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Four Sons of Horus
 
The Four sons of Horus were a group of four gods in Egyptian mythology, 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, and 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 large intestines), liver, (small) intestines, and lungs, each being stored in their own jar.     

Since Pharaoh himself was mummified, and since he was seen as a manifestation of, or especially protected by, Hor, these parts of the deceased pharaoh were seen as parts of Horus, or rather, his children, since Horus was not any lesser in his association with each next Pharoah. Since Horus was therefore their father, so Aset (Isis), Horus' original wife (i.e. his wife in early mythologies), was usually seen as their mother.

As the sons of Horus were representative of the jars, they were said to guard the contents against would be attackers. However, the jars, as jars, needed something to protect them themselves. Thus each of the jar deities was said to have a protector, which, since the jar deities were considered male, in a manifestation of the principles of male-female duality, also used in the Ogdoad, made the protector's female. Naturally, as protectors of the protectors of the dead, they were goddesses associated with death.

Later, over time, the four sons gained names - Hapi, Imset, Duamatef, Qebehsenuf.

Hapi
Since suffocation would be the form of death that made the lungs the victim, the main form of suffocation, namely drowning, became attributed to the deity protecting the lung jar. Consequently, he first gained the name geese, in reference to floating on water, and then later gained the more sarcastic name runner, in reference to river currents (some of the glyphs involved represent water), which is Hapi (also spelt Hapy and Apephi) in Egyptian. This association with water lead to his protector being the goddess Anuket, goddess of the source of the Nile (the main, and in most places, only, river in Egypt), and later, when Anuket was identified as Nephthys, so his protector became Nephthys.

Imset
Since the liver was thought of as the seat of emotion, so a broken heart was the form of death attributed to the deity protecting the liver. Thus the name of this deity, sarcastically, became the kindly one, which is Imsety (also spelt Amset, Imset, Amsety, Mesti, and Mesta) in Egyptian. Likewise, the cause of such emotion would likely be that of a beautiful woman, thus his protector was the goddess Aset (Isis).

     Duamutef
In war, in ancient times, the most significant weaponry was the bow and arrow, able to hit targets at a distance, but due to the distance, required aiming at the most visible part of the body – the centre of the torso. Whereas in hand to hand combat, the torso was also the most aimed for region, in particular, the stomach. In this manner, the deity protecting the stomach was associated with death by war, gaining the sarcastic name Duamutef (also spelt Tuamutef), meaning Adoring his mother, in reference to his motherland. His protector became the goddess Neith, who was originally a war goddess, associated with the bow & arrow.

Qebehsenuf
The remaining canopic jar carried the intestines, which were often used, when from sacrificed animals, by soothsayers, to predict the future, whereas, on the other hand, the intestines were also noticeably the victims of poison. These twin associations with magic, and death by poison, lead to the protector of this deity being Serket, the scorpion goddess, associated with poison and magic. With death by poison, the canopic jar deity was given the sarcastic name my brother's libation, which is Qebehsenuf (also spelt Kebechsenef, and Kebehsenuf) in Egyptian, in reference to the poisoner.

Jackal, baboon, falcon and human
The Egyptians associated jackals and baboons with graveyards, since baboons were seen approaching them when humans were not around at night, and jackals often were seen out looking for easy prey. So these creatures, together with the falcon, symbol of early forms of Horus, and the symbol of a mummy itself, became the four symbols associated with the jars.

Because the baboon was known for its loud call, it became associated with the jar for the lungs, and consequently Hapi was usually depicted with a baboon's head. Because the Egyptians, like the Chinese, saw the liver as the seat of personality, so it was that the (mummified) human was the one associated with the jar of the liver, making the depiction of Imsety one of a mummified human.

There was no strong reason for associating the jackal or the falcon with either of the remaining two jars, one for the stomach and one for the intestines, so these were often interchanged. However, due to the relative sizes of the creatures, and what they would be more likely to take away from a corpse, the falcon was more often associated with the jar for the intestines, and the Jackal the jar for the stomach. Thus Qebehsenuf was usually depicted falcon-headed, and Duamutef with the head of a Jackal.     

The Four Sons of Horus continued to be depicted on funerary equipment into the Ptolemaic and Græco-Roman eras, and the last known instances are found as late as the 4th century AD, well into the Christian era.

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This article is copied from an article on Wikipedia.org - the free encyclopedia created and edited by online user community. Although the vast majority of the wikipedia encyclopedia articles provide accurate and timely information please do not assume the accuracy of any particular article. This article is distributed under the terms of GNU Free Documentation License.

 

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