You want to discover what is behind the god Sobek, the Egyptian crocodile god? You want to discover the history of the sacred crocodiles of Sobek?
We, too, are fascinated by this famous ancient god, we are here to answer these two questions.
Worshiped by the Egyptians because supposedly able to control the ravages of the Nile's crocodiles, Sobek is the god of crocodiles, strength, and power. He is also known to be the god at the origin of the world and the Nile river, according to some ancient Egyptian myths.
In this article, we will introduce you:
- The Egyptian legends about Sobek
- The beliefs that Sobek created around him during the Egyptian antiquity
Very soon you will know all about the legends and myths around Sobek.
Let's start right away with the myths surrounding the crocodile god!
1) Sobek in mythology
Sobek is the Egyptian crocodile god of strength and of pharaonic power.
In the divine Egyptian pantheon, the strength of this enormous crocodile quickly led him to the position of head of the Egyptian armies, making him the protector of the divine Egyptian pharaoh Osiris and the Egyptian people.
Some Egyptian legends said that Sobek was born at the very creation of the world, at the same time as the Sun god Ra, to whom he served as a relentless bodyguard when Ra tried to create human life.
Sobek was represented as either a giant crocodile or as a man with a muscular human body and a crocodile head. Sobek often wears a crown that Ra gave him after he had achieved many military feats.
This crown, called the "Crown of Hemhem" consists of a Sun disk decorated with feathers of Benu (the Egyptian phoenix bird) resting on a base of ram's horns. The ram horns are themselves decorated with the symbols of the cobra uraeus (the cobra that is always present on the headdresses of the gods of Egypt).
This luxurious crown is very useful for Sobek, a particularly proud god. Indeed, this crown allows Sobek to prove his worth to all without having to constantly demonstrate it by fighting against gods who dare to provoke him (especially against the god of chaos Set).
Sobek, one of the most popular gods during the Old Kingdom of Egypt (2686-2181 BC), Intermediate (2181-2055 BC), and New Kingdom of Egypt (1550-1069 BC) periods of Egyptian civilization.
In the time of the pharaohs, the ancient Egyptians had three myths about Sobek, let's discover them together:
- The first of these myths claimed that Sobek created the world by laying eggs (crocodiles being not mammals) all along the shore of the waters of Nun, the original goddess embodying the ocean. From these eggs came all kinds of animals, insects, fish, and plants, creating the first deadly life forms on Earth. As for the Nile, according to this legend, it was formed from a drop of sweat that fell from the forehead of Sobek exhausted by such a work.
- In ancient Egypt, Sobek was thought to be responsible for the flooding of the Nile. This belief was based on the idea that the crocodile god, as a marine animal, had the ability to plunge into the Nile strong enough to cause it to overflow its entire length.
- Sobek is sometimes referred to as the "second father of Horus" referring to the martial training that the crocodile god gave to young Horus. Indeed, the latter just seen his father Osiris, the pharaoh of the Egyptian kingdom, overthrown and killed by the god of chaos Set. It is believed that this martial training had been quite effective, because thanks to it, Horus became an adult and defeated Set to recover the throne of Upper and Lower Egypt, which was rightfully his.
2) The crocodiles in ancient Egypt
By praying to Sobek, the ancient Egyptians sought protection from the fearsome crocodiles that were allegedly controlled by their divine counterpart, Sobek.
Indeed, the latter were real demons released into the wild: they ran faster than a man and used to catch people walking alone at the water's edge with their huge mouths to drown and devour them.
So it makes sense to find the largest temples dedicated to Sobek near the Nile Delta, which have many ponds where crocodiles like to settle by hundreds.
Ancient Greek authors such as Herodotus and Strabo described in their writings that there was a cult that worshiped crocodiles. This reverence was due to the belief that crocodiles were the descendants of Sobek and therefore his earthly incarnations.
These adored crocodiles were copiously fed by the priests, sometimes even adorned with gold or diamond ornaments and dressed in silk garments.
These facts were confirmed by archaeologists, who discovered that when these crocodiles died, they were transformed into crocodile mummies before being allowed their own sarcophagi and tombs out of respect for Sobek.
This discovery of Egyptology acts that the crocodiles join the animals considered as terrestrial incarnations of deities in ancient Egypt. Indeed, these sacred animals already included the cats of Cairo and Karnak (incarnation of the cat goddess Bastet) and the ibis of Luxor, Thebes, and Abu Simbel (incarnation of the ibis god Thoth, the god of knowledge).
A sacred embalmed crocodile found in the Temple of Kom Ombo in the land of Khufu, Ramesses II, Cleopatra, and Nefertiti.
3) Sobek-inspired crocodiles in our modern culture
A. Renekton from League of Legends
In the multiplayer online video game League of Legends, Renekton is a crocodile demigod, leader of the armies of the mighty Shurima Empire.
Renekton forms a powerful duo with his brother Nasus, a wolf demigod whose physique and powers closely resemble the Egyptian god Anubis. Together, they brought peace and prosperity to their empire.
This dream situation was turned upside down when a young emperor who was a little too ambitious tried to become a demigod himself.
Not worthy of being chosen by the gods in the ritual that would make him a superior being, this young emperor named Azir caused a cataclysm that devastated the entire empire.
In order to prevent that not only the empire, but the whole world would be destroyed, Renekton locked himself up with the destructive source of power threatening to destroy everything in an ancient tomb made of magic stones.
Thousands of years later, when the tomb was opened by a group of treasure-hungry explorers, Renekton was finally able to emerge from darkness.
Driven mad by loneliness and immersed in insane anger, he is convinced that his brother Nasus manipulated him into locking himself in the tomb out of jealousy of his crocodile's strength.
Now, the crocodile Renekton hates Nasus (who is also depressed by his brother's imprisonment) with all his soul and relentlessly hunts him down all over the world.
In the same genre, we can also note that Sobek inspired the character also named "Sobek" in the video game Smite.
B. Peter Pan's Tick Tock the Crocodile
Long after the time of the Egyptian pharaohs and their pharaonic palaces, Peter Pan's world crocodile ate Captain Hook's hand when it was cut off during a fight with Peter Pan. Tick Tock found this piece of meat perfectly to his taste, he would like to finish what he started, eating the whole captain.
To do so, Tick Tock chases him everywhere and doesn't hesitate to take advantage of Captain Hook's slightest weakness. Fortunately for the latter, the terrible descendant of Sobek swallowed an alarm clock that he never knew how to digest.
Captain Hook is therefore warned by the sounds of the clock when the vicious crocodile gets too close.
The first appearance of the crocodile Tick Tock in Peter Pan
C. The largest crocodile of the world
Gustave is a much less sympathetic crocodile than the first two for the simple reason that he truly exists. Gustave is a legendary 8-meter crocodile living in Burundi who, at 70 years old, continues his ravages, escaping the teams trying to capture him year after year.
A target of many hunters, Gustave is covered with scars from bullet and stab wounds. The crocodile is infamous for having eaten over the course of its life 300 people and many animals, including a healthy adult hippopotamus (which is normally impossible for a normal crocodile, as hippopotamuses weigh 3.5 tons and measure up to 4 meters).