Episode 3: Horus vs Seth

Second Dynasty, Warring Gods.

The second phase of royal history, Dynasty 2, is more mysterious than the first. From 2850 – 2700 BCE, a shadow fell across the land: economic and climate disruption, rebellions and even civil war. In the midst of disorder, a legend tells of two gods who fought for the throne and soul of Egypt…

  • Time period: 2850 – 2700 BCE.
  • Kings: Peribsen, Khasekhemwy.
  • Notable sites: Saqqara, Abydos

03. Seth Logo



A statue often attributed to Khasekhemwy (Wikimedia).

d2-khasekhemwy (1)

The Enclosure Wall(s) of Khasekhemwy’s Mortuary Complex, Abydos (Dominic Perry, 2019).

d2-khasekhemwy (8)

Between the inner and outer walls of Khasekhemwy’s enclosure; inner wall is recessed to simulate the palace wall (Dominic Perry, 2019).

d2-khasekhemwy (13)

Inside the enclosure of Khasekhemwy (Dominic Perry, 2019).

Select Bibliography

Erik Hornung, Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: the One and the Many, 1996 (Amazon).

John Romer, A History of Egypt: from the First Farmers to the Great Pyramid, 2013 (Amazon).

Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, 2001 (Amazon).

David Wengrow, The Archaeology of Early Egypt, 2006 (Amazon).

Robert Wenke, The Ancient Egyptian State, 2009 (Amazon).

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Ankh says:

    Domminic, nice epiaode. However? I would say “Peribsen” should be translated as “The house of THEIR heart”. Wrong?

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Correct! What did I say?

  2. AnkhAnkh says:

    Domminic, nice epiaode. However? I would say “Peribsen” should be translated as “The house of THEIR heart”. Wrong?OU heart, my deafneas nonwithstandibg.

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Dang! I’ll have to correct that. Thank you for noticing and alerting me! 🙂

  3. LK says:

    Apologies if you covered this already – but during the story of Horus vs Seth, you mention they consult a holy counsel and the divine creator (paraphrasing, I forget the exact wording). Who was the holy counsel? And is the divine creator an omnigod that presides over the other gods? Thank you so much! LOVE the podcast, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Hi LK, thanks for listening! The Holy Council (not counsel) is my way of referring to the Ennead, a group of nine gods who are ancient creator deities. They appear in the myth as sort of a “court” for the supreme Creator, Ra-Horakhty (aka Amun-Ra). Hope this helps!

      1. LK says:

        Great, thank you for the information, this helps!

  4. LK says:

    Oh! Also another question, haha. Again, this may come up later. I understand that the Eye of Horus is depicted as the left eye. I read online somewhere that when you see it as the right eye, that that symbol is the Eye of Ra – is that true?

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Yes and no. The right eye of Horus (in his form of Horus Lord of the Sky) is indeed the sun; but the left eye is actually the moon. So you have both eyes appearing, and both related to Horus, but they have different meanings.
      On top of that, the “Eye of Ra” is more like a title or role. It belongs to several goddesses like Sakhmet and Bastet, who are protectors and warriors for the Sun God. So the Eye of Ra doesn’t usually appear as a literal eye, it’s more of a title for certain goddesses.

      1. LK says:

        Thank you for explaining! I had tried searching for the answer online a few times and came up empty handed. There are some images of a left/right eye with both the Horus or Ra name floating around the internet so I’m glad I found a reputable source to set the record straight. Thanks again.

      2. DominicPerry says:

        Happy to help! If you’re interested to learn more about the gods, I recommend Richard Wilkinson’s “The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt.” It’s very thorough – I use it all the time. Also, Geraldine Pinch’s “Egyptian Mythology: A Guide…” will give you some great information and context 🙂

      3. LK says:

        Oh awesome, will do – thanks!

  5. Kristijan says:

    Hello Dominic,

    I was interested to find more information about Peribsen and as I was looking at Wikipedia I came across this translation for his name: “He who comes forth by their will” or “His heart and will comes forth for them.” I have no clue how they come to that translation but it seems wrong. Do you have an explanation?

    1. DominicPerry says:

      Hi Kristijan,
      They reached that conclusion because the word “house” and the word “to come” are homophones (per / peri). However, this depends on the glyphs and determinatived used: I would have to double check but I believe Peribsen uses the house glyph (per).

      Thanks for listening!

  6. iProduit says:

    As I was looking for some more information on Peribsen I found a weird translation of his name on Wikipedia: “He who comes forth by their will” or “His heart and will comes forth for them.” To me it seems wrong. Do you have maybe an explanation for it?

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