BackgroundEditIn the Stargate universe, the word "Goa'uld" means "children of the gods". The Goa'uld evolved on the planet P3X-888, where there are still populations of primitive Goa'uld. Their original hosts were the Unas, also native to the planet. The Goa'uld largely abandoned P3X-888 after deciphering the Stargate, spreading throughout the galaxy and conquering other races. Eventually, the Goa'uld began to die out, until in the eighth or ninth millennium BC Ra discovered Earth and found ancient humans to be much more suitable hosts, due to the ease by which they can be repaired by Goa'uld technology.
The Goa'uld ruled Earth for thousands of years, in the personae of gods from Earth's classical religions. It is never clarified however, whether the Goa'uld impersonate deities that already existed in human mythology or if they themselves were the origin of those deities. From the humans the Goa'uld engineered the Jaffa, to serve as soldiers and incubators for their young. They also transplanted humans from Earth throughout the galaxy via the Stargate network to serve as slaves and potential hosts. Ra's rule over Earth came to an end with a rebellion in the third millennium BC, they had forgotten about Earth until the twentieth century.
Goa'uld symbiotes are serpentine lifeforms with four jaws and glowing yellow eyes. Originally aquatic, mature Goa'uld symbiotes have extensive fins and are powerful swimmers, with the ability to launch themselves from the water towards prospective hosts. A Goa'uld can burrow into their host through the back of the mouth or the neck, though they prefer the latter because they wish to avoid remembering the look of horror on the host's face. They then enter the brain, take control of the body, and gain total access to the host's memories; thus, the Goa'uld often use symbiote implantation as a means of interrogation that also provides a useful future spy.
A defining characteristic of a Goa'uld host is a brief glowing of the eyes. This occurs when the Goa'uld first takes control and upon its death, as well as in moments of extreme emotion or to add emphasis or intimidation. A Goa'uld-occupied host typically speaks in an eerily flanged, deepened register. However, the voice is not necessary, and Goa'uld can speak in a normal tone if they choose, usually when they need to deceive someone. The Goa'uld instill their hosts with superhuman strength, perfect health, and accelerated healing. The host's life is also lengthened into centuries, which the Goa'uld extend even further using a sarcophagus. However, repeated use of the sarcophagus has severe psychological consequences, and is believed to be a main factor in the Goa'uld's evil. Being host to a Goa'uld has been described as a living nightmare, and those humans who have been hosts for thousands of years are widely suspected to have gone insane.
Once implanted, the Goa'uld loses its fins and its body atrophies, leaving only a dead husk behind, as seen with Charles Kawalsky. Modern Goa'uld symbiotes contain the fictional element naqahdah in their bloodstream, an attribute that is passed on to their host. The naqahdah allows Goa'uld, Jaffa, and former Goa'uld hosts to sense the presence of other symbiotes. However, the primordial Goa'uld on P3X-888 do not possess naqahdah. Implanted symbiotes cannot be removed from their host via conventional surgery; it can retain control of the host even if the symbiote's original body is cut away. The symbiote can also release a deadly toxin into the host if it is threatened, and holding the life of the host hostage is a common Goa'uld tactic. The Tok'ra have developed a means to extract the symbiote while sparing the host by killing the symbiote instantly before it can release the toxin. The Tollan and the Asgard have also developed their own means of separating a Goa'uld symbiote from its host. If an implanted symbiote dies without releasing the toxin, its body is absorbed into the body of the host.
The Goa'uld possess a genetic memory passed directly from parent to offspring, which perpetuates the evil of the Goa'uld through generations. Most Goa'uld are asexual, though they usually take on the gender of their preferred host. The exception are the Goa'uld Queens, who over time are able to spawn millions of larvae, once seeded with genetic material from another Goa'uld or even a human. Queens exercise a great deal of control over the biochemistry of their progeny, and can deny their offspring genetic memory in order to create "blank" symbiotes. Goa'uld larvae that mature in the wild have only a 50% chance of successfully taking a host; the Goa'uld engineered the Jaffa as incubators to improve these odds. The human offspring of two Goa'uld hosts is known as a Harcesis. The conception of Harcesis children is forbidden, as they would contain the genetic memories of both Goa'uld parents and thus pose a major threat to the established Goa'uld order.
In the Stargate film, Daniel Jackson identifies the language spoken by Ra and the Abydonians as a variant of ancient Egyptian. The fictional language of the Goa'uld on Stargate SG-1 is also spoken by their human slaves and the Jaffa, often interchanging with English dialogue without explanation. The most commonly used Goa'uld words in the show are "chappa'ai" ("Stargate"), "Tau'ri" (both "Earth" and "Earthlings", can also be translated as "those who came before", referencing the galaxy's human population's planet of origin), "shol'va" ("traitor", frequently applied to Teal'c by various Goa'uld and Jaffa characters), and "Kree" (with many possible meanings including "come", "listen up", "go", "attention", "be prepared" and "take aim"; appearing in many different episodes under different contexts). Most Goa'uld written script used in the show are based on the Egyptian hieroglyphic script. The alphabet in the series is actually the Nahkt hieroglyphic font, and it was used to write various jokes in different episodes. Another hieroglyph font used in the series was the Meroitic script font.
The Goa'uld scavenged or conquered most of their advanced technologies from other races. However, there are innovators amongst the Goa'uld; Anubis and Ba'al in particular have been depicted with a great deal of technological ingenuity. Many Goa'uld devices, such as the staff weapon, are designed to be more showy than practical, meant to intimidate and reinforce their position as gods to their followers.Some pieces of Goa'uld technology, such as the hand device and the healing device, respond only to mental commands and require naqahdah in the bloodstream of the user to operate.
At the time that Stargate SG-1 begins, the Goa'uld are presented as the dominant species of the Milky Way galaxy, having been so for millenia. By and large the Goa'uld are shown to be utterly arrogant and obsessed with gaining personal power. To this end they constantly scheme and fight amongst themselves. Arrogance is presented as their greatest weakness; Teal'c once states that he has seen many brilliant battle plans fall apart because a single Goa'uld needed to boast about them. The Goa'uld are shown to rule by fear and oppression, regularly employing mass torture and execution, and using their advanced technology to present themselves as omnipotent gods. They are presented as regularly attacking advanced races that they believe may pose a potential threat, such as the Reetou and the Re'ol,while suppressing technological progress in their own subject populations.
The more powerful Goa'uld are presented as controlling multiple planets, armies of Jaffa warriors, and fleets of motherships. They live in luxury, attended by scores of loyal slaves. When one Goa'uld defeats another in battle, the vanquished enemy's domain and forces are typically absorbed by the victor. Sometimes Goa'uld will ally with each other to pursue a greater objective; usually these alliances dissolve in treachery as soon as one party senses an advantage
The System Lords are the collective of the most powerful Goa'uld in the galaxy. In the episode "New Order", Daniel Jackson describes them as "posturing egomaniacs driven by an insatiable lust for power, each one capable of unimaginable evil". There are around a dozen System Lords at any one time; their ranks change frequently as new ones rise and old ones fall. The System Lords control vast territories and armies; in "Fair Game," they are stated to be capable of launching an attack against Earth 100 times the strength of that sent by Apophis at the end of season 1. For thousands of years until his defeat by Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, Ra held the position of Supreme System Lord.
The System Lords are not a unified body and frequently war against each other for dominance, though they will ally in the face of mutual threats. One of the main strategies of both the Tok'ra and the Asgard is to play the System Lords against one another, so that no single one of them becomes too powerful to topple. The System Lords employ elite, highly dangerous Goa'uld assassins known as Ash'raks, who have been known to use stealth devices to become invisible, and wield a device called a hara'kesh that serves as a weapon, an interrogation device, and an instrument of torture.The System Lords can also turn captured enemies into assassins called za'tarcs, using mind control to implant dormant commands hidden by false memories. Persons who are turned into za'tarcs are not aware of it until their programming activates. A System Lord's most trusted servant and confidant is called a lo'taur, a human slave who can be used as a host in an emergency. Some of these loyal humans serve willingly for the chance of one day experiencing the pleasures of being a Goa'uld host.
The first System Lord seen on Stargate SG-1 is Apophis, although the show retroactively established Ra from the Stargate film as a System Lord. In "Fair Game", the three System Lords that come to Earth are Cronus, Nirrti, and Yu. In "Summit" and "Last Stand", a meeting of the System Lords is shown, featuring Yu, Ba'al, Bastet, Kali, Olokun, Morrigan, and Svarog. In those episodes, Anubis is also accepted back into the ranks of the System Lords. The episode "New Order" introduces two new System Lords, Amaterasu and Camulus. Two unknown System Lords are shown alongside Yu in "Reckoning". Other Goa'uld mentioned to be System Lords at one point or another are Sokar, Hathor, Heru-ur, Seth, Svarog, and Ares. The most powerful Goa'uld eventually to come to power is Anubis. The half-ascended being is very powerful but eventually defeated by an ancient weapon system in Antarctica.
Currently, after the fall of the previous dynasty and the creation of a new company Goa'uld, a new series of Goa'uld have emerged keeping the same title of the former rulers.
|System Lords Four Dinasty + Goa'uld minor (gm)||Status||Goa'uld survivors||Status||System Lords Five Dinasty + Goauld minor||Status|
|Apollo||Missing||Maponos||Alive||Akar Duau Sef||Alive|