January 05, 2019 2 min read

Set is a god of chaos, associated with the perilous desert, destructive storms, disorder and violence. In art, Set is uniquely depicted as the Set animal, with no similarity to any known creature. The head is like a combination of an aardvark, donkey, jackal and fennec fox, with a curved snout, long rectangular ears, a thin forked tail and canine body, with fur tufts shaped into an inverted arrow. Sometimes, Set is depicted in human form with the same distinctive head.

Following, “the Contendings” Set was reconciled and became Lord of the Red (the harsh desert) in balance to Horus' role as Lord of the Black (the fertile soil).  However, in contrast to this Set accompanies Ra, the sun god, standing on the brow on his solar barge to defeat Apep, the Lord of Chaos, who dwells in one of the realms of the underworld

Circa 1650–1550 BC, control of Egypt was seized by the Hyskos, a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs. They made Avaris their capital from which they ruled the Nile Delta. The Hyskos chose Set (who was originally the chief god of Upper Egypt) as their patron god. Set became worshiped as the chief god once more. Hyksos King Apophis is recorded as worshiping Set exclusively, “he did not worship any other deity in the whole land”.

Circa 1522 BC, Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and they were expelled from Egypt. The Egyptians understandably became xenophobic towards Asiatic foreigners. The Hyksos rule became discredited and Set became known as the god of foreigners. Later foreigner oppressors, such as the Assyrians and Persians led to the eventual demonisation of Set. During this period Set was particularly maligned, and his defeat by Horus became widely celebrated. His negative aspects were emphasized as the killer of Osiris, who hacked his body into pieces and dispersed it to prevent his resurrection. Nevertheless, even during this period, some outlying regions still regarded Set as the heroic chief deity.


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