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Publisher's Summary

Africa may have given rise to the first human beings, and Egypt probably gave rise to the first great civilizations, which continue to fascinate modern societies across the globe nearly 5,000 years later. From the Library and Lighthouse of Alexandria to the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Ancient Egyptians produced several wonders of the world, revolutionized architecture and construction, created some of the world’s first systems of mathematics and medicine, and established language and art that spread across the known world. With world-famous leaders like King Tut and Cleopatra, it’s no wonder that today’s world has so many Egyptologists.

To the ancient Egyptians, as was the case with any society made up of inquiring humans, the world was a confusing and often terrifying place of destruction, death and unexplained phenomena. In order to make sense of such an existence, they resorted to teleological stories. Giving a phenomenon a story made it less horrifying, and it also helped them make sense of the world around them. Unsurprisingly, then, the ancient Egyptian gods permeated every aspect of existence.

In the first dynastic period there is a symbolic depiction of the earliest form of kingship. The symbol consisted of the “Two Ladies and Two Lords”. The Ladies were the goddesses Nekhbet and Wadjyt, who represented the Upper and Lower kingdoms of Egypt, each with her crown of either White or Red; the Two Lords were the conflicting gods Horus and Seth. The contention between these two gods was transmuted into real-world conflict when, during the Second Dynasty, king Peribsen chose to put the mysterious “Seth Animal” above his name, thus favoring one of the “Two Lords” over the other. Peribsen kept this close association with Seth, betraying the earlier kingly association with Horus, until king Khasekhemwy dethroned him and placed both gods' animals above his own name and declared “the Two Lords are at rest”. The modern historian Geraldine Pinch suggests that this is a very early example of the Egyptians' tendency to mythologize their real-world conflicts, a trait the Egyptians would continue well into their long history.

It’s true that the vast history of Egypt can only be given a cursory view at any one time, but, in the case of its myths, just enough to contextualize the story can be sufficient to understand the progression of a deity like Seth through the millennia. In fact, the development of Seth’s character throughout history is possibly one of the most fascinating and divisive among the Egyptian deities. 

Seth: The History and Legacy of the Ancient Egyptian God Who Killed Osiris to Usurp the Throne looks at the mythology surrounding one of antiquity’s most famous deities. You will learn about Seth like never before. 

©2018 Charles River Editors (P)2018 Charles River Editors

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