Sobek, the crocodile


Do you want to discover what is behind the god with the effigy of a voracious Nile crocodile? Do you want to discover the stories of the Egyptians of Sobek, their crocodile god?

We too are fascinated by this famous ancient god, we are here to answer all these questions.

Worshipped by the Egyptians because supposedly able to control the ravages of the Nile 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 certain myths.

In this article, we will introduce you to him:

  • Egyptian legends about Sobek
  • The beliefs that Sobek created around him
  • The fictional contemporaries arising from Sobek

Very soon you will know all about the legends and myths around this god.

Let's start right away with the myths surrounding the crocodile god!

1) Egyptian myths involving Sobek

Sobek is the Egyptian crocodile god of strength and power of pharaohs.

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 Egyptians 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 as he tried to create human life.

Sobek was represented as either a giant crocodile or a being with a muscular human body and a crocodile head. He 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, themselves decorated with symbols of the cobra uræus (the cobra that protects the pharaohs on their headdresses).

This luxurious crown is very useful for Sobek, a particularly proud and sensitive god, because it allows him to prove his worth to all without having to constantly demonstrate it by fighting against gods and mortals who dare to provoke him.

Sobek, the crocodile god of strength and power

Sobek, one of the most popular gods during the Old Kingdom, Intermediate Period, and New Kingdom periods of Egyptian civilization.

In the time of the pharaohs, the ancient Egyptians had many myths about Sobek, let's discover some of them together:

- One of these myths claimed that Sobek created the world by laying eggs (crocodiles were not mammals) all along the shore of the waters of Nun, the original god 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 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, just a half-orphan of Osiris, the pharaoh of the Egyptian empire who was overthrown and killed by Set, the god of chaos. It is believed that this martial training was 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.

Sobek of Hatshepsut country

2) Beliefs about crocodiles inspired by Sobek

By praying to Sobek, the Egyptians sought protection from fearsome crocodiles that were supposedly controlled by their divine counterpart. 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 having many ponds where crocodiles like to settle by the hundreds 🐊🐊🐊.

Ancient Greek authors such as Herodotus and Strabo described in their writings that there was a cult that worshipped 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.

These sacred animals already included the cats of Cairo and Karnak (incarnation of the goddess Bastet) and the ibis of Luxor, Thebes, and Abu Simbel (incarnation of the god Thoth, creator of papyrus and hieroglyphics).

Sobek mummified crocodileA sacred embalmed crocodile found in the temple of Kom-Ombo in the land of the pyramids of Giza and Cheops, Rameses II, Cleopatra, and Nefertiti.

3) Sobek-inspired crocodiles in our modern culture

A. Renekton from the game 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-like 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.

Sobek crocodile RenektonIn this whimsical video game, Renekton can summon the fury of the Nile to increase his size in order to quickly and safely send his enemies to the burial temple.

B. Peter Pan's Tick-Tock 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, he 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 awakening that he never knew how to digest. Hook is therefore warned by the sounds of the clock " 🎵 Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock 🎵 " when the vicious crocodile gets too close.

The first appearance of the crocodile Tick Tock in Peter Pan

C. Gustave, the 8-meter crocodile (still alive today)

Much less sympathetic than the first two for the simple reason that Gustave exists. If Sobek always tries to retain his strength, Gustave does not. 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).

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