Colossal bust of Ramesses II

A bigger picture

Ideas of kingship in Egypt were inextricably linked to creation myths and the legends of Osiris, Egypt’s mythical first king. According to these, Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth, but avenged by his son Horus, who took his father’s place as the rightful ruler of Egypt. Every Egyptian king was seen as Horus in life and Osiris in death. This is reflected in art where the living king is represented naturalistically with a straight beard, and the dead king in the form of a mummy with a curved beard. Whether ruling the world of the living as Horus, or the world of the dead as Osiris, it was the king’s duty to maintain Maat, or divine order.

King Den shown defeating Egypt’s enemies


In the centre, the falcon above his name indicates his status as the incarnation of the god Horus. Pharaohs were shown in this pose throughout Egypt’s history as late as Roman times.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/king-den-s-sandal-label/XgFRnbp4-z5HWw

Amenhotep I represented as the god Osiris, in the form of a mummy

45-bigpic-07 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/l/limestone_statue_of_amenhotep.aspx

Amenemhat IV making offerings to the creator god Atum

45-bigpic-04 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=8813&partId=1&searchText=Amenemhat+IV+&page=1

Thutmose IV making offerings to the gods


His kneeling posture indicates his humility and respect for the deities.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/bronze-statuette-of-thutmose-iv/WQErvcOkYfX4OQ

Tutankhamun represented as a priest of Hapy


Making offerings to the god of the Nile.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/granite-statue-of-tutankhamun-as-a-priest-of-hapy/fAH240tRthNCDw

Akhenaten, seated in an informal pose


Receiving the blessings of the god Aten

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/l/limestone_stela_with_a_seated.aspx

Royal seal of the female king Sobekneferu


Notice the image of Horus above her name.

See more See more: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/glazed-steatite-cylinder-seal-of-sobekneferu/SAF9kHunWVwpOQ
Next section: Teaching ideas

Colossal bust of Ramesses II