Apep, god of Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses for kids - Apep the Serpent God

The Mythology & History of ancient Egypt surrounding Apep the Egyptian serpent or snake god Apep, enemy of Ra

Apep, the "Eater-up of Souls"
Discover the legends and myths and religious beliefs surrounding immortal Apep, the Egyptian serpent god of evil, chaos and destruction who dwelled in eternal darkness.  Apep was a god who appeared in the form of a serpent. The monstrous Apep, also called Apothis, was described occasionally as a huge crocodile but usually as a highly dangerous, gigantic snake who swam in the dark waters of the Underworld. Apep constantly threatened divine order and was the mortal enemy of Ra, the Sun God.

The god Ra was believed to traverse the sky each day in a sun boat and pass through the realms of the underworld each night on another solar barge and during his nightly travels in the terrifying Underworld Ra was attacked by the serpent god Apep.  Interesting facts about ancient Egypt, and its mysterious gods is available via:

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A - Z of Egyptian Gods & Goddesses

Facts about Apep
Who was Apep? Apep was the immortal evil Egyptian god of chaos and destruction who resided in the depths of the Underworld and assumed the form of a giant serpent or snake.  The following facts and profile provides a fast overview of Apep:

Apep Profile & Fact File

Names: Apep, Apothis, Apophisis, Apepi or Aapep.

Titles: "Serpent of the Nile", the "Evil Lizard", "He who spits", "The Destroyer" and the "Eater-up of Souls". Apep was the original "He Who Must Not Be Named"

Role: The function of this ancient evil god is described as being the god of chaos and destruction

Function: As the god of chaos and destruction he threatened world and divine order and attempted to prevent Ra from bringing the sun into the sky

Status: He was associated with the deep, dark waters of the Underworld and was immortal

Description: Apep was usually described as a giant snake, measured miles in length and had a head made of hard rock

Powers: According to ancient Egyptian Mythology he was believed to have supernatural powers Apep and was able to use a magical gaze to hypnotize Ra and his companion gods

Egyptian Mythology: The evil god Apep features in many stories, creation myths and legends in Egyptian Mythology especially relating to the Sun Boat and the Tree of Life

Images and Pictures of Apep in Ancient Egyptian Art
The images and pictures of Apep, the Egyptian god of evil, chaos and destruction depicted the god as a giant snake in various forms of ancient Egyptian art such as tomb paintings, hieroglyphics and stone carvings. The ancient Egyptians were highly superstitious and feared that even the mention of his name would bring the unwanted attention of this evil god. This fear extended to creating images of Apep. Fearing that even an image of the god Apep could give power to the evil spirit, paintings and other depictions of Apep would always include another deity fighting to subdue the monster, or a scene in which the god had already been vanquished. The following picture of Apep features the evil god fighting against Atum (Atum-Ra), the sun creator god of the Ennead in Heliopolis.

Picture of Apep, the evil serpent god attacking Atum-Ra

Picture of the evil serpent god attacking Atum-Ra

Apep in Ancient Egyptian History
Apep represented a demonic obstacle to the daily resurrection of the sun. Occasionally he would be victorious in his battles with Ra the solar god and his entourage of gods, and the world would be plunged into darkness. The ancient Egyptians believed that these victories allowed storms, darkness, rain and the terrifying eclipse of the sun to occur. They believed that prayers, incantations and magic spell would help Ra and the gods in their endless nightly fight on their Sun Boat against Apep.

Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - The "Book of the Overthrowing of Apep"
Apep the evil destroyer was never worshipped, quite the reverse. Most temple rituals of ancient Egypt were aimed correcting chaos and restoring order to the world. Because Apep was immortal he was able to emerge unscathed from any defeats by the gods. It was therefore important to the Egyptians to offer prayers and spells to help the gods overcome Apep the evil serpent. The "Book of the Overthrowing of Apep" provided temple visitors with a spell for repelling negativity, which was symbolized by the solar god Ra defeating Apep. These rituals and incantations were enacted nightly by the priests and Egyptians and were thought to help ensure the victory of Ra in his life-and-death struggle with darkness.

Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - The "Banishing of Apep"
Each year, a dangerous ritual called the "Banishing of Apep" would be held by the priests of the sun god Ra. The "Books of Overthrowing Apep" provided the priests with details about the proper destruction of Apep and instructions were provided for:

  • Spitting Upon Apep
  • Defiling Apep with the Left Foot
  • Taking a Lance to Smite Apep
  • Fettering the god
  • Taking a Knife to Smite Apep
  • Putting Fire Upon Apep

The priests first created an effigy of the god of evil, chaos and destruction. The effigy was taken to  the center of the sun temple and the priests would pray that all the evil and wickedness in Egypt would go into the effigy. The effigy of Apep would then be attacked and defiled. The priests spat on the effigy, beat it with sticks, hacked at it with weapons and eventually burned and destroyed it. The priests and the ancient Egyptians believed that this ritual would curtail the power and influence of Apep and banish him from Egypt for the forthcoming year. The acts of dishonoring, dismembering and disposing of the effigy were seen as important and dangerous duty of the ancient Egyptian priests and increased their power in Egypt.

Apep in Ancient Egyptian Mythology - The Great Cat
In ancient Egyptian mythology there are legends concerning the defeat of Apep by a great cat. The cat goddess Bastet represented both the home and the domestic cat but was also represented in the war-like aspect of a lioness, lynx or cheetah. Cat Goddesses were revered for both their powers of protection and their skills as fierce combatants. Mau and Bastet, both cat goddesses, were credited with killing the evil snake god Apep.

Apep in Ancient Egyptian History - Talismans and Amulets
The terrible serpent god was also seen as a potential barrier to the souls of the dead succeeding in their journey through the Underworld to the Afterlife. The priests therefore created various spells and provided protective amulets and talismans to defend the souls of the dead against Apep on their perilous journeys.

Apep in Egyptian Mythology - The Sun Boat
One of the most famous myths about Apep related to the Sun Boat of Ra which was believed to carry the solar god across the heavens. The Sun Boat was a great ship, called the 'Barque of Ages', in which Ra and his entourage of gods sailed through the sky giving light to the world. At nightfall they undertook the perilous journey, sailing through the underworld (Duat), regions of thick darkness, of horror and dismay. The companion gods helped defend the solar god Ra against the evil serpent god, which represented the victory of right over wrong. The prayers, spells and incantations by the priests and Egyptians were believed to help Ra and the sun boat overcome Apep.

Facts about Apep in Egyptian Mythology
Discover interesting information and research facts about Apep, the Egyptian sun god. The facts about Apep provides a list detailing fascinating additional info to increase your knowledge about Apep in Egyptian Mythology.

Mythology and Facts about Apep

Fact 1: Apep was believed to dwell in the "Secret Cavern" in the Underworld (Duat)

Fact 2: According to mythology the monstrous Apep, the god of evil, chaos and destruction, could swallow the waters of the river with his wide-open mouth so that the Sun Boat might be wrecked

Fact 3: The tightly compressed coils of Apep emphasized his huge size

Fact 4: Apep was also described as having a pointed head which was shaped like a dart with fangs sank into the flesh of Ra, and the fire of their poison entered into the god

Fact 5: The sun represented light, warmth, and growth which made Ra the Sun god supremely important and Apep a deadly enemy of mankind

Fact 6: The ancient Egyptians were afraid of cloudy days believing this forewarned them of a victory of Apep

Fact 7: Apep was not mentioned by name until the period of the Middle Kingdom (2040 BC - 1782 BC) although other serpents had featured in some of the ancient myths

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