The Wives of Seth – Mythology of Ancient Egypt

The Wives of Seth

During Seth’s long and unsuccessful battle was Horus for the Egyptian throne, the goddess Neith suggested to the council of gods that Seth be awarded a loser’s prize: the foreign Daughters of Re, named Anat and Astarte, were offered to him as his wives.

One day as Seth was walking by the Nile, he came across the goddess Anat, bathing in the stream. He changed himself into a ram and raped her. But Anat could only be impregnated by divine fire, and so her body expelled his semen with such force that it struck him in the forehead, making him dangerously ill. Seth was relieved of his punishing headache by Re, whom Isis sent to cure him.

In another myth, of which only a part has ever been found, the gods of Egypt were in conflict with the sea god Yamm, and were coming off worse. Yamm demanded tribute of gold, silver and lapis lazuli, which was duly brought to him by the goddess Renenutet. However, having received these treasures, he became greedy for more, and insisted on further tribute. He threatened that, if his demands were not met, he would enslave every god in Egypt. In despair, Renenutet pleaded for help from Astarte, who was famed both for her beauty and her ferocity.

The messenger, in the shape of a bird, begged Astarte to carry the extra tribute to Yamm. Reluctantly, Astarte agreed. But when she reached the shoreline, her fiery nature got the better of her and she began to taunt to sea god. Alternately outraged by her impudence and bewitched by her alluring features, Yamm demanded that he be given Astarte as well as the treasure. The goddess Renenutet retired to deliberate with the gods, who acceded to the sea god’s demands and furnished Astarte with a dowry consisting of Nut’s necklace and Geb’s signet ring.

Seth, however, rebelled at the loss of his beautiful wife. Tantalizingly, the remainder of the story is lost. But the outcome, surely, was that, whether by force or by guile, Seth overcame the sea god, saved Egypt’s pantheon from slavery, and reclaimed Astarte.