Seth, Lord of Disorder – Mythology of Ancient Egypt

In very early times, Seth was worshipped at his cult center Naqata, and because he was associated with the frightening desert sandstorms of the region, it was important to appease him. He ultimately became a lord of misrule and chaos.


Like most Egyptian gods, Seth was often pictured with the head of an animal, usually the strange “Seth Beast”, an imaginary creature with a vague resemblance to an ant-eater. Sometimes he was depicted as one of the animals considered to be “unclean” by the Egyptians, such as the hippopotamus or the pig.

As Lord of disorder, Seth was the enemy of Horus and the organized world that Horus stood for. This enmity was part of the Egyptian order, a Darkness against which the Divine Light could shine.

For all his villainy, his antecedents were impeccable, as the son of sky goddess Nut, he matched the status of his brother Osiris and his sisters Isis and Nephthys. The latter was also one of his wives. Indeed, his strengths and rank among the gods gained him Re’s support during much of his bitter struggle with Horus. After his defeat on Earth, he journeyed with the sun god during the hours of the night, defending him against the serpent Apophis.

Seth’s immense strength and his forceful sexuality guaranteed him the devotion of at least a minority of mortals. Although rarely a popular god, he did have his good points. An appeal to Seth, the lord of chaos, might help keep bad weather away. Indeed at one point in Egypt history, during the 19th and 20th dynasties (1292 to 1075 BCE), he enjoyed a period of general worship and respect.

But Seth was always a dangerous god to venerate. Later dynasties characterized him as the god of harm, and he generally came to be regarded as the personification of evil-doing.