As mentioned before,
there was a mythological period called the "First
Time." This was an era where the gods were said to
roam and rule the world. Nu, Atum, Ra, Shu and Tefnut,
Geb and Nut, Osiris, and many other gods were among the
population. Set, son of Geb and Nut, was also present. It
is said that he was the spirit of evil. Even his birth
was violent, as he tore himself from his mothers
womb. He gained power by murdering his brother Osiris and
was a terrifying ruler for a period of time. Many of the
other gods chose to seek safety in the bodies of various
animals during this time.
This begins what is called the Delta
Cycle myth. Sets sister, Isis was enslaved by Set
after her brother and husband, Osiriss death (which
is a topic itself and will be discussed shortly). Isis
managed to escape and was forced to hide in the swamp of
the Delta, for she was carrying a child, Horus, destined
to grow up and defeat Set; thus avenging his
fathers death. As an infant, Horus was watched over
by various gods and marsh-nymphs in a place in the swamp
called Chemmis. Among these was Nephthys, the sister and
wife of Set-as she had left her husband due to his
cruelty. Snakes were his biggest source of danger, as
they were Set in disguise. At one point, Horus was bitten
and poisoned. He was saved by the gods because the power
of the "high god" could protect him from Set
and his followers. It is interesting to note here that
this power was said not to extend over natural hazards.
Thus, if it had been simply a poisonous snake bite, Horus
may have died, but because it was Sets evil in
disguise, the gods were able to cure Horus.
Once Horus was grown, he came out of
the Delta to claim his right to his fathers
"office." This myth, called the Great Quarrel
by some, was not a serious one. The story is mostly
dialogue. It was created for entertainment; therefor, it
is shallow and without real meaning. Nevertheless, it is
interesting, and worth mentioning here.
The counsel of the gods was considering
giving the office to Set, because he was the larger and
stronger of the two. After much discussion and consulting
(supposedly, the discussion went on more that eighty
years), it was decided to give the crown to Horus. Set
became enraged and challenged Horus to a battle in the
sea, both of them taking the form of hippopotamuses.
Horus accepted. His mother, Isis tried to help him, but
ended up not really doing so at all, but rather, made it
worse. First, she harpooned him accidentally and released
him. Then she harpooned Set, but released him as well
because Set was able to persuade her to do so. This
angered Horus so much that he came up from the water and
cut off his mothers head. He took the head to the
mountains to hide from the punishment he had just earned.
He hid under a tree in an oasis and the company of gods
looking for him could not find him.
Set was able to find Horus, however. He
tore out Horuss eyes and planted them the ground,
where they bloomed into lotus flowers. Set denied being
able to find Horus to the counsel, but another god,
Hanthor, found Horus again, restored his eyes, then
brought him to the counsel. A truce was called and Set
and Horus went off to rest together.
This point in the story is a good
example of how this myth was not to be taken seriously.
The material is vulgar in this portion. In not so many
words, Set violated Horus that night. Horus ran to his
mother (who obviously did not die from decapitation) with
Sets semen (seed) on his hand. Isis cut off
Horuss contaminated hand, threw the hand in the
ditch, and put some of Horuss semen on Sets
garden. Set became pregnant when he ate from the garden.
Obviously, it was not a moral crime to
violate homosexually as it was to be violated
homosexually, because Set and Horus went before the
counsel and Set declared that Horus was unfit for the
crown because he allowed Set to "treat" him
homosexually. Horus claimed this was untrue and that the
gods should call the "seed" of each to see who
had "treated" whom. The gods did so. Sets
seed answered from the ditch, while Horuss answered
from Set. The gods declared Horus right. However, once
again, Set challenged Horus to a contest. This time, it
was a boat race in boats made of stone. Horus built his
in the night, when no one could see. He made his of wood,
but covered it with gypsum, making it look like stone.
Set saw the boat, and made his of stone, thinking
Horuss was also. The next day, Sets boat sank
immediately, of course. He was enraged and tried to kill
Horus, but the gods intervened.
After more discussion and consulting,
Set finally agrees to let law rule over brute force and
resigns. Horus was given the crown, and in compensation,
Set was made god of storms. His main duty was to fend off
the serpent dragon of darkness, Apopis, as he tried to
overcome Osiriss divine barge at sunrise and