Who was the Egyptian god Horus? – Gods of Ancient Egypt

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Good luck charm of the eye of the god Horus (Old Kingdom, ca. 2000 BC)

Good luck charm of the eye of the god Horus (Old Kingdom, ca. 2000 BC)

Horus was the son of Re

Horus was an Egyptian god, originally from Upper Egypt (Southern Egypt). In the Old Kingdom, people thought of Horus as having the head of a falcon, and his name means “falcon” in Egyptian.

The Pharaoh was the human form of Horus, and then when he died, the dead Pharaoh was the human form of Osiris.

(More about the Egyptian Pharaoh)

More generally, Horus was a sky god,the son of the sun god, Ra. He was the god of war and the god of protection against evil. A lot of people carried good luck charms in the shape of the eye of Horus, to watch out for their safety.

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut worships falcon-headed Horus (Temple of Amon, ca. 1500 BC)

The Pharaoh Hatshepsut worships falcon-headed Horus (Temple of Amon, ca. 1500 BC)

Or was he the son of Isis and Osiris?

But all that gradually changed with the Middle Kingdom.

Now people thought of Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris. Horus was born when Isis brought Osiris back to life after Seth killed him.

(More about Isis and Osiris)

So Horus became a god of new life and rebirth, like the Greek Persephone or Dionysos, or the West Asian Attis or Tammuz, or the Christian Jesus.

Horus and canopic jars

Canopic Jars from Egypt(Vatican Museum, Rome)

Canopic Jars from Egypt (Vatican Museum, Rome)

In some stories, Horus also had sons of his own. Their mother was usually the same as his own mother, Isis. Mostly what Horus’ four sons did was to protect the internal organs of mummies, just as Horus himself protected living people.

(More about canopic jars)

Did you find out what you wanted to know about the god Horus? Let us know in the comments!

Learn by doing: Egyptian afterlife project
More about ancient Egyptian gods

Bibliography and further reading about the god Horus and the Egyptian gods:

Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, by Leonard Fisher (1999). For younger kids.

Isis and Osiris, by Geraldine Harris (1997). A retelling of the story for kids.

The Egypt Game (Yearling Newbery), by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (reprinted 1985). A great kids’ story about kids who pretend to be Egyptian gods and goddesses.

Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice, by John Baines, David Silverman, and Leonard Lesko (1991). Pretty hard going, but it will tell you everything you need to know about Egyptian religion.

Isis in the Ancient World, by R.E. Witt (1997). Mostly about the spread of Isis worship to Greece and the Roman Empire.

More about the Egyptian gods
More about ancient Egypt
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By |2018-06-10T23:26:34+00:00June 18th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Religion|2 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Who was the Egyptian god Horus? – Gods of Ancient Egypt. Quatr.us Study Guides, June 18, 2017. Web. October 22, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

2 Comments

  1. garret June 10, 2018 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    it’s RA, not Re.

    • Karen Carr June 10, 2018 at 11:27 pm

      Re is another way to spell Ra, but I usually do use Ra on this site, so thanks for the correction!

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