To the Ancient Egyptians, the monarchy was a divine institution. It embodied the very concept of Ma’at without which the world would plunge into chaos.

The human kings of Egypt saw themselves as semi-divine descendants of the Sun God. The Sun was seen as the Universal Governor and members of the monarchy were Ra’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

In reality, monarchal succession was usually decided by civil war. It was ruthlessness and cruelty–and the ability to usurp order and recreate it– that guaranteed the right to succeed the prevailing pharaoh. But still, the monarchy was viewed as the guarantor of Ma’at.

Seth, the Egyptian God of War, was the brother of Osiris. Seth’s birth was violent and abnormal. He brought disturbance and conflict into the world of Ma’at. Eventually, he would murder his brother Osiris; dismember his corpse and throw the various pieces of it into the river. This act was viewed as an attack on legitimate monarchy.

Osiris was considered a king among gods whose position was second only to Ra, the Solar God. Even though Osiris was killed before he had the opportunity to have a child, Isis was still able to provide her husband with an heir. She gathered the scattered fragments of Osiris together and reassembled–and briefly resurrected–him.

Her son Horus became living proof that the legitimate transmission of monarchy can triumph over even the most extreme and irreparable forms of violence. Horus would eventually overcome his father’s murderers. His eventual victory is a by-product of his mother’s command of magic as well as his own wiles.

It seems, then, that although the throne was often taken by force, it was neither an ideal nor a legitimate state of affairs.

Leave a Comment