In Egyptian mythology Set (or Seth) was the evil brother of the deities Osiris, Isis, and Nephthys. The son of the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, Set tore himself from his mother's body before he was fully formed. For this reason, he used pieces of animals to complete his body. Among the many animals associated with Set were the pig, donkey, scorpion, antelope, hippopotamus, and crocodile.
deity god or goddess
Originally a sky and storm god, Set was highly regarded at first, and his cult was one of the oldest in Egypt. Each day he rode across the sky in the sun ship of the great god Ra*; each night as he traveled through the underworld, he killed the mighty serpent Aapep to protect Ra. In time, however, Set became jealous of the other gods, and his treachery against them turned him into one of the chief forces of evil.
Above all, Set envied his brother Osiris, who ruled as king of Egypt while Set served only as lord of the desert. Determined to destroy his brother, Set arranged a great feast to which he invited Osiris and the other gods. He had carpenters construct a large and magnificently decorated box, which he placed at the entrance hall of his palace. When Osiris arrived, Set tricked him into getting inside the box. As soon as Osiris stepped into the box, Set ordered his servants to nail down the lid, seal it with molten lead, and throw it into the Nile River. Osiris drowned.
Their sister Isis, who was also Osiris's wife, searched for her husband and eventually found the box. She brought Osiris back to life long enough to conceive a son, Horus. However, Set found Osiris's body and cut it into pieces. Then he scattered the pieces throughout Egypt. Nephthys, Set's wife and sister, helped Isis locate the pieces and resurrect Osiris. After that, Osiris went to rule the underworld as king of the dead.
Horus later fought Set to avenge his father's death. In a series of great battles, Horus defeated his evil uncle. He would have killed him except that Isis took pity on Set and asked Horus to spare his life. Ancient Egyptians viewed the battle between Horus and Set as the ultimate struggle between good and evil.
cult group bound together by devotion to a particular person, belief, or god
underworld land of the dead
resurrect to raise from the dead
As the cult of Osiris grew in Egypt, worship of Set declined. Eventually, Egyptian priests declared Set to be an enemy of the gods. His name and image were removed from many monuments, and he became associated with Aapep (known also as Apopis), the monstrous serpent that he had once defeated each night to protect Ra.