The Scorpion God

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The Scorpion God
First edition
Author William Golding
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Faber & Faber
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 55 pp
ISBN 0-571-10232-8
OCLC 256076473

The Scorpion God is a novella by William Golding, published in a collection of the same name, along with Clonk Clonk (1971) and Envoy Extraordinary (1956).

The three novellas all explore themes about early societies which have characteristics that echo down the years to our own time.


The Scorpion God is set in Ancient Egypt in pre-Pharaonic times and involves three main characters: "Great House", his son, and "The Liar". It is set in the court of a failing ruler "Great House" (i.e. Pharaoh), who is treated as a living god, responsible for ensuring that the sky is held up and that the River Nile floods every year to bring water for the crops.

Great House's young son is going blind and does not want to succeed his father, nor does he want to marry his older sister as he is expected to do. "The Liar" – the ruler's favourite – is a kind of court jester employed to tell Great House incredible (but in fact largely true) stories about the world outside the small piece of the Nile valley that they call home, and regard as the whole world.

"The Liar" is a renegade of foreign origin who has knowledge of the world far beyond any of the Nile valley dwellers. He is threatened with being made a human sacrifice to accompany his master in death, but with his fighting skills he eventually overthrows the old king and makes himself ruler in his place. The end of the story hints that it is he who will become the semi-legendary first Pharaoh of a united Egypt.