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In the 17th century BC, the lands of Egypt were divided. The Egyptian rulers were in their Seventeenth Dynasty. To the north were the Hyksos, a group of Levantine lords that didn’t pay homage to the Egyptians. As tensions between the groups mounted, an accusation of loud hippos may have been the final straw that broke the hippo’s back.

Naughty, naughty Hyksos to the north

Apophis was the ruler of the Hyksos in the northern Delta. Not only was he irreverent to the Egyptians to the south, but he worshiped Seth, the god of chaos and the desert. Seth was the polar opposite of the Egyptian’s desire for order and harmony.

Egyptians worshiped many gods, including Seth, but the problem was that Apophis worshiped Seth and only Seth. It created an imbalance in the cosmos. The benevolent gods Amun and Re frowned upon Apophis’s disgraceful behavior.

Angry, angry Egyptians to the south

Senakhtenre Ahmose ruled Egypt to the south with his wife, Queen Tetisheri. She was a strong ruler who raised an even stronger son: Seqenenre Tao. When Seqenenre took his parent’s place as ruler, he took offense to Apophis’s worshipping practices.

Apophis started to pick fights with Seqenenre, including complaining about how loudly Seqenenre’s hippos moaned at night. The two rulers lived more than 700 miles apart. There’s no way that he could’ve heard the hippos moan. Seqenenre took the inflammatory message as an attack.

To rumble or not to rumble

History books are unclear as to whether the dispute ended in a battle. It may have become water under the bridge. We do know that Seqenenre eventually went to war with somebody, perhaps against the Hyksos.

Seqenenre’s mummy has several large gashes in the skull most likely made by the edge of an ax. Hippos are angry, aggressive animals. Did their energy rub off on the angsty rulers? Or did Apophis stick a hippo on him? We may never know.