Hugo Reyes, more commonly known by his nickname “Hurley”, was one of the middle section survivors of the crash of Oceanic Flight 815. Hurley’s father disappeared when he was ten and did not return until almost 17 years had gone by. During his father’s absence, Hurley developed an eating disorder, and later a traumatic accident landed him in a mental asylum where he started seeing an imaginary person. He has been overly-conscious about his sanity since. While employed at Mr. Cluck’s, Hurley won the lottery by playing the mysterious numbers. Because of a series of unfortunate incidents following his win, he believed himself to be plagued with bad luck and has searched for an answer to the curse.
On the Island, Hurley was typically happy-go-lucky and kept the spirits of his fellow survivors up. He was also a voice of reason in the group and used his common sense to solve difficult situations. Eventually, Hurley found that he could not escape the Numbers and after seeing them on the side of the Hatch, knew that opening it would be a bad idea. He struggled with being given the task of dividing up the food in the Hatch and began seeing his old imaginary friend on the Island. Later, he was captured by the Others, along with Jack, Kate, and Sawyer as a part of Michael’s betrayal, but was released to go back and warn the other survivors not to come for them. Back at camp, Hurley found an old DHARMA van which he was able to get running again with the help of Charlie, Sawyer, and Jin, restoring his and the rest of the survivors’ optimism.
After Charlie was born and Jack called the freighter for rescue, Hurley and five other survivors managed to escape the Island by using a helicopter. However, they were forced to leave everyone else behind when Ben moved the Island. Hurley tried to carry on happily with his life, but began seeing visions of Charlie off the Island. Eventually, he was readmitted to the Santa Rosa Mental Institute where he routinely conversed with Charlie and other deceased people. He was removed from Santa Rosa by Sayid, and taken to a “safe house”, where he was mistaken for a murderer. He later threw a Hot Pocket at Benjamin Linus and surrendered to authorities. Hurley was found innocent and released from prison where he was convinced by a man to return to the Island.
He boarded Ajira Flight 316 and was flashed to 1977 where he worked as a fire chief for the DHARMA Initiative. After the detonation of Jughead by Juliet, he time traveled to his original timeline. Soon afterward, the now-deceased Jacob began to appear to Hurley, first telling him to take the wounded Kate to the Temple, and then instructing him to take Jack to the Lighthouse. Hurley later acted as medium between Richard and his deceased wife Isabella.
Hurley was confirmed to be one of Jacob’s candidates by Jacob himself. He was visited and touched by Jacob while off the Island. Hurley’s name appears on the wall in the cliffside cave and the Lighthouse wheel as “8 – Reyes”. Hurley eventually took over as protector of the island for Jack and hired Ben as an adviser.
In the flash-sideways, he was finally reunited with his murdered island lover, Elizabeth “Libby” Smith and along with their friends, they moved on.
5×16 – The Incident, Part 1
Hugo Reyes was born to David and Carmen Reyes in Miami, Florida on December 29, 1978. (“The Incident, Part 1”)
3×10 – Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
The family later moved across the country to Santa Monica, California.
As a child, Hugo was very close to his father. They often went fishing together, but the activity they most enjoyed together was fixing up an old Camaro. David allowed Hurley to rebel against his strict mother, Carmen, but Hugo witnessed his father’s flighty nature as David left the family for 17 years without explanation. To deal with his father’s absence, Hurley turned to food. (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”)
2×05 – …And Found
Hurley once had a dog named Buster, who passed away. (“…And Found”)
Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute
2×18 – Dave
Growing up, Hugo (also known as Hurley, for a yet unrevealed reason), was in an accident. A deck collapsed and claimed the lives of two people. Hurley believed he was responsible due to his weight, even though the deck was built to hold only eight people and was holding 23 during the accident. In response to his persistent belief that he was at fault and a deepening depression, Hurley’s mother had him committed to the Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute
Hurley honed his ping pong skills in his mother’s basement and at Santa Rosa. During his time in Santa Rosa, Hurley’s doctor, Dr. Brooks, was trying to convince Hurley that he was not the cause of the deck collapse. Dr. Brooks also believed that Hurley was trying to punish himself for the accident by overeating and that he could help him by placing Hurley on a diet. Also, while incarcerated at the Institute, Hurley played Connect Four with another patient at Santa Rosa, Leonard, who had been repeating a series of six numbers over and over – 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42
Hurley listened to Dr. Brooks and was to begin the diet until one of his “friends”, Dave, convinced him not to conform to the diet. Dave turned out to be an imaginary friend only Hurley could see. Dr. Brooks believed Hurley’s hallucinations were a troubling sign and prescribed Clonazepam pills for Hurley to make Dave vanish. Dave told Hurley he should not take the pills.
Dr. Brooks decided to try to shake Hurley into the belief that Dave was not real. He did so by agreeing to take a picture of Hurley and Dave together. Brooks showed the picture to Hurley so that he could see Dave was not there. Hurley, realizing now that Dave was not real, shut Dave out of his life by locking his imaginary friend outside the facility grounds during a Dave-inspired escape attempt. Then, Hurley began actively resolving the issues that brought him to the institute. (“Dave”).
1×18 – Numbers | 2×04 – Everybody Hates Hugo
After returning from Santa Rosa, Hurley moved back into his mother’s home and his life fell into a rut, with his mother pestering him to make something of himself, but Hurley seemed content getting his job back at Mr. Clucks. While returning to his normal life, Hurley bought a lottery ticket using the numbers the Santa Rosa patient, Leonard, repeated over and over. While channel hopping, Hurley’s attention was caught when the lotto girl revealed the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42. Hurley fainted, realizing he had won the lottery. Hurley was revived by his mother, but kept the win a secret saying that he didn’t want things to change. (“Numbers”) (“Everybody Hates Hugo”)
2×04 – Everybody Hates Hugo
Hurley tried to decide what to do about the win when he was sacked from his job at Mr. Clucks by his boss Randy Nations. In an act of solidarity, Hurley’s best friend Johnny also quit his job. The two had a very close friendship and Hurley worried that the impending change that the lottery money would bring might ruin their friendship.
Hurley and his friend Johnny decided to celebrate their day of freedom and went to a record store – where Hurley finally plucked up the courage to ask Starla, a girl he’d had a crush on for a while, to a concert. He told Johnny he wanted to make a move before things changed.
That night, as their ‘day off’ came to an end, they vandalized the lawn of their former boss Randy by spelling “CLUCK YOU” with garden gnome statues. As they rode around in Hurley’s car, buoyed by their mischief, Hurley made Johnny promise that, no matter what happened, things would never change between them. As they pulled in for gas at a convenience store, they noticed a commotion inside. Johnny wanted to investigate but Hurley knew what it was about.
The clerk noticed Hurley in the car and revealed that he was the winner of the lottery jackpot. Johnny was hurt to find out about Hurley’s lack of trust, and, despite their earlier conversation, it becomes clear that everything is going to change. Hurley later states that Johnny and Starla ran off together. (“Everybody Hates Hugo”)
1×18 – Numbers
Hurley began to slowly believe that his lotto winnings were cursed after his beloved grandfather, Tito Reyes, died of a heart attack at the press conference Hurley and his family held to announce the lottery win. His suspicions and worries about the win grew as further unfortunate events befell those close to him–events such as the priest at his grandfather’s funeral being struck by lightning and his brother’s wife leaving him for a waitress. Hurley bought his mother a new house, but the grand unveiling was disrupted by a fire erupting in the house and Hurley being wrongly arrested for drug dealing. Moments before, Hurley had told his mother than he thought the money was cursed. She slapped him and reminded Hurley that they were Catholic and didn’t believe in curses.
Hurley soon realized that the curse wouldn’t allow any harm to come to him, just those around him. Insurance money resulting from unfortunate accidents in the factories Hurley owned shares of caused his finances to rise, but at the cost of eight lives. When Ken Halperin asked how Hurley came up with the numbers, it forced Hurley to realize that the numbers, not the money, were cursed. Just as his accountant told him that there was no such thing as curses, a man outside fell past the high-rise office window.
Alarmed, Hurley returned to Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute where he first heard the numbers and demanded to see Leonard. The two talked over a game of Connect Four and when Hurley revealed that he had used the numbers to win the lottery, Leonard broke from his near-catatonic state and became hysterical, screaming: “you’ve opened the box!” He told Hurley to get away from the numbers or it won’t stop. During this scene, Leonard reveals that he heard the numbers from Sam Toomey in Kalgoorlie, Australia. (“Numbers”)
3×10 – Tricia Tanaka Is Dead
Hurley later bought the Mr. Clucks that he once worked at and hired Randy out of pity. However, when news reporter Tricia Tanaka interviewed him about his lottery win, he told her it was all cursed and recited the list of events that had befallen those close to him since winning. Breaking from her cheery demeanor, Tricia reprimanded Hurley for his lack of enthusiasm, after which she and the Cameraman entered the building.
While they were inside, Hurley noticed something in the sky – and watched as a meteorite crashed into the Mr. Clucks building, killing Tricia Tanaka. Hurley then returned home to his mother and ominously told her that “Tricia Tanaka is dead” as a result of his curse. Hurley then told his mother that he was going to Australia to get answers, but she stopped him because David Reyes had returned to their family.
David and Carmen returned to their life as a couple, but Hurley can’t forgive his father. Eventually, Hurley learns that his mother had asked his father to return and gave him the job of convincing Hurley he wasn’t cursed (although, Hurley thought that his father was just after the money.) Hurley then reveals that he had saved the Camaro and fixed it up alone.
As part of David’s plan to convince Hurley that there was no curse, he took him to see psychic Lynn Karnoff who senses Hurley’s curse from the numbers, eerily reciting the winning numbers to him. She tells Hurley that his curse can be lifted by a exorcism. When Hurley offers her $10,000 to say his father arranged the consult, she admits that David put her up to this. Hurley storms off, but David tells him that he was “just trying to help.”
As Hurley prepares for his trip, David decides to be honest with his son and admit that he came back for the money, but that if Hurley needed to do so, he should give it all up. David then reiterates that going to Australia won’t break the curse, but that Hurley just needs a little hope. He offers Hurley a chance to take the road trip to the Grand Canyon that they planned seventeen years ago, and, despite thinking about it, Hurley decides to go to Australia anyway. David tells him that he’d be there when Hurley returned. (“Tricia Tanaka Is Dead”)
1×18 – Numbers
Hurley travels to Kalgoorlie to find Toomey, but finds only Toomey’s wife, Martha Toomey. She discloses that Sam committed suicide, believing that using the numbers to win a competition had inflicted him with the curse. Martha also reveals that Sam heard the numbers about 16 years ago (presumably the same transmission Danielle Rousseau heard from the Island). Martha refuses to believe in the curse, telling Hurley, “We make our own luck, Mr. Reyes.” (“Numbers”)
1×25 – Exodus, Part 3
The day of Oceanic Flight 815, fate seemed to be intervening with Hurley, trying to make sure he didn’t get on the plane. His alarm didn’t go off due to a localized power outage, his car’s tire went flat, and he arrived at the wrong terminal.
Determined to be home for his mother’s birthday the following day, he offered $1600 to an old man to borrow his power scooter and made his way to the correct terminal. The numbers repeatedly appeared as Hugo tried to board the plane–on his dashboard, his room number and the sweaters of a girl’s soccer team.
Hurley eventually arrived at the gate and the gate attendant was able to reopen the doors for him. Thankful to have boarded the plane, Hurley gave Walt a thumbs-up and took his seat on the doomed flight. (“Exodus, Part 3”)
1×01 – Pilot, Part 1
Right after the crash on the beach, Jack spotted Hurley among the wreckage and informed him that he must help and watch Claire, who was close to term on her pregnancy. Both Claire and Hurley were nearly killed by a falling piece of the plane, as the wing broke apart. They were saved by Jack, right before the wing hit the ground and exploded.
That night, Hurley took upon himself the job of dividing the remaining food from the plane among the survivors. (“Pilot, Part 1”)
1×02 – Pilot, Part 2
On their second day on the Island, after he was mocked by a survivor named Sawyer, he sat beside another survivor, an Iraqi man named Sayid, who was trying to fix the plane’s transceiver. Hurley asked him about his abilities, and Sayid revealed that he was once a soldier in the Republican Guard.
As Hurley was washing his clothes, Jin approached him and offered him some shellfish, but Hurley refused the food while laughing. Later that day, Jack enlisted Hurley’s help with the injured U.S. Marshal who was impaled by a piece of metal. Hurley warned Jack that he is not good with blood, a comment which Jack ignored. During the improvised surgery, Hurley fainted, leaving all the work to Jack. (“Pilot, Part 2”)
1×03 – Tabula Rasa
Hurley was the second survivor to see Kate’s mugshot and find out that Kate is actually a fugitive. (“Tabula Rasa”)
1×06 – House of the Rising Sun | Mx07 – Arzt & Crafts
He also decided to move to the caves that Jack found, which seemed perfect to live in. He assisted with digging out Jack who was stuck in a cave-in. (“House of the Rising Sun”) (“Arzt & Crafts”)
1×09 – Solitary
After Hurley began to feel the stress among the survivors, he decided to build a golf course on the Island with some golf clubs Ethan found in one of the survivors’ bags. The golf course, which was later used for a tournament, did indeed help relieve the stress. (“Solitary”)
1×10 – Raised by Another
After talking Sawyer into giving the flight manifest to him, Hurley went around to each of the survivors and created a census to figure out who everyone was. During this, Hurley discovered that the person he had met in the jungle and in the caves, Ethan Rom, was never on the plane. As he hurried back to the caves, an exhausted Sayid returned from his journey on which he met the French woman who lived on the Island for 16 years. Sayid warned Jack about the other people who live on the Island. Hurley confirmed his warning when he revealed to Jack that Ethan is one of these Others. (“Raised by Another”)
1×13 – Hearts and Minds
A few days later, after Ethan disappeared and kidnapped Claire with him, Hurley stepped on a sea urchin while trying to fish. The only person near him was Jin, who refused to help him, still remembering Hurley’s reaction on their second day on the Island. Eventually, Hurley and Jin made a deal—if Hurley would drink a cure Jin made for Hurley’s wound, Jin would give him a fresh fish. Although Hurley threw up the medicine, he got his fish, and the quarrel between him and Jin was finally resolved. (“Hearts and Minds”)
1×18 – Numbers
While he was looking at Danielle’s notes, which Sayid had stolen from her, Hurley noticed a note on which Danielle wrote the familiar numbers over and over. After Sayid did not tell him the way to her shelter, Hurley took off, claiming he wants to find her to get a battery for the raft that Michael built. He found the cable Sayid described, and followed it into the jungle.
On his way, Charlie, Sayid and Jack caught up with him, and decided to go with him. They reached a rope bridge, which collapsed after Hurley and Charlie walked on it to the other side of the Island. They kept going, although Jack ordered them to wait for him. They were attacked by Danielle, who shot at them from afar. Hurley, who ran away, bumped into her.
He told her his story, and asked her to confirm for him that the Numbers are cursed. She told him that she and her science expedition had heard a transmission that kept saying the Numbers, and that is what brought her to the Island. After their arrival, her group got sick, and she had to kill them all. Soon after, her baby was kidnapped. She eventually admitted that the Numbers are cursed. Hurley hugged her in response and thanked her. When he met up with Jack, Sayid and Charlie, he gave them a battery Danielle gave him, and told Sayid she said “hey.” (“Numbers”)
1×23 – Exodus, Part 1
Hurley decided to join the journey to the Black Rock, an old ship, where dynamite could be found to blow up the Hatch’s metal door that was found in the ground by Locke. After Danielle arrived to the Losties’ camp and warned them the Others are coming, Jack decided to hide the other castaways in the Hatch. The group included him, Jack, Kate, Locke and a bitter survivor, Leslie Arzt, who wanted to be part of the “cool guys” for the first time. (“Exodus, Part 1”)
1×24 – Exodus, Part 2
On their way, the group heard the Monster moving near them. Hurley intended to run away, but was stopped by Locke, who believed, correctly, that it was moving the other way. Once they reached the ship, Hurley decided to wait outside with Arzt who told him his back story and complained about the unfair conditions among the survivors.
When the rest of the party finally came out with the dynamite, Arzt quickly took over, claiming that he was the most knowledgeable about dynamite, being a science teacher. As he taught the rest of the group how to handle the dynamite, one of the sticks exploded in Arzt’s hands, blowing him up. Hurley believed that, once again, this crisis was his fault. (“Exodus, Part 2”)
1×25 – Exodus, Part 3
On their way back to the Hatch, Hurley started to murmur the Numbers. Kate heard him whispering “23”, and told him about this number’s meaning in her life. Hurley claimed that it was just a number. At the Hatch, Hurley came with a flashlight to aid Locke and Jack with setting up the dynamite, but his flashlight fell and lit the side of the Hatch door, where the Numbers were engraved into the metal.
Now believing that only evil can be found in there, Hurley tries to stop Locke by shouting, “The Numbers are bad!”, but is tackled by Jack just as the dynamite blows the door. (“Exodus, Part 3”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members & Lovers
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Decoded Season 6 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
(Sometimes Heru, or in compounds Hor-, Har-, Her-) Among the most ubiquitous of Egyptian Gods, Horus embodies kingship, victory, righteousness, and civilization. Horus is depicted either as a hawk-headed man or as a hawk, probably a peregrine falcon, except when he is depicted as a child (Harpocrates) in which case he is depicted anthropomorphically. From the earliest period, the king of Egypt was identified to some degree with Horus, and each pharaoh bore a ‘Horus name’ to which was later added a ‘Golden Horus name’. The Eye of Horus, known as the ‘Sound Eye’ or wedjat, from the word w-dj- (cf. Wadjet), meaning healthy, flourishing, or prosperous, or, as a verb, to proceed or attain, ranks as one of the most important and recognizable symbols in Egyptian religion. The typical consort of Horus is the Goddess Hathor, whose name means ‘House of Horus’. (In magical contexts, however, Tabithet and/or similar Goddesses may be his consort.)
The two primary aspects of Horus from which the rest can be derived—not as an historical matter, but for conceptual purposes—are Haroeris and Harsiese. The former is the Hellenized phonetic rendering of the name Hor-Wer, ‘Horus the Elder’ or ‘Horus the Great’, the latter the phonetic rendering of Hor-sa-Ise, ‘Horus son of Isis‘. Haroeris is conceived as the sky, with the sun and the moon as his right and left eyes respectively, but we may regard forms of Horus which strongly emphasize his solar aspect (often expressed by fusion with Re, on which see below) as pertaining generally to this side of his character. This aspect of Horus is relatively autonomous in relation to the Osirian mythos and may represent the form of Horus worshiped in the earliest period before he was fully incorporated into the Osirian narrative, if indeed there ever was such a time. The purpose of drawing such a distinction is not to make this claim, but simply to facilitate the analysis of the many aspects in which Horus is manifest. Harsiese, by contrast, is the son of Isis and Osiris, who, with his mother’s help, vindicates his father (hence he is called Harendotes, from the Egyptian Hor-nedj-atef[-f], ‘Horus-savior-of-[his]-father’) and is awarded the cosmic sovereignty after a lengthy conflict with his uncle Seth. This conflict, in which Horus receives constant assistance from Isis, is fought on many levels—magical, juridical, cosmic, medical—and is, aside from the conflict between Re and Apophis, the principal symbol of conflict as such in Egyptian religious thought. When Egypt’s pharaoh strives against enemies foreign or domestic, it is as Horus against Seth; when a person suffers from an illness or from the poison of a snake or scorpion, the spells which are applied identify the sufferer with Horus and the forces against which s/he strives with Seth. Animal products offered up to the Gods, because of the violence involved in their production, are linked to the recovery of the Eye of Horus stolen by Seth in the form of a wild animal (paradigmatically an oryx). When Horus and Seth fight, Horus receives an injury to his eye, Seth to his testicles (see, e.g., BD spell 99, “O Ferryman, bring me this which was brought to Horus for his eye, which was brought to Seth for his testicles.”)
The Eye of Horus or wedjat is one of the most multivalent symbols in Egyptian thought—even being used to represent Egypt itself—but its many functions have at their center the notion of the wedjat as representing the beneficial power contained within offerings to the Gods of every kind. Whatever is the substance offered, once it has been made a divine offering it becomes the Eye of Horus. The wedjat is also a symbol for any helpful substance or object, and is a general term for any amulet, itself of course a very common amulet, expressing the double nature of Horus both as healer and as one who has been healed, for the ‘Eye of Horus’ refers virtually always to the eye which was wounded and healed, not to the other one (see, e.g., PT utterance 301, “Behold, the King brings to you [Horus] your great left Eye in a healed condition; accept it from the King intact…”; but see Harsomptus, below). Thoth is frequently credited with accomplishing this regeneration, which forms the basis of a ritual bond between these Gods. Often the Eye of Horus is identified with the moon, its waning expressing the damage done to Horus by Seth, its regeneration expressed in the moon’s waxing cycle. Egyptians also denoted the most common fractions of the grain measure by using the several portions of the stylized wedjat, the form of which seems to incorporate aspects of the eyes of a human, a hawk, and a leopard or cheetah.
A form of Horus which may be regarded as belonging to the side of Harsiese is Harpocrates, the Greek phonetic rendering of the name Hor-pa-khered, ‘Horus as a child’. Harpocrates is depicted as a naked boy with a long braided lock of hair draped over one ear, suckling at the breast of his mother Isis or seated on a lotus blossom representing the emergence of the cosmos from the primeval waters, with his finger in his mouth implying, not silence, as was sometimes thought by foreigners, but probably having only just been weaned from the breast. Harpocrates often wears crowns typical of the monarch and holds symbols of sovereignty such as the crook and flail. Harpocrates features prominently on magical stelae called cippi. These plaques show Harpocrates, often surmounted by a head of the God Bes, grasping snakes, scorpions, and other dangerous wild animals in his hands and standing atop crocodiles, and signify the God’s dominance over these symbols of mortal danger (spell no. 123 in Borghouts serves to empower such a stela). Such stelae were erected in public places such as the forecourts of temples and appear to have been used typically by pouring water over them which was collected at the bottom and drunk. The infant Horus, hidden by Isis in the papyrus thickets of the Delta for fear of his uncle Seth, is the object of diverse attacks on his life, and hence spells used to ward off or to treat snakebites or scorpion stings, as well as diverse illnesses, or to secure one against other sorts of hazard, are frequently linked to this episode in the myth, often by taking the form of an appeal to Isis on behalf of Horus, with whom the patient is identified (e.g. spells no. 90-94, 96 in Borghouts). The identification between the individual and Horus in these spells can be seen as paralleling, in some respects, the identification between Horus and the pharaoh.
Harpocrates is not the only form of Horus as a child, however; as Harsomtus (Harsomptus), ‘Horus the uniter’ or Panebtawy (‘Lord of the Two Lands’), he is the child of Haroeris and Hathor. Harsomtus embodies the cosmogonic aspect of Horus, and is frequently depicted either as a mummiform hawk on a pedestal, or as a serpent rising from the primordial lotus blossom, in this serpent form being also known as Sata (Sato), ‘son of the earth’. Harsomtus is associated with the right eye, i.e., the sun, and hence with its cycles of night and day, latency and activation, introversion and creation (on Harsomtus in general see El-Kordy 1982).
The effectiveness of Horus in spells does not come only from identification with him. Horus is a potent magical operator in his own right; in spell 96 in Borghouts, a “conjuration of a scorpion,” Horus is urged to “sit down, Horus, and recite for yourself! Your own words are useful for you,” and another spell (103) praises at length the power of “the words of Horus”: they ward off death, extend life, heal disease, alter one’s destiny, protect from attack and soothe emotional turmoil. In spell 139, the magical operator claims to have “slept in the embrace of Horus during the night” and to have “heard all he said.” Horus, who grasps a viper one cubit long in one hand and treads on another snake of twelve cubits, says that he was taught to speak when Osiris was still alive—that is, before he was even conceived. After this, the operator affirms that “it is Horus who has taught me to speak!” Accordingly Horus himself is sometimes called ‘the physician’ (e.g. spell 99).
An important form of Horus which may be regarded as belonging to the side of Haroeris is Horakhty (Harakhty), i.e. Hor-akheti, ‘Horus of the horizons’, often fused with Re to produce the combined form Re-Horakhty. The name, in its reference to the eastern and western horizons, expresses the sun’s successful journey both by day, through the world of the living, and by night, through the netherworld. Horakhty is not to be confused with Harmachis, from Hor-m-akhet, ‘Horus in the horizon’, i.e. the western horizon alone. The Great Sphinx at Giza is an image of Harmachis. This form of Horus was also frequently fused with Re to form the compound deity Re-Harmachis. These forms, common iconographically, have little myth associated with them. Another form of Horus which belongs to the Haroeris side of his character, but which has more of a role in myth, is Horus Behdety, Horus of Behdet (or Behudet), the city more commonly known as Edfu. Horus Behdety is depicted as a winged solar disk, a familiar symbol on many Egyptian temples and which was, after the Persian occupation of Egypt, incorporated into the iconography of Persian religion as well. This winged disk—which was sometimes identified with the Morning and Evening Star (Fairman pp. 35-36 [12,4—12, 6])—represents the assistance Horus offers to Re in combating his enemies during the Egyptian seasons of akhet and the first half of peret, roughly from our late summer to the winter solstice (Fairman pp. 32 [9, 8], 33 [10, 2], 34 [10, 14]). Horus Behdety is analogous, in this respect, to Goddesses known as the ‘Eye of Re’ (e.g., Sekhmet, Tefnut) who similarly assist Re in his time of need. A long text inscribed on the walls of the great temple of Horus at Edfu, illustrated with numerous reliefs, recounts the battles waged by Horus Behdety against the enemies of Re, who take the forms of crocodiles and hippopotami. Horus Behdety is assisted by numerous followers, called mesenu, or ‘harpooners’, armed with iron spears and chains. When Seth makes common cause with the enemies of Re, Horus Behdety and Horus son of Isis join forces, the text thus emphasizing at once their distinctness as well as their parallelism. This text, in addition to its seasonal significance, includes formulae for the king to identify himself with Horus Behdety “on the day on which trouble and strife occur,” the king reciting four times, “I am the God’s avenger who came forth from Behdet, and Horus of Behdet is my name,” (Fairman 36 [12, 8 – 12, 11]). The conflict of Horus-son-of-Isis with Seth was the subject of a lengthy narrative cycle with many episodes, the most significant surviving treatment being from the Chester Beatty papyrus (trans. in Lichtheim vol. 2, 214-223). In this text Re (notwithstanding that he is almost always referred to in the text as ‘Re-Horakhty’) does not initially side with Horus in his claim to the throne, due to the assistance Seth provides him in his battle with Apophis. The text portrays the conflict between Horus and Seth as turning upon the question of whether the source of sovereignty should be legitimacy or force, the Gods deciding in favor of the former when they award the sovereignty to Horus.
Although Egyptian texts usually make little effort to distinguish Haroeris from Harsiese, the Coffin Texts do feature, among the genre of spells for transforming into, or invoking, particular deities, separate spells for “Becoming the Elder Horus” (CT spell 280) and for “Becoming Horus” (i.e., the son of Isis) (CT spell 326). In the latter, the operator states that “There is tumult in the sky, and we see something new, say the primeval Gods,” referring to the advent of Horus. Having assumed the solar power as “Lord of the sunlight,” Harsiese/the operator states “I have taken possession of the sky, I have divided the firmament, I will show the paths of Khepri [the God of formation or change], and the dwellers in the netherworld will follow me.” The ideas of a new element entering into the cosmic order, of the transfer of sovereignty, and of conflict at once generated and resolved, point to Horus son of Isis. An alternative version of CT spell 326 elaborates: “N. [the operator, identified with Horus] has made the Enneads,”—the other Gods, organized into an indefinite number of pantheons each ideally of nine members—”to vomit,”—i.e., to yield up something additional of their substance to the cosmos—”N. has subdued the elder Gods, N. has come that he may stop the tumult … N. seats himself.” By contrast, CT spell 280, cast in the second, rather than the first person, addresses the deceased as “the elder Horus who took sail at nightfall … he who mourns in the mansion of Osiris … your eye is Re,” for he has assumed the solar potency, “… your head is Iunmutef,” ‘pillar-of-his-mother’, for he has redeemed the faith of Isis in him, “you have judged between the rivals, namely the two who would destroy the sky,” that is, Harsiese and Seth (this ordinarily being the role of Thoth). Note the echo, in this statement, of the other spell’s reference to “tumult in the sky” caused by the advent of Harsiese. The spell ends, “You have given judgment in this sky for Re, light and dark are at your will … you are the Elder Horus, one who has become the Elder Horus,” in which the perfected nature of the judgment and of the transformation, and the successful exercise of both light and dark, allude to a distinction between the younger and the elder Horus somewhere between one of person and one of phase or aspect.
Horus is the culmination of any process in which he takes part, and hence is not usually connected in a strong way with offspring; Ihy, for instance, is more the son of Hathor than of Horus, and is himself often identified with Harsomtus. Another exception which to some degree proves the rule are the four Gods known as the ‘sons of Horus‘, who, although sometimes regarded as children of Haroeris and Isis, are also treated as semi-autonomous potencies of Horus himself, or as independent powers appropriated, so to speak, by Horus son of Isis in the settlement of claims between he and Seth.
Patron of: the living Pharaoh, rulers, law, war, young men, light, the sun, many others depending on the particular variant.
Appearance: His most common form is that of falcon-headed man, but he is also shown as a falcon, a lion with the head of a falcon, or a sphinx. He is also shown as a falcon resting on the neck of the pharaoh, spreading his wings to either side of the pharaoh’s head and whispering guidance in his ear.
Description: It is nearly impossible to distinguish a “true” Horus from all his many forms. In fact, Horus is mostly a general term for a great number of falcon gods, some of which were worshipped all over Egypt, others simply had local cults. Yet in all of his forms he is regarded as the prince of the gods and the specific patron of the living ruler.
The worship of Horus was brought from the outside by neighboring tribes who invaded and then settled into Egypt. He was their god of war, but was quickly absorbed into the state religion, first as a son of Ra, then changing to become the son of Osiris. He was the protector and guide to the pharaoh and later pharaohs were believed to be his avatar on earth. Horus was also the patron of young men and the ideal of the dutiful son who grows up to become a just man.
The most popular story of Horus is the one in which he grows to manhood to avenge the death of his father Osiris by battling against his cruel uncle Set. In many writings, he is said to continue to battle Set daily to ensure the safety of the world.
Worship: Worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, even his variant forms were widespread.
God of the dawn and of the morning sun, he is also worshipped as a keeper of secret wisdom. Harmakhet’s form is that of a sphinx or a sphinx with the head of a ram, often depicted as a companion to Khephri. It is thought that the Great Sphinx, staring at the eastern horizon, represents him.
Rarely found depicted without his mother Isis. He is shown as a nursing infant with the royal sidelock or sometimes even with a crown, thus demonstrating his right to kingship from the moment of his birth. His worship became very popular in the New Kingdom, spreading even into the Greek and Roman civilizations.
This is the form of Horus that is most familiar, the son of Osiris and Isis. He was conceived magically after the death of Osiris, and Isis hid him away on an island to protect him from Set. In this form he is worshipped as an infant and is beseeched to gain his mother’s protection for the worshipper.
Horus Behudety/Horus of Edfu
God of the noontime sun. This particular variant was first worshipped in the western Delta and spread south, a cult center being established at Edfu. He is represented by a winged sun or as a lion with the head of a hawk. Horus Behudety fights constantly against Set and an army of darkness to ensure that the sun rises each day.
Horus the Elder (Haroeris)
An early form of Horus, when his cult was still new in Egypt. A god of light, his left eye was the sun and his right eye the moon. He was the brother of Osiris and Set, and the husband of Hathor.
A combined god of Horus and Ra, he was the god of the sun and took it on its daily path across the sky. He is represented as a falcon or a falcon-headed man wearing the solar disk and the double crown. Sometimes he is pictured wearing the atef crown and the uraeus.
Horus is one of the oldest and most significant deities in the Ancient Egyptian religion, who was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times. Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egyptologists. These various forms may possibly be different perceptions of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasised, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. The earliest recorded form is Horus the Falcon who was the patron deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt and who is the first known national god, specifically related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death. The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris but in another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions in the Egyptian pantheon, most notably being the God of the Sky, God of War and God of Protection.
Horus is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphs as ḥr.w and is reconstructed to have been pronounced *Ḥāru, meaning “Falcon”. As a description it has also typically been thought of as having the meaning “the distant one” or “one who is above, over”. By Coptic times, the name became Hōr. It was adopted into Greek as Ὡρος Hōros. The original name also survives in later Egyptian names such as Har-Si-Ese literally “Horus, son of Isis”.
Horus was also sometimes known as Nekheny, meaning “falcon”. Some have proposed that Nekheny may have been another falcon-god, worshipped at Nekhen (city of the hawk), but then Horus was identified with him early on. As falcon, Horus may be shown on the Narmer Palette dating from the time of unification of upper and lower Egypt.
Horus and the Pharaoh
Pyramid texts ca. the 25th Century BC describe the nature of the Pharaoh in different characters as both Horus and Osiris. The Pharaoh as Horus in life became the Pharaoh as Osiris in death, where he was united with the rest of the gods. New incarnations of Horus succeeded the deceased pharaoh on earth in the form of new pharaohs.
The lineage of Horus, the eventual product of unions between the children of Atum, may have been a means to explain and justify Pharaonic power; The gods produced by Atum were all representative of cosmic and terrestrial forces in Egyptian life; by identifying Horus as the offspring of these forces, then identifying him with Atum himself, and finally identifying the Pharaoh with Horus, the Pharaoh theologically had dominion over all the world.
The notion of Horus as the Pharaoh seems to have been superseded by the concept of the Pharaoh as the son of Ra during the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.
Horus was born to the goddess Isis after she retrieved all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, except his penis which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish, and used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris and fashion a gold phallus to conceive her son. In another version of the story, Isis was impregnated by divine fire. Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set who jealously killed Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son. There Isis bore a divine son, Horus.
Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon, flew across it. Thus he became known as Harmerty – Horus of two eyes. Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the contestings of Horus and Seth, originating as a metaphor for the conquest of Upper Egypt by Lower Egypt in about 3000 BC. In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had battled for Egypt brutally, with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with Horus (see below).
As Horus was the ultimate victor he became known as Harsiesis, Heru-ur or Har-Wer (ḥr.w wr ‘Horus the Great’), but more usually translated as Horus the Elder. In the struggle Seth had lost a testicle, explaining why the desert, which Set represented, is infertile. Horus’ left eye had also been gouged out, which explained why the moon, which it represented, was so weak compared to the sun.
It was also said that during a new-moon, Horus had become blinded and was titled Mekhenty-er-irty (mḫnty r ỉr.ty ‘He who has no eyes’). When the moon became visible again, he was re-titled Khenty-irty (ḫnty r ỉr.ty ‘He who has eyes’).
Horus was occasionally shown in art as a naked boy with a finger in his mouth sitting on a lotus with his mother. In the form of a youth, Horus was referred to as Neferhor. This is also spelled Nefer Hor, Nephoros or Nopheros (nfr ḥr.w) meaning ‘The Good Horus’.
The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus or Ra. The symbol is seen on images of Horus’ mother, Isis, and on other deities associated with her.
In the Egyptian language, the word for this symbol was “Wedjat”. It was the eye of one of the earliest of Egyptian deities, Wadjet, who later became associated with Bast, Mut, and Hathor as well. Wedjat was a solar deity and this symbol began as her eye, an all seeing eye. In early artwork, Hathor is also depicted with this eye. Funerary amulets were often made in the shape of the Eye of Horus. The Wedjat or Eye of Horus is “the central element” of seven “gold, faience, carnelian and lapis lazuli” bracelets found on the mummy of Shoshenq II. The Wedjat “was intended to protect the king [here] in the afterlife” and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint the symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.
God of War and Hunting
Horus was also said to be a god of war and hunting. The Horus falcon is shown upon a standard on the predynastic Hunters Palette in the “lion hunt”).
Thus he became a symbol of majesty and power as well as the model of the pharaohs. The Pharaohs were said to be Horus in human form.
Furthermore Nemty, another war god, was later identified as Horus.
Conqueror of Set
Horus had many battles with Set, not only to avenge his father, but to choose the rightful ruler of Egypt. In these battles, Horus came to be associated with Lower Egypt (where Horus was worshipped), and became its patron.
One scene stated how Horus was on the verge of killing Set; but his mother (and Set’s sister), Isis, stopped him. Isis injured Horus, but eventually healed him.
By the 19th dynasty, the enmity between Set and Horus, in which Horus had ripped off one of Set’s testicles, was represented as a separate tale. According to Papyrus Chester-Beatty I, Set is depicted as trying to prove his dominance by seducing Horus and then having intercourse with him. However, Horus places his hand between his thighs and catches Set’s semen, then subsequently throws it in the river, so that he may not be said to have been inseminated by Set. Horus then deliberately spreads his own semen on some lettuce, which was Set’s favorite food. After Set had eaten the lettuce, they went to the gods to try to settle the argument over the rule of Egypt. The gods first listened to Set’s claim of dominance over Horus, and call his semen forth, but it answered from the river, invalidating his claim. Then, the gods listened to Horus’ claim of having dominated Set, and call his semen forth, and it answered from inside Set.
But still Set refused to relent, and the other gods were getting tired from over eighty years of fighting and challenges. Horus and Set challenged each other to a boat race, where they each raced in a boat made of stone. Horus and Set agreed, and the race started. But Horus had an edge: his boat was made of wood painted to resemble stone, rather than true stone. Set’s boat, being made of heavy stone, sank, but Horus’s did not. Horus then won the race, and Set stepped down and officially gave Horus the throne of Egypt. But after the New Kingdom, Set still was considered Lord of the desert and its oases.
This myth, along with others, could be seen as an explanation of how the two kingdoms of Egypt (Upper and Lower) came to be united. Horus was seen as the God of Lower Egypt, and Set as the God of Upper Egypt. In this myth, the respective Upper and Lower deities have a fight, through which Horus is the victor. However, some of Horus (representing Lower Egypt) enters into Set (Upper Egypt) thus explaining why Lower Egypt is dominant over Upper Egypt. Set’s regions were then considered to be of the desert.
Shed is a deity, commonly referred to as “savior” and is first recorded during the Amarna Period. Representing the concept of salvation he is identified with Horus and in particular “Horus the Child”.
Shed can be depicted as a young prince overcoming snakes, lions and crocodiles. David P. Silverman notes that late period representations of the young Horus slaying Set in the form of a crocodile are considered to have been the inspiration for the icons depicting St. George and the dragon.
The rise of “Savior” names in personal piety during the Amarna period has been interpreted as the popular response of ordinary people to the attempts by Akhenaten to proscribe the ancient religion of Egypt. Shed has also been viewed as a form of the ancient Semitic god Reshef.
Heru-pa-khared (Horus the Younger)
Horus the Younger, Harpocrates to the Ptolemaic Greeks, is represented in the form of a youth wearing a lock of hair (a sign of youth) on the right of his head. In addition, he usually wears the united crowns of Egypt, the crown of upper Egypt and the crown of lower Egypt. He is a form of the rising sun, representing its earliest light.
In this form he represented the god of light and the husband of Hathor. He was one of the oldest gods of ancient Egypt. He became the patron of Nekhen (Heirakonpolis) and the first national god (God of the Kingdom). Later, he also became the patron of the pharaohs, and was called the son of truth. – signifying his role as an important upholder of Maat. He was seen as a great falcon with outstretched wings whose right eye was the sun and the left one was the moon. In this form, he was sometimes given the title Kemwer, meaning (the) great black (one).
The Greek form of Heru-ur (or Har wer) is Haroeris. Other variants include Hor Merti ‘Horus of the two eyes’ and Horkhenti Irti.