Nortina’s Egyptian Travel Diaries (#AtoZChallenge): “O” is for Osiris, Set, and Horus: Gods of Egypt

As you may have already guessed, before this trip, the majority of my Ancient Egyptian knowledge came from movies, which in and of itself is extremely flawed. Hollywood whitewashing aside, any film based on historical events must always be taken with a grain of salt, as the filmmakers almost always take creative liberties and fictionalize the tale just a tad (and by “just a tad,” I mean 99.99%) to make it entertaining.

That being said, after visiting the Temple of Horus at Edfu and listening to our tour guide explain the mythology written on the walls of the temple of Osiris, Set, and Horus, I have a newfound appreciation for the Gerard Butler-staring 2016 film, God’s of Egypt. I can see that the filmmakers did at least try to give us a somewhat accurate portrayal of these gods.

Again, Hollywood whitewashing aside.

So what did the movie get right? Let’s take a look. Please note if you haven’t seen the movie, this post contains spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Horus to be crowned king

Yep, that’s right! Horus and Osiris were both recognized as symbols of the kingship of Egypt. Remember the picture of King Khafre in the post “Museums and Mummies” with the falcon covering the back of his head? That was Horus! And the woman Pharaoh Hatshepsut appears as Osiris in the statues at her mortuary temple.

Set’s jealousy of Osiris

Osiris was more beloved by the people of Egypt, and Set didn’t like this one bit, which is why Osiris is often considered the god of order and Set his antithesis, the god of disorder.

Our tour guide compared their story to that of Cain and Abel in the Bible, and we all know what happened between those brothers…

Set kills his brother and assumes the throne!

In the film, it’s at Horus’ coronation. In the myth, it’s at some kind of banquet. In either case, it’s a grand event with an audience, and Set pretends to have a gift, then goes in for the kill! Although in the myth, how he does it is far more gruesome.

He has an elaborate coffin made to fit Osiris’ exact measurements and declares he will gift it to whoever can fit inside. Of course, he knows only Osiris can fit, but he allows each guest to lie inside to see if they can fit. When it’s Osiris’ turn, Set traps him inside, chops him up, and tosses the pieces into the Nile.

So much for brotherly love.

Set takes Horus’ eyes

This is where we get the Eye of Horus, which is seen as a symbol of protection.

Set’s and Horus’ divine forms are animals

As we’ve already discussed, Horus is called the falcon god, and I’m pretty sure that’s what he transforms into in the film—or some kind of bird. Set’s animal is a little harder to identify. In images I’ve seen online, he kind of looks like an aardvark, and I guess that’s what he transforms into in the film.

In the myth, Set also takes the form of a hippopotamus or a pig, which is what his guards sort of look like in the film.

Horus takes revenge against Set

And reclaims the throne! In the myth, he doesn’t just kill Set, he kills every hippo and pig in Egypt. He wanted to ensure there was no chance of Set coming back, which is kind of seen in the movie with the way Horus stabs Set with such finality!

Horus spearing Set’s animal forms as depicted on the walls of the Temple of Horus at Edfu.

So you see? Gods of Egypt isn’t so bad. 😉

One part of the myth I wish they had covered in the film is the resurrection of Osiris by his queen Isis, who searched all of Egypt for his body parts, slowly pieced him back together, and then brought him back to life with what I will call “true love’s kiss.” That would have been an infinitely more interesting love story than what we got with Bek and Zaya. Hathor and the giant snake had more chemistry than those two.


“A” is for Arrival
“B” is for Buyer’s Remorse
“C” is for Cruisin’ the River Nile
“D” is for Delays, Delays, Delays
“E” is for Empty Tombs
“F” is for Fragrance
“G” is for Great Pyramid of Giza
“H” is for Hatshepsut
“I” is for Island Temple of Philae
“J” is for Just Engaged!
“K” is for Kom Ombo
“L” is for Luxor
“M” is for Museums and Mummies
“N” is for Nefertari

This April for the A to Z Challenge, I’m sharing my experience of traveling to Egypt last month. These posts likely won’t be in chronological order, depending on what memory each letter strikes up, but if you’d like to follow me on this journey, subscribe below.

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