Set (Seth) – God of war, chaos, storms, and pestilence. His name is translated as “Instigator of Confusion” and “Destroyer”. He is depicted as a red beast with cloven hooves and a forked tail and is the prototype for the later iconography of the Christian Devil. Set was originally a hero-god who drove away from the serpent Apep (Apophis) from the barge of the sun god and killed it nightly.
He was a desert god who brought the evil winds of the drylands to the lush Nile Valley and was associated with foreign lands and people. His consorts were Anat and Astarte, both goddesses associated with war and both from foreign countries, as well as Taweret, the benign protective goddess of childbirth and fertility. Set is often characterized as “evil”, and did manifest many evil qualities, but was not regarded by the ancient Egyptians as an embodiment of evil or darkness.
He was rather seen as a necessary balance to gods like Osiris and Horus who represented all things noble and good, fertility, vitality, and eternity. Set is best known as the world’s first murderer in the Myth of Osiris where he kills his brother to usurp the throne. Isis returns Osiris to life but, because he is incomplete, descends to the underworld as Lord of the Dead. Isis gives birth to Osiris’ son, Horus, who grows up to challenge set for the throne. Their battles, which lasted for eighty years, are described in the text The Contendings of Horus and Set and were resolved in one version by Isis while, in another, by Neith with Horus declared rightful king and Set banished to the desert lands.