Isis and Horus

Oil on canvas. 152 x 122cm. 1993/94

This image comes from the second hypostyle hall in the temple of Seti I at Abydos. The young King Seti sits upon the knee of the mother goddess Isis, as she tenderly lifts his head to speak to him.

The name of Isis means the seat or the throne, the symbol of which she sometimes wears on her head and is part of the hieroglyph of her name.

When a king dies he becomes Osiris. The living king who succeeds to the throne is his son Horus. Isis, as the wife of Osiris, is the mother of Horus. So the king comes to power by taking his place on the lap of the great mother goddess.

In this case the Horus King is Seti I, of the 19th Dynasty, the father of Rameses II. Behind him is his Ka, "Strong Bull Arising in Thebes". The Ka is an aspect of his being, sometimes called his double or his spiritual power. It is born with the person, and when the body dies the Ka lives on, returning to its divine origin.

The crown Isis wears here is appropriate to her role as mother of the Strong Bull.

In one hand Seti holds the crook, a symbol of his authority to rule; in the other he holds a papyrus roll, the house document, also called "The Secret of the Two Partners", which gives him the power to rule over Upper and Lower Egypt.

The footstool on which the feet of Horus rests is decorated with the symbol for unity which often appears on the throne. The lotus flower of Lower Egypt (North), and the papyrus of Upper Egypt (South) are bound together around the hieroglyphic sign for unity.

Translation of the hieroglyphs;

Dd mdw in As.t wr.t nTr mwt Hrt-ib Hw.t mn-mAat-ra n sA=s mry=s nb tA.wy mn-mAat-ra ntk sA pr.n=k im rnn.n(=i) tw r HqA tA.wy snx.t n Ha=k m nx.t r tA nb pH tw

Words spoken by Isis, great mother goddess, who is in the temple of her beloved son, Lord of the Two Lands, Men-Maat-Ra. Thou art the son who goes forth there. I reared you to be ruler of the two lands, strengthened your body to be victorious over every land that attacks you.

iw Hm=k n nsw nHH Hr wAH n Dt

Thy majesty is king for eternity, Horus enduring for ever.