Silence Is Golden

Harpocrates was the Greek and Roman God of Silence in the Hellenistic period who was adapted by the Greeks from the Egyptian child god Horus.  To the ancient Egyptians, Horus was the newborn Sun, rising each day at dawn and he was depicted in statues as a child holding up a finger to his mouth.  Harpocrates was the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality and also an embodiment of hope.  When the Greeks conquered Egypt under Alexander the Great, they transformed the Egyptian Horus into the Hellenistic god known as Harpocrates.  This god eventually developed wings and become Harpocratic Eros, which in turn become Cupid.  Cupid is linked specifically with being a child, and the connection with wings suggests the influence of Horus’s falcon wings, that spanned the sky, thus representing the young morning Sun.

Children are known to make noise, and adults will often need to hush them by saying ‘shhhhh’, and at the same time placing their index finger to their mouth, making the hand gesture that is a sign of silence.  To the ancient Greeks this hand gesture was interpreted as a gesture of silence and secrecy.  They may have thought that this hand gesture was a way of stopping our lips from moving, or perhaps it was seen as a plug for the mouth.  Harpocrates was connected with the Sun, this is most likely were the phrase ‘Silence is Golden’ originated.  Golden like the Sun.

As a toddler God, Harpocrates was depicted in a cutesy fashion with his finger held up to his mouth.  I guess it is lucky that he did not become the God of Nail-Biting or Nose-Picking.  Not much has been heard about him since those times, but some people have a theory that he was reincarnated as Harpo Marx, because he was the only Marx brother that never spoke on screen.  It is not that big of a stretch going from Harpocrates to Harpo Marx, although his brother Groucho said that he was named after his harp playing ability.

Written for Linda G Hill Life in progress January 21, 2018 #JusJoJan Daily Prompt is Silence by Willow at Willowdot21.

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