The section of lecture describing the Narmer Palette brought to my attention the recurring appearance of the Egyptian god, Horus. Considering the topic this week has been state formation, it was interesting to me that this symbol seemed to be a relatively constant find. The readings then continued my interest, adding to the mystery by mentioning that the origin of the Horus name has not been identified as coming from one particular location. Although this phenomena is explained as a result of competing regional polities and the exchange of religious beliefs, I decided to research the concept of Horus a little more.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Horus is a god represented by a falcon. The eyes of Horus symbolized different things, for the god’s right eye is the sun – representing power – and the left eye a moon, representing healing. Throughout the class material it had been discussed that the power that Horus represented seemed to be the most prevalent concept and desired by the many rulers of the time. I never would have surmised that the falcon god could symbolize healing as well. The concept of the falcon god appeared under many names at first, and many falcon cults existed since predynastic times.
The University of Texas website provides an example of the Egyptian story of creation, the story of Osiris, Isis and Horus, which explains why Horus is the representation of power. The sky god and the earth god had four children: Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys. Osiris was the eldest and became the king of Egypt. Set was jealous of Osiris and killed him so that he could become king, but Nepthys resurrected him long enough for him to have a son, Horus. Ultimately, Set and Horus fought over who was the rightful king, with Osiris deciding that his son was the rightful heir and that no one should acquire the throne through an act of murder. What I find most interesting about this story is that while Horus is favored by the gods for never having killed anyone like Set had, artifacts such as the Narmer Palette depict a ruler and Horus, along with the vanquishing of enemies to emphasize that power. Of course there are many interpretations and angles to study, and it would be unlikely for a ruler to stay in control without the use of force, but for the purpose of studying the symbolism of Horus it is an interesting thing to consider.
Horus (Egyptian god). (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/272528/Horus
Kohler, E. C. Theories of State Formation. In (pp. 38-50).
The Story of Osiris, Isis and Horus: The Egyptian Myth of Creation. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from http://www.laits.utexas.edu/cairo/teachers/osiris.pdf