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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 11220 times)
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Posts: 41646

« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2008, 07:36:32 pm »

Why, one wonders, did this return to the doctrines of Heliopolis occur?

Most certainly it was an attempt by the kings to escape the Amon clergy, whose members
were becoming more insolent by the day and were gradually taking over everything. But,
beyond this, it was above all out of a need for authenticity, as experienced in the learned
circles of the capital towards the end of Dynasty 18.

Under the influence of Amenophis-son-of-Hapu (who, in turn, belonged to the Heliopolitan
colleges), the ancient writings were re-studied, the old rituals re-honored. We know,
for instance, that the celebration of Amenophis III's first jubilee instigated an enormous
compilation one month prior to the event, in order to ensure that everything would take
place in the right tone.

There is much reason to believe that all the painstaking research involved allowed theo-
logians to rediscover the pure source of early sun worship, long since eclipsed by the
cult of Amon.

This could only lead to the reassertion of the primordial deities Re-Harakhty and the Aten.

If in effect, then, Akhenaten did not invent the Aten, but merely adopted the ideas of
his forefathers, where does the heresy lie? It lies with the fact that he claimed it as
absolute, devoting himself exclusively to celebrating the Aten and proclaiming himself
prophet thereof by adopting the epithet 'ur mau', from Chief Prophet, as borne tradi-
tionally by the highest pontiffs of Heliopolis.

As master of the rituals, he asserted himself as the living aspect of the Aten, identify-
ing with that god to the point of having himself represented, in the upper part of the
civil stelae, as the unique vehicle of popular piety.

Nefertiti and the royal daughters were subsequently linked to this myth: the familiar
scenes uniting the king, the queen and the princesses in the intimacy of their apart-
ments are not in the least anecdotal: their figuration was intended as a reminder that,
beyond his basic unity, the Aten is at once father, mother and child - that is, the
principal creator and creature.
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