Celestial Light: Syncretism of Apollon and Heru-Wer


“Yet light’s divine presence has not yet come, when an impalpable glimmer suffuses the night, what waking men call wolf-light, they entered the harbor of Thynias, barren island, and stumbled ashore, exhausted by their grievous labors; and here there appeared before them Apollo, Leto’s son…….Come, let us call this place the holy island of Dawntime Apollo, since here he revealed himself to us all, passing by at dawn.” (Argonautika by Apollonios Rhodios, 669 & 686)

The above passage from the Argonautika is an excellent illustration of the light of Apollon, associated with the sun as it may be but not in this cases regarded as the sun. Light flies before the rising sun led by dawn, and light suffuses the world as the sun passes as its path. Apollon bares light with him, so it is not suprising that he would be later associated strongly with the sun god Helios. However the light that preceeds the dawn is pointed out to have been the morning star visible in the pre-dawn, and which was considered completely seperate from the evening star (http://history.nasa.gov/SP-424/ch1.htm). And this parallel can also be found in Egyptian form with Horus, where it is possible that the earliest divine image was that of a hawk in a barque who Geraldine Pinch in her book “Egyptian Mythology” remarks may have represented a planet or star traveling on the waterways across the sky. Wallis Budge in his book “Egyptian Heaven and Hell” describes the scene as the boat of Re enters the eastern horizon, and before him is Horus-Set, a combination of the duel forces of disease and darkness with that of light. A powerful combination of Herus and Set which can strongly parallel that complex nature of Apollon. And it is Horus-Set with his two bows, one in the darkness and one in the light who comes into the sky before Re as Horus of the Dawn, the golden Horus. Horus has such strong associations with dawn time that he has the titles of Horemakhet (Horus of the Horizon) and Harmachis (Horus of the Two Horizons). The gathering and waning of light as it enters and leaves the sky can be associated to Apollon strongly, for a deity who presides over light in the world would markedly be attributed with its absense as well, just as the god was equated with both plague and healing. Though the previously mentioned website history.nasa.gov states that Egyptians had a opposite view of the morning and evening star. According to there history webpage while the greeks saw the morning star as Apollon, and the evening star as Hermes, among the Egyptians the morning star was Seth fleeing before the light of Re approaching, and the evening star was the presence of Horus. But since as already mentioned Seth and Horus were combined together in the company of the boat of Re in Egyptian illustration then it is likely that it could have been either or both.

However; like Apollon in Greece, Horus too became confused and identified with the sun god within the Egyptian religion, gaining the title of Ra-Horakhty (Ra-Horus of the Double Horizon) as he is mentioned in The Contendings of Horus and Seth. But more frequently both Apollon and Horus are distinctly individual deities from the sun-god. The Romans who adopted Apollon into their religion pratically never associated him with the sun. The only notable evidence of this association occuring in Roman literature is via Ovid’s writings which was more influenced by Greek philosophy. However in later Roman history, those academics who were studied Greek philosophy apparently absorbed this idea as evident in the philosophical writings of Cicero, however it was never very popular. I think that this a strong evidential indication on domestic and rural beliefs regarding Apollon that carried Apollon onto Italian shores. However the god of light has never been mistaken as one of the most frequently used titles, even over the name Apollo, is that of Phoebus. The Roman Lucifer, derived, like the Lucina (an nocturnal light and light of birth epithet used for Diana, Hekate and Iuno), from the Roman word “lux” is likely directly tied with Apollon. Interestingly his sister Diana was also associated with a wandering star (planet) as mentioned by Cicero in his book On the Nature of the Gods, and given her epithet of Luciferia, it may have well been a relationship similar to that of Apollon and Hermes regarding the morning and evening star. In A Summary of Pythagorean Theology John Opsopaus describes Apollon as the transmudane sun. That is not the literal sun that governs the planets, but rather on a level between that and the heavenly Zeus, a light of logic and “rules the Ideas in the Empyrean Realm”. Thus he could be explained as a light behind the sun. This would be remarkably alike to Horus, the celestial falcon his wings spanning the sky at 1000 cubits, who banished darkness when he opened his eyes revealing the sun and the moon. He is not the sun, but the sun is within the scope of his essence and power as it filters down to humanity. Horus takes on a great expanse of celestial light, for not only does he show himself in ways already mentioned within the content of this essay, but he was also associated with other planets. The light of the planets Mars in the sky was the flight of Red Horus in the sky. Saturn in turn was Horus the Bull. Lastly the planet Jupiter was Horus the Revealer of Secrets. In the last instance we can aquate strongly with Apollon who used his oracles to speak to will of his father Zeus, but also served as a light that banished ignorance in favor of knowledge and logic, testifying to the power of the light to reveal the world to us.

But in direct contrast Horus is also revealed at Letopolis as Horus the not-seeing, which may reference times of eclipse or any time that lacks visible light. This Khenty-en-irty (eye-less Horus) is described by Pinch as a vengeful god who tortured the evil dead. A vengeful character has arisen in case of myths of Apollon in case of insult to himself or his mother Leto, and in grievance against faithless lovers. With concentration on Apollon’s rule over logic, discovery, knowledge, and light, it can easily be overlooked or dismissed that he is also a plague bringer, destroyer. Hekatos, the god who shoots from afar. And there too is Harwer/Haroeris (aka Horus) who is names is speculated to mean “Distant One”. A god who can become as a griffin, a combination of lion, serpent and falcon, to destroy the enemies of his father. A creature that is also a heraldic animal for Apollon carrying him to the distant Hyperborean lands. In legend Thoth tells Distant Goddess who precides over sight and sound, that not even the mighty lion can escape slaughter by the griffin if he disobeys the laws of Re. And so there lurks the destroyer.

And the lion, a ferocious animal often connected with powerful goddesses in mythology and familiar in modern astrology as the firey Leo, is appropriately part of the scope of Horus and Apollon. Aside from being a component of the griffin, which is a composed creature of sacred animals, the lion stands in visible testimony. At Delos great lions stand roaring. And in Egypt the great Sphinx stands who sits at Giza was recognized around 1500 BCE as ” Hor-em-akht (Horus in the Horizon), Bw-How (Place of Horus) and also as Ra-horakhty (Ra of Two Horizons)” (http://www.sphinx-egypt.com/sphinx_story.htm). Which would be quite appropriate considering that the lioness goddesses, associated with the sun eye, guarded the horizon as the sun rose above it. Of course it is amusing how many of the qualities of these gods are remembered in popular culture through the ages, as the protective heraldic image of the fighting griffin, and in manifestation of astrological Leo a sign associated directly with the sun as its planetary ruler.

Apollonios Rhodios, The Argonautika University of California Press (1997)
Budge, E.A. Wallis, Egyptian Heaven and Hell. Open Court Publishing Company (1905,1974)
Cicero, The Nature of the Gods. Penguin Classics (1972).
Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt. Oxford Press (2002)
Fontenrose, Joseph E. Apollo and Sol in the Latin Poets of the First Century BC. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol 70 (1939) pp 439-455
Lyle, Jenson. The Story of the Sphinx (2007). Accessed 6/4/2007.
Simpson, William Kelly. The Contendings of Horus and Seth. Accessed 6/4/2007.
Took, Thalia. OGOD: Lucina (2004). Accessed 6/4/2007.
Opsopaus, John. A Summary of Pythagorean Theology (2002). Accessed 6/4/2007.

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