In Egyptian mythology, Apep (also spelled Apepi, and Aapep, or Apophis in Greek) was an evil god, the deification of darkness and chaos (isfet in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the Middle Kingdom onwards. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written ꜥꜣpp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Aphōph.
Apep formed part of the more complex cosmic system resulting from the identification of Ra as Atum, i.e. the creation of Atum-Ra, and the subsequent merging of the Ogdoad and Ennead systems. Consequently, since Atum-Ra, who was later referred to simply as Ra, was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma'at, Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra.
As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake/serpent, crocodile, or occasionally as a dragon in later years, leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations even said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. It is to be noted that already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BCE) C-ware bowl (now in Cairo) a snake was painted on the inside rim combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a (solar?) deity who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel. Also, comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. The etymology of his name ('3pp) is perhaps to be sought in some west-semitic language where a word root 'pp meaning 'to slither' existed. A verb root '3pp does at any rate not exist elsewhere in Ancient Egyptian. (It is not to be confused with the verb 'pi/'pp: 'to fly across the sky, to travel') Apep's name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name.
After the end of the Middle Kingdom, the foreign Hyksos, now rulers over Egypt, chose Set as their favorite deity, since he had been protector of Ra, and was associated with Lower Egypt, where their power base was. Consequently, because the foreign overlords were hated by nationalistic groups, Set became gradually demonised, and started being thought of as an evil god. Indeed, because of the extreme level of nationalism and xenophobia, Set eventually became thought of as the god of evil, and gradually took on all the characteristics of Apep. Consequently, Apep's identity was eventually entirely subsumed by that of Set.
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