Seth, Ancient Egyptian God

Anubis Egyptian God thumbnail
Anubis (jnpw)
Bast Egyptian Goddess thumbnail
Bastet (b3stt)
Hathor Egyptian Goddess thumbnail
Hathor (ht-hrw)
Horus Egyptian God thumbnail
Horus (hrw)
Khnum Egyptian God thumbnail
Khnum (khnwm)
Sekhmet Egyptian Goddess thumbnail
Sekhmet (skhmt)
Set Egyptian God thumbnail
Set (sth)
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Sobek (sbk)
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Thoth (djhwty)

sthOther Egyptian Gods


Seth is a very, very complicated god. Like Anubis he pre-dates Osiris, but became a pivotal character in the Osirian pantheon. He is the brother of Isis, Nephthys and Osiris. Seth was the youngest child, and a troublemaker from the beginning, when he burst from the womb of their mother, Nut. He was unfaithful to his consort, Nephthys. He killed his brother Osiris multiple times, even hacking him up into pieces, but Isis kept bringing Osiris back to life. Osiris' son, Horus, took up the fight against Seth for his impotent father. After long and fierce contests Horus emerged triumphant and Seth was castrated and exiled. Seth became lord of the desert, eternally opposed to the god-king Horus of the Nile. Seth represents chaos, evil, treachery. Sterile and barren himself, he strives to spread his desert Red Land over the fertile Black Land.

And yet Seth was venerated; people would name their children after him. Even Pharoah, the living Horus, could be named "Seti".

The worship of Seth in pre-Dynastic Egypt centered at Nubt (modern Tukh) in Upper Egypt. Originally Seth was a sky god, lord of the desert, master of storms, disorder and warfare. In general, he is a trickster not unlike Coyote in some Native American mythologies. Seth embodied the creative element of disorder within the ordered world. Nubt lost its preeminent position with the unification of Egypt, which was carried out under kings whose capital was Abydos and whose royal god was Horus. This historical event probably shaped the myths concerning the struggle between Horus and Seth, who became perpetual antagonists.

The status of Seth reflects shifting political fortunes of Egypt. During the 2nd dynasty, King Peribsen gave himself a Seth title instead of the traditional Horus name. His successor, Khasekhemwy, gave both Horus and Seth equal prominence in his titulary. During the rule of the Hyksos invaders, Seth was worshipped at their capital Avaris and was identified with the Canaanite storm god Baal. During the New Kingdom, Seth was esteemed as a martial god who could sow discord among Egypt's enemies. Seth also joined Amon, Re, and Ptah as the fourth of the principal gods of the cosmos. The trickster was generally held in great esteem, despite his rude behavior and odd appearance.

In this Twelfth Dynasty relief on the left, Horus and Seth bind together two plants: the lotus of Upper Egypt and the papyrus of Lower Egypt, symbolizing the unification of the kingdoms. On the right, Ramses II (19th Dynasty) had himself presented in a statuary group with Horus on his right and Seth on his left, showing their near-equal importance of support for his position. Seth could be treacherous, and always unpredictable, but he represented immense power that commanded respect.

After the close of the New Kingdom, as Egypt lost its empire and more foreign gods were blended into the Osirian mythology, Seth started losing all positive features and became a symbol of evil and destruction. Seth was the god of the downward/southward motion of the sun and the source of the destructive heat of summer. Since the days began to diminish after the summer solstice, it was determined that Seth stole the light from Horus or Re. The light which Thoth brought with the new moon was withdrawn by Seth as soon as it was possible for him to obtain power over that luminary. And Seth was, naturally thought to be the cause of fogs, thunder and lightning, hurricanes and storms, earthquakes and eclipses, and every other thing which might upset the normal comfortable order.

Seth is usually depicted as having the head of a strange animal known as the Set beast. He has slanting eyes, tall square-tipped ears and a long, curved, pointed snout. When shown with a human body, Seth can also have a long tail that is forked or tufted. (Most of the gods do not have tails when shown as a human with animal head.) The Set beast can also appear with a canine body. Various animals including aardvark, antelope, ass, camel, fennec, greyhound, jackal, jerboa, long-snouted mouse, okapi, oryx, and pig have been suggested as the basis for his form. It looks to us here at Stuffe & Nonsense that the Set beast has a large touch of aardvark, but those ears! Because even the ancient Egyptians rendered his figure inconsistently, it is probably a mythical composite. The Greeks identified Seth with the demon Typhon, so the beast is also called the Typhonian animal.


Bibliography of Egyptology references used in these Stuffe & Nonsense Lore Pages.

Seth Figurines and Artefacts from Stuffe & Nonsense

Seth Egyptian God Plush Doll picture
Seth Handmade Plush Doll
Seth Egyptian God Statuette
Seth Figurine
Seth Statuette
Seth Figurine
Seth Egyptian God Anime Style picture
Seth Egyptian God, Animé Style´╗┐