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Symbol for eye of Horus

 
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SI
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:09 am    Post subject: Symbol for eye of Horus Reply with quote

I have seen the Eye of Horus symbol represented as a left eye in some places and as right eye in other places.

I am wondering are they simply different orientations of the same symbol or do they each carry a different symbolic meaning?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Symbol for eye of Horus Reply with quote

SI wrote:
I have seen the Eye of Horus symbol represented as a left eye in some places and as right eye in other places.

I am wondering are they simply different orientations of the same symbol or do they each carry a different symbolic meaning?


There are actually two Eyes in Egyptian mythology. One is the Eye of Ra, which is mythically the right eye of the god, and delivers burning heat to its enemies. The right eye of Ra (or often attributed to Horus as well) is called the /ir.t/ (iret), or "doer" eye, and is mythically associated with several goddesses who protect the sun-god by fiercely fighting away his enemies in the firm of his "Fiery Eye", whcih is often personified as a uraeus cobra (Roberts 1995). Sekhmet, for example, is such a Fiery Eye goddess, who blasts Ra's enemies during the nightly journey of the sun-god into the underworld. The myth of the Destruction of Mankind gives an example of the fierceness of these goddesses when called upon to do Ra's bidding. Otehr goddesses associated with being a Fiery Eye goddess in Ra's command is Isis, Ma'at, Neith, Bastet, and so on.

Rarely used as an amulet, it does appear periodically mainly as a means to ward off one's enemies, as the power of the /ir.t/ goddesses are said to protect the wearer.

Meanwhile, in the Contendings of Seth and Horus, it's said that the left eye of Horus was damaged in his fight with his uncle Seth (Sutekh), which was cured by either Thoth or Isis (depending upon which version you read). However, as Horus is also a sun deity, it was said that his left eye was never as strong as his right again, which is why the left eye of the sun was thought to be the moon.

Because Horus's eye was damaged and then made whole, it is referred to as the /wAD.t/ (wadjet) eye, or the eye which was "made whole/repaired." It is usually the wadjet eye one sees as amulets for wearing around the neck as a means to "make whole" the person fro any ailment he has.

On the distinction between the two eyes of the sun-god, see:

Anthes, R. 1961. Das Sonnenauge in den Pyramidentexten. ZÄS 86: 1-21.

Borghouts, J. F. The Victorious Eyes: A Structural Analysis of Two Egyptian Mythologizing Texts of the Middle Kingdom. In Studien zu Sprache and Religion Ägyptens. Zu Ehren von Wolfhart Westendorf überreicht von seinen Freunden and Schülern, 2: 703-716. Göttingen: Göttingen University.

Darnell, J. C. 1997. The Apotropaic Goddess in the Eye. SAK 24: 35-48.

Griffiths, J. G. 1958. Remarks on the Mythology of the Eyes of Horus. CdE 33/66: 182-193.

Sambin, C. 1997. La purification de l'oeil divin ou les deux vases de Kom Ombo. RdE 48: 185-200.

On the subject of the Eye of Ra and the Fiery Eye goddesses, see

Brunner-Traut, E. 1977. Der Sehgott und der Horgott in Literatur und Theologie. In J. Assmann. E. Feucht, and R. Grieshammer, eds., Fragen an die altägyptische Literatur: 125-145. Studien zum Gedenken an Eberhard Otto. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag.

Hoenes, S.-E. 1976. Untersuchungen zu Wesen und Kult der Göttin Sachmet. Habelts Dissertationsdrucke. Reihe Ägyptologie 1.
Bonn: Rudolf Habelt Verlag GmbH.

Johnson, S. B. 1990. The Cobra Goddess of Ancient Egypt: Predynastic, Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom Periods. Studies in Egyptology. A. B. Lloyd. London: Kegan Paul International.

Mathieu, B. 1986. Les hommes de larmes. A propos d'un jeu de mots mythique dans les textes de l'ancienne Egypte. In Hommages à François Daumas: 499-509. Montpellier: Publication de la Recherche - Université de Montpellier.

Roberts, A. 1995. Hathor Rising: The Serpent Power of Ancient Egypt. Devon: Northgate Publishers.

On the Eye of Horus and the wadjet eye, see:

Aufrere, S. 1991. L'univers minéral dans la pensée égyptienne. Volume 1: Le monde des déserts, des mines et des carrières. L'offrande des métaux et des pierres et le remplissage de l'Oeil-Oudjat. Les divinités de l'univers minéral dans la mentalité et la religion des anciens Égyptiens. (Vol. 1). Bibliothèque d'étude, 105/1. Cairo: Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale (IFAO).

Fehlig, A. 1986. Königskrone und Horusauge. Göttinger Miszellen 90: 11-25.

Goedicke, H. 1992. The Bright Eye of Horus: Pyr. Spell 204. In I. Gamer-Wallert and W. Helck, eds., Gegengabe. Festschrift für Emma Brunner-Traut: 95-102. Tübingen: Attempto Verlag.

Johnson, S. B. 1990. The Cobra Goddess of Ancient Egypt: Predynastic, Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom Periods. Studies in Egyptology. A. B. Lloyd. London: Kegan Paul International.

Koemoth, P. P. 1996. Osiris-Lune, l'horizon et l'oeil oudjat. CdE 71: 203-220.

Krauss, R. 1997. Astronomische Konzepte und Jenseitsvorstellungen in den Pyramidentexten. Ägyptologische Abhandlungen 59. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. (On the astronomical connotations of the Eye of Horus in the Pyramid Texts as referring to lesser bodies of light, such as the moon, Venus, etc.)

Kristensen, W. B. 1992. Life Out of Death: Studies in the Religions of Egypt and of Ancient Greece. H. J. Franken and G. R. H. Wright. Leuven: Peeters.

Riemschneider, M. 1953. Augengott und Heilige Hochzeit. Fragen zur Vorgeschichtlichen Religion I. Leipzig, Koehler & Amelang.

Roberts, A. 1995. Hathor Rising: The Serpent Power of Ancient Egypt. Devon: Northgate Publishers.

Roeder, H. 1996. Mit dem Auge sehen. Studien zur Semantik der Herrschaft in den Toten- und Kulttexten. Studien zur Archäologie und Geschichte Altägyptens 16. Heidelberg: Heidelberger Orientverlag.

Roeder, H. 1994. "Mit dem Auge sehen." Ägyptisches und Ägyptologisches zum "Auge des Horus." Göttinger Miszellen 138: 37-69.

Sherkova, T.A. 1996. "Oko Xora": simbolika glaza v dodinastičeskom Egipte. Vestnik Drevnej Istorii (Revue d'Histoire ancienne) (Moscow) 4 (219): 96-115. ("The Eye of Horus; the symbolism of the eye in pre-Dynastic Egypt." In Russian.)

Tobin, V. A. 1993. Divine Conflict in the Pyramid Texts. JARCE 30: 93-110.

Troy, L. 1994. Painting the Eye of Horus. In C.Berger, G. Clerc and N. Grimal, eds., Hommages à Jean Leclant. Volume 1: Études pharaoniques: 351-360. Bibliothèque d'étude, 106/1. Cairo: Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale (IFAO).

HTH.
_________________
Katherine Griffis-Greenberg

Doctoral Candidate
Oriental Institute
Oriental Studies
Doctoral Programme [Egyptology]
Oxford University
Oxford, United Kingdom

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