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Stargate - The Goa'uld
By Rider, 13 June 2007; Revised
Category: History and Fiction
The Goa’uld are the main villains for seven or eight seasons in the fictional space television show Stargate SG-1. They also appear in the movie, Stargate. The Goa’uld are a technologically advanced race with immense desire for power over all living creatures (mostly humans). They pose as gods to less advanced civilizations, and the gods have certain characteristics. Most of the Goa’uld characters come from Egyptian mythology, where gods were cruel (representing the cruelness of the Goa’uld). A few are also known from Carthaginian/Phoenician (Baal), Japanese (Amaterasu), Chinese (Yu), Mayan (Zipacna) and Greek (Cronus).
The Goa’uld are a parasitic race which reside in hosts. The hosts are usually humans from various planets. There are many Goa’uld, but only a few of them are actually in charge. All the lands ruled by the Goa’uld make up the Goa’uld Empire, which is ruled by a Council of System Lords. There are quite a few System Lords and, amongst them, the most important was the Supreme System Lord Ra until he was killed. The Goa’uld are usually fighting amongst each others, but when posed with an outside threat, they unite against the enemy. The Goa’uld’s fighting forces are made up of a race of humanlike creatures (the Jaffa) in whom larval Goa’uld reside.
Ra was the Supreme System Lord of the Goa’uld, yet, he had no such powers in reality. He was often challenged by others, and, therefore, was ruthless and gave no quarter for the fallen. We see him only in the movie, Stargate, where he tries to annihilate Earth, but falls for his own trap. Ra is based of the god Ra, who was the sun-disc for the Egyptians during some periods. Ra is also constantly fighting with his brother, Apep (or Apophis), as he was in our mythology.
Apophis is the main villain of the show for some three or four original seasons. He was the brother (and archenemy) of Ra (the Supreme System Lord or, for that matter in mythology, the highest of Egyptian gods for a long period of time). Apophis is based on the Egyptian god of Apep (whose name in Greek is Apophis). As the Egyptian legends say that Apep assaults the sun (Ra) every night when the sun cannot be seen, there were often battles between the Stargate’s Apophis and Ra for more power and lands. Apophis was an extremely war loving Goa’uld and wasn’t afraid of being in the line of battle. After Ra, the Supreme System Lord was killed in the movie Stargate, Apophis’ power and wealth grew beyond that of any other Goa’uld. Yet, Apophis was constantly at war with Heru’ur (Horus), the son of Ra, and many other System Lords. Apophis is presumed dead many times throughout the series and he always succeeds in getting away with more power than before.
Heru’ur is based of the Egyptian god of skies, Horus, a man with the head of a falcon. Heru’ur is the son of Ra and, thereby, an archenemy of Apophis. In reality, as Horus was also considered god of the moon and sun, he made battles with Apep, who lived in the underworlds and, thereby, this claim is relatively true. Heru’ur is also
Heru’ur’s personal bodyguard is known as the Horus Guards. The Horus Guards have helmets much like the head of a falcon (representing Horus).
Hathor was the wife of Ra in the series and was involved in quite a few plots to destroy the Earthlings (as they killed her husband). In Egypt, she was viewed as the daughter of Ra and the goddess of the night skies, music. Later, she rose to the status of the wife of Ra (as in the series). Hathor, as many others, was also killed through the actions of SG-1.
Setesh, known mostly in Egypt as Seth or Set, was the god of desert. He was once chosen as the highest of gods, but, after that, became known as the god of death and storms. He was cruel like all Goa’uld, but, unlike others, he hadn’t left Earth and remained here forming cults in different places. With him remaining on Earth, he was left out of the System Lord’s Council and became a minor background player.
A serpent guard, a Horus guard, and a Setesh guard meet on a neutral planet. It is a tense moment. The serpent guard's eyes glow. The Horus guard's beak glistens. The Setesh guard's... nose drips.
Cronus is one of the few Goa’uld being named after Greek mythological figures. The Cronus of the Greeks was a Titan, lord of the skies and father of Zeus. Zeus, however, overthrew Cronus. There has been no overthrowing of Cronus in the series; SG-1 just plainly killed him. Cronus was another ruthless Goa’uld, but one of extreme power amongst others. He was part of the delegation that came to Earth when a treaty between the Goa’uld Empire and Earth was being discussed.
There have been two explanations from where the name of Lord Yu was taken into the series. Once, it was told that he was the founder of the Xia dynasty, Lord Yu the Great, and, another time, he was named the Jade Emperor. Yu was an adversary of Anubis and opposed him in every way possible (he was the oldest of the System Lords and the one responsible for throwing Anubis out of their league). Later on, Yu rallied his fleet and that of other System Lords wanting to oppose Anubis and held few battles with them. Due to the old age, however, Yu went crazy and started issuing outright stupid and treacherous orders, which, in the end, made Ba’al the highest and most important of the System Lords.
Sokar was the Egyptian god who was connected to the rites following death. He wasn’t particularly evil for the Egyptians, rather just dealing with death. In the show, he lasts for two episodes, but is extremely relentless and intelligent and his planet is known as the Hell for those living on it. It also seems that, sometime early on in history, Sokar held the rank (or equivalent to the rank) of Supreme System Lord. He also carries a grudge against Apophis.
Osiris was the Egyptian god of life, fertility and death. There were many temples built for him and he was known to many. In Stargate, he takes, by chance, the body of a woman. He (or rather, she as the host) places himself under Anubis’ command. Osiris serves Anubis loyally, but, trying to extract information from Danial Jackson, is captured by SG-1.
Osiris was, here, also killed by Set (Setesh), but he wasn't killed in a literal sense. It seems that Setesh pulled the Goa'uld symbiote from the host's body and placed it in a jar, which would preserve the symbiote alive. When modern day Egyptologists discovered the jar, it was opened and the symbiote took a new host (a woman). The same was also done to Isis, but the containment jar Isis was put into was flawed and Isis died.
Nirtti is one of the minor System Lords; based on the Hindu goddess, Nirtti. She was the goddess of death. In the series, she does often experiment on humans and other races and she also has discovered more advanced technologies than the rest of the Goa’uld (which she doesn’t want to share).
Ba’al is based on the Carthaginian/Phoenician supreme god. Ba’al is one of the cleverest Goa’uld alive. He has many ideas how to enlarge his domains and to defeat his fellow System Lords. He also considers whom to serve (he is independent, then joins the league against Anubis, then joins Anubis and then finally helps in Anubis' final defeat) for his own best interests. Ba’al is unlike most of the other Goa'uld in that he knows that he can be defeated and plans ahead (for example, he cloned himself so that his death couldn't stop him). As cruel as all Goa'uld are, Ba'al surpasses the most of them, since he doesn't forget a single insult. Being, by the end of the tenth season, the last remaining major System Lord, he is, obviously, unwilling to let himself be crushed.
Anubis is an ascended Goa’uld, who was descended back (but not fully), henceforth, he cannot be killed. Anubis only tried to ascend after he was driven from the ranks of the System Lords. Anubis is based on the Egyptian god of the same name, the god of underworld (and with the head of a jackal). Anubis is desperately trying to destroy all living creatures from the Galaxy so he can control it entirely, and it is the job of all others to stop him. In Egyptian mythology, he usually lacked such h
Anubis created himself an army of hybrid warriors, named the Kull Warriors. These were genetically enhanced Goa'uld hybrids which were utterly loyal to Anubis. The helmets of the Kull Warriors have something like a canine head (Egyptians portrayed Anubis with a canine head, and so were his followers), so this might be a hint to the devotion to Anubis.