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Horus

The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God Who Was the Son of Isis and Osiris
Narrated by: Dan Gallagher
Length: 1 hr and 46 mins
Categories: History, Ancient
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

There are few characters in Egyptian myth whose image and name are more widely known than Horus. His name most probably means “The Distant One”; as the celestial falcon, his wings were believed to span the length of the distant sky, and his eyes were the sun and the moon. This name betrays the connection Horus shared with Re, the “all-powerful” sun god, and also hints at his earlier incarnation as one of the earliest celestial gods in Egyptian religious belief.  

One of the earliest images from ancient Egypt is that of a falcon residing in the famous “sun barque” of Re, which the ancient Egyptians believed traversed the sky during the day and crossed the dangerous land of the dead during the night. Horus’ place in the sun barque probably represents Horus as a "[S]tar or planet crossing the Winding Waterway of the sky”, since the ancient Egyptians were famous for their complex astronomical system that incorporated many mythical elements, but his position there is much more than being just another of the sun god’s divine entourage. Horus’ mythological lineage places him as the direct descendant of the Ennead, the nine gods and goddesses who were formed from the earlier abstract concepts in the primordial waters of “Nun”. This places him at an interesting crossroads in terms of his relationships with the greater pantheon. Not being one of the Ennead weakens Horus’ claim to the divine right of kingship, in contrast to Seth, his uncle, who could claim primacy as one of the Ennead himself. The result of this contention made for a fascinating power struggle and a myth that would have real-world ramifications throughout the vast expanse of Egyptian history.

Horus would eventually ascend the throne of his father, Osiris, and for this reason he held a deep connection with the throne of united Egypt. The earliest kings were shown as hawks (long considered part of the “Falconidae family”) preying on their enemies, the reason for which lies in the mythological foundation of Horus’ life and also in the real world understanding of the “history” of the royal line of kings. 

Integral to Horus’ myths is the notion of royal inheritance. Born of the murdered god Osiris and the magical goddess Isis, Horus’ - the younger, at least - life was defined by his establishment of the royal line of Egyptian kings. To the modern Western reader, this notion of gods being mortal and inheriting the power of their fathers may seem a little strange, but, to the ancient Egyptians, stories about feuding mortal deities were par for the rather strange course, and an understanding of the nuances of Egyptian religious belief can go some way toward dispelling that confusion. 

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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