Baistrocchi concludes that the statuette may beautifully render the switch from the ancient tradition, represented by the pharaoh north-south orientation, to the new east-west placement, i.e. the falcon’s one. In fact, according to the Italian scholar, from the Middle Kingdom on there would be numerous examples (Teti, Pepi I and Pepi II) of similar conception. Eventually, he takes for granted that, in the statuette we are examining, the two axes of orientation cross each other to form an exact 90° angle. I mean: why the day of the year must necessarily be perpendicular to a certain star? Or why a sunbeam must be perpendicular to a star beam? Or even why a reflection from the moon must be perpendicular to a star beam? Was it specifically planned to take place in that way, by the ancient architects, or the perpendicular intersection of the rays might be intended as purely symbolic, but just occurring in the due time? To complicate things, or help to unravel the tangle, we should additionally remember that Horus, the falcon on a perch, represents symbolically the light, or the sky, while Seth stands for the earth, or the night.
Back to Egyptian art, Baistrocchi provides the evidence of his theory with a group of statues in granite representing Ramses III (XX dynasty) standing between Horus and Seth. In this case the pharaoh seems to be oriented according to an axis exactly perpendicular to that joining Horus and Seth.
Horus and Seth are traditionally said to represent “the right and the left side”(1). Hence, giving for granted their task of accompanying the pharaoh, as well as giving for granted the king’s north-south axis, the two gods should represent the equinoctial orientation, Horus on the western side looking eastwards and Seth on the eastern side looking westward. But Baistrocchi doesn’t mention what happens when the two gods have the chance to escape their accompanying task: what if they get back at their traditional solstitial – north/south – axis?
The Italian scholar seems to be posing the same dilemma when observing that Horus and Seth’s orientation must otherwise be swiveled from equinoctial to solstitial when encountering a “modern” pharaoh, one of those looking westwards.
Nevertheless Baistrocchi seems to not recall what he has previously written in his book, that’s to say that Horus, the falcon on a perch, symbolically represents the light, or the sky, while Seth stands for the earth, or the night. So, in this case, Ramses III could be walking between the light and the dark, the day and the night, the sky and the earth. But Baistrocchi’s book will be long enough to provide other examples.
To be continued.
- B. de Rachewiltz ” Il Papiro Magico di Roma”, Roma 1954;