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Set is the god of war, evil, chaos, storms, desert, and drought. He is depicted as the Set animal: he has a curved snout, long, boxy ears, a forked tail, and a canine body. He is often carrying a was-scepter and a sickle.

Set was the son of Geb (earth) and Nut (sky), and he was arguably one of the most hated gods of ancient Egypt. He was the younger brother of Osiris, and in his earlier years, he was credited with being a protector of Ra and helping Ra to defeat the great serpent Apep. Later, Set was enormously jealous of Osiris’ success in ruling the kingdom of Egypt. Set’s wife, Nephthys, disguised herself as Osiris’ wife Isis in order to sleep with Osiris and become pregnant with her son, Anubis. Set’s rage at her betrayal spilled over into a plot of revenge against Osiris. He put Osiris into a coffin and drowned him in the Nile, which the ancient Egyptians used to explain the annual flooding of the Nile River each year. However, after he drowned him, he took him out of the coffin, dismembered him, and scattered his pieces all over the earth to keep Isis from bringing him back to life with any of her magic. Since Osiris did not have any other heirs, Set figured that his throne was secure.

Isis, however, retrieved all of the pieces of Osiris, and together with Thoth, brought him back to life long enough to become pregnant with Horus. She hid Horus until he was old enough to come back and avenge his father’s death. Set and Horus began many long battles with one another until ultimately, Horus triumphed over his uncle and united the Upper and Lower kingdoms of Egypt.

Set was originally the god of foreign travelers, and after the invasions by the Assyrians and Persians, he became a devil-like figure. He embodied all of the hatred for oppressors that the Egyptians held, and it was during this time period that his other negative traits, including chaos and war, became a part of his myth.

Be sure to look at our lesson plans on the Egyptian myths!

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Set Quick Reference


Geb and Nut

Power / Domain

War, evil, chaos, storms, desert, and drought

Symbols / Attributes

  • Set animal
  • was-scepter
  • sickle

Notable Myths

  • Murder of Osiris
  • Battles with Horus
  • Defeat of Apep

Learn more about Egyptian, Norse, and Greek mythology!
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