Seth, the desert god and his relationship with chaos: His role in the fight against the forces of evil

In the shifting sands of history, few figures are as captivating as Set, the Egyptian god of the desert. A complex character, he is the incarnation of chaos (isfet) but also an unexpected protector against the forces of evil. This mythological giant invites us to explore the nuances of Egyptian mythology, where destruction rubs shoulders with safeguarding, and war opens the way to harmony.

Origins and attributes

Birth and family of Seth

In the mythological beginnings of Egypt, several gods dominated the scene divine. Among them, Seth emerged with an impressive pedigree:

  • Son of earth and sky, Geb and Nut, Seth was born of a line of primordial powers.
  • Embroiled in a fraternal conflict with Osiris, he embodies the rivalry and power struggles that defined the divine dynasty.

Iconography and symbols associated with Seth

When one delves into the artistic treasures of ancient Egypt, Seth is revealed through:

  • Frescoes and ritual objects, where he is often depicted with the head of an indeterminate animal, underscoring his link with mystery and the unknown.
  • Certain animals, such as the hippopotamus and the boar, as well as objects like the Was scepter, are sacred to him, symbolizing his brute strength and protective powers.

Set and the notion of chaos in ancient Egypt

Chaos (isfet) versus order (maat)

At the heart of the Egyptian pantheon, the balance between chaos and order was central:

  • Set was considered the master of isfet, representing the disorder necessary for the regeneration of the world.
  • On the other hand, maat symbolized order and justice, necessary for cosmic balance, a principle that Set himself had to respect.

Set, protector of frontiers and caravans

In addition to embodying destruction, Set played an essential role as :

  • Proud guardian of deserts and marginal regions, where civilization came up against the unknown.
  • Defender of expeditions, he watched over the caravans crossing these hostile territories, thus showing another facet of his divinity.

The eternal struggle against Apophis

The serpent of chaos Apophis

  • Apophis, the giant serpent, dark incarnation of absolute chaos, threatened to overthrow world order every night.
  • A fierce enemy of light, he symbolized the ultimate dangers that Seth was committed to repelling.

Seth, defender of the solar bark

  • At the edge of the night, Seth protected the solar bark, demonstrating his role in maintaining the day-night cycle.
  • Through rituals and prayers, the Egyptians invoked his protection to ensure the daily rebirth of the sun.

Set and Osiris: Conflicts and consequences

The murder of Osiris and its motivations

  • The most striking myth of Set is undoubtedly the murder of his brother Osiris, woven from jealousy and betrayal.
  • This legend highlights the dark forces of nature and the inevitability of death, but also the possibilities of rebirth.

Divine justice and posthumous reconciliation

  • Ultimately, Osiris was judged, offering Set a chance of redemption.
  • The posthumous reconciliation, though complex, allowed Set to regain his place as protector.

The cult of Set and its historical evolution

Worship centers and ritual practices

  • Temples and cities dedicated to Set bear witness to his cultic importance.
  • Rites evolved, reflecting fluctuations in his reputation among the faithful.

Demonization and rehabilitation of Seth

  • Over time, Seth went from being a respected figure to being demonized, particularly under Greco-Roman and Christian influence.
  • These changes in perception make Seth a fascinating case study for historians of religion.


Seth, a unique Egyptian god, stands at the crossroads of many contradictions. Both actor of chaos and saviour of the world, his presence continues to inspire and question. While the sands of ancient Egypt still hold many secrets, Seth remains an eternal symbol of the complexity of life, death and rebirth. The prospects of studying Seth are as vast and unexplored as the deserts he once ruled.