In Stargate SG-1, a story arc is built around the "Harcesis" - a child born of two Goa'uld hosts.


In the Stargate universe, the Goa'uld are parasitic snake-like creatures that can insert themselves into human hosts, usurping the human mind; in effect, a person so infected "becomes" the Goa'uld within. Goa'uld also have "genetic memory" - when they reproduce, they can pass on their knowledge to their offspring genetically. The Harcesis is a human, conceived in the normal fashion between two humans, while each of whom is host to a Goa'uld. Such a child is born with the genetic memories of the Goa'ulds who inhabited the parents, making it somewhat superhuman.

My Question:

Given that much of the Stargate universe connects real-world cultures and mythologies with fictional ancient alien interactions, I am left to wonder whether either the term "Harcesis" or the concept have roots in any real-world ancient legend, as in so much of Stargate mythology?

Was it purely an invention of the SG-1 writing team?

  • 1
    You might wish to add explanations of what are Goauld's, that way people who don't know Stargate, but do know mythology would be able to help as well.
    – Gnudiff
    Nov 8 '19 at 7:31

According to Wikipedia, "Harsiese", "Harsiesis", and/or "Horsiesis" were Late Egyptian names literally meaning "Horus, son of Isis". Several real-life persons were known by this name, but they appear to have been predominately religious persons such as priests or prophets.

Horus in Egyptian mythology was indeed the son of Isis and Osiris, conceived and carried by his mother and born in secret while Isis hid from her brother Set, who had killed Osiris out of desire for some form of revenge (the reasons differ from version to version of the myth) and wished to kill Osiris' heir Horus as well, presumably to remove an obstacle keeping Set from ruling the Egyptian pantheon. Whether or not Horus was often called "Horsiesis" is unclear, but since Egyptian gods generally had multiple names and derivations (and translations out of Greek) over the course of Egyptian history such as Har-wer (the Elder Horus), Heru-pa-khered (the Younger Horus), and Horakhty (Horus as the sunrise), it's not impossible.

In relation to Stargate, it would appear that the writers took the concept of a child being begotten of two Goa'uld "deities" (or at least their hosts) and making him special in some way and therefore condemned to death by the rest of the Goa'uld "pantheon" for the Harsesis child Shifu, but that's only a very basic connection to the story of Horus' birth.

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    Interesting. "Harcesis" occurs in dialog as either an adjective or noun (other than a proper noun) to specify what the child is, whereas Harsiese (or variants) are proper nouns (names) of a specific individual. Nevertheless, it does seem similar-sounding enough to seem a likely origin, and as you point out, the Stargate character and the ancient Egyptian figure do have a common aspect in that both were hidden in an effort to spare their lives from probable execution.
    – Anthony X
    Dec 13 '19 at 23:36
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    That's an example of Stargate playing fast and loose with Egyptian mythology (and continuity), I think. For example, the Goa'uld Heru'ur being the offspring of Ra and Hathor, when Horus was generally depicted as the son of Osiris and Isis (Hathor is usually Horus' wife/consort), and the use of Horus and Anubis as the two particular warriors of Ra in the original movie while the show established Anubis and Horus as being two other characters. Or, for example, that Apophis and Amaunet were mates/consorts which has, as far as I know, zero basis in actual mythology. Dec 14 '19 at 0:15
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    Specifics don't come immediately to mind, but I think in-show there has been more than one instance where Jackson points out a discrepancy between an ancient Egyptian myth and its supposed Goa'uld inspiration. It starts off by matching up a Goa'uld with its apparent counterpart in ancient myth, making predictions based on the myth, and getting tripped up when the situation diverges from expectation.
    – Anthony X
    Dec 14 '19 at 0:32
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    I think you're right, and it's possible that maybe waaaay back there was a child of Horus' and Isis' hosts, the first Harsesis, and it was applied to all future ones and inspired the myth! Dec 14 '19 at 0:37

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