Statue of Horus wearing Roman military costume

Limestone seated statue of Horus wearing Roman military costume; traces of paint; arms lost. The figure originally wore a crown, probably of another material, inserted into the top of the head. The falcon head is rendered with careful attention to the feathering around the face; the eyes are human and the pupils are incised.

The feathers of the falcon god double as the scales of a mail shirt (described by the modern term lorica plumata), the sleeves of which end below the shoulders. A knotted cingulum encircles the waist, dropping to the hips in contrast to the more typically depicted position at a soldier’s natural waist.

Statue of Horus wearing Roman military costume
Statue of Horus wearing Roman military costume

A cloak fastened at the right shoulder by a round plate fibula is pushed back over the shoulders. A separate garment covers the legs. The attitude is one of casual repose, common to images of senior Graeco-Roman deities.

To the ancient Egyptians, Horus was one of the most important deities. He was commonly depicted as a falcon-headed god with a double crown. The kings of Egypt were associated with Horus since the king was considered to be the earthly embodiment of the god.

In the beginning stages of the ancient Egyptian religion, Horus was believed to be the god of war and the sky, and was married to the goddess Hathor.

As the religion progressed, Horus was seen as the son of Osiris and Isis, as well as the opponent of Seth. This change in belief created the myth about Horus and Seth in which Seth was jealous of Osiris (his brother and king of the deities) because he himself wanted to be king. He murdered Osiris and split the body into pieces, which he scattered throughout Egypt.

Isis, wife and sister of Osiris, searched and collected the pieces of her husband with the help of her sister, Nephthys. Isis brought Osiris back to life and he became the lord of the underworld and lord of the sacred land. Isis then gave birth to their son, Horus, and kept him hidden so he could one day defeat Seth.

Once older, Horus claimed his right to the throne and battled Seth. Horus eventually won and became king; however, during battle, Seth damaged Horus’s eye, dividing it into six pieces. Thoth restored the eye, thus creating the Eye of Horus or Wadjet.

Roman Period, 1st Century – 3rd Century. Dimensions: height: 54.50 centimeters, width: 31.80 centimeters, depth: 25.80 centimeters. Now in the British Museum. EA51100