If you love a good fantasy quest movie, with a bit of ‘The Mummy’-style caper thrown in, you’ll love this one. Gods of Egypt follows the search of a young thief for his lover, who has been captured by Set, the Egyptian god of darkness.
Luckily Bek, played by Brenton Thwaites, finds an ally in Horus, another one of the powerful Egyptian gods and goddesses. Will they be able to combat Set’s dark power over Egypt and restore peace to the empire?
Although this new adventure fantasy film was filmed entirely in Australia, let us take you to the timeless land of the Pharoahs – a dream travel destination for many – to discover more about the Gods of Egypt.
Travel Guide to The Gods of Egypt
The first thing to understand about Egyptian mythology is that the rivalry between Set and Horus is one of the great underpinning storylines of Egyptian legend.
The story behind Gods of Egypt is that Set, Osiris, and Isis were the divine children of the sky goddess and the earth god. The eldest, Osiris, was wise and powerful and married to his sister Isis. In a fit of envy, Set killed his brother Osiris and hacked him to bits.
But Isis managed to put the corpse back together and embalmed Osiris, creating the ultimate mummy! Isis is the most revered of the Egyptian goddesses and she magically conceived a son with the mummy – Horus. Once Horus grew up, he wanted revenge and battles between him and Set for domination of Egypt continued through the millennia.
All this explains why Horus (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is so keen to help Bek in his mission against Set (Gerard Butler) and pursue him through Egypt, into the afterlife, and across the heavens for yet another epic confict. So Horus and Set are massive figures in Egyptian mythology and you will see their images on reliefs and sculptures at many of Egypt’s most famous ancient sites.
Valley of the Kings tomb decoration Photo by Natasha von Geldern
Set, the god of the winds, chaos and disorder, was associated with Upper Egypt (the southern desert) while Horus was seen as the lord of Lower Egypt (the northern Nile delta) and came to be revered as a prince of light and goodness.
Of course, the stories of the ancient Egyptian religion arose out of a desire to explain the real world and the mythological conflict between Set and Horus probably reflected the actual shifting power over these two parts of Egypt over the centuries.
In fact, Set had a mixed reputation that seemed to change through Egyptian history. At times he was regarded as quite heroic, at others a deceptive trickster, and later he was vilified through association with foreign invaders such as the Assyrian and Persian empires. Ceremonies were held celebrating his (spoiler alert) ultimate defeat by Horus.
Here’s where you should travel in Egypt to see Horus and Set, the Gods of Egypt:
Is the Great Sphinx one of the Gods of Egypt?
With a backdrop of the huge pyramids, the Great Phinx at Giza is one of the most iconic images of Egypt. The sphinx is through to be a representation of Horus, in one of his variants – Harmakhet – the god of the dawn and the morning sun. The Great Sphinx stars towards the eastern horizon and Egyptians believe it is a representation of ‘Horus in the Horizon’.
The Great Sphinx, Egypt Photo by Natasha von Geldern
Which Egyptian gods are found at the Ramesseum?
This awesome temple near Luxor is one of the most romantic in Egypt, mainly due to its association with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and his “Ozymandius”. There is a colossal statue that appears to have crashed to the ground and Shelley’s poem effectively describes how the mighty are fallen.
The Ramesseum is the mortuary temple of Ramesses II and there are many well-preserved relief pictures, in particular scenes revering Ra-Harakhty – essentially a merging of Horus with the god Ra – in the ‘Room of Litanies’. He is known as the Horus of the Two Horizons, who ruled the sky, the earth and the underworld.
The Ramesseum, Egypt Photo by Natasha von Geldern
The Temple of Edfu and Egyptian mythology
The Temple of Edfu was built to honor Horus himself and is a popular stop on a Nile River cruise to Luxor. It was built around 200 BC and is decorated with dramatic scenes from the conflict between Horus and Seth. The ancient Egyptians believed the huge temple was built on the site of the great battle between Horus and Set.
Edfu is one of the best-preserved temples from ancient times left in Egypt because it was for centuries buried beneath drifting desert sands. It was excavated in the 1860s and there are indications that worshippers there held an annual ritual called the Triumph of Horus which involved killing a hippopotamus, which was a symbol of Set.
Temple of Edfu, Egypt Photo by Natasha von Geldern
Mighty Abu Simbel
This temple in the far southern deserts of Egypt was built by Ramesses II to celebrate a victory in battle. Famous warrior pharaohs such as Ramesses and his father Seti I were big fans of Set. They wanted Set’s violent nature to help with their war efforts. However, Horus was still important and you can see images of Set and Horus adoring Ramesses in the small temple at Abu Simbel. The entrance of the main temple is dominated by a relief of the pharaoh worshipping a huge statue of Ra Harakhty. Horus is represented as a falcon-headed god, with a solar disk on his breast and the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt (after he defeated Set).
Be overwhelmed by the Temple at Karnak
The vast temple complex at Karnak is the largest ancient site in Egypt and the most visited, after the pyramids at Giza. It was built and added to over many years and by many rulers. The sheer scale of the Grand Hypostyle Hall with its 134 massive columns is overwhelming. The various chapels and other structures a few kilometers north of Luxor feature colossal sculptures and reliefs and Horus is prominent among these. Something fascinating to note at Karnak is a number of images of Set that have been damaged during the time when the god was demonized.
Temple of Karnak, Egypt Photo by Natasha von Geldern
Symbols of Egyptian gods in the Valley of the Kings
In the fabled Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile opposite modern Luxor (ancient Thebes) archaeologists have uncovered, and continue to uncover, royal and aristocratic tombs created between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. The tombs of the Theban Necropolis are reached through a long descending corridor cut into the rock into the halls and burial chamber. The walls are all exquisitely decorated with sacred images and inscriptions.
Egyptian mythology imagery, Photo by Natasha von Geldern
As well as the mighty sculptures and reliefs, you will recognize everywhere the ‘eye of Horus’ symbol as you travel through Egypt. This comes from the story of one battle, in which Horus tore off Set’s testicles while Set tore out Horus’ eye. The Udjat Eye is a symbol of protection and worn as an amulet and painted on the walls of tombs and sides of coffins.
In ancient Egyptian belief, Horus is said to be still battling Set in an ongoing struggle for the safety and peace in the world. If the Gods of Egypt movie inspires you to plan a trip to this ancient country you will find him wherever you go.