Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
Page: 43Another important form of Horus was that known as Horus, son of Isis, and of Osiris. He represented the rising sun, as did several other forms of Horus, and possessed many aspects or variants. His shrines[Pg 95] were so numerous that at one epoch or another he was identified with all the other Horus-gods, but he chiefly represented the new sun, born daily, and he was son and successor of Osiris. He was extremely popular, as being a well-marked type of resurrection after death. As Osiris represented 'yesterday,' so Horus, his son, stood for 'to-day' in the Egyptian mind. Although some texts state that Osiris was his father, others claim this position for Ra, but the two in this instance are really one and the same and interchangeable.
Osiris became the father of Horus after he was dead; such is the origin of several sun-heroes. As has been said, the birth of such is usually peculiar and obscure. Isis, while tending the infant Horus and in fear of the persecutions of Set, took shelter in the swamps of the Delta, and hid herself and her child amidst a dense mass of papyrus plants. To the Egyptian of the Delta it would of course seem as if the sun took its rise from amidst the papyrus-covered swamps which stretched on every side to the horizon, so we may regard this part of the myth as allegory pure and simple. The circumstances of the escape of Isis from Set have already been detailed in the myth of Osiris.
The filial respect which Horus displayed for the memory of his father Osiris won him much honour from the Egyptians. He it was who fixed the details of the god's mummification, and who set the standard for the pious Egyptian son. In this respect he was regarded as a helper of the dead, and was thought to mediate between them and the judges of the Taut. In his work of caring for the deceased he had a number of helpers, known as the followers of Horus, who were regarded as gods of the cardinal points. They are given positions of great importance in the Book of the Dead, and shared the protection of the body[Pg 96] of the deceased, as has been mentioned in the paragraph concerning the mummy. They were four in number and were named Hapi, Tuamutef, Amset, and Qebhsennuf.
Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, was regarded as of such importance that he absorbed the attributes of all the other Horus-gods, but in certain texts he is represented as a child, with forefinger to lip, and wearing the lock of hair at the side of the head which indicates youth. In later times he was figured in a great many different fanciful forms.
Ra, Set, and Horus are concerned in an Egyptian myth which attempts an explanation of eclipses of the sun and moon. Set and Horus were bitter enemies, yet Set did not dare to enter the fray openly, for he feared Horus as evil must ever fear good. So he devised subtle and underhand schemes whereby he might compass the fall of Horus, and this is how the matter fell out.