Seth (Egyptian mythology)
|Set / Seth / Setech / Sutech in hieroglyphics|
Set / Seth / Setech / Sutech
St / Stẖ / Stḫ / Swtḫ
Instigator of confusion
Variation : Wedja
The judged /
|In cuneiform tradition||šutaḫ|
|what-scepter and ankh- mark|
Seth (also Set, Setech, Sutech; variant Wedja ) is a very ambivalent ancient Egyptian deity , the meaning of which is not fully understood. Seth is a desert god and is associated with storms and thunderstorms, which is why he is considered the god of chaos and ruin. On the other hand, he was also the patron god of the oases and companion of Horus . He is the son of the sky goddess Nut and the earth god Geb , his constellation was the Big Dipper , his planet of Mercury . In the pyramid texts , Seth was considered the "god of the south".
At his side he protects the king, gives blessings and performs purification rites. The most famous stories about Seth are surely the murder of his brother Osiris and the violent struggle for the throne between Seth and Horus. Some kings, e.g. B. Sethos I. and Sethos II. As well as Sethnacht , used the name Seth as a proper name . Outside the royal family, officials with a military function mostly bore this name and thus submitted to its physical and magical powers.
Seth had several places of worship, especially in oases, but none of them were very permanent. In the later period he was all the more associated with the foreign country and viewed as an undesirable god. Its negative aspects may have aroused cautious mistrust before that, which eventually escalated under several foreign rulers . Seth is mostly seen as a harmful god.
The name of Seth shows a longer and later a shorter form. The longer form can be reconstructed as * Sū́tVẖ / Sū́tVẖ for ancient Egyptian , the shorter form, which has been used since the New Kingdom, lacked the final ẖ .
In the first millennium BC The shorter form became Sḗt through regular sound changes, from which the Greek form Seth and the Coptic Sēt arose.
Functions of the Seth
The negative sides of Seth are limited in the pyramid texts only to the cycle Osiris- Seth-Horus. Its positive aspects, on the other hand, always appear in connection with the sun god Re. There Seth is described in the coffin and later death texts as a helper of Re and as a fighter in the sun barge against Apophis . The explanations of the pyramid texts, however, do not have these positive descriptions to the content. Since the coffin texts do not appear until the Middle Kingdom , Seth may have already had his function as “protector of Re” in the Old Kingdom or in the early Dynastic period . The conspicuous references to Seth's positive sides fit very well into the divine concept of “Seth as protector of Re”, which the name of King Peribsen also suggests.
In addition to the functions already mentioned, he was also the god of storms and, in the belief of the Egyptians, he roared in the sky, the thunder was his voice and through him the earth shook. So he was the god of violence, chaos and confusion, the evil god who also embodied anger, anger, violence and murder. The harmony of the Maat was endangered by him and he threatened the vegetation as god of the desert and foreign lands. He represented the harmful adversary and murderer of his brother Osiris, who was the rightful king of Egypt in mythology . In mythology, Seth was considered a strong and potent god and therefore iron ores were also referred to as the "bones of Seth". So he was raised to the title of god of metals, who could slay other gods with his 2000 kilogram scepter . The sixth hour of the day also belonged to this deity.
The god Seth was represented with a human body and the head of the "Seth animal" - also called a typhonic animal. With the New Kingdom comes the representation in human form. In the late period he was shown again with a stylized donkey head, as which the Seth animal is generally interpreted by the Egyptians today.
Depiction as a Seth animal
Initially, this animal was shown standing, but in later pictures mostly in a sitting or crouching position. The Seth animal had a long, curved snout, erect ears with angular trimmings and a raised tail split at the tip. Some Egyptologists, such as Kurt Sethe , would like to see this as an arrow that was shot at the animal.
The zoological correspondence can surprisingly, in contrast to the other ancient Egyptian representations of nature, not be determined. Various animals are assumed to be the model, namely aardvark , antelope , elephant shrew , camel , okapi , giraffe , donkey , greyhound or brush-eared pig . In the belief of the Egyptians, this Seth animal comes from the desert. Because of this difficult allocation, two theories have emerged: according to one, the Seth animal disappeared from people's consciousness at an early stage, either because it died out or moved to other places of residence; Since it was seen less often, the representation became alienated over time, so that in dynastic times a very dissimilar representation as canonical had developed (Hans Bonnet). Others, such as B. Sethe, see a stigmatization in the representation: because the god was afflicted with many negative qualities, the result was a distorted representation and an arrow stuck in the body of the animal. However, both are theories, neither of which can be called clearly right or wrong.
Seth was often depicted anthropomorphically , i.e. H. with the human body and the head of the Seth animal.
Furthermore, in the New Kingdom the representation as a human appeared, who is not depicted with typical Egyptian attributes, but emphasized foreign: an apron with tassels, a pair of horns as a foreign attribute and a ribbon attached to the Egyptian crown.
However, it also happened that the deity Seth was represented as fused with Horus. However, this is only documented for a short period of Egyptian history.
In the language
The determinative or ideogram often determines a whole series of verbs, all of which are associated with the idea of suffering, violence, disturbance and chaos . A total of around 25 words that referred to storms as exceptional events in the almost unchanging Egyptian climate had this symbol.
Seth seems to have originally been a desert deity who may have come from Libya . Even then it represented the forces of disruption and confusion, is one of the oldest gods in Egypt and appears on a carved ivory artifact as early as the Naqada culture I (4000–3500 BC) . He also appears on banners that are carved into the club head of the pre-dynastic ruler Scorpio I. In the 2nd Dynasty the figure of Seth appears together with Horus on the Serech of Chasechemui and only on that of Peribsen . This shows that both deities were equal and how “popular” Seth was at that time. In these earliest representations of these divine “powers”, they are still entirely animals, but already act as humans. On the “ bull palette ”, for example, the king appears as a bull, who here is the apparition of Seth and tramples the enemy.
Seth and Horus represented the battle between Upper and Lower Egypt in which Horus was victorious. There are some theories as to how this could have played out in pre-dynastic times. A speculative theory, for example, sees Seth as the representative of the nomadic cattle owners and Horus as that of the peasantry, which is not entirely conclusive in itself. Menes (Hor Aha), for example, is said to have perished by a hippopotamus, because the role of the king included ceremonial killing of a hippopotamus since it was the largest and most dangerous animal in Egypt at that time. This represents an image of the Pharaoh's victory over all evil spirits and demons. The king god Horus does the same on the temple walls of Edfu when he harpooned Seth with a spear, which embodies the enemy of the gods as a hippopotamus. Seth and Horus were considered the king gods of Egypt. Because of this bond with the hallowed person of the king, they rarely appeared in the personal names of non-royal people. That only happened in the end times of the 2nd Dynasty.
In any case, the unity of the empire was sealed at the end, Seth and Horus carried out the symbolic unification of the two countries and were initially considered equal in order to better adapt the population. They reflected the struggle between north and south, between heaven and earth, earth and underworld, left and right, black and white, domination and chaos, life and death, good and bad, unity and discord, wisdom and error. They are the best example of dualism in ancient and still modern Egypt.
Spread of the cult
The cult center of Seth was in Nubt , which was perhaps the earliest capital of Upper Egypt and its ethnic group. The Greeks called the city Ombos, not to be confused with Kom Ombo , which was also called Ombos or Nub . But this lies between Edfu and Elephantine .
Nubt itself was only 4 km from Naqada (or Negada) and 30 km north of Luxor . The city name Nubt is probably derived from the Egyptian “nub”, which means “gold”, and could be related to the gold mines accessible from Wadi Hammamat near the eastern desert . The Wadi Hammamat, in turn, controlled trade to the eastern desert regions. In the city itself, a New Kingdom temple has been found dedicated to Seth. Seth himself was called there as the local god "Nubti", which means "the ombite", that is, "the one from ombos", and it was said that he was born there. Thus a gold sign also symbolized the god Seth. The gold sign also appears in the title of the king, because when one praises the king as the conqueror of the enemy, one writes this with a hawk standing on the gold sign. Since this gold sign stands for the god of Nubt, Seth is also meant.
After the contempt of Seth, his temple fell into disrepair in the late period and the cult of the falcon god Haroeris replaced him. In the 19th Upper Egyptian Gau he was worshiped in Oxyrhynchos and Sepermeru , for example . Seth was the chief god in Oxyrhynchos and had a temple there. This is probably due to the fact that, according to the Horus myth of Edfu, this was the scene of the fight between Horus and Seth, in which Horus lost his leg. In Sepermeru, Seth also had his own temple and both places were owned by Ramses III. richly presented.
In the fifth Upper Egyptian Gau, in the area around Qift (Koptos), in the tenth Upper Egyptian Gau around Qaw el-Kebir, in the eleventh Upper Egyptian Gau, in the area around Deir Rifa and in the nineteenth Upper Egyptian Gau from el-Bahnasa to Biba, Seth became the main deity revered. For example, the eleventh Upper Egyptian Gau was called the Sethgau and some scientists suspect this Gau to be the place of origin of this deity. Even in Lower Egypt he was worshiped in the 14th district in the area around Auaris .
In the old kingdom
In the Old Kingdom Seth dived often in the Pyramid Texts of Unas or Pepi I. on. In the texts of Unas, for example, it is described that the dead king embodies the god Horus while standing and Seth while sitting (line 579 ff.). Over time, Seth steps down from his nephew Horus, since Horus is constantly equated with the king, whereas with Seth this happens only in exceptional cases - as with Peribsen or Chasechemui . Seth appears most frequently in the titles of the queens who boast of having seen Horus and Seth. At the coronations, the king trusted in the power of Seth, because he and Horus presented the heraldic plants of the two countries to the future ruler, and so both linked the symbolic "union of the two countries".
Recent critical studies of the pyramid texts show that the ostracism of Seth and his simultaneous replacement by other gods began as early as the Old Kingdom. In the further course this development increased further. In the research findings up to 2007, Egyptology still mostly assumed that the ostracism of Seth began only after the Ramesside period.
In the Middle Kingdom
In the Middle Kingdom , Seth was included in solar theology, in which he fought the snake Apophis on the solar barge . At the Sedfest Seth appeared as Nubti and gave the king a bow and arrow and assisted him in shooting arrows in the four cardinal directions. This should document the re-possession of the world by the king.
Every year a "Festival of Victory" was held in Edfu in honor of Horus. This drama is summarized in Edfu in texts and pictures. Seth appears there as a hippopotamus that is killed by Horus with ten harpoons. Each harpoon hits a different part of Seth's body, hitting the nose first.
In the ritual, the role of Horus is represented by the king or a priest. At the end of the ritual, a hippopotamus cake is cut and eaten, which is supposed to represent the total annihilation of Seth.
Deserts and oases
Outside the Nile Valley, Seth was worshiped at the starting points of the caravan routes and thus on the edges of the desert and beyond in the entire western desert and its oases . This happened, for example, in the Baħrija or Dachla oases , where he was regarded as the main god. In Dachla he even had his own temple, from which oracle decisions were proclaimed in his name . As a local appearance, Seth was depicted there with a falcon's head in human form. Before him, a god named Asch was worshiped in these western oases , but he was very similar to Seth and later Seth or Sutech took his place.
The New Kingdom and the heyday of Seth worship
According to Manfred Bietak , Seth worship in the northeastern Nile Delta goes back to before the Hyksos period. It is ultimately uncertain whether a Seth cult already existed there in the Old Kingdom. However, he was in this area around 1720 BC. Adored by the Hyksos for about 70 years. This veneration is proven by the father of King Nehesi , who ruled a small kingdom in the northeastern delta and was entitled "loved by Seth, lord of Auaris". It is not known in what form Seth was depicted at the time, but he was used by this king as his dynasty god. During this time the population in and around Auaris was predominantly of Asian ( Canaanite ) origin.
This section of the population is said to have gradually immigrated to the delta by the Hyksos, were considered excellent seafarers and ship carpenters and were even active in the administration. However, they worshiped the Syrian weather god Ba'al , who was also the patron of the seafarers. According to the Egyptian interpretation, this deity was identified as Seth's opponent and he was also the opposition to YHWH in the ancient Israelite area . During this Egyptization, Ba'al only retained its Asian shape, as can be seen on the 400 year stele.
When the Hyksos around 1650 BC Tossed power and made Auaris their main base, Seth was worshiped by them as their main god because of the wide spread of his cult in the Delta and their own Semitic origins.
The Ramessid family originally came from Auaris and chose the god Seth in his northern Egyptian spelling as Sutech as their dynasty god, but the other gods were still worshiped. How important the god was for the Ramessid rulers can be seen in the names of these kings: Sethos I. (Man of Seth), Sethos II. Or Sethnacht (Seth is mighty). In the 19th and 20th dynasties , the worship of Seth reached its peak and Sethos I set up a fourth army division dedicated to this deity. The other three army divisions were the divisions of the gods Amun , Re and Ptah . Thus Seth belonged to the four most important empire gods and was equal to them.
Nevertheless, Seth was not wanted everywhere, because Pharaoh Sethos I was not called "the Sethite" in his rock tomb, but the Osirian. Under Ramses II , the worship of Seth reached its peak, because this pharaoh had a temple specially built for this god in Pi-Ramesse in the south of the city, which was at least as large as that of Amun in the northern district ( Papyrus Anastasi II ). Ramses II even went so far that he saw himself as the god Seth or referred to himself as his son, as can be read on an inscription in Abu Simbel . This pharaoh built new temples for Seth in Matmar or Sepermeru , for example, or had old temples such as that of Ombos restored. In the habit of Ramses II to formally appropriate the gods - "Re des Ramses" or "Ptah des Ramses" - this also happened with Seth, who was named "Seth des Ramses" during his reign. Even in the peace treaty of Hatti between Ramses II. And the Hittite Hattusili III. the god appears in two ways. On the one hand it stands for the Egyptians and on the other hand as a name for the many foreign deities of the Hittites.
In Auris, the Seth cult is documented up to Merenptah and under Ramses III. it came to its resuscitation once more. Many temples of Seth, such as those of Ombos, Sepermeru or Oxyrhynchos, have been restored or given very rich gifts.
As the Osiris myth increased in popularity, Seth was demonized more and more over time and increasingly lost its reputation. He was finally equated with Apophis, shown as an enemy of the gods and only viewed as the embodiment of evil. In the 22nd dynasty, many references to this deity and his representations in the monuments were deleted or replaced by images of Thoth or the crocodile god Sobek .
According to Labib Habachi there is a theory that the Pi-Ramesse residence was ultimately abandoned because it was located in the area sanctified by Seth. In addition, there are no more signs of a cult of "Seth des Ramses" in the new Tanis residence . On spolia from Pi-Ramesse the name of the god is scratched out or replaced by the ram of Amun. This development was probably completed by the 25th Dynasty at the latest, because no more artifacts could be found of Seth from the following period that would suggest continued worship.
In Egyptian mythology
Seth's siblings are Osiris , Isis and Nephthys , who is also his wife. But since Seth was a barren desert god, the marriage remained childless, which is why Nephthys later separated from him. In order to conquer the throne, Seth murders his brother Osiris, whose son Horus in turn avenges his father and overthrows Seth. There are various initial versions of the Osiris myth .
In one version, Seth is jealous of his brother Osiris for a reason, as Geb originally ordered that his kingdom be divided between his sons. Seth should receive Upper Egypt and Osiris Lower Egypt. But Seth objected and claimed the whole empire for himself. But on the contrary, through his demand, he lost all claim to the share of this inheritance.
According to another version, both ruled in accordance with the division of the empire ordered by Geb. This in turn found that Seth was a bad ruler and therefore gave Osiris his kingdom. When Osiris then waged war abroad, Seth was excited as the god of war and the two brothers fought. This dispute ended with Osiris receiving the kingdom of the dead and Seth receiving the foreign country, while Horus represented the United Kingdom. In addition, the whole earth was equated with Osiris and imagined that Seth was lying below him and would carry him.
The god Seth protects the sun ( Re ) from Apophis , the serpent. She wants to destroy the sun she hated, but she is killed by Seth, who also saves the day. Apophis comes to life again and again, so that Seth has to kill her anew every night so that the sun comes up again the next day.
Meaning of the Osiris myth for Seth
In this myth , Seth represented the electoral kingship preferred by nomadic groups, while Horus represented the hereditary monarchy and culture common in developed cultural societies . Since the north was ahead of the south, Seth, who was therefore disempowered, was given a subordinate position at Re and became a thunderer. Victory in this competition was won by the advanced society of the north and Horus received the red crown of Lower Egypt as well as the white of Upper Egypt.
Horus embodies the prototype of the gentleman who always comes first, while Seth, on the other hand, represents the "booby" or the "unsuspecting" and messy person who always appears second. So Horus is in the center and Seth is more on the periphery , but together they rule through the Pharaoh over the united kingdom of Egypt.
Seth belongs to the Ninth of the Gods of Heliopolis . According to Plutarch , who equated Seth with the Greek god Typhon , this deity was born on the 363rd day of the Egyptian year. This is June 2nd in the Coptic liturgy . The birth of Seth is the beginning of the chaos , the course of the birth already shows unusual features, so Seth is said to have jumped out of his mother's body by breaking through the side. According to mythological texts, he is said to have been born in the Naqada area (but there is also a source - the Shabaka stone - which gives the place of birth Su near Hierakonpolis ).
Seth and Anat and Astarte
After Re had given the throne of Egypt to Horus , Neith suggested that the two foreign goddesses Anat and Astarte be given to Seth as compensation. In another legend the two are named as wives of Seth, who were prevented by Horus from bearing children. So Seth remained childless forever, but he was considered a potent god who - symbolized by his severed testicles - still possesses great power.
Seth and Neith
During the dispute between Seth and Horus, Re turns to the wise counselor Neith and asks her personally for help. However, Neith threatens to drop heaven to earth if her advice is not followed. In the pyramid text 1521b, Neith was placed at Seth's side as a wife.
Seth and Hathor
Seth is said to have surprised the goddess Hathor while bathing in the river. He was so blinded by her beauty that he raped her. As punishment for this act, he was attacked by a terrible illness and Anat asked Re for help. But instead of Re, the goddess Isis helped .
Seth and Horus
The essence of this legend is that Seth tried with all means at his disposal to defeat Horus in order to be sole ruler. Seth and Horus slept together in one bed for the sake of peace, but Seth wanted to desecrate Horus through homosexual intercourse and thereby dishonor him. The shame at that time was entirely on the side of the "inferior", while the "superior" expressed the triumph of the victor over the vanquished.
However, Horus caught the seed of Seth and brought it to his mother Isis. She then cut off his hand and threw it into the water. But then Isis let the hand of Horus grow again and now used the seeds of Horus for a ruse in which she poured it on the lettuce that Seth ate daily. As a result, Seth was unwittingly impregnated.
When Seth wanted to show the godhood that Horus was the “inferior” and told them about his deed, they screamed and spat at Horus. However, he laughed at them all and explained that Seth was the "underdog". Thoth then asked the seed of Seth to come out from Horus. When nothing happened, however, he asked the seed of Horus to come out of Seth. The seed of Horus there answered him, came out of Seth's head and became a golden disk of the sun. The humiliated Seth then wanted to seize the disk, but Thoth took it and placed it on Horus' head as a crown. At the end of the saga, Re-Harachte took Seth into heaven as consolation for the battle he had won by Horus, where he now kept Re's enemies away with his terrifying voice.
In another version, Seth was banished to heaven, where he was assigned a place in the Great Bear to compensate for the lost throne . As the god of winds and storms, he was allowed to make as much noise as he wanted.
In another episode, Seth, accompanied by Horus, was bitten on a ship. For a magical healing, Horus wanted to know the actual name of Seth. At first he refused to fulfill the wish of Horus, but after some back and forth he revealed his real name with the meaning "bad day" and was then also healed by Horus.
Seth and Re
According to the Book of Apophis , Re-Harachte was once in Nubia when an uprising broke out in Egypt. Re wanted to turn around and put down the rebellion, but Horus implored "his" father Re to send him there. Horus rose to heaven as a great winged sun to find his enemies. After spotting them, he knocked down on them and blinded the enemies, whereupon most of them killed themselves in the confusion. Then Horus was praised by Re, who had returned to inspect the battlefield. However, some insurgents fled into the water because they were not humans, but lower deities or demons who could turn into hostile hippos. Horus therefore seized his harpoon, killed some of them and then pursued those who had fled. So it came to fighting all over Egypt, but when Horus had already killed almost everyone, Seth appeared as their leader and cursed so loudly that even Re was startled and forbade such screams. Seth was then fought by Horus until he could be brought to Re in shackles. This handed over the bound Seth to Isis and Horus, who cut off Seth's head and dragged him through the countries behind him. At the end Horus got the solar disk as a sign , Seth disappeared in the shape of a roaring dragon in the earth and was no longer seen. This is very reminiscent of Revelation. 20: 1-3: “And I saw an angel coming down from heaven who had the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the old serpent, that is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the abyss and locked it and put a seal on top of it, so that he should no longer seduce the people. until the thousand years would be completed. After that he has to be let go for a little while. ”This clearly shows the relationship between Dragon-Seth-Satan.
Since no humans appear as opponents in this myth, Egyptologists are of the opinion that they symbolize foreign peoples.
Seth and Apophis
In the evening at sunset, the giant snake Apophis confronts the sun barge in front of its entry into the underworld and Seth has to fight it with a spear from the bow of the ship. It was said that Apophis mesmerized Re and his entourage every night.
Seth was able to resist the snake's deadly stare and struck it back with the thrust of a large spear. Because of this act he demanded in the fight against Horus at the court of gods that all of Egypt be awarded to him. After he had partially defeated Apophis by a ruse, he let Re know that he had to proclaim his triumph and he demanded recognition for his bravery. In addition, Seth was not satisfied with the fact that he "only" had the honor of protecting the highest god Re on the boat. He was even measured in such a way that he asked Re to bring the symbols of Divine Power with him, and if he refused, he threatened him with releasing storms and thunder against him. Re then ordered his crew to chase Seth off the ship. After that, at dawn, Re appeared in all his glory. The banishment was necessary so that the company could continue, and Seth's place was taken by Thoth.
In another version of the myth, Seth had to carry Osiris on his shoulders. In the version in the Temple of Amun by Hibis , approx. 500 BC. BC, he paralyzes Apophis with a spell and cuts him to pieces. In some other depictions, Seth's barge was pulled by animals.
In the 26th Dynasty , Seth is the personification of evil and is even equated with his old enemy Apophis.
Seth and Astarte
In another myth, Seth defeated the sea together with other gods because it had risen. The sea wanted to be married to the earth, which, however, had already been promised to heaven. Because of this, the sea became very evil and the gods sent Astarte to soothe the sea. Since she did not succeed in this, however, she turned around and allied with him.
This myth originated in the 18./19. Dynasty and should perhaps represent a triumphal song of the god Seth. Due to the heavily damaged final version, one can only speculate whether Astarte still sided with Seth in the end.
Seth and Yam
Yam was a tyrannical, monstrous deity of the sea and other waters. In a Canaanite myth he was defeated by Baal , in Egyptian sources by Seth, with whom Baal was equated. The fight symbolizes the winter storms on the sea that fade away in spring.
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