Susanllewellyn's Blog

February 9, 2011

What Kind of God Do You Think You Are? Horus the Elder (3)

Filed under: Uncategorized,What kind of god do you think you are? — Valerie Billingham @ 8:21 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Did you put the pen down after the last post? And how is the cramp now – better?  Good, because we’re going to press on with Horus the Elder.

This time, we’re going to make a start on his title, Foremost of Letopolis. And here is Horus the Elder’s title spelled out quite fully in hieroglyphs:

  , khenty Khem, Foremost (of) Letopolis.

First and foremost, the word khenty comprises the three signs stacked one on top of the other on the left:    The middle and lowest of them will be familiar to old Office Hieroglyphs hands, but the top one is new to this blog:  , a row of water jars on a stand making the triliteral sound khent.  (Ignore the diagonal line cutting across the top left hand corner of the sign in this example, it shouldn’t be there.)  The wavy ripple of water beneath reinforces the n sound, and that perennial favourite, the loaf of bread, reinforces the t.  The y sound is not spelled out here; it’s just understood.  Khent = before or in front of, khenty = the on who is in front or foremost.  It was obvious to the Egyptians from the context that khenty was what was meant here, and adding in the y would have spoiled the arrangement of the signs, so they left it out.

But back to the hieroglyph, and the water jars on a stand.  An individual jar on a stand looked like this: 

The jar has to be on a stand because it has a pointed bottom and would fall over if it wasn’t.  See how the base of the stand adds that triangular shape you can see in the hieroglyph?  Here’s a more elaborate pained version of three jars in a row:

The artist has carried that shape over into the bottom of the jars as if they were shaped like that.  And that’s the easiest way to draw them.  I start by drawing each jar like a figure eight, with an elongated oval upper loop and a short, flattened triangle for the bottom one.  The you just add a little T on the top of each jar for the stopper and a bent line each side from the shoulder of the jar to ground level to suggest the framework of the stand.  I like drawing khent.  It looks complicated but it’s easy once you know how.

I think your hand deserves another rest now.  We’ll get on to Letopolis next time round.


  1. Hi Susan,

    do you have any idea why Hm is translated Letopolis?

    Earing that name I immediately remember the greek Lethos, god of oblivion.

    Comment by jpgalhano — February 15, 2011 @ 1:48 am | Reply

    • Hi Joao Paulo,

      interesting idea. I assume it’s from the Greek goddess Leto, mother of Apollo and Artemis, mentioned in Herodotus Book II in relation to a floating island called Khemmis. But her name may itself derive from Lethe, so maybe you’re right!

      Comment by Susan Llewellyn — February 16, 2011 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  2. Well Susan,
    it must be related to Leto, not to Letho, I agree with you. Herodotus relates Leto with the city of Buto (II, 56) wich some commentators identify with Uto, the city and goddess wich gave place to the uraeus (serpent), symbol of the strenght of Ra and the royal power; it’s possible that Herodotus had identify Uto with Leto. But I can’t find that relation of Leto to Khem; can you please tell me the section of book II?

    Comment by jpgalhano — February 17, 2011 @ 12:58 am | Reply

    • It’s in section 156 as the floating island of Chemmis -at least, that’s the spelling in my edition of the Loeb classical library!

      Comment by Susan Llewellyn — February 19, 2011 @ 9:18 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: