|“||But one weak link can break the chain of a mighty dynasty!||„|
|~ Pharaoh Seti I to Rameses.|
|“||Oh my son, they were only slaves.||„|
|~ Pharaoh Seti I's last words to his adopted son Moses.|
Pharaoh Seti I is the overarching antagonist of DreamWorks' second full-length animated feature film The Prince of Egypt (which is based on the Book of Exodus), due to his negative influence on Rameses and genocide against the Hebrews. He is the husband of Tuya, the father of Rameses, and the adoptive father of Moses (the protagonist of the film). Although he is not an active antagonist for much of the film, it was his actions that would cause much of what occurred in the story.
He was voiced by Patrick Stewart, who also played King Goobot in Nickelodeon's Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, King Buffo in the Courage the Cowardly Dog series, Dr. Jonas in Conspiracy Theory, Rafe Bentley in Masterminds, John Bosley in Charlie's Angels, Darcy Banker in Green Room, and Deputy Director Avery Bullock in American Dad!.
Pharaoh Seti I is initially seen to be a wise, clever, positive and empathetic ruler, but is shown to be quite ruthless, demanding, monotonous, argumentative and power-hungry. He was willing to have every Hebrew baby boy killed because they were "only slaves", though he admitted that he did it out of fear that the Hebrews might one day rise in numbers and power to start a rebellion that will threaten the dynasty.
However, despite his stern and cold behavior towards his fellow subjects, Seti genuinely loves and cares for his family, as he agreed to his wife's proposal to adopt Moses (but he never found out he was a Hebrew) and appointed Rameses as High Regent, despite being hard on him. He even tried to comfort Moses over his responsibility behind the massacre and enslaving all the Hebrews when their population increased, implying a sense of guilt for the killing of the Hebrew baby boys as he is clearly shown to have taken no sadistic enjoyment in what he did as his voice takes on a sad and somber tone when he reveals what he did as well as explaining why he did it as it implies he did it because he truly and genuinely believed the Hebrews were a threat to his rule and also truly and genuinely believed that he had no choice but to do it.
Little is known of Pharaoh Seti or his reign before he committed the act that would immortalize him as a monster forever. Fearing that the enslaved Hebrews were growing too numerous and might rebel against him, he ordered a mass execution of all male infants born to the Hebrews, having his army invade Hebrew homes and kidnap the male infants from their terrified mothers and tossing them into the river Nile. That decision would haunt him for the rest of his life.
However, one Hebrew woman named Yocheved managed to sent her infant son adrift on the river Nile using a small basket to escape the massacre. After a perilous journey, the infant would reach the royal palace where Seti's wife Queen Tuya picked him up and took him under her wings. By that time, Seti and Tuya had already had a son named Rameses, and despite his previous aggression towards the Hebrews, Seti willingly agreed to Tuya's proposal to adopt the child and named him Moses (most likely being unaware of his true heritage).
Years later, Seti is shown to be a stern leader, even to his own sons - though he is especially harsh towards Rameses, due to him being the heir to the throne. However, he was also shown to have a softer side. He tried his best not to show it regardless. In Seti's defense, many rulers before him of that period did the same, being raised from birth to believe that they were incarnations of gods, particularly Osiris and his son Horus.
Later in the film, Seti appoints Rameses as Prince Regent (on the advice of Moses), placing him in charge of overseeing the construction of the temples. When Moses suggests that the priests Hotep and Huy offer a tribute to Rameses, Seti happily concurs and orders the priests to do so. The priests does so by giving a Midian woman named Tzipporah, but Rameses decides to give Tzipporah to Moses, who eventually sets her free.
Eventually, Moses discovered his true heritage after having a nightmare involving the massacre and exploring the royal palace, where he came across a depiction of the massacre, much to his horror. Upon seeing Moses grieving over this, a guilt-ridden Seti tries to comfort his adoptive son by explaining his reasons for the massacre. However, his seemingly uncaring attitude towards the "slaves" simply served to alienate him from Moses, who fled from his adoptive father - repulsed and disgusted by his attempts to justify infanticide.
Seti is not heard of again in the film, but died at some point following Moses' exile into the desert, passing his kingdom to a fully-grown Rameses - who would do all in his power to try and build a "better" Egypt than his father could ever have dreamed of.
|“||Why do the gods torment me with such reckless, destructive, blasphemous sons?! (Rameses: Father, hear what I say--) Be still! Pharaoh speaks! I seek to build an empire, and your only goal is to amuse yourselves by tearing it down! Have I taught you nothing?||„|
|~ Pharaoh Seti I confronting Moses and Rameses for the mischief they have caused with their chariot races.|
|“||Moses, you will never have to carry a burden like the crown I will pass to Rameses. He must not allow himself to be lead astray. Not even by you, my son.||„|
|~ Pharaoh Seti explaining to Moses why he was harder on Rameses.|
|“||The Hebrews grew too numerous. They might've risen against us. (Moses: Father, tell me you didn't do this.) Moses… sometimes, for the greater good… sacrifices must be made.||„|
|~ Seti I admitting his guilt behind the massacre to Moses.|
- Seti is similar to Judge Claude Frollo from the 1996 animated Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as they are elderly but politically powerful villains who committed genocide against particular races out of paranoia and hate (Frollo, Gypsies; Seti, Hebrews). They also adopted male infants (Quasimodo and Moses), who were members of those particular races and grew up to become the protagonists of their respective films.
- However, Frollo is shown to be far more depraved as he was abusive and deceptive towards Quasimodo (since he only adopted him in order to use him to capture more gypsies); Frollo even attempted to kill Quasimodo after the latter rebelled against him for his atrocities. Seti, on the other hand, was much kinder than him and genuinely cares for his family and his people (excluding the Hebrews), even trying to comfort Moses after admitting his horrible actions to him. It is even hinted that Seti may regret his past actions, whereas Frollo was truly a heartless tyrant.
- Patrick Stewart was originally chosen to voice Frollo.
- While he may not be a heartless tyrant given his genuine love and care for his family, Seti's actions in shaping Rameses into a ruthless pharaoh is considered a Moral Event Horizon, because if Seti had taught his son compassion, the events of the Plagues of Egypt wouldn't occurred, and Rameses would have easily and peacefully allowed the Hebrews to be set free.
- Jeremy Irons and Ian McKellen were both considered for the role of Seti before Patrick Stewart. Irons previously voiced Scar in Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King.
- As a Pharaoh, Seti I is represented as a lion in his status. In real life, Pharaohs were known to keep big cats as pets and lions were linked to royalty and were viewed as a symbol of kingship. The god Sobek, who represents the power of the Pharaohs, crocodiles possessing the strength and nature like one, makes Egyptians fear and respect him. Since Seti means "of Set", it could mean that he compared to the Egyptian god Set, who represents fish. It's interesting since Set is the Egyptian god of war and chaos,and it actually fits on what his actions has brought, being the genocide on the Hebrews lead to war between Moses, a Hebrew, and his son, Rameses and chaos to the people of Egypt.