and goddesses. Most of them had had enough of this and didn’t care who got the throne. Of course both sides used trickery in order to try to get the throne, though only Seth was shown as the villan because he used trickery in order to remain the king. Eventually Isis succeeded in convincing Ra and the others that the throne was Horus’s by right of birth and Horus was finally acknowledged as the king of Egypt. Seth was sent into the Netherworld where his new job was to protect the boat of Ra from his worst enemy, Apophis. 

Horus can travel both Egypt and the Netherworld and is shown on numerous occasions helping the deceased find their way to the ‘Field of Reeds’, as is depicted in the picture below. 

Horus leading the scribe Ani in the Netherworld (from the Book of the Dead, 19th Dynasty)