Seth

Seth as the “Bull of Noub (Ombos)”, with wings and the head of a horned bull. In this form He is known also as Baal-Seth New Kingdom, XVIII-XX Dynasty

Seth, son of Nut and Geb (and brother of Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys) is a fierce and dreadful God representing the cruel and violent aspect of Horus and Ra. Seth is “the God who divides”, and He is primarily a God of War, but His character of extreme violence and cruelty is dominated by Horus, and in fact in many images Horus rides Seth represented in animal form (usually as a donkey), meaning the complete dominion of Horus over Him.

The myths about Seth are divided into two phases:

-during the unrighteous and heinous rebellion against the Great God Osiris and then against His son Horus, Seth was an enemy of the Gods, just as the cursed apep/apopis, the enemy of Ra, of all the Gods, and hence of the entire cosmos. From this momentary “identification” of Seth with the cursed apopis has originated the confusion of Plutarch, who identifies the God Seth with typhoon, but in reality typhoon has much more features in common with the cursed apophis: Typhoon and apopis are unrighteous beings, enemies of the Gods (like the asuras of the Hindu religion); instead Seth is a God (in the eastern world Seth is identified with the almighty God Baal),
He was worshiped in Egypt, there were Temples and priests dedicated to His worship, there was even a city sacred to Him, the ancient Noub, Ombos, the Golden City, known in modern times as Naqada, the site of the largest and most important Temple dedicated to Him; the animal sacred to Seth, the “sha”, appears in the symbols of some nomoi (regions) of Egypt; and a great King as Sethi I adopted the name of Seth in His royal titulary (in His name of “Son of Ra”).

-with the glorious and final victory of Horus over Seth, Their conflict finally ends, the Two Gods are reconciled, and Seth is again accepted among the Gods.
The other crucial role of Seth after the victory of Horus and the reconciliation with Him and all the other Gods, it is to stay in the bow of the barque of Ra to repel and destroy the cursed apopis, his attempts to swallow the waters of the cosmic ocean and his attacks against the solar boat: Seth is the defender of Ra and the destroyer of apopis. In the most wondrous representations of Seth as the Arch-enemy of the cursed apopis, Seth is depicted as a mighty winged God Who stabs him with His spear.

 

Seth at the prow of the Sacred Barque of Ra, repelling and slaying with His spear the cursed apopis (represented as a huge snake), the enemy of the Gods, during the nocturnal journey of Ra; Ra-Horakhty is represented enthroned in the middle of the Great Barque; behind Him there are Horus, Thoth, and the Eye of Ra; the Great Barque of Ra is carried by two rows of four jackals and four uraei (on the right); on the left, a baboon-headed God slaughtering with His knives the cursed apopis;
on the right is represented the blessed Lady Heruben making adorations to the Gods and to Their Triumph over the cursed apopis.
From the “Book of Coming Forth by Day” of Heruben, XXI Dynasty; now in the cairo museum…

 

the sha, the sacred animal of Seth;
from the Temple of Amon at Tanis (Ḏˁnt, XIX nome of Lower Egypt)

 

 wooden amulet of the sha, the sacred animal of Seth,
Ramesside period; now in the British Museum…

 

Seth giving three Ankh-signs (the symbol of Life) to King Thutmosis III;
detail from a pillar of the Temple dedicated to Amon and the Ogdoad at Djeme (West Uaset-Thebes, inside the Precinct of the “Temple of Millions of Years” of King Ramses III)

 

An enthroned God crowned with the Sun disk, probably to be identified with Ra, giving the Ankh (the symbol of Life) to King Sethi I represented as a sphinx with the head of the God Seth; Obelisk from Heliopolis, found in the harbor of Alexandria.

 

King Sethi I represented as a sphinx with the head of the God Seth giving offerings to an enthroned God probably to be identified with Atum; Obelisk from Heliopolis, found in the harbor of Alexandreia.

 

King Ramses II (wearing the Khepresh, “the Blue Crown of War”) censing and offering flowers to Astarte (lower register); in the upper register is represented the Mighty God Seth as a Seth-headed sphinx; now in the Louvre Museum…

 

stela of King Tuthmosis I (ca. 1506-1493 bc): -in the center is depicted the Royal Cartouche with the name of King Tuthmosis I as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”, AakheperKaRa; the cartouche is flanked by the Two Goddesses, at left the Goddess Nekhbet in Her form of vulture, and at right the Goddess Uadjet in Her form of Uraeus, both holding the Uas-scepter with the Shen-ring (symbol of eternity and of eternal protection); the Two Goddesses are represented upon a basket, one standing on a lotus-pillar (Nekhbet, at left, the lotus is the symbol of Upper Egypt) and the other on a papyrus-pillar (Uadjet, at right, the papyrus is the symbol of Lower Egypt); in the upper register, the Winged Solar Orb representing Horus of Behdet flanked by the Two Uraei. -At left and at right is a double representation of Seth holding the Ankh in His left and blessing Horus of Behdet (represented in His sacred form of Falcon and wearing the Double Crown) and the Horus-name of the King (Kanekhet-MeryMaat, “Victorious Bull Beloved of Maat”), and giving to Him the Ankh (at left) and the Uas-scepter (at right), together with stability and health.

 

Horus and Seth pacified performing the Sema-Tawy Ritual (lotus and papyrus entwined, the Union of the Two Lands, Upper and Lower Egypt); on the top, above the Sema-Tawy symbol, is represented the Royal Cartouche with the name of King Sesostris I as “King of Upper and Lower Egypt”, KheperKaRa; detail from the throne of a statue of King Sesostris I (1971-1926 bc)

 

Horus (at right) and Seth (at left) purifying King Sethi I with the Water of Life; above the King is represented Horus of Behdet in His form of Winged Solar Orb with the Two Uraei. From the Hypostyle Hall of the Great Temple of Amon-Ra at Ipet-Sut, Uaset (Diospolis Megale-Thebes)

 

Hathor-pillars of the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Hathor and Nefertari, the “Temple of Great and Mighty monuments, for the Great Royal Wife Nefertari MeryetMut, for whose sake the Sun does shine, given life and beloved”; Horus and Seth(at left) blessing King Ramses II

 

Horus (on the right) and Seth (on the left) purifying King Ramses III with the water of Life and Strength; above is represented the Goddess Nekhbet in Her form of vulture. From the north wall of the Second Court of the “Temple of Millions of Years” of King Ramses III, West Uaset (Diospolis Megale-Thebes)

 

Horus and Seth crowning Queen Hatshepsut with the Deshret (the Red Crown); on the right are represented two sacred standards. Scene from the 2nd Level North of the Djeser-Djeseru, the “Holy of Holiest”, the “Temple of Millions of Years” of the Great Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset (Diospolis Megale-Thebes)

 

Horus and Seth crowning Queen Hatshepsut with the Hedjet (the White Crown); on the right is represented the Queen with four sacred standards (from right to left, the Ibis, the Falcon, Tekenu, and Upuaut)  scene from the 2nd Level North of the Djeser-Djeseru, the “Holy of Holiest”, the “Temple of Millions of Years” of the Great Queen Hatshepsut, West Uaset (Diospolis Megale-Thebes)

 

the Pylon of the “Ramesseum” (the “Temple of Millions of Years” of King Ramses II at West Uaset), the Entrance-Gate: on the lintel are represented rituals connected with the Heb-Sed, the Feast of the Royal Jubilee of the King.  In the middle, a double representation of King Ramses II enthroned in the Double Shrine (at left Ramses II wears the Deshret, the Red Crown; and at right, He wears the Hedjet, the White Crown), with two personified standard (on the head of the one at left is represented the sha, the sacred animal of Seth; on the head of the other, at right, there is the sacred falcon of Horus) giving to Him the Ankh (the symbol of Life) and “Millions of Years”.  Behind the personified standards connected with Seth (at left) and Horus (at right) are represented the sacred standards of Upuaut and Tekenu, and King Ramses II (on the left with the Deshret, and on the right with the Hedjet) performing the ceremonial race of the Heb-Sed. On the jambs are represented the Gods of Upper (at left) and Lower (at right) Egypt along with the chapel corresponding to Their region: at left the Per-Ur, the “Great House”, of Upper Egypt, and at right the Per-Nu, the “House of Flame”, of Lower Egypt.

 

“He is Horus with Two heads, one (the falcon-head of Horus) bears Truth, the other (the head of Seth) falsehood: He gives falsehood to him who practices it, and truth to him who comes bearing it”

(from the XVII spell of the “Book of Coming Forth by Day”)

 

detail from the upper register of the II division of the highly sacred “Book of the AmDuat”, from the “House of Eternity” of King Ramses VI, KV 9, Valley of the Kings, West Uaset, Thebes: (from left to right) the five Goddesses at left are “She Who swallows all”, “Sekhmet of the Uas-scepter” (lioness-headed), “She Who presides Those of the Duat (the NetherWorld)”, “She Who swallows the dead”, and “She Who gives birth to Herself”; then is represented a kneeling Lioness-headed Goddess called “She Who imposes respect to the Akhu (the spirit-souls of the Blessed Ones)”;  a stela with a human head, “the Commands of Osiris”; the Serpent-staff of Osiris, and the Crook of Osiris; “He of the Two Faces”, Horus represented with two heads as Horus-Seth; two sitting baboons; a dancing God Who holds a blade in His left, His name is “He Who causes to fall, He Who beheads the shadows”; two Gods standing, “Horus of the Duat (the NetherWorld)” falcon-headed, and “He Whose arm is powerful, Smiter of His foes” holding a Sekhem-scepter; three Gods enthroned (three members of one of the Tribunals of Osiris), each holding a blade, “She of the Place of Fire Who cuts up the Bau (the souls)” lioness-headed, a baboon-headed God called “The flesh on its Throne”, and “Thoth on His Throne”.

 

scenes from the ninth division of the sacred “Book of Gates”; from the “House of Eternity” of Queen Tausert and King Sethnakht, KV 14, Valley of the Kings, West Uaset, Thebes. -In the upper register, on the left and on the right, are represented four Gods raising up from the ground, by means of a rope and aided by a standing God, a pole/staff surmounted by a human head (the one at left is crowned with the Hedjet, the White Crown, and the one at right with the Deshret, the Red Crown): the Four Gods on the left (wearing the Hedjet) are called “the Gods of the South”, and those on the right (wearing the Deshret) “the Gods of the North”. In the middle is represented a Falcon/human-headed Sphinx called “Horus in His boat”; upon the double headed Sphinx (both the two heads of the Sphinx wear the Hedjet) stands “He of the Two Faces”, also called “Horus Whose face is sublime”, Horus with the two faces of Horus (at right) and Seth (at left), His arms outstretched above the upper part of the crowns of the Sphinx.  -In the lower register, from left to right: the Boat of Ra (with Heka, Ra, and Sia) towed by Four Gods of the NetherWorld; a God standing upright, and three seated Gods wearing an Uraeus on Their heads (the first Deity is Sekhmet, lioness-headed)

 

Nephthys and Seth, Reign of Ramses II, New Kingdom; (Louvre Museum)

 

Seth giving the Ankh (the symbol of Life) and the Uas-scepter of Power and Dominion to Queen Hatshepsut; on the right, Nephthys embracing the Queen; on the top, at right, Horus of Behdet in His form of sacred falcon holding the Shen-ring of Eternal Protection. From the Precinct of Amon-Ra at Uaset (Thebes)

 

detail from the Astronomical Ceiling of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet: in the centre is a bull-like figure representing the constellation of the Big Dipper/Plough, assimilated with Seth; He is held captured by a chain attached to a mooring post (the celestial pole) that is watched over by a hippopotamus Goddess representing the Draco constellation, assimilated with Isis. At right of the Big Dipper/Seth is represented Horus, falcon-headed, and called “Horus fighter against the enemies” (a circumpolar constellation), spearing at Him. At left and at right are represented two Goddesses of the Hours of the Night, standing, and with a star above Their heads.

 

detail from the Astronomical Ceiling of the Temple of Hathor at Iunet: -at left and at right are represented four Goddesses of the Hours of the Night, standing, and with a star above Their heads; -in the centre is a bull-headed God holding a plow/hoe, representing a constellation north of the ecliptic identified with Boötes; behind Him is represented a frog-headed falcon, the God of the planet Mercury (Sebeg, called “Seth in the evening and a God in the morning”, cfr. Neugebauer/ Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts III, 181); in front of Boötes is depicted a Goddess holding a huge ear of wheat, representing the Virgo Zodiac sign.

 


Seth (upper register, on the left) in fully human form fighting ad spearing the cursed apophis, the enemy of the Gods (on the right); 
Stela of Taqayna, who is represented in the bottom right corner (lower register); below, on the left, the offerings of Taqayna to Ra and Seth; the inscription in front of Taqanya reads: 

“Giving praise to Ra,
kissing the earth before Nubty (“He of Nubt/Ombos[the sacred city of Seth]”, Seth),
by Taqayna”.
dated to the New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty (XIII century bc); now in the collection of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden..

 

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