Seti I Blessed by Set and Horus


From Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien by Lepsius
(This is available in printable line drawing pdf)

Seti I has a relief of himself being blessed by Set and Horus, which is at the large Karnak temple.


Arja Kontkanen, who visited Karnak in April 2009, has a large view of which the photo above is a detail of Set


Hans Kontkanen, who visited Karnak in December 2010, has a closer view of Set and this photo above which is even closer.

Naydler explains this scene:
"In a possible reference to a baptismal ceremony associated with his accession, the king is described as 'the third at his accession.' As a third, he would be between Horus and Seth (or Horus and Thoth), who would be standing on either side of him and would pour baptismal water over him. The position of the king between the dual gods, receiving blessings from both, symbolizes his union of their opposing natures within himself."(pages 305-306)

The baptismal water he refers to shows in a much later relief "Horus and Thoth purifying Ptolemy XIII at the temple of Kom Ombo". In both Unas and Ramses III, the deities have their hands at the pharoah's crown.

I wondered at this change to Horus and Thoth, rather than Horus and Set, and thought it was due to changing attitudes towards Set. But Wilkinson shows this is not so, for even when Set is not shown, he is still understood to be there:

Giving examples of when 'two' actually represents 'four', "in a classic study of the royal purification ritual, Sir Alan Gardiner showed that the two gods usually depicted performing the act of lustration - Horus and Thoth (ill. 124) - actually represented the four gods of the cardinal points Horus, Seth, Thoth, and Anti who transferred to the king a portion of their power as the divinities of the four quarters of the world. Private representations of funerary purifications (which were symbolically parallel) actually show four priests performing the rite, but the royal depictions of this ritual almost always depict only two of the deities, perhaps for purposes of symmetry and representional balance. Whatever the reason, once again we see two representing four and thereby carrying the connotation of the extended number, though the use of the two deities Horus and Thoth (paralleling the common use of Horus and Seth) may also have connoted the dualism of Upper and Lower Egypt." (from _Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art_, by Richard H. Wilkinson, page 139)

Here are a couple of Old Kingdom examples:


Unas stands between Horus and Seth during a kingship rite. Reconstruction from relief fragments found at his pyramid temple at Saqqara


Coronation of Pepy by Horus and Set,
(Cwiek, Andrej. Relief Decoration in the Royal Funerary Complexes in the Old Kingdom (PhD diss., Warsaw University, 2003)).

However, it does seem in the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom, it is Set and Horus that are more often depicted. TeVelde shows Seti I being purified thusly by Set and Horus:

Unas has tied the cords of the shem-shem plant,
Unas has united the heavens,
Unas rules over the lands, the South and the North.
as the gods of long ago.
Unas has built a divine city as it should be,
Unas is the third at his accession.


"Pharoa Sethos I being purified by Set and Horus"
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 36 (1950), pl. 2.

Peter Brand makes reference to this piece in his "Monuments of Seti I". He cites a JEA 36 (1950), plate 1, rather than plate 2, which is probably the full lintel view:


Heliopolis, Lintel of Seti I, black granodiorite (Former Brussels E. 407)
"This beautiful lintel of Seti I was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1946..."

Brand refers to the 'precise elegance' of Seti I's reliefs. Fortunately the old drawings and photos preserve the memory of them in better shape. Here is an elegant rendering of Seti I at Alt-Ourna:


Lepsius' drawing shows the details of his elaborate crown.

His cartouches are there beside the portrait. We have seen how a trick was done in their representation, particularly at the Abydos temple.

His glyphs are rendered in other creative ways, such as in this ring now at the Met Museum:


Bronze Ring of Seti I
New Kingdom, Ramesside, Dynasty 1920, ca. 12951070 B.C.E.
Egypt, Middle Egypt, el-Amarna (Akhetaten); inc. el-Hagg Qandil
Rogers Fund, 1959
Accession Number:59.151.2
Photo credit: The Metropolitan Museum


The usual Seti I cartouche

We can see the "Men-Ma'at-Re" thusly: Ra's round glyph is at the top, and the 'men' glyph (meaning 'enduring) is underneath. The goddess Ma'at faces the god Set. Underneath them, there is a 'mer' glyph, representing a canal which is a specially-made channel for water, and the neb 'bowl' glyph at the bottom. Neb meaning 'bowl' or 'lord' is underlining that Seti II contains within him, as he is a channel for them, the forces of Ma'at and Set.

The Met museum also houses Seti I's offering table which originally was likely at the temple in Naqada:


Offering Table of Seti I for Seth and Nephthys
New Kingdom, Ramesside, Dynasty 19, reign of Seti I, ca. 12941279 B.C.E.
Black granite, L. 105 cm (41 5/16 in). w. 53.3 cm (21 in), Thick. 15.8 cm (6 1/4 in) Rogers Fund, 1922, Metropolitan Museum 22.2.22


Naqada, black granodiorite

Peter Brand speaks of this offering table in his _Monuments of Seti I_:

"The layout of the decoration is identical to that of the Ny-Carlsberg table dedicated to Horus, the table top being decorated with two pairs each of conical and round bread loaves and a pair of jars. On the front side, two miniature offering scenes flank the concave depression. On the right, Seti kneels with his legs splayed out and his arms upraised in adoration of Seth, who sits enthroned on a plinth. The act of the king is labeled "adoring the god four times.' Seth's figure has been hacked out in antiquity, but its outline, as well as many internal details, can easily be made out." (page 189)

The front of the table with its damage was to the back when I photographed it. But here is a close up detail of Seti I adoring Set, no doubt acting as High Priest of Set:


From a photo in Brand's book


My linear clarification

Peter Brand speaks of this offering table in his _Monuments of Seti I_:

"The layout of the decoration is identical to that of the Ny-Carlsberg table dedicated to Horus, the table top being decorated with two pairs each of conical and round bread loaves and a pair of jars. On the front side, two miniature offering scenes flank the concave depression. On the right, Seti kneels with his legs splayed out and his arms upraised in adoration of Seth, who sits enthroned on a plinth. The act of the king is labeled "adoring the god four times.' Seth's figure has been hacked out in antiquity, but its outline, as well as many internal details, can easily be made out.

"On the left-hand panel, pharoah kneels in the same position before Nephthys, with his arms holding aloft a nmst-jar and a pot of incense. The scene is entitled 'giving libation.' Nephthys also sits enthroned on a plinth, wearing a tripartite wig, but no other distinguishing headgear. Both deities hold w3s-scepters and 'nh-signs..."

In addition to Brand's book found at Google book search, there is also William Hayes' translation of the text accompanying these two offering scenes:

"Nephthys' panel (left) reads: 'Long live the Horus, Appearing-in-Thebes-who-causes-the-Two-Lands-to-live, He of the Two Goddesses, Repeating-births, powerful of arm who repels the Nine Bows, Horus of Gold, Repeating-appearance-in-glory, rich in archers in all lands, the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-ma'et-Re', the Son of Re', Seti Mery-en-Ptah, beloved of Nephthys, Mistress of the Gods, and given life.'

"Set's panel (right) reads: 'Long live the Horus, Strong-bull-contented-with-Truth, He of the Two-Goddess, Great-of-splendor-in-the-hearts-of-mankind, Horus of Gold, Contented-with-strength-and-beloved-of-Re', the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Men-ma'et-Re', the Son of Re', Seti Mery-en-Ptah, beloved of Set, the son of Nut, may he live forever!'".
Hayes, William C. The Scepter of Egypt: The Hyksos Period and the New Kingdom. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1959.(p.332), via correspondence with Mark Roblee

Brand refers to Hayes, as well:

"Although the table has no provenance, the epithet of Seth, 'the Ombite Lord of the Southland,' points to the site of Ombos. Hayes identifies this with Nubt, which he believed was located at modern Tukh on the west bank of the Nile, 32 km north of Luxor. Nubt, however, was probably located at the site of Nagada 26km north of Luxor." (See Wikipedia map)

And there's the ancient temple of Seth in Nagada (aka Naqada). It is possible that this table was once at that ancient temple.

Seti I was high priest of Set, as the following passage reveals:

"Rameses I must have been quite old when he mounted the throne, since his son and probably also his grandson had already been born before his accession. During his short reign (barely one year), and maybe even before, his son Sety was appointed vizier and commander of Sile but also held a number of priestly titles linking him with various gods worshipped in the Delta, including that of high priest of Seth." (_The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt_, edited by Ian Shaw, page 294)

Seti I expanded the temple of Set at Avaris, which Horemheb had built. Avaris later became "the new Delta residence of the Ramessid rulers" (_Oxford History..., page 295)

It is good Brand and Hayes give clear description and photos of the table, for the table has its back side to the front at the Met museum:


Photo credit Mark Roblee
Because Mr. Roblee is taller than I am, his photo shows the top side as well!