Egyptian Gods and Goddesses - Khonsu Illustration from




Khonsu was the adopted son of Amun and Mut, and became the third member of the Theban triad, replacing Montu. For some unknown reason the Greeks named him Hercules. His usual form in Egyptian art is that of a young man or child, bound like a mummy, with the sidelock of youth, and a crescent and full moon upon his head. In his hands, which emerge from the bindings, he holds a crook and sceptre.

His name appears to be derived from a word meaning 'to cross over' or 'wanderer', suggesting that Khonsu means 'He who traverses', a fitting title for a moon god such as he.

In his capacity as lunar god he assisted Thoth, helping him to record the passing of time and also served as a healer of the sick and protector against evil spirits. In addition he was well practised as an exorcist. Evil spirits were often considered to be the source of an illness, so that physicians were by necessity wise in the ways of magic. It is reported that the sick were taken by their families and friends from all parts of Egypt to Khonsu's temple to be cured of their ills. For those who were unable to travel or lived in distant places, his statue was sent abroad, as it was believed that the presence of his image was all that was required to achieve a cure.

He was linked with Horus, the son of Osiris and Isis, perhaps because, like Horus, he was the child member of a triad, and so came to be depicted with a hawk's head. However as more befitting a lunar god the baboon, sacred to the moon, was also one of his animals.