Sons of Horus

The four ‘Sons of Horus’

The four ‘sons of Horus’—Duamutef, Hapy, Imsety and Kebehsenuf—are best known for their appearance on the jars in which the internal organs of the deceased were preserved. Each of these Gods protects a specific organ, is linked to one of the cardinal points, and is posited in relation to a tutelary Goddess. Canonically, the relationships are as follows: Duamutef, jackal-headed, the stomach, the east, and Neith; Hapy, baboon-headed, the lungs, the north, and Nephthys; Imsety, human-headed, the liver, the south, and Isis; Kebehsenuf, hawk-headed, the intestines, the west, and Serket. In CT spells 157 and 158 (BD spells 112 and 113), the cities of Pe in Lower Egypt and Nekhen in Upper Egypt are linked, respectively, to Imsety and Hapy and to Duamutef and Kebehsenuf; these Gods are, respectively, together with Horus, among the “Souls [bau] of Pe” and the “Souls of Nekhen” in these spells, although in PT utterance 580 the Souls of Pe and of Nekhen are clearly distinct from the children of Horus, inasmuch as they receive different portions of the sacrificial ox. In BD spell 17, the four sons of Horus are identified with stars in the northern sky somewhere in the vicinity of Ursa Major. In CT spell 157 these four Gods are specified to be the sons of Isis and Haroeris, the ‘elder Horus’, while in PT utterance 688 they are said to be the children of Horus of Khem, or Letopolis, who is usually identified with Khenty-irty.

The canonical disposition of the ‘sons of Horus’ in relation to the organs is the final stage in a process of development in the earlier stages of which neither the animal-headed forms of the sons of Horus, nor their correspondence to discrete organs, directions and Goddesses, was fixed. Prior to the New Kingdom, the children of Horus assisted the deceased in ways less rigidly determined. PT utterance 33 says that “Horus has caused the children of Horus to muster for you [the king] at the place where you drowned,” drowning being a general symbol for death in the manner of Osiris. Elsewhere the children of Horus are said to carry or raise up the deceased: “Horus has given you his children that they may go beneath you and none of them will turn back when they carry you” (utterance 368); in utterance 688, the children of Horus prepare a ladder upon which the king is to climb to the sky. It is said that “Horus has attached himself to his children,” and the deceased is urged to “join yourself with those of his [Horus’] body, for they have loved you” (utterance 370). In PT utterance 506, the deceased identifies himself with each of the four children of Horus successively. The children of Horus share with Shu and Tefnut the function for the deceased of preventing hunger and thirst in PT utterance 338 (the four Gods “reap” on behalf of the deceased, who speaks of them as his/her “surviving children” in CT spell 751). They could also be identified with different parts of the body or spatial dispositions than they later were. Hence in PT utterance 215, the king’s hands are identified with Hapy and Duamutef and his feet with Imsety and Kebehsenuf, while in utterance 359 the children of Horus, along with Horus himself, are at the right side of the deceased, while Nephthys, Seth and Khenty-irty are at his left side. In PT utterance 505, when the deceased is being ferried to the Field of Reeds, the children of Horus are with him, two on one side, two on the other, with no further specification of their distribution. In another ‘ferryman’ text (PT utterance 522), the children of Horus are asked to “bring me [the deceased king] this boat which Khnum built,” which serves to indicate that the netherworld ferry-boat is a vehicle corresponding to one’s own body, since Khnum is famously depicted moulding the infant’s form on his potter’s wheel. In CT spell 397, the children of Horus are said to steer the ferry-boat, while in spell 466 they are said to row the boat of Hetep, Lord of the Field of Offerings.

The relation of Horus himself to his children is highlighted in PT utterance 690, which says that Horus has come to the deceased king “provided with his [Horus’] souls, namely Hapy, Duamutef, Imsety, and Kebehsenuf.” The ‘children’ of Horus thus seem thus more like emanations of Horus himself. In PT utterance 670, the king is said to have been raised up by the four Gods, who are characterized as the king’s “children’s children,” apparently on account of the king being identified with Osiris and the four Gods as children of his child Horus. Interestingly, utterance 670 also refers to Hapy, Imsety, Duamutef and Kebehsenuf as those “whose names you [the deceased king] have made,” indicating some process of appropriation. CT spells 157 and 158 can be interpreted as stating that the four were originally independent from Horus. Referring to the cities of Pe (Buto) in Lower Egypt and Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) in Upper Egypt linked, respectively, to Imsety and Hapy and to Duamutef and Kebehsenuf, in spell 157, Horus the son of Isis asks of Re, “Give me two in Pe and two in Nekhen from this company,” referring to the four Gods who are to be known as the sons of Horus. In CT spell 158 (BD spell 113), Horus says “I have placed Duamutef and Kebehsenuf with me so that I may watch over them, for they are a contentious company,” and implies that their presence in Nekhen, which has been granted to Horus, is of the nature of an imprisonment. This may indicate that when Horus is given charge of these four Gods their allegiance is being transferred to him from Seth, these spells having the overall form of settlements granted to Horus in his dispute with Seth over the cosmic sovereignty. Indeed, it is indicated in spell 158 that Seth will “complain” over the fact that Duamutef and Kebehsenuf are “with” Horus (and, presumably, the deceased or the operator of the spell). In BD spell 18, the deceased is vindicated before “the great council that is in Pe and Dep,” the two parts of the city of Buto in Lower Egypt. This council is explained as consisting of Horus, Isis, Imsety and Hapy, while the “great council that is in Washerman’s Shores” in the same spell consists of “Isis, Horus, and Imsety.” It is unclear why Imsety is singled out in the latter. The setting of the latter council, as befits its watery name, is “this night when Isis lay awake, mourning for her brother Osiris”—to which one should compare the early spells from the Pyramid Texts linking the children of Horus to the scene of the ‘drowning’ of Osiris. The setting for the “great council in Pe and Dep” is “this night of erecting the sanctuary of Horus when was confirmed to him his inheritance, namely the possessions of his father Osiris,” a sanctuary which the commentary explains Seth directed his followers to erect. This would seem to allude once again to the ‘children’ of Horus having been acquired by him as a result of his dispute with Seth.

CT spells 520-523 take the form of four speeches, each by one of the children of Horus. Although these spells already accompany the canopic jars, the identification of the four Gods with particular internal organs is not stressed, except possibly in the case of Hapy, who is asked by Horus to split open the mouth of his father Osiris, that is, to perform the ritual of Opening the Mouth, a ritual more typically associated with Anubis, which permits the deceased to breathe—this being appropriate for Hapy, who secures the jar holding the lungs. In general, the four Gods are addressed in these spells through word play with their names: Imsety as “he who smoothes/pleases”; Hapy as “runner”; Duamutef as “he who honors his mother”; Kebehsenuf as “he who refreshes.” The four Gods can also still be identified with different parts of the body than those corresponding to the jars: hence in a spell for “assembling a spirit’s members,” we read that “your arms are the two sons of Horus, Hapy and Imsety, your fingers and your finger-nails are the Children of Horus … your feet are Duamutef and Kebehsenuf.”

BD spell 168B, which represents part of an originally independent work called “The Gods of the Caverns in the Mysterious Netherworld,” (Allen 1974 p. 162 n. 271), involves the performance of certain ritual actions by the four children of Horus, who are represented by their images, placed around the deceased. Kebehsenuf (whose image is to be placed on the right) presents himself first as the son, and then as the father, of the deceased. The relationship between Osiris N., that is, the particular individual for whom the spell is being activated, and Osiris himself, is emphasized here: “He whose magic is hidden, Osiris, may he open the mouth of Osiris N.,” before Kebehsenuf says to Osiris N. “I am your son”; then Kebehsenuf says, “I am thy father, O Osiris N., because of what thou hast done for Osiris.” The spell making constant reference to offerings made “on earth,” that is, by living operators or by the deceased when alive, it seems that the spell intends here to speak of the relationship of the living to the deceased ancestors. Duamutef (whose image is placed on the left) identifies himself throughout as the son of Horus. The speech of Hapy (whose image is placed again on the right) is fragmentary. Imsety (whose image is placed on the left again) says “I have grown blessed and mighty in thy womb, O mother of Osiris N.,” seeming to gesture toward a reconstitution of the body of the deceased through the womb from which it was born in the first place.

An elaborate ritual in the Book of the Dead (BD spell 137A) is to be said over four flames held by four men with the names of the children of Horus written on their upper arms, the flames then being extinguished each in its own bowl of milk (note that in PT utterance 580, milk is apparently the offering made to the children of Horus). The spell exhorts the children of Horus to protect the deceased as Osiris against Seth and to rescue him/her from decay. “Smite Seth for him [Osiris],” it urges them, “and save N. from him [Seth] from dawn on, even though Horus is able to save his father Osiris himself. Him who did this against your father, dispossess ye him.” Interestingly, the spell urges its user to “Be very careful not to use it for anyone except thy own self—even thy father or thy son—inasmuch as it is a great secret of the west [i.e., the land of the setting sun and of death], a mystery of the netherworld.”

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Associated LOST Characters (Egyptian Deities)

HAPI (Brother)

IMSETY (Brother)


DUAMUTEF (Brother)

HORUS (Father)

OSIRIS (Grandfather)












Wiki Info

The four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in Egyptian religion, who were essentially the personifications of the four canopic jars, which accompanied mummified bodies. Since the heart was thought to embody the soul, it was left inside the body. The brain was thought only to be the origin of mucus, so it was reduced to liquid, syphoned off, and discarded. This left the stomach (and small intestines), liver, large intestines, and lungs, which were removed, embalmed and stored, each organ in its own jar. There were times when embalmers deviated from this scheme: during the 21st Dynasty they embalmed and wrapped the viscera and returned them to the body, while the Canopic jars remained empty symbols.

The earliest reference to the sons of Horus is found in the Pyramid Texts where they are described as friends of the king, as they assist the king in his ascension to heaven in the eastern sky by means of ladders. Their association with Horus specifically goes back to the Old Kingdom when they were said not only to be his children but also his souls. As the king, or Pharaoh was seen as a manifestation of, or especially protected by, Horus, these parts of the deceased pharaoh, referred to as the Osiris, were seen as parts of Horus, or rather, his children, an association which did not diminish with each successive pharaoh. Since Horus was their father, so Isis, Horus’ original wife in the early mythological phase, was usually seen as their mother, though in the details of the funerary ritual each son, and therefore each canopic jar, was protected by a particular goddess. Just as the sons of Horus protected the contents of a canopic jar, the king’s organs, so they in turn were protected. As they were male in accordance with the principles of male/female duality their protectors were female.

Imsety in human form, protected the liver and was protected by Isis. Hapi in baboon form, protected the lungs and was protected by Nephthys. Duamutef in jackal form, protected the stomach and was protected by Neith. Qebehsenuef in hawk form, protected the large intestines and was protected by Serket.

The classic depiction of the four sons of Horus on Middle Kingdom coffins show Imsety and Duamutef on the eastern side of the coffin and Hapi and Qebehsenuef on the western side. The eastern side is decorated with a pair of eyes and the mummy was turned on its side to face the east and the rising sun, therefore, this side is sometimes referred to as the front. The sons of Horus also became associated with the cardinal compass points, so that Hapi was the North, Imsety the south, Duamutef the east and Qebehsenuef the west

Up until the end of the 18th Dynasty the canopic jars had the head of the king but later they were shown with animal heads. Inscriptions on coffins and sarcophagi from earliest times showed them usually in animal form.

Jackal, Baboon, Falcon and Human

The reasons for attributing these four animals to the sons of Horus is not known, although we may point to other associations which these animals have in Egyptian mythology. The baboon with the moon and Thoth, the god of wisdom and knowledge, and also the baboons which chatter when the sun rises raising their hands as if in worship. The jackal (or possibly dog) linked to Anubis and the act of embalming and also Wepwawet the ‘opener of the ways’ who seeks out the paths of the dead. The hawk with Horus himself and also Seker the mummified necropolis god. And the man who may be linked to Osiris himself or Onuris the hunter.

However what is known is that the Egyptians themselves linked them with the ancient kings of Lower and Upper Egypt, the Souls of Pe and Nekhen. In Spells 112 and 113 of the Book of the Dead which have their origins in the earlier Coffin Texts Spells 157 and 158, it is described how Horus has his eye injured, and because of this is given the sons of Horus:

“Imsety, Hapi, Duamutef, Qebehsenuef whose father was the elder Horus and whose mother is Isis. – and he [Horus] said to Re: ‘Give me two in Pe and two in Nekhen from this second company. May I be in my own right an alloter of eternity, an opener of everlasting, a queller of strife in this my name of Horus-who-is-on-his-pillar’. (Coffin Texts 157 , R.O. Faulkner).

The injury of Horus’ eye is part of the myth cycle known as the Contending of Horus and Set recounting how they fought over the crown of Egypt.

In a unique illustration in the tomb of Ay the sons of Horus are shown wearing the red and white crowns as the Souls of Pe and Nekhen, the souls of the royal ancestors.

The attributes of the sons of Horus are not limited to their role as the protectors of canopic jars. they appear as the four rudders of heaven in Spell 148 of the Book of the Dead, as four of the seven celestial spirits summoned by Anubis in Spell 17 of the Book of the Dead and through this are linked to the circumpolar stars of the Great Bear.

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The four ‘Sons of Horus’

HAPI (Desmond Hume)

Hapi the baboon headed son of Horus protected the lungs of the deceased and was in turn protected by the goddess Nephthys. The spelling of his name includes a hieroglyph which is thought to be connected with steering a boat, although its exact nature is not known. For this reason he was sometimes connected with navigation, although early references call him the great runner.

You are the great runner; come, that you may join up my father N and not be far in this your name of Hapi, for you are the greatest of my children – so says Horus”


In Spell 151 of the Book of the Dead he is given the following words to say:

“I have come that I may be your protection, O N; I have knit together your head and your members, I have smitten your enemies beneath you, and I have given you your head forever.”

As one of the four pillars of Shu and one of the four rudders of heaven he was associated with the North, and is specifically referenced as such in Spell 148 in the Book of the Dead.

Associated LOST Characters



IMSETY (Johnny)

Imsety the human headed son of Horus, protected the liver of the deceased and was in turn protected by the goddess Isis. It seems that his role was to help revivify the corpse of the dead person, as he is asked to ‘lift them up’ by Horus.

“You have come to N; betake yourself beneath him and lift him up, do not be far from him, (even) N, in your name of Imsety.”


To stand up meant to be active and thus alive while to be prone signified death.

In Spell 151 of the Book of the Dead he is given the following words to say:

“I have come that I may be your protection, O N; and that I may make your house to flourish and endure, in accordance with the command of Ptah and in accordance with the command of Re.”

Again the theme of making alive and revivifying is alluded to through the metaphor of making his house flourish. He does this with the authority of two creator gods Ptah and Re.

Spell 148 in the Book of the Dead directly associates all four of Horus’ sons to the four cardinal points. Imsety was associated with the South.

Associated LOST Characters



DUAMUTEF (Leonard Simms)

Duamutef, the jackal headed son of Horus, protected the stomach of the deceased and was in turn protected by the goddess Neith. It seems that his role was to worship the dead person, and his name means literally ‘he who worships his mother (the dead)’. In the Coffin Texts Horus calls upon him to:

“Come and worship my father N for me, just as you went that you might worship my mother Isis in your name Duamutef.”


Rather confusingly, as is borne out here, Isis had a dual role. Not only was she the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus, but she was also the consort of Horus the Elder and thus the mother of the sons of Horus. This ambiguity is added to when Duamutef calls Osiris his father, rather than Horus.

In Spell 151 of the Book of the Dead he is given the following words to say:

“I have come that I may protect my father Osiris from him who would harm you …”

The text does not make it clear who is going to harm Osiris, although there are two major candidates. The obvious one is Set, the murderer of Osiris. Somehow the son who worships his mother Isis is able to assist in overcoming Set. the other possibility is Apophis, the serpent demon who prevents the Sun’s passage and thus the resurrection of Osiris. Either way, Duamutef through his worship of Isis has the power to protect the deceased from harm.

He was also considered one of the four pillars of Shu, a rudder of heaven, and was associated with the East.

Associated LOST Characters



KEBEHSENUEF (Randy Nations)

Qebehsenuef was the hawk-headed son of Horus, and protected the intestines of the deceased. He was in turn protected by the goddess Serket. It appears that his role was to refresh the dead person, and his name means literally ‘he who libates his siblings’. Horus tells him to:

“Come refresh my father; betake yourself to him in your name of Qebehsenuef. You have come that you may make coolness for him after you …


Libation or showering with cool water was a traditional form of worship in Ancient Egypt. There are many images of the pharaoh presenting libation to the gods. There is a sense of a dual function of cleansing and refreshing them.

In Spell 151 of the Book of the Dead Qebehsenuef was given the following words to say:

“I join your bones together for you, I collect your members for you, I bring your heart to you, I set it in its place in your body for you …”

After Set murdered the king Osiris in order to hide his body he cut it into pieces and scattered them around the Delta. This was an anathema to the Egyptians and the service that Qebehsenuef gives to the dead is to reassemble their parts so they can be properly preserved.

He was the god associated with the West.

Associated LOST Characters



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