Image of Seth Seth


(Set, Suetekh)

Symbols: Seth-animal, pigs, donkeys, fishes
Cult Center: Tanis, Ombos
Links: the Ennead of Heliopolis

Regarded as the Lord of Lower (Northern) Egypt, Seth was represented by a big-eared imaginary animal with red hair resembling a donkey or maybe an aardvark. He was associated with the desert and storms. The Greeks associated Seth with their god, Typhon.

For many years, Seth was the benefactor of Lower Egypt; just as Horus protected Upper Egypt. When the Two Lands became united, Seth and Horus were often shown together crowning the new pharaohs. However, as Upper Egypt had conquered Lower Egypt, the pharaohs of the south often portayed Seth as the evil enemy of Horus (deity of Upper Egypt). The earlier images of Seth crowning the pharoah were usually modified to show Thoth crowning the king instead.

Seth was the brother of Osiris, Isis as well as Nephthys who was also his wife. Nephthys' son, Anubis was born from her trist with Osiris. Seth never had any children, as emphasis of his association with the barren desert and of his status as the antithesis of the fertile Osiris. During his battles with Horus, the goddess Neith suggested a compromise by giving Horus the throne, and Seth the Semetic goddesses Astarte and Asat

Seth is most famous for the fratricide of his brother Osiris and the attempted murder of his brother's son, Horus. Horus survived though and avenged his father's death by ruling all of Egypt and exiling Seth to the desert for all time. The decision to banish Seth came from a counsel of the gods, ruled by Re. While most of the gods agreed with Horus and his mother Isis that Osiris' son was the rightful heir to the throne of Egypt, Re disagreed. He believed that Horus was too young to hold such a powerful position. Thus, the trial was stalemated for many years. Only the cunning of Isis could bring the case to an end.

Using her magic, Isis transformed herself into a beautiful young woman. Seth saw her with tears streaming down her face and asked what the matter was. Isis told a story not unlike the situation of herself and Horus, where an evil man had killed her husband and was trying to steal her family's flocks. Seth became angry at her plight and insisted that the evil man be destroyed and that the young woman's son should inherit the family's estate. By his own words, Seth condemned himself, and lost the throne of Egypt.

Seth was never a completely evil figure though. He protected the sun barge of Re, his benefactor during the struggles with Horus, during its nightly journey through the underworld and he fights the snake-like monster Apep. Also, for a short time during the 19th Dynasty respect grew for Seth as he was seen as a god who restrained the forces of the desert. Many pharaohs at this time took Seth's name as a part of their own, with names such at "Seti".

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