Horus is one of the prominent and most influential gods in the ancient Egyptian mythology and the hero of several myths. The priests of Ra placed Horus in the Ennead as the son of Isis and Osiris and he is known as the younger Horus. He played a great role in taking his revenge from his malicious uncle Seth and this qualified him to be the heir of Ra.
The Forms of God Horus
Due to the numerous myths about Horus, some of which may contradict the others, he appears in the wall paintings of the temples in several forms. There are about 15 different forms of Horus and each one represents him in a certain phase of his life or in a certain area in Egypt. Of special interest of these forms are: Horus the Younger, Horus the Elder, Horus the Child, and Ra-Herakhty. Horus the Child was presented as a child wearing the side-lock of a youth and putting his finger in his mouth. Other paintings portray him doing heroic actions such as fighting the crocodiles and scepters as a symbol for holding power. Horus is described in the Coffin Texts as the son of Isis and Osiris and it is mentioned that he was associated with Ra as Ra-Herakhty and became the chief god whose power surpassed the one of Ra himself because of the support of his mother. In the Book of the Gates, Horus was presented as the creator of the black people who were living the land that lies beyond the fertile Black Land on the shores of the Nile and he was responsible for protecting those people in their after life. He was also regarded as the god of the dead because he was some times taking the place of his father in the court of the underworld. Horus was in charge of certain tasks in the underworld exactly like Anubis and Thuth such as holding the hands of the newly dead souls in the first trial before standing in the court of Osiris, like what he did with his father in his journey of revival.
He is depicted some times opening the mouth of the dead person to explain that he was responsible for presenting the souls that passed the trial to Osiris the Chief god of the underworld. Horus was also regarded as the protector of the king since the Heliopolitan mythology indicates that the king amalgamates with Horus during his life time and this gives him the power of a god in his first life, and when the king dies he takes the shape of Osiris.
Ra-Herakhty was the most important form of Horus that he appeared in during his battle against Seth. It was his form as the sun god and the heir of Ra and it was shaped as a winged disk. One of the myths says that after Horus defeat of his uncle he took his assistants and soldiers to commemorate the victory nearby the shore of Edfu. At that time Ra rewarded Horus by ordering the priests to put the winged disk on the doors of the temples and tombs as a sing of being protected by the power of Horus in the underworld. Moreover, Edfu was regarded as the center of the worship of Ra-Herakhty until the Ptolemaic Rule and there is also a great temple that was established for the celebration of the marriage of Horus and Hathor.
The Birth of Horus
There are many myths about Horus and his form when he was born. Some of these myths say that he was born as a normal human being and his mother hid him in an island in Lower Egypt and made the goddess Uazet take care of him until he grew up and avenged from his uncle. Other myths say that Horus was unusual since the moment of his life, and that Isis felt that the baby in her womb is a falcon and told Atum about that to dedicate a place for him in the solar boat and when he was born he took his way as a god and occupied his place among the other gods around Ra.
The Battle Between Horus and Seth
The myth is one of the longest and most interesting myths in the ancient Egyptian mythology. At the beginning it was a battle for taking revenge and then it became a struggle for power. Of special interest of this story is the contradiction between civilization that appears clearly in the character of Horus and savageness that appears clearly in the character of Seth. There are two completely different versions for the myth. One of these versions is narrated, as an epic, in a heroic tone and deals with serious action such as battles and supernatural power and so. The other one is narrated in a highly cynical way that ridicules the heroic action of the heroes and presents the event as just a mild altercation between the gods and goddesses. These different versions are used as a means for raising different public opinions and attitudes towards the heroes of the myth and making it difficult to differentiate between the criminal and the innocent. Of special interest in these versions is that they present the gods as natural human beings not as ideal creatures.
The Epic Version of the Struggle Between Horus and Seth
When Horus matured he was amalgamated with the sun god and became known as Ra-Herakhty and took his place among the other gods and goddesses. At that time, he was ready to take his father's revenge from the red god Seth. The war between Horus and Seth lasted for several decades but like all the ancient Egyptian myths, it ends happily where justice be done and good defeats evil and order replaces disorder all over the world.
The First Battle Between Horus and Seth
In the first confrontation between Horus and his enemy, Ra provided him with a great army and Thuth made him appear as a winged solar disk that can fly over the army of Seth and curse them. The victory in that battle was for Horus who used his magical power and uttered a curse that made all the soldiers of Seth go blind and deaf and kill each other thinking that they are fighting Horus enemy. Few hours later Seth's army defeated itself but Seth was not among this group of soldiers. Horus looked for his enemy and there were other encounters between the two belligerent parties, some of which in the water where the soldiers of Horus took the form of crocodiles and hippopotamuses and they also achieved victory. During the fight, Horus killed one of the combatants by mistake thinking that he was Seth and cut his body into 14 pieces as Seth did with his father. But after the battle he discovered that Seth managed to escape. This battle ended with Horus victory and the celebration of this occasion took place in Edfu and Ra ordered the priests to put the symbol of Ra- Herakhty on the doors of the temples and tombs as a sign for being protected by the power of that god.
The Second Battle Between Horus and His Uncle, Seth
It took place many years later and horus was stronger. It was a single battle in which Seth appeared as a red hippopotamus while Horus's form was the same as the previous battle and his boat was gracefully ornamented with gold. They clashed in Phiala Island or Elephantine Island in Aswan and the fight lasted for three days. Seth used his strong sound to make storm, thunder and waves to make it difficult for horus ship to float. During the battle Seth disguised as a pig and approached to horus and managed to wrestle his left eye. horus managed to get his eye back and beat him severely in reprisal for that injury. Horus managed to capture Seth in a certain point of the fight and asked his mother to watch him but Seth managed to deceive and escape. As a result the battle continued and each of them was using his own weapons to destroy the other one. After long and fierce confrontations, horus managed to kill his uncle with
The Trial Version of the Struggle Between Horus and Seth
The gods and goddesses of Heliopolis decided to hold a trial to put an end for that conflict between Horus and Seth and determine which one of them deserves to be the successor of Osiris. The chief of this trial was Atum Ra and the court was involving a number of gods and goddesses. Shu and other gods agreed that Horus is the one who deserves to be the heir of his father, while Atum-Ra rejected that opinion and the real motive for his stance was his fear from Seth. As a result they decided to consult the wise goddess Neith to say her opinion in that case. The wise goddess said that the post of Osiris should be occupied by his son and to pleas Seth and to avoid his anger, they should give him a couple of goddesses to please him. The court agreed with the opinion of Neith, while the chief refused and this enraged them against him to the extent that one of them insulted him. Atum-Ra left the courtroom angry and upset, but his daughter Hathor reconciled him and made him laugh. Atum-Ra decreed that the case of Horus and Seth would be debated in an open court and according to the request of Seth from the chief, Isis and any other woman were prevented from coming to the island where the trial would be held.
Role of Goddess Isis in The Trial
Isis insisted on attending the trial to support her son and used her magical power to do that. She disguised as an old woman who wants to go to the island to give her hungry child some milk and when the ferryman refused she bribed him with a gold ring and he accepted at the end. On the island, Isis appeared as a handsome and attractive maiden and deceived Seth who was haunted by her beauty and was ready to do any thing she wants to please her. She made up a story that looks like her own story saying that she is the widow of a shepherd who left some shepherds to her son from him. She asked him to help her find a person to protect the shepherds with her son because there is a vicious person threatened her son saying that he would beat him and take the shepherds of his father. At that time Seth uttered a sentence that exactly put an end for the case and highlight the one who really deserve to inherit the throne of Osiris. Seth replied, what makes a person ask a stranger to take care of the fortune of the father while the son is still alive and able to protect his own wealth. This is the true judgment: what makes the stranger Seth ascends the throne of Osiris while his son Horus is alive and able to assume power.
She changed her shape form a maiden to a vulture and told Seth that he judged fairly on himself and was ridiculed by a trivial maiden which makes him unworthy to set on the throne. The court and Atum-Ra agreed that Seth was tricked and accepted the judgment that he made by himself and decided to give the throne for Horus. At the same time, Anty, the ferryman who allowed Isis to come to the island, was punished by cutting his legs. In general The role of Isis in the battle of Horus and Seth is very contradictory since she takes some decisions that help her enemy Seth to achieve victory over her son. This appears clearly when Horus captured Seth and asked her to watch him till his return and then she sat Seth free and also in the situation of the harpoon. Her behavior in these situations may be foolish and Horus' reaction might by acceptable since it was the reason for the increase of his suffers every time but she is still worth mercy. The reason for this strange attitude of Isis is her point of weakness which is her inability to kill or harm her own brother and her own flesh and blood in spite of all the pain he caused for her.
More Battles between Horus and Seth
When Seth felt that he is about to lose he contended against Horus in another battle. They both appeared as hippopotamuses and the one who succeeds in staying under the surface of water for 3 months without breathing is the winner. Isis interfered again in this battle made a lethal harpoon to use it for killing Seth under the water. When she threw the harpoon she severely injured both her son and his enemy. Horus begged her to save him quickly from that pain and she did. The thing that enraged Horus to the extent that he cut his mother's head is that when Seth plead for her assistance and said that she should help her brother, her flesh and blood she saved him although his death would put an end for her son's suffer. Seth and Horus announced a truce claiming that they would try to solve their problem by themselves. During that period, Seth was plotting against his nephew to accuse him of homosexuality and this would make the court deprive him from being the heir of his father. This vicious plot was aborted by the help of Thuth and the truce was violated. After that Seth challenged Horus in another battle in which they both of them should use boats of stone.
The genius Horus managed to make a boat of cedar and painted with gypsum which makes the boat has the appearance of a ship made of stone and then put it to sea. At that time Seth thought that the stone ship can really sail, but when he made his own boat it sank and he lost that battle. The court decided to put an end for this struggle that had been discussed for more than 8 years. The final judgment was pinpointed when Osiris himself interfered and discussed the matter with Atum-Ra and assured that his son Horus deserves to be his successor. The court agreed with him and Horus finally assumed power and became the lord of the West land and the East land after his father and he wore the crown in the court. To avoid the destruction that may be made by Seth, the court decided to reward him with something and thus he had had a place in the solar boat of Atum-Ra as the god of thunder and one of the protectors of the sun god.
The Worship of Horus
Horus was worshiped in various places through out Egypt and was portrayed in several forms. In the temple of Abu Simbel and Ramsses II he is portrayed as a falcon which is used as a symbol for the sun god with the baboon. Similarly, he was presented in Edfu as a falcon and there was a temple for his worship that dates back to the Ptolemaic Rule. There are many small statues of black granite depicting him as a falcon all over Egypt. On the other hand, in Luxor Horus was usually depicted as a normal human being with a hawk on his head.
Horus was the son of Osiris and Isis. He was the Falcon god and the 'Living God,' (the King) on earth. This amulet would have offered the wearer protection from the bad god Seth who killed his brother Osiris. Seth also symbolized chaos and disorder, which Egyptians wanted to avoid!
Wedjat, The Eye of Horus
Amulets were buried with the mummy usually in and around the mummy bandages. These amulets would protect the mummy after death. The eye of Horus (or 'wedjat eye') was a famous amulet which was used as a symbol of protection from evil. Magic was so relevant that healing amulets played an important role in treatments, especially one called the eye of Horus (figure1). An Egyptian legend said that there had been a fight between Seth and Horus because Seth had killed Horus´ father (Osiris). In this combat Seth had damaged Horus´ eyes. But the wise god Toth healed Horus´ eyes and then he used one of the cured eyes to revive Osiris. Since that time the eye of Horus became a powerful healing amulet. So important was its influence over the time that even today the symbol which is at the beginning of our medical prescriptions (Rap) (figure 2) takes after the shape of the eye of Horus. Egyptian doctors described what we currently known as “medical semiology”, since to them an organized physical examination were central for medical work. They used as we do medical maneuvers such as inspection, palpation and auscultation inorder to obtain information from the patient´s body.
Although, they did not conceive our current concepts of disease, they used the concept of syndromes, i.e. a group of signs and symptoms that delineate a recognizable pattern. They also identified some signs as markers of severe physical compromise, such as truisms, neck stiffness, weak pulse, etc. Since they had understood the central role of some organs such as the heart and the kidney, in the mummification process they did not remove these organs which they considered vital for re-incarnation. Because these organs were considered so vital, if they were damaged before mummification or during this procedure they had to be replaced by a beetle-shaped amulet. Since this object was supposed to replace magically the absent organ we can consider this as the first attempt “to replace a vital human organ by an artificial device”. One of the most widely worn protective amulets was the wedjat eye: the restored eye of Horus. It was worn by the living, and often appeared on rings and as an element of necklaces. It was also placed on the body of the deceased during the mummificationprocess to protect the incision through which the internal organs were removed. Several of the spells in the Book of the Dead were intended to be spoken over specific amulets, which were then placed in particular places on the body of the deceased.