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OK, so the Goa'uld impersonated deities and other powerful figures from Earth mythologies. (See What other mythologies' figures are represented in SG1 aside from Norse and Egyptian pantheons? and especiallly this answer https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/46829/3823)

What I don't understand is why the Goa'uld get their names from the gods they impersonated and then continue to use them, and these are the only names they are known by? Didn't they have a name before they enslaved a particular group?

Same for the Asgard. Why do they all have names that are from Norse mythology, even though the vast majority of them never contacted Earth? Norse mythology is supposed to have existed before the Asgard came, and the Asgard existed long before they interacted with Earthlings.

Before anyone says it is a matter of translation convention, I'm pretty confident it is not. It is pretty clear they are intended to still be using these names.

A related question is about the way they dress. I mean, doesn't it seem a little beneath them to be continuing to dress and decorate like it was thousands of years ago?

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    Not a HUGE Stargate fan so I'm not sure, but did they impersonate deities or inspire them? It was always my understanding that Egyptian and Norse mythology was simply portraying those aliens as they were, and that the Goa'uld kept dressing like that because it was their culture, before it was ours. – Nerrolken Dec 2 '14 at 0:39
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    @Nerrolken Frustratingly, I remember the show flip-flopping on that point. Early episodes indicate that the Goa'uld co-opted Earth mythology for their own purposes, but this idea becomes so logically inconsistent by the end (Yu's palace is a Chinese pagoda; there's an ancient Goa'uld named Anubis; a Goa'uld impersonates Satan, who was developed thousands of years after Earth's Gate was buried), it's easier to just say that they were always like that – Jason Baker Dec 2 '14 at 1:39
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    I don't know the answer. Why do they speak English? – James Sheridan Dec 2 '14 at 2:58
  • one of the biggest problems with the flip floping was the movie, it seemed to me they tried to fit the show into fitting some of the things set down in the movie, and then realized that the show had gone far beyond the scope of the movie, and their for retconned some of the previous stuff. – Himarm Dec 2 '14 at 14:45
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    I think the OP has it backwards - the Goa'ld and Asgardians don't draw names from Earth mythology, Earth mythology uses Goa'ld and Asgardian names. – Joe L. Feb 22 '15 at 5:25
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I don't think that Goa'uld impersonated deities and other powerful figures from Earth mythologies but they are actually the one that created those mythologies.

As the Asgard did. Thor came to heart and introduced himself as Thor and from there the mythology was created. Same for Ra or Apophis that brought their own Egyptian like culture to earth where it become our Egyptian mythology.

That is explained by the fact that the Goa'uld had ships that look Egyptians and that can land on pyramids that they used to come to Earth, so they did not get the ideas on earth.

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The Goa'uld

We can only speculate, as I don't believe this was ever addressed in canon.

Any Goa'uld who was born before the discovery of Earth must have had another name, since the show established on more than one occasion that the Goa'uld assumed the identities of existing gods, rather than creating new ones. See this question for more on that.

Goa'uld born after this point, though, needn't have. Take Heru-ur, for example. Heru-ur is the son of Ra and Hathor, which means he may have been born after Earth was enslaved by Ra. If so, there would be no need for him to have two names; Ra could give him any name he wanted, present him to the Egyptians, and he would have been accepted as a new god by the Egyptians without having to pick one to impersonate1.

We actually see this happen on-screen in the season 1 finale, "Within the Serpent's Grasp", when Apophis announces his son Klorel (Skaara) to the assembled Jaffa. They treat him exactly as they'd treat Apophis himself, i.e. as if he were a god.

In other cases, like Apophis (Who, as Ra's brother, possibly had a name before "Apophis"), remember that most Goa'uld believed their own hype to a hilarious degree. It's entirely possible that extended exposure to the sarcophagus would drive a Goa'uld so batty that they'd completely take to their new identity. We see this happening to a limited extent in the season 2 episode "Need", with Cyrus the Godslayer. He acts like your standard Goa'uld in many respects, trading off on his reputation to enslave his people. If he had a longer natural lifespan, you can imagine how that would progress.

The Asgard

There are a lot of reasons why this doesn't make sense, as you've pointed out. The only way to make this logically consistent is to assume that the Asgard were the original source of Norse mythology, rather than co-opting it.

Narratively, this fits more with Asgardian nature. They're a civilization of inventors, so technologically evolved that they need Carter's help to think dumber. They create for themselves, while the Goa'uld are scavengers who adapt what others have left behind.

Why do the Goa'uld still dress like that?

For one thing, the Goa'uld are not very good about creating things for their own use. On many occasions they're described as scavengers and technological parasites, who steal technology from other races. The only Goa'uld inventor we're ever introduced to is Nerus, an underling of Ba'al who is shown taking credit for inventing the cupcake, of all things. To say that this is a race prone to stagnation is a vast understatement.

But on a more practical level, the smarter Goa'uld realize that they can only control the Jaffa as long as the Jaffa believe that they are gods. To that end, it's in their best interests to keep their culture as stagnated as possible: keep the Jaffa thinking of the Goa'uld as unchanging constants. This of course begs the question of how Goa'uld society developed to the point it was at in the show, with hand devices and hyperdrive and genetically-engineered Jaffa soldiers/incubators, but that's the point where I think you just need to suspend disbelief.


1 It's possible that Ra named his son after the mythological son of the "Ra" deity, but this seems unlikely. Firstly Horus was not the son of Ra in mythology, but was rather the son of Osiris and Isis. For another, it seems kind of silly to think that the Goa'uld would completely design their civilization to coincide with Earth mythologies.

  • +1 for including my hypothesis that those they control (not just the Jaffa) need to keep believing that they are gods. It's not going to help that end if the Jaffa ever see them hanging out on the couch in a T-shirt and cargo shorts because they're feeling lazy today. And the Jaffa in particular are always around, after all. Even earth-based royalty don't let that kind of facade slip. – Ernie Jul 10 '15 at 20:59
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The Goa'uld and Asgard are the origins of Earths religions. The show doesn't necessarily flip-flop; the team's understanding of the facts evolves over time, like anywhere else. E.g. for the majority of the show canon, the team believes that Earth is the original evolutionary birthplace of humans in the galaxy (because the information they have implies that); then later they discovery that humanity is the second evolution of this form, and that the original was transplanted from elsewhere (Alterans brought humans to the galaxy millions of years before humanity evolved on earth. AKA 'The Ancients').

As more information becomes available, the team's understanding of the facts evolves to fit new knowledge. The same is true with the Goa'uld/Earth religious deities. Initially Daniels assumed the Goa'uld assumed the role of existing Gods, but as the depth of his understanding about the Goa'uld grows, he comes to understand that these Aliens have visited Earth for millennia, and prehistoric humans Deified them for their 'awesome' power and build faiths around them. I mean, what do YOU think a human colony from 2000 BC would think about an entity that flew out of the sky in spaceships with energy based weapons? Whether the Goa'uld claimed it or not, humanity at that time would have called them Gods; and we can trust the Goa'uld likely weren't humble and modest.

I'm sure the show's writers were initially a bit cautious in painting all the Worlds' Gods as interstellar con-men. Notice there aren't that many currently worshiped Deities portrayed as shams?... The use almost exclusively old world deities, Gods from Antiquity, and anti-deities (devils and non-worshiped deities)

Wouldn't it have been interesting if current, widely worshiped Deities & modern religious icons and Gods were portrayed? tsk tsk... letters

  • I don't watch the series myself, but did the writers really make the effort to show apparent retcon as actual learning of the characters? It seems easy — yet surprisingly few stories do it: Most of them assume such assertions to be Law. – can-ned_food Jun 4 '17 at 11:22
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The assertion that the Goa'uld impersonate the Egyptian gods is just that, an assertion made by Daniel Jackson, and without any cooberating evidence to back it up, and it is never confirmed anywhere. Within the context of what we know in universe it is more likely that the Goa'uld are worshiped, because of the advanced technology as we have many alien races that are related to us as deities in the series, not just the Goa'uld and Asgard. Further it is likely that the term "god" could have originated from the world "Goa'uld" or shares a similar root.

And while Stargate lore doesn't follow real mythology too well, if one were to apply it to what we know you get things like the Goa'uld are responsible for ideas such as reincarnation and nirvana in Hinduism, the cycle of the gods in Egyptian Mythology, the concept of how Athena had a child by Zeus while being a virgin, the idea of deification of leaders, etc. These are all things we can easily see being derived from Goa'uld and we see these being in religions and mythologies of those that are shown to have deities that are Goa'uld in them. This being the case it is far more likely that the Goa'uld are not using the names of Human created deities or impersonating them, but are the source from which they originate. This means they are not "still using them", rather the name comes from them.

Another thing of note that isn't really addressed is that the Goa'uld likely, or at least could have been the case, still had a presence on Earth long after it is assumed with relatively low access to their advanced technology. If this were the case we could attribute various real figures in history as Goa'ulds, such as Alexander the Great or Julius Ceasar, and we could then interpret the stories of "fights against dragons" that persisted into the late middle ages as stories about killing Goa'ulds.

  • This sounds more like original opinion than answer backed up by evidence. Can you provide references for the claims? – ThePopMachine Jun 29 '16 at 15:47
  • The point is that there is no evidence for the assertion that the Goa'uld are impersonating the Egyptian Gods. The reverse, however is seen with, at least, the Asgard and Omaroca's race, which shows that humans were more than willing to accept aliens as gods, even when they likely didn't attempt to deceive them. – Durakken Jun 30 '16 at 10:13
  • The rest of that is pointing out that it's more reasonable to think that the Goa'uld inspired those various myths/ideas. When you take on the concept of hosts Cyclic Egyptian Mythology makes more sense because you have the same entities in now hosts with slightly different relations. Likewise, we have statements like "I am the mother of all pharoahs" from Hathor which explains where the deification of leaders, particilarly pharoahs, comes from. To assume the other way would assume the Goa'uld maintain the same leadership structure there beforehand which we have no reason to believe they would – Durakken Jun 30 '16 at 10:28

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