The famous rift between Horus and Seth is one of the most popular legends of the Ancient Egyptian religion. However, these two conflicting gods are also essential to another legend—a myth of unification.
“[Geb commanded] that the Ennead assemble before him,
and he separated Horus and Seth,
he prevented them from carrying on their conflict.
He set up Seth as nswt (can mean “south” or “political”) king in Upper Egypt…
And thus Geb set up Horus as bit (can mean “north” or “religious”) king in Lower Egypt even to the place where his father had drowned.
Thus Horus stood in one place,
and Seth stood in another place,
they “agreed” on the two countries in Ayan.
That is the boundary between the two lands.”
This excerpt derives from a longer tale found on the 25th Dynasty’s Shabaqo Stone (aka Memphite Theology), depicted in the bottommost photograph. An artistic portrayal of this event can be seen in the top image (from the throne pedestal of Sesostis I), with Horus and Seth tying a knot—unifying two distinct lands. If you look closely at this representation, you will see two common symbols; the lotus of Upper Egypt (on Seth’s side), and papyrus of Lower Egypt at Horus’ feet.
This myth is seen early on in the historical record with the ascension of pharaohs, who were seen as the incarnation of both gods. At his coronation, each new king repeated the unification of the Two Lands. Similarly, the queen’s title literally translated to “She who sees Horus and Seth”. Clearly, this dualistic legend resounded in various aspects of the lives of the Egyptian elite.