Egypt, the mention of the name brings to mind the fascinating world of pyramids and mummies and captivating tales of mythical gods. Among these gods and goddesses, one of the most powerful gods of ancient Egypt was Set or Seth, the god of desert, storm, darkness and chaos. His immense power and strength brought him the epithet ' His Majesty', which besides him was only applicable to Ra, the Sun god. Set was the mighty lord of Upper Egypt, and Ombos, which was situated on the western banks of River Nile, was the center of his cult. Set was regarded as infertile, just like desert with which he was associated.
Set - The God of Desert, Darkness or Chaos
In Egyptian art, Set is often portrayed as the strange and mysterious creature, known as Set animal. Sometimes, he is depicted as a canine body with a curved snout, square ears and forked tail; while, at other times, he is portrayed as having a human body with a head that contains the features of the set animal. The features do not seem to resemble any specific animal, but instead can be regarded as a composite of aardvark, donkey and jackal. However, in some instances, he was described with a head of a greyhound and also with red hair.Set, the desert god was the son of Geb, the god of Earth and Nut, the goddess of the Sky and the grandchildren of the Egyptian Sun god Ra. He was the brother of Osiris (God of fertility), Isis (goddess of fertility) and Nephthys (Goddess of the ritual of dead), who was also his wife. In Egyptian mythology, he was the patron of Upper Egypt; while, Osiris was the lord of Lower Egypt. According to Egyptian mythology, he was the wicked brother who killed Osiris and then dismembered his body. There began another mysterious story in which Isis, the wife of Osiris, somehow managed to gather the pieces of her husband's corpse, which were embalmed by another Egyptian god Anubis, the son of Nephthys. So, Osiris became the first Egyptian mummy and then ruled the underworld as the judge of the dead. Then, Isis quite miraculously conceived Horus, with Osiris' corpse or only with the pieces of his corpse. Horus, the son of Osiris grew up to become a natural enemy of Seth. The desire to avenge the murder of his father gave birth to the war between Horus and Set, which was believed to last for about eighty years.
Ultimately, in the war between Horus and Set, the former emerged victorious. He exiled Set to the desert and became the ruler of both Upper and Lower Egypt. From this point the story becomes a bit confusing as some myths conclude that Seth was exiled to the desert for eternity; others describe him, as the protector of Ra's barge in the underworld.
The foundation of these myths, and the transformation of Set from a God to an embodiment of evil, however, is not very clear. Initially, he was worshiped in Upper Egypt. Even after the unification of Egypt, he was shown to be revered by the Egyptians, along with the fertility god Osiris. Many believe that the story may be a reflection of the struggle within Upper Egypt, due to subjugation of the followers of Set by the worshipers of Horus. So, when Menes, the first dynasty pharaoh, tried to unite both parts of Egypt; Set's worshipers resisted the believers of Horus, which led to the portrayal of Set as an evil god, by the followers of the latter. So, the myth of Set and Osiris may be a reflection of some kind of a religious conflict.
However, the later Egyptians were of the opinion that the struggle between Set and Osiris or Horus could symbolize the struggle between the infertile desert, as represented by Set, and the fertilizing floods of the River Nile, as represented by Osiris and Horus. Nevertheless, the origin and depiction of Set in Egyptian myth, made him, unquestionably, one of the mightiest gods, who protected the Sun god Ra from the dangerous serpent Apep, whom no other god could defeat.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/egyptian-god-set-seth.html