Horus was one of the most important gods in ancient Egypt, and like all gods, the Greeks sought to determine which of their gods he was.
The Greek equivalent of Horus the Egyptian god is Apollo, the god of sun, music, and plagues. The connection between the two deities was recognized by the Greeks when the two cultures came into contact during the time of Alexander the Great.
The Greeks preserved the knowledge of the ancient world in the library of Alexandria, which they built in Egypt. They believed that the gods of all the various cultures they came in contact with were their own gods, but known by different names. Their system of matching the gods of other cultures with their own was called Interpretatio graeca.
Apollo is the Greek God of the Sun, Music, and Plagues
During ancient Greece Apollo was one of the most beloved and widely worshipped of the gods. He is reason, harmony and beauty personified.
Temples were built for him in Delos where he was born, and also in Delphi, one of the most important spiritual centers in ancient Greece. He is the most physically beautiful of the gods, as well as charming, and a brilliant warrior and musician.
Apollo’s parents were Zeus and Leto, and he had a twin sister named Artemis. He was born on the secluded island of Delos to avoid Zeus’s wife Hera from knowing he existed. After drinking Ambrosia he transformed from a child into an adult, and then received his bow, which was made by Hephaestus, the master craftsmen and god of forges.
Apollo was involved in the Trojan War, protecting the Trojans with divine intervention. He also brought plaque on the enemy, which is a special ability of Apollo’s and part of his dark side. During the Trojan war he guided the arrow that killed Achilles by hitting his only vulnerable place, his heel.
Apollo is well-known for playing his lyre, a popular instrument in ancient Greece. He received the instrument from Hermes as a gift, after Hermes mischievously stole Apollo’s cattle. His status as the greatest musician in Olympus was challenged on several occasions, with Apollo winning each time. In one occasion, after being challenged by a mortal, he had the man flayed alive, nailing the man’s skin to a tree. You can read more about Apollo here.
Horus the Egyptian Sky God, the Divine Child, and King of Egypt
Horus is portrayed as having the head of a Falcon in Egyptian mythology, and represents the divine child. He is the son of Osiris and Isis, who represent the divine masculine and feminine. Together, the three of them represent the holy family triad.
In Egyptian mythology the falcon represents the heavens. In nature, the falcon soars high in the air, perusing the ground for prey with its incredible eyesight. The eyes of the Falcon, as well as the eyes of Horus, represent the sun and the moon.
The popular symbol the Eye of Horus comes from Horus’s battle with his uncle Seth. Seth tore out the eye, which was then recovered and restored. It became the legendary hieroglyphic shape, which not only resembles the eye of a falcon, but bears incredible resemblance to the human brain.
Horus was also the king of Egypt, after defeating his uncle in battle to reclaim the throne that his father had had. Horus was therefore associated with kingship, and the kings of Egypt were believed to be descendants of Horus.
Above his falcon head, Horus wears a crown with a cobra. It is a protective symbol that represents royalty. The later kings of Egypt would also wear the symbol on their forehead.
In Greek, the name Horus means “he who is above” and “he who is distant”. It is reference to Horus as the falcon, soaring high above the earth, as well as the celestial connection between the kings of Egypt and the gods. You can read more about Horus here.
The Egyptian Influence on Greece
The great civilization of Egypt went into decline several hundred years before the beginning of ancient Greece, however there was a lot of interaction between the two societies, with Egypt largely influencing Greece. In particular, the two cultures came into contact with each other when Alexander the Great led his Greek army to conquer Egypt.
Alexander the Great was born in 356 BC, and spent his life leading military campaigns throughout Africa and Asia, creating a massive empire. They arrived in Egypt in 332 BC, at a time when Egypt was under control of the Persian Empire. Alexander and his soldiers were regarded as liberators by the Egyptians, as they respected the Egyptians and their culture. He established the city of Alexandria in Egypt, and instated a Greek government to manage Egypt. The legendary Library of Alexandria was created, which preserved the knowledge of the ancient world. Aristocratic Greeks were placed in powerful positions within Egyptian society.
After the death of Alexander, one of his generals named Ptolomy, claimed Egypt as his own kingdom. His dynasty lasted until 32 BC, when the Romans conquered Egypt.
During ancient Greece, especially as they expanded into new cultures, the Greeks would equate foreign deities with their own. They believed that the gods of the cultures in which they were conquering were the same as their own gods, but appearing in a slightly different form. Below is a table showing how the Greeks interpreted the Egyptian gods to be the same as their own:
|Greek Name||Egyptian Name||Original Egyptian Name||Roman Name|
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