Egypt: The Gods of Ancient Egypt - Set (seth, setekh, sut, sutekh, suty)


Other Names: Seth, Sutekh

Patron of: winds, storms, chaos, evil, darkness, strength, war, conflict, Upper Egypt.

Appearance: A man with the head of a jackal-like animal. In depictions of his battle with Horus he is often shown as a black pig or hippopotamus. Sometimes he is shown as a crocodile, perhaps a combination of him and the original god of evil, Apep. He is also shown as a man with red hair and eyes, or wearing a red mantle, the Egyptians believing that bright red was a color of evil.

Description: In early times Set was worshipped as the god of wind and the desert storms, and prayed to that he would grant the strength of the storms to his followers. Although he was always a dark and moody god, he was believed to be the ally of his brother and sister, Osiris and Isis, the counterpart to his sister-wife Nephthys, and the defender of their father, Ra.

But somewhere along the line the view of Set changed. He became a god of evil, in eternal conflict with the gods of light, and especially with Horus, the son of Osiris. Set became identified with his former enemy, the serpent Apep. By the XXVI Dynasty, Set was the major antagonist and embodiment of evil to the Egyptians. Why this change came about is unknown, but it is thought that some time after the unification of Egypt, the religion of Set fell into disfavor with the state religion, the worship of Ra and Osiris. It may be that there was open rebellion against the pharaoh Narmer (Menes) who unified Egypt under his rule, the rebellion failed and their beliefs were effectively quashed. Victors are known to rewrite history, it may be that they also rewrote the religion. It is an interesting idea to think that the struggle for the control of Egypt might have found its way into their core beliefs.

In the Legend of Osiris, Set kills Osiris and scatters his body, then claims the throne of the gods for his own. He is later struck down by Horus, the son of Osiris, who restores order to the world and sets up the pharaohs as the guardians of Maat. Set and Horus continue to battle for control of the world, setting up an epic conflict of good versus evil.

Worship: Not really worshipped after becoming a god of evil, but his religion was the major one for Upper Egypt until after the unification.


Lord of Upper Egypt
An older form of Set in which he is seen to be a companion and ally to Osiris and Isis. He is depicted defending the Sun Boat from demons and revered as the patron of Upper Egypt. In this form Horus is his brother and is the patron of Lower Egypt.

See also:

Set (Seth), God of Storms, Slayer of Apep, Equal to and Rival of Horus by Caroline Seawright