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Set (also Setekh, Seth, etc.) is an Egyptian god of strength, war, storms, foreign lands (and foreigners) and deserts. In Egyptian mythlogy, he protected desert caravans but also caused sandstorms. He was one of the Ennead and a son of Nuit and either Seb or Ra. He was usually the husband of Ashtart or Anat (in Semitic mythology) or the Egyptian goddess Nephthys (with whom he was the father of Anubis). He was closely associated with the god Ash.

One of the more common epithets was that he was 'great of strength'. In one of the Pyramid Texts it states that the king's strength is that of Set. The Pharaoh himself was the heir to the two 'brothers' and united the offices of Horus and Set or of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Seth protected the sun (Ra) as he journeyed through the land of the dead during the night. Most notably, he fought and killed Apep, the evil serpent of darkness who attacked Ra each night.

Later, when his brother Osiris became a much more important god, Set gradually became thought of as his opposite. A new myth cycle developed in which Set kills Osiris in their struggles and spreads the pieces of Osiris's body over Egypt, so he became the god of evil (and thieves).

He was also seen to be in contrast to Horus, who was a god of the sky, so his breath was responsible for the worms. Metal ore was called the "bones of Set" because it came from the ground. In the 3rd millennium BC, Seth (replacing Horus) became the patron god of the pharaohs, but as the story of Set's murder of his brother became popular, Horus was switched back.

Set is sometimes incorrectly thought of as being a jackal-headed god. He is depicted as having square ears, a forked tail and a curved snout. Some people believe the animal represented was an aardvark, a type of pig, or another as-yet-unidentified beast. In addition to the already mentioned animals, Set was associated with gazelles, donkeys, crocodiles and hippopotami. The current growing form for Set is the Nile mormyrid "Mormyrus kannamae" whose head is the closest representation to Set with the fins of the fish being confused as the cropped top ears of Set. The Nile mormyrid was worshiped as an animal representation of Set in Kom Ombo.

The Greeks later linked Set with Typhon because both were evil forces that attacked the main gods, though they are not otherwise very similar. After Egypt's conquest by the Persian ruler Cambyses II, Set became associated with foreigners and particularly foreign oppressors, including the Achaemenid Persians, Romans, and Jews. Some scholars equate him with the god Poseidon, who according to Herodotus was of north African origin.


Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.