HORUS (Egyptian Hor), the name of an Egyptian god, if not of several distinct gods. To all forms of Horus the falcon was sacred; the name Hor, written with a standing figure of that bird, Vis. is connected with a root signifying "upper," and probably means " the high-flyer." The tame sacred falcon on its perch J5* is the commonest symbol of divinity in early hieroglyphic writing; the commonest title of the king in the earliest dynasties, and his first title later, was that which named him Horus. Hawk gods were the presiding deities of Poi (Pe) and Nekhen, which had been the royal quarters in the capitals of the two primeval kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt, at Buto and opposite El Kab. A principal festival in very early times was the " worship of Horus," and the kings of the prehistoric dynasties were afterwards called " the worshippers of Horus." The Northern Kingdom in particular was under the patronage of Horus. He was a solar divinity, but appears very early in the Osiris cycle of deities, a son of Isis and probably of Osiris, and opponent of Seth. On monuments of the Middle Kingdom or somewhat later we find besides Hor the following special forms: Har-behtet, i.e. Hor of Beht, the winged solar disk, god of Edfu (Apollinopolis Magna); Har-khentekthai, god of Athribis; Har-mesen (whose principal sacred animal was a lion), god of the Sethroite (?) nome; Har-khentemna, i.e. the blind (?) Horus (with a shrew-mouse) at Letopolis; Har-mert (" of two eyes ") at Pharbaethus; Har-akht, Ra-har-akht, or Har-m-akhi (Harmakhis, " Hor of the horizon "), the sun-god of Heliopolis.
As a sun-god Horus not only worsted the hostile darkness and avenged his father, but also daily renewed himself. He was thus identical with his own father from one point of view. In the mythology, especially that of the New Kingdom, or of quite late times, we find the following standing epithets applied to more or less distinct forms or phases: Harendotes (Har-ent-yotf), i.e. " Hor, avenger of his father (Osiris) "; Harpokhrates (Har-p-khrat) , i.e. " Hor the child," with finger in mouth, sometimes seated on a lotus-flower; Harsiesis (Har-si-Esi) , i.e. " Hor, son of Isis," as a child; Har-en-khebi, " Hor in Chemmis," a child nursed by Isis in the papyrus marshes; Haroeris (Har-uer), i.e. " the elder Hor," at Ombos, etc., humanheaded or falcon-headed; Harsemteus (Har-sem-teu) , i.e. " Hor, uniter of the two lands," and others.
In the judgment scene Horus introduces the deceased to Osiris. To the Greeks Horus was equivalent to Apollo, but in the name of Hermopolis Parva (see DAMANHUR), which must have been among the first of the Egyptian cities to be known to them, he was apparently identified with Hermes. Although the falcon was the bird most properly sacred to Horus, not only its varieties, but also* the sparrow-hawk, kestrel and other small hawks were mummified in his honour in late times.
See Egypt: section Religion; Meyer, art. " Horos " in Roscher, Lexicon der Griech. und Rom. Mythologie. (F. LL. G.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)