People - Ancient Egypt: Peribsen (Seth-Peribsen) EARLY DYNASTIC PERIOD 2nd Dynasty (3890-2686) Little actual history is known
of the pharaohs of the early dynasties. Their monuments, however, are some of
the most studied artifacts in the world.
Peribsen (Seth-Peribsen) in Tour Egypt
by Jimmy Dunn.
Were Hitler and his gang to have won the second World War,
there would not be a question of whether history would
justify his atrocities, but rather simply how they would
have been justified, and how the actual winners such as
Churchill and others would have been made to look evil. The
curse of our past is that the winners will write our
histories, recording their triumphs as good over evil. But
in many instances, though we would like to think World War
II is not one of these, the winners have simply buried their
own wrong doings while spotlighting any atrocities committed
on the part of the losers.
In ancient Egypt, we find what sometimes appears to be
almost a primeval struggle between good and evil. This
conflict between the followers of Seth (Set) and the
followers of Horus is very ancient and may very well form a
component of our modern theological concepts. Yet there may
have, during the predynastic period, actually been a battle
between real rulers, symbolically or otherwise associated
with these two gods, over control of Egypt. In the end, the
followers of Horus seem to have (more or less) triumphed,
and in general, Seth as a god, appears to us as the more
sinister of the two, even though one might say he was never
really completely vilified.
At a few points in Egyptian history, normally when we see
conflicts between the north and south, Seth appears to gain
favor with the Egyptian royalty. As an example, we have the
4th (or possible the 6th) king of Egypt's 2nd Dynasty. This
king originally ascended the throne as Sekhemib, meaning
"Powerful in Heart". However, for the first time since the
beginning of the 1st Dynasty, he specifically broke from
tradition, associating his name with Seth rather than Horus.
His name was changed from Sekhemib to Seth-Peribsen
(Peribsen meaning "Hope of all Hearts"). However, it should
be noted at this point, that apparently a minority of
Egyptologists believe that Sekhemib and Seth-Peribsen were
two different kings. Furthermore, some would have him
changing his name from Seth Peribsen to Horus Sekhemib,
though in our context of earlier Egyptian kings, this seems
Apparently, the rivalry between Upper and Lower Egypt
sparked a period of internal unrest within the country, when
seemingly, the followers of Seth gained an upper hand that
would take at least some hold on the country through the end
of this Dynasty. Most of the 1st and early 2nd Dynasty kings
are better attested to in the north of Egypt, while the
later kings of the 2nd Dynasty are better known from the
south. However, some argue that the reign of Seth Peribsen
was not nearly as violent as we might believe, and that his
name change was more politically motivated in order to
assure peace. Others see it as a period when upper and lower
Egypt may have simply separated due to the difficulties in
administering such a large state.
Egyptologists seem ready to admit that the events of the
second dynasty are extremely uncertain, if not the most
uncertain in Egyptian history. It is entirely possible that
the events surrounding Peribsen's name change are related to
religious and theological motivations that remain unknown,
due to the complex mythology surrounding Horus and Seth.
It is likely that if conflicts did occur during this period,
it was eventually settled by Khasekemwy, the last king of
the dynasty, though perhaps not without compromise (together
with no small amount of bloody conflict). His serekh (a
palace facade containing his name) is surmounted by both the
Jackal of Seth and the falcon of Horus. By the 3rd Dynasty,
all of the kings reverted back to the Horus title.
Even though Seth-Peribsen was considered a legitimate king
by later generations of ancient Egyptians, it is clear that
the followers of Horus (at least in relationship to the
followers of Seth) dominated Egyptian history. If indeed the
struggle was originally not between gods, but rather mortal
men under the leadership of ancient kings, two things seem
clear. First, during at least the early dynasties, Seth (as
a god) was not seen to be nearly as sinister as in later
times. However, as time passed and the worship of Horus and
his association with the King grew ever stronger, the
attributes of Seth suffered. We know Seth today as a god of
confusion, the spirit of disorder and the personification of
violence, as well as bad faith. Yet in the Egyptian spirit
of balance and duality, he was a necessary component of
Seth-Peribsen may have ruled for around 17 years. His
predecessor is often listed as Nynetjet, though there is
evidence and some acceptance among Egyptologists that two
rulers, named Weneg and Sened, may have reigned between
these two kings. We know that Egyptian power extended as
far south as Elephantine during his reign, for seal
impressions bearing his name were discovered there in 1985.
Apparently, there was a temple dedicated to Seth on the
Island during later times.
Seth Peribsen apparently built a fairly small tomb (P) at
Abydos with a burial chamber lined with mudbrick, of which
only the substructure survives. As might be expected, there
has been no tomb of his found at Saqqara, were many of the
1st Dynasty kings were buried.
Seth-Peribsen in Wikipedia
Seth-Peribsen was a king during the Second dynasty of Egypt
who ruled for seventeen years. He is considered to be the
predecessor of Khasekhemwy and was buried in Umm el-Qa'ab in
Abydos, where a seal impression contains the first full
sentence written in hieroglyphs.
His burial stelae (one of which is on display in the British
Museum) show a Seth-creature rather than the more common
Horus, and this might reveal that the king did not rule over
the whole area of Egypt.
Seth-Peribsen and Sekhemib
There is considerable academic debate as to whether Peribsen was succeeded by Sekhemib-
Perenmaat, or whether these two individuals are in fact the same person, being referred to
by different names (this may well example the presence of the Seth-creature on his Serekh).
As Jochem Kahl states in the most recent (2006) publication on Egyptian chronology:
"It is not clear whether the next two [kings] names--Horus Sekhem-ib and Seth Per-ibsen--
belonged to a single ruler or to two different kings. Peribsen certainly claimed to rule
over all of Egypt, but the sources do not confirm this. Contemporaneous evidence for Seth
Peribsen is restricted to UE (Upper Egypt) between Elephantine and Beit Khallaf, just north
of Abydos, except for his funerary cult in association with nwsw bjt Sened at Saqqara."
In contrast, Sekhemib "is attested at Abydos and Saqqara" and seal impressions mentioning
Sekhemib have been found in the tomb of Peribsen "while at Saqqara, stone vessels with
Sekhemib's name were found in the Step Pyramid. Kahl notes that this does not prove that
Sekhemib "exercise influence in the Memphite region, since these vessels could have been
brought to Saqqara from Abydos after Sekhemib's death."
Kahl mentions three current or older theories concerning the relationship between these two
kings: a) Sekhemib and Seth-Peribsen were either names borne simultaneously by a single
ruler, b) Horus Sekhemib was merely the older name of Seth Peribsen or c) Horus
Sekhemib buried Seth-Peribsen and was thus his successor. Due to the absence of
conclusive evidence, Kahl notes that "at present there is no compelling argument favouring
one alternative over the others. - Wikipedia