image Gods and Goddesses

Seth

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Key Facts
Other names
Year of origin
Location
Parent(s)
Partner(s)
Children
Aspect(s)
Major Centre(s) Ombos (Nubt near Naqada), Ombos (Nubt near Kom Ombo), Oxyrhynchus in upper Egypt
Period of worship

 

 

Background

In Ancient Egyptian mythology, Set (also spelled Seth, Sutekh or Seteh) is an ancient god, who was originally the god of the desert, storms, and chaos. Due to developments in the Egyptian language over the 3,000 years that Set was worshipped, by the Greek period, the t in Set was pronounced so indistinguishably from th that the Greeks spelled it as Σεθ (Seth).

Seth (Hebrew: שֵׁת, Standard Šet, Tiberian Šēt; Arabic: شيث Shith or Shiyth, Sith Lord; "Placed; appointed"), in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible written around the 5th Century BCE, is the third listed son of Adam and Eve and brother of Cain and Abel and is the only other son mentioned by name.

The earliest known representation of Set comes from a tomb dating to the Naqada I phase of the Predynastic Period (circa 4000 BC–3500 BC), and the Set-animal is even found on a mace-head of the Scorpion King, a Protodynastic ruler.

The exact translation of Set is unknown for certain, but is usually considered to be either (one who) dazzles or pillar of stability, one connected to the desert, and the other more to the institution of monarchy. It is reconstructed to have been originally pronounced *Sūtah

Set was the god of the desert. Set was viewed as immensely powerful, and was regarded consequently as the chief god. Set carried the epithet, "His Majesty", shared only with Ra. Another common epithet was, of great of strength, and in one of the Pyramid Texts it states that the king's strength is that of Set. As chief god, he was patron of Upper Egypt (in the South- upstream), where he was worshiped, most notably at Ombos. The alternate form of his name, spelled Setesh (stš), and later Sutekh (swth), designates this supremacy, the extra sh and kh signifying majesty.

Set formed part of the Ennead of Heliopolis, as a son of the earth (Geb) and sky (Nut), husband to the fertile land around the Nile (Nebt-het/Nephthys), and brother to death (Usir/Osiris), and (Aset/Isis, the wife of Osiris) and father of Anubis.

Since sandstorms were said to be under his control as lord of the desert, and were the main form of storm in the dry climate of Egypt, during the Ramesside Period, Set was identified as various Canaanite storm deities, including Baal.

In art, Set was mostly depicted as a mysterious and unknown creature, referred to by Egyptologists as the Set animal or Typhonic beast, with a curved snout, square ears, forked tail, and canine body, or sometimes as a human with only the head of the Set animal. It has no complete resemblance to any known creature, although it does resemble a composite of an aardvark, a donkey, and a jackal, all of which are desert creatures.

Mythology

The myth of Set's conflict with Horus, Osiris and Isis appears in many Egyptian sources, including the Pyramid Texts, the Coffin Texts, the Shabaka Stone, inscriptions on the walls of the temple of Horus at Edfu, and various papyrus sources. The Chester Beatty Papyrus No. 1 contains the legend known as The Contention of Horus and Set.