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THE GREAT ATEN

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Bianca
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« Reply #90 on: March 15, 2008, 10:36:44 am »









p. 55

   THE CULT OF ATEN, THE GOD AND DISK OF THE SUN, ITS ORIGIN, DEVELOPMENT AND DECLINE.





Amongst all the mass of the religious literature of Ancient Egypt, there is no document that may
be considered to contain a reasoned and connected account of the ideas and beliefs which the Egypians associated with the god Aten.

The causes of his rise into favour towards the close of the XVIIIth dynasty can be surmised, and
the principal dogmas which the founder of his cult and his followers promulgated are discoverable
in the Hymns that are found on the walls of the rock-hewn tombs of Tall al-'Amarnah; but the true history of the rise, development and fall of the cult can never be completely known.

The word aten or athen is a very old word for the "disk" or "face of the sun," and Atenism was be-
yond doubt an old form of worship of the sun.

But there were many forms of sun-worship older than the cult of Aten, and several solar gods were worshipped in Egypt many, many centuries before Aten was regarded as a special form of the great solar god at all.

One of the oldest forms of the Sun-god worshipped in Egypt was HER (Horus), who in the earliest times seems to have represented the "height" or "face" of heaven by day. He was symbolized by
the sparrowhawk, the right eye of the bird representing the sun and his left the moon.
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« Reply #91 on: March 15, 2008, 10:37:40 am »












p. 56



In later times he was called "Her-ur" or "Her-sems," the "older Horus," and it was he who fought daily against Set, the darkness of night and the night Sky, and triumphed over him.

The oldest seat of the cult of the Sun-god was the famous city of Anu the On of the Bible, and the Heliopolis of Greek and Latin writers.





Horus, hawk-headed,
and Set, his twin brother;
the former was god of the day,
and the latter god of the night.





The goddess Nephthys who,
according to Heliopolitan Theology,
was a female counterpart of Set.
 


[paragraph continues] Here, from time immemorial, existed a temple dedicated to the Sun-god, and attached
to it was a college of his priests, who from a very remote period were renowned for their wisdom and learning.

They called their god TEM or ATEM and in later times, at least, he
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« Reply #92 on: March 15, 2008, 02:40:22 pm »












p. 57

was depicted in the form of a man wearing the Crowns of the South and North, and holding in his right hand ankh ("life") and in his left a sceptre. He was king of heaven and also of Egypt. He was a solar god and, like every other ancient god in Egypt, had absorbed the attributes of several indigenous gods whose names even






Shu, son of Ra,
source of heat and light.





Tefnut,
daughter of Ra,
source of moisture and water.
She was a female counterpart of Shu.
 



are now not known.

The Pyramid Texts show that he was all-powerful in heaven, and that his priests proclaimed him to be the greatest of all the gods. The supremacy of Tem is asserted in the various versions of the Book of the Dead,
and all the other solar gods are regarded as forms of him in the various recensions of this work. Thus
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« Reply #93 on: March 15, 2008, 02:49:31 pm »








p. 58



in the XVIIth Chapter he says:




"I am Tem in his rising. I was the Only One [when] I came into existence in Nenu (or Nu).

I am Ra when he rose for the first time.

I am the Great God who created himself [from] Nenu, and who made his names to become the gods of his company. I am he who is irresistible among the gods.

I am Tem, the dweller in his Disk, or Ra in his rising in the eastern horizon of the sky.

I am Yesterday; I know To-day

'I am the Bennu (i.e., Phoenix) which is in Anu (Heliopolis),

and I keep the register of the things which are created and

of those which are not yet in existence."




The Company of the gods over whom "Father Tem" presided consisted of Shu and Tefnut, Geb
and Nut, Osiris and Isis, and Set and Nephthys. According to one tradition, Tem produced Shu
and Tefnut from his own body, and these three gods formed the first Triad, or Trinity, Tem
saying,


                                        "From [being] god one I became three."



In the extract from the XVIIth Chapter given above, we must note that



1. Tem originally existed in Nenu, or Nu, the great mass of primeval waters.

2. He was the Only One in existence when he had come into being.

3. He created himself the Great God.

4. He possessed various names, and these he turned into the gods who formed his Pest or Ennead, merely by uttering their names.

5. He was irresistible among the gods, i.e., he was the Over-lord of the gods.

6. He comprehended time past and time to come.

7. He dwelt in the Solar Disk (Aten).

8. He rose in the sky for the first time under the form of Ra, and he was himself the Bennu,
i.e., the Soul of Ra.

9. He kept the Registers of things created and uncreated.



Though the papyrus from which we get these facts is not older than the XVIIIth
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« Reply #94 on: March 15, 2008, 02:51:29 pm »











p. 59

dynasty, each of the statements which are here grouped exists in the various religious texts that
were written under the Ancient Empire, say, two thousand years earlier.

Of the style and nature of the worship of Tem we know nothing, but, from the fact that he was depicted in the form of a man, we appear to be justified in assuming that it was of a character






Osiris,
Lord of Eternity,
Bull of Amentt.
 




Isis,
female counterpart of Osiris,
and mother of Horus.
 


 
superior to that of the cults of sacred animals, birds and reptiles, which were general in Egypt
under the earlier dynasties.

Tem, the man-god, absorbed the attributes of Her-ur, the old Sky-god, and of Khepera, the
Beetle-god, who represented one or more of the forms of an ancient Sun-god between sunset and sunrise, and of Her-aakhuti ("Horus of the two horizons"). Khepera was
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« Reply #95 on: March 15, 2008, 02:59:00 pm »









p. 60



the sun during the hour that precedes the dawn.

Her was the sun by day, and Tem was the setting sun; the names of these gods are of native origin.

We may conclude that the priests of Tem incorporated into their forms of worship as many as possi-
ble of the rites and ceremonies to which the people had been accustomed in their worship of the
older gods. For there was nothing strange in the absorption of one god by another to the Egyptian, the god absorbed being regarded by him merely as a phase or character of the absorbing god. The Egyptians, like many other Orientals, were exceedingly tolerant in such matters.

The monuments prove that, quite early in the Dynastic Period, there was known and worshipped in Lower Egypt another form of the Sun-god who was called RA.

Of his origin and early history nothing is known, and the meaning of his name has not yet been satisfactorily explained.

It does not seem to be Egyptian, but it may be that of some Asiatic sun-god, whose cult was introduced into Egypt at a very remote period.

His character and attributes closely resemble those of the Babylonian god Marduk, and both Ra
and Marduk may be only different names of one and the same ancestor.

The centre of the cult of Ra in Egypt was Anu, or Heliopolis, and the city must have been inhabit-
ed by a cosmopolitan population (who were chiefly worshippers of the sun) from time immemorial.

All the caravans from Arabia and Syria halted there, whether outward or homeward bound, and
men of many nations and tongues must have exchanged ideas there as well as commodities.

The control of the water drawn from the famous Well of the Sun, the 'Ain ash-Shams' of Arab
writers, was, no doubt, in the hands of the priests of Anu,
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« Reply #96 on: March 15, 2008, 03:03:02 pm »









p. 61



and the payments made by grateful travellers for the watering of their beasts, together with other offerings, made them rich and powerful.

The waters of the well were believed to spring from the celestial waters of Nenu, or Nu, and the Nubian King Piankhi tells us that when he went to Anu he bathed his face in the water in which Ra
was wont to bathe his face.

1 We may note, in passing, that the Virgin Mary drew water from this well when the Holy Family
halted at Anu.

Under the IVth dynasty the priests of Anu obtained very considerable power, and they succeeded
in acquiring pre-eminence for their god Ra among the other gods of Lower Egypt. Whether or not
they chose the kings cannot be said, but it is certain that they caused the name of Ra to form a
part of the Nesu bat names of the builders of the second and third pyramids at Gizah.

Thus we have KHAF-RA (Khephren) and MENKAU-RA (Mycerinus).

Not satisfied with this, they rejected the descendants of the great pyramid builders, and set upon
the throne a number of kings whom they declared to be the sons of their god Ra by the wife of one
of his priests.

The first of these adopted as his fifth, or personal name, the title of "Sa Ra," i.e., son of Ra. This
title, which was certainly adopted by the kings of the Vth dynasty, was borne by every king of
Egypt afterwards, and the Nubian, Persian, Macedonian, or Roman who became king of Egypt saw
no absurdity in styling himself

                                                            "son of Ra."


Thanks to the excavations made by Borchardt and Schäfer, under the direction of F. von Bissing, several important facts dealing with the worship of Ra have been brought to light.

The sun temples built by the later kings of the Vth dynasty were usually buildings
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« Reply #97 on: March 15, 2008, 03:04:09 pm »









p. 62



about 325 feet long and 245 feet broad.

At the west end stood a truncated, or "blunted," pyramid (A),

and on the top of it was an obelisk made of stone (B). 


In front of the east side of the pyramid stood an alabaster B altar, and on the north side of the
altar were channels along which the blood of the victims, both A animal and human, ran into ala-
baster bowls which were placed to receive it.

On the north side of the rectangular walled enclosure was a row of store rooms, and on the east
and south sides were passages, the walls of which were decorated with reliefs. Opposite the altar,
on the east side, was a gateway; from this ran a path, which led by an inclined causeway to ano-
ther gate, Which formed the entrance to another large enclosure, about 1,000 feet square. The priests lived in this enclosure, and in special chambers were kept the sacred objects which were carried in procession on days of festival.

The principal object of the cult of Ra and his special symbol was the obelisk, but it has been suggested that the earliest worshippers of the sun believed that their god dwelt in a particular
stone of pyramidal shape.

At stated seasons, or for special purposes, the Spirit of the Sun was induced by the priests to
inhabit the stone, and it was believed to be present when gifts were offered up to the god, and
when human victims, who were generally prisoners of war, were sacrificed.

The exact signification of this sun symbol is not known. Some think that the obelisk represented
the axis of earth and heaven, but the Egyptians can hardly have evolved such an idea; others
assign to it a phallic signification, and others associate it with an object that produced fire and
heat.

That it symbolized Ra is certain, and there was in every sanctuary a
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« Reply #98 on: March 15, 2008, 03:09:23 pm »












p. 63

shrine in which, behind sealed doors, was a model of an obelisk. The cult of the standing stone, or pillar, was probably older than the cult of Ra, and the old name of Heliopolis is Anu, i.e., the city of the pillar. The Spirit of the Sun






Osiris Khenti Amentt,
god and judge of the dead
and lord of the Other World.
 




The triune god of the Osirian Resurrection.
The three members of his triad were Seker,
an old Death-god of Memphis;
Ptah, a Creation-god of Memphis;
and Osiris, the vivifier of the dead.
 



visited the temple of the sun from time to time in the form of a Bennu bird, and alighted "on the Ben-stone, 1 in the house of the Bennu in Anu in later times the Bennu-bird, which
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« Reply #99 on: March 15, 2008, 03:19:24 pm »









p. 64



the Egyptians regarded as the "soul of RA," was known as the Phoinix, or Phœnix.

Under the VIth dynasty the priests of Ra succeeded in thrusting their god into the position of over-lord of all the gods, and as we see from the names Ra-Khepera, Ra-Atem, Ra-Heraakhuti and the
like, all the old solar gods of the north of Egypt were regarded as forms of Ra.

He was king of heaven and judge of gods and men, and the attempt was also made to make the people accept him as the over-lord of Osiris and king of the Tuat, or Underworld. But in this last matter the priests failed, and Osiris maintained his position as the god and judge of the dead.

The priests had assigned to Ra in the funerary compositions, which are now known as the "Pyramid Texts," great powers over the dead, and, in fact, over all the gods and demons and denizens of the underworld, but before a century had passed, Osiris had established absolute sovereignty over his realm of Amentt.

From what has been said above it is evident that, before the close of the VIth dynasty, the priests
of the various solar gods of Lower Egypt had assigned to each of them all the essential powers and characteristics which Amenhetep claimed for his god Aten.

But before we consider these powers in detail, we must summarize briefly the principal historical
facts relating to the rise and development of the Aten cult.

Wherever a solar god was worshipped in Egypt, the habitat of this god was believed to be the solar Disk (aten or athen) But the oldest solar god who was associated with the Disk was Tem, or Atmu, who is frequently referred to in religious texts as

                                                          "Tem in his Disk"

When Ra usurped the attributes of Tem he became the
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« Reply #100 on: March 15, 2008, 03:24:38 pm »



AMENHETEP III








p. 65



[paragraph continues]                         

                                                      "dweller in his Disk."

Heraakhuti was the

                                                  "god of the two horizons,"

i.e., the Sun-god by day, from sunrise to sunset, and in the hieroglyphs with which his name is written, we see the Disk resting upon the horizon of the east and the horizon of the west.

Thothmes IV, who owed his throne to the priesthoods of Tem and Ra at Heliopolis, incorporated
the name of Tem in his Nebti title, and styled himself "made of Ra," "chosen of Ra," and "beloved
of Ra."

As the name of Amen is wanting in every one of his titles, it seems reasonable to assume that his personal sympathies lay with the cult of the solar gods of the North and not with the cult of Amen
of Thebes. But he maintained good relations with the priests of Amen, and made gifts to their god, who through the victories of Thothmes III was recognized in the Egyptian Win, Egypt, and Syria as the god of all the world.

Thothmes IV was succeeded by his son Amenhetep III, the third king to bear the name, and the priesthood of Thebes asserted that he was the veritable son of their god Amen, whose blood ran in
his veins.

According to this fiction, the god assumed the form of Thothmes IV, and Queen Mutemuaa became with child by him. How much or how little religious instruction the child received cannot be said, but it is probable that any teaching which he received from his mother, the princess of Mitanni, would make his mind to incline towards the religion of her native land.

From the titles which Amenhetep assumed when he became king, it is clear that he was content to be "the chosen of Ra," "the chosen of Tem," or "the chosen of Amen," and it seems to have mattered little to him whether he was the "beloved" and
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« Reply #101 on: March 15, 2008, 03:28:57 pm »









p. 66



[paragraph continues]

                            "emanation of Ra" or the "beloved" and "emanation of Amen."

His predecessors on the throne of Egypt believed in all seriousness that they had divine blood in
their veins, and they acted as they thought gods would act; they had themselves hedged round
with elaborate ceremonial procedure, which made men believe that their king was a god.

To Amenhetep all the gods of Egypt were alike, and we see from the bas-reliefs in the temple at Sulb, some fifty miles above the head of the Second Cataract, that he was as willing to worship himself and to offer sacrifices to himself as to Amen, in whose honour he had rebuilt the temple.

It is impossible to think of his performing daily the rites and ceremonies which the king of Egypt was expected to perform in the shrine of Amen-Ra at Karnak, in order to obtain from the god the power and knowledge necessary for governing his people.

One of the most important events in his life, and one fraught with very far-reaching consequences, was his marriage with the lady Ti (or Tei), a private individual, apparently of no high rank or social position.

1 In the Tall al-'Amarnah letters her name is transcribed Tei.
Her father was called Iuau, and her mother Thuau. Their tomb was discovered in 1905,

2 and it is clear that, before the marriage of their daughter to Amenhetep III, they were humble folk. According to a consensus of modern Egyptological opinion they were natives of Egypt, not foreigners as the older Egyptologists supposed.

Be this as it may, there is no doubt that Ti was
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« Reply #102 on: March 15, 2008, 03:30:10 pm »



QUEEN TEI
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« Reply #103 on: March 15, 2008, 03:33:15 pm »









p. 67



a very remarkable woman and that her influence over her husband was very great.

Her name appears in the inscriptions side by side with that of her husband, a fact which proves that he acknowledged her authority as co-ruler with himself; and she assisted at public functions and in acts of ceremonial worship in a manner unknown to queens in Egypt before her time.

Her power inside the palace and in the country generally was very great, and there is evidence that the king's orders, both private and public, were only issued after she had sanctioned them.

In the Sudan the king was worshipped as a god, and as the son and equal and counterpart of Amen-Ra, and in the temple which Amenhetep built for her at Saddenga, some twenty or thirty miles south of Koshah, Ti was worshipped as a goddess.

When Amenhetep married her, or perhaps when he became king, he caused a number of unusually large steatite scarabs to be made, with his names and titles and those of Ti cut side by side on
their bases.

1 On another group of large scarabs he caused his own names and titles, and the names of Ti and
her father Iuau and mother Thuau, to be cut, and these are followed by the statement,

"[She is] the wife of the victorious king whose territory in the South reaches to Karei (i.e., Napata,
at the foot of the Fourth Cataract) and in the North to Naharn" (i.e. the country of the head waters of the Euphrates).

2 Perhaps this is another way of saying the great and mighty king Amenhetep was proud to marry
the daughter of parents of humble birth and to give her a position equal to his own.

And it is possible, as Maspero suggested long ago, that some romantic episode
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« Reply #104 on: March 15, 2008, 03:37:46 pm »









p. 63



is here referred to, similar to that in the old story where the king marries a shepherdess for love.

What Ti's religious views were, or what gods she worshipped, we have no means of knowing, but
the inscription which is found repeated on several large steatite scarabs suggests that she favour-
ed the cult of Aten, and that in the later years of her life she was a zealous and devoted follower
of that god.

To please her, Amenhetep caused a great lake to be made on her estate called Tcharukha in West-
ern Thebes. This lake was about 1 1/8 mile (3,700 cubits) long and more than 5/8th of a mile (700 cubits) wide, and its modern representative is probably Birkat Habu.

On the sixteenth day of the third month of the season Akhet (October), in the 11th year of his reign, His Majesty sailed over the lake in the barge called ATHEN-TEHEN i.e.

                                                            "Aten sparkles."

And in following years this day was celebrated as a festival. Both lake and barge were made to
give the Queen pleasure, and the fact that the name of Aten formed part of the name of the latter, instead of Amen, has been taken to show that both the King and Queen wished to pay honour to
this solar god. In fact, it was definitely stated by Maspero that this water procession of the King marked the inauguration of the cult of Aten at Thebes, and he is probably correct.

Amenhetep's children by Ti consisted of four daughters and one son; his daughters were called Ast, Henttaneb, Satamen and Baktenaten, and her son was Amenhetep IV, the famous Aakhunaten. Ti lived in Western Thebes during her husband's lifetime, and she continued to do so after his death.

She visited Tall al-'Amarnah from time to time, and was present there in the twelfth year of
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