The Battles of Horus and Seth

It is worth noting that in the beginning of Egyptian dynastic history Seth was a member of the venerated gods of Egypt. It is Seth that stands in the bow of the boat of Ra and slays the enemies of Ra as the ship traverses the sky on it’s daily journey. It seems that in very early times the followers of the god Seth may have been conquered by the followers of the god Horus whom went on to unite upper and lower Egypt. If that is true then Seths fall from power has historical and political beginnings. It also must be considered that the roots of these stories may lie in the fact that Seth was a deity of the night and darkness. Therefore, these battles may represent day verses night or dark verses light as well as the ideas of good verses evil. If we look at these stories with that in mind we find ideas like; “an aging king fighting the powers of darkness that are conspiring against him”. This concept can easily be equated with the sun setting and being overpowered by the darkness of night. We can also assume that this battle rages through the night only to find that the sun is once again victorious with the sunrise. By midday, the enemy is all but defeated but the victory slips away as the forces of darkness join the battle as the day grows older towards sunset. And so the battle goes.

Cast of Deities:

Ra-Harakhte………….The aging King.
Thoth…………………….God of wisdom and magic.
Osiris……………………..King of the dead.
Horus…………………….Brother of Osiris.
Horus Behudety……Horus of Edfu.
Seth……………………….Brother of Osiris.
Isis…………………………Sister and wife of Osiris.

Horus Behudety vs. Seth
. . . . .The god-king Ra-Harakhte, in the year 363 of his reign on earth, advanced his army into Nubia to quell a rebellion being led by Seth. Seth had already done a great injustice by brutally murdering Osiris, his brother. Ra-Harakhte’s army sailed up the Nile toward Nubia, stoping in Edfu, where they were joined by Horus Behudety. Horus was also Osiris’ brother and he was eager to avenge his murder. Ra asked Horus to arm himself and do battle with Seth’s army of conspirators that were plotting against the aging king.

. . . . .Knowing his brother to be a worthy adversary, both cunning and treacherous, Horus enlisted the help of the god of wisdom and magic, Thoth. The magic that Thoth used turned Horus into a sun-disk with splendid outstretched wings. The goddesses Nekhbet and Uazet in the form of uraeus snakes joined him at his side.

. . . . .When he came upon the army of Seth, he flew straight at the sun to look down upon the enemies of Ra-Harakhte. So fierce was his stare (the heat of midday) that the enemies of Ra became confused and could no longer tell friend from foe. In fear and rage, they attacked one another. When the battle was over and his enemies were either dead or scattered, Horus swooped down upon the battle field to find his brother, Seth. But he was nowhere to be found. When Ra heard of this great victory, he went to see the corpse-strewn battlefield and rejoiced saying “Let us go to the Nile, for our enemies are dead.”

. . . . .However, not all his enemies were dead. Seth’s following was still strong. He commanded his agents to turn themselves into hippopotami and crocodiles with thick hides. This they did in preparation for an attack on the boat of Ra. Horus too was making preparations, his army made lances of iron and heavy chains. Upon these weapons, Thoth spoke some powerful magic. When the attack came, many of the thick-skinned beasts were either slain by the magic weapons or fled to the south. Horus pursued the army of Seth, and another great battle took place. These battles continued for some time.

. . . . .Horus and Ra-Harakhte now sailed north in search of their foe, who took the shape of hippopotami and crocodiles and hid underwater for days. Upon sight, Horus attacked and did great damage to his enemies with his magical weapons. But his brother continued to allude him. Almost four hundred prisoners were taken before the boat of Ra to be executed. When Seth heard this news, he was furious and his curses were terrible. He decided to personally lead his army into battle against Horus. Another long battle raged. At some point, Horus took a prisoner whom he believed to be Seth. He dragged him and threw him at Ra’s feet. “Do with him as you will,” Ra told Horus. So Horus executed him, cut off his head, dragged him by his feet through the dust and hacked him into pieces, much the same as Seth had done to Horus’s father, Osiris.

. . . . .For many, the story ends here with the death of Seth. However, others say that upon death, Seth lived again as a serpent. But there are other endings as well. Some say that it was not Seth at all that Horus had executed, but mearly an associate. Seth was still at large and had taken the shape of a great snake and hidden himself underground. In some versions of the story, Seth was captured and given to Isis and it is Isis who executes Seth by decapitating him. Yet others say that the final battle of good verses evil has not yet taken place. It is said Horus will be victorious and on that day, Osiris and the rest of the gods will return to the earth.

Seth

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