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THE GREAT ATEN

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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 10784 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #120 on: March 16, 2008, 09:58:39 am »









p. 80



It is followed by the words,




"ever-living, eternal, great living Disk, he who is in the Set Festival,

1 lord of the Circle (i.e., everything which the Disk shines on in every direction),

lord of the Disk, lord of heaven, lord of the earth."




Amenhetep IV worshipped Horus of the two horizons as the "Shu who was in the disk."

If we are to regard "Shu" as an ordinary noun, we must translate it by "heat," or "heat and light,"
for the word has these meanings. In this case Amenhetep worshipped the solar heat, or the heat
and light which were inherent in the Disk.

Now, we know from the Pyramid Texts that Tem or Tem-Ra created a god and a goddess from the emanations or substance of his own body, and that they were called "Shu" and "Tefnut," the former being the heat radiated from the body of the god, and the latter the moisture.

Shu and Tefnut created Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky), and they in turn produced Osiris, the
god of the river Nile, Set, the god of natural decay and death, and their shadowy counterparts,
Isis and Nephthys.

But, if we regard "Shu" as a proper name in the title of Amenhetep's god, we get the same result,
and can only assume that the king deified the heat of the sun and worshipped it as the one, eternal, creative, fructifying and life-sustaining force.

The old Heliopolitan tradition made Tem or Tem-Ra, or Khepera, the creator of Aten the Disk, but
this view Amenhetep IV rejected, and he asserted that the Disk was self-created and self-subsistent.

The common symbol of the solar gods was a

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« Reply #121 on: March 16, 2008, 10:00:50 am »










p. 81



disk encircled by a serpent, but when Amenhetep adopted the disk as the symbol of his god, he abolished the serpent and treated the disk in a new and original fashion.

From the disk, the circumference of which is sometimes hung round with symbols of "life," ☥ he
made a series of rays to descend, and at the end of each ray was

 




The frog-headed goddess Heqit,
one of the Eight Members of the
Ogdoad of Thoth.

 


a hand, as if the ray was an arm, bestowing "life" on the earth.

This symbol never became popular in the country, and the nation as a whole preferred to believe
that the Sun-god travelled across the sky in two boats, the Sektet and the Atet.

The form of the old Heliopolitan cult of the Sun-god that was evolved by Amenhetep could never
have appealed to the Egyptians, for it was
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« Reply #122 on: March 16, 2008, 10:08:46 am »









p. 82



too philosophical in character and was probably based upon esoteric doctrines that were of foreign origin.

Her and Suti, the two great overseers of the temples of Amen at Thebes, were content to follow
the example of their king Amenhetep III, and bow the knee to Aten and, like other officials, to sing
a hymn in his praise. But they knew the tolerant character of their master's religious views, and that outwardly, at least, he was a loyal follower of Amen, whose blood, according to the dogma of his priests, flowed in the king's veins. To Amenhetep III a god more or less made no difference, and he considered it quite natural that every priesthood should extol and magnify the power of its god. He was content to be a counterpart of Amen, and to receive the official worship due to him as such.

But with his son it was different.

The heat of Aten gave him life and maintained it in him, and whilst that was in him Aten was in him. The life of Aten was his life, and his life was Aten's life, and therefore he was Aten; his spiritual arrogance made him believe that he was an incarnation of Aten, i.e., that he was God--not a mere "god" or one of the "gods" of Egypt--and that his acts were divine.

He felt therefore that he had no need to go to the temple of Amen to receive the daily supply of the "fluid of life," which not only maintained the physical powers of kings, but gave them wisdom
and understanding to rule their country.

Still less would he allow the high priest of Amen to act as his vicar.

Finally, he determined that Amen and the gods must be done away and all the dogmas and

doctrines of their priesthoods abolished, and that Aten must be proclaimed the

One,selfcreated,selfsubsisting, self-existing god, whose son and deputy he was.



Without, apparently, considering the probable
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« Reply #123 on: March 16, 2008, 10:09:59 am »



Sphinx, with the head of Amenhetep IV,
making an offering of Maat to Aten.
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« Reply #124 on: March 16, 2008, 10:11:50 am »



Two of the daughters of Amenhetep IV.

Reproduced by permission of the
Egyptian Exploration Society.
From a bas-relief now in the

Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford.

 

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« Reply #125 on: March 16, 2008, 10:23:12 am »









p. 83



effect of his decision when translated into action, he began to build the temple of Gem-Aten in
Per-Aten, at Thebes.

In it was a chamber or shrine, in which the ben, or benben, i.e., the "Sun-stone," was placed,
and in doing this he followed the example of the priests of Heliopolis. The site he selected for this temple was a piece of ground about half way between the Temple of Karnak and the Temple of
Luxor. He decided that this temple should be the centre of the worship of Aten, which should henceforward be the one religion of his country.

The effect of the king's action on the priests of Amen and the people of Thebes can be easily imagined, when we remember that, with the downfall of Amen, their means of livelihood disappeared.



But Amenhetep was the king, the blood of the Sun-god was in his veins, and Pharaoh was the

master and owner of all Egypt, and of every person and thing in it.



Priests and people were alike unable to resist his will, and, though they cursed Aten and his fanatical devotee, they could not prevent the confiscation of the revenues of Amen and the abolition of his services. Not content with this, Amenhetep caused the name of Amen to be obliterated on the monuments, and in some cases even his father's name, and the word for "gods" was frequently cut out. Not only was there to be no Amen, but there were to be no gods; Aten was the only god that was to be worshipped.

The result of the promulgation of this decree can be easily imagined.

Thebes became filled with the murmurings of all classes of the followers of Amen, and when the
temple of Aten was finished, and the worship of the new god was inaugurated,
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« Reply #126 on: March 16, 2008, 10:26:10 am »









p. 84



these murmurings were changed to threats and curses, and disputes between the Amenites and Atenites filled the city.

What exactly happened is not known and never will be known, but the result of the confusion and uproar was that Amenhetep IV found residence in Thebes impossible, and he determined to leave it, and to remove the Court elsewhere.

Whether he was driven to take this step through fear for the personal safety of himself and his family, or whether he wished still further to insult and injure Amen and his priesthood, cannot be said, but the reason that induced him to abandon his capital city and to destroy its importance as such must have been very strong and urgent.

Having decided to leave Thebes he sought for a site for his new capital, which he intended to make
a City of God, and found it in the north, at a place which is about 160 miles to the south of Cairo and 50 miles to the north of Asyut.

At this point the hills on the east bank of the Nile enclose a sort of plain which is covered with fine yellow sand. The soil was virgin, and had never been defiled with temples or other buildings connected with the gods of Egypt whom Amenhetep IV hated, and the plain itself was eminently suitable for the site of a town, for its surface was unbroken by hills or reefs of limestone or sandstone.

This plain is nearly three miles from the Nile in its widest part and is about five miles in length. The plain on the other side of the river, which extended from the Nile to the western hills, was very much larger than that on the east bank, and was also included by the king in the area of his new capital.

He set up large stelŠ on the borders of it to mark the limits of the territory of Aten, and had inscriptions cut upon them stating this fact.
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« Reply #127 on: March 16, 2008, 10:29:27 am »









p. 85

We have already seen that Amenhetep IV had, whenever possible, caused the name of Amen to be chiselled out from stelŠ, statues, and other monuments, and even from his father's cartouches, whilst at the same time the name of Amen formed part of his name as the son of Ra.

It was easy to remedy this inconsistency, and he did so by changing his name from Amenhetep, which means "Amen is content," to

                                                             AAKHUNATEN, 

a name which by analogy should mean something like "Aten is content."

This meaning has already been suggested by more than one Egyptologist, but there is still a good
deal to be said for keeping the old translation,

                                                             "Spirit of Aten."

I transcribe the new name of Amenhetep IV, Aakhunaten, not with any wish to add another to the many transliterations that have been proposed for it, but because it represents with considerable accuracy the hieroglyphs.

The Pyramid Texts show that the phonetic value of  was  or . The first sign represents a short vowel, a, e, or i; the second a, like the Hebrew aleph, the third kh, and the fourth u; therefore the phonetic value of in Pyramid times was aakh, or aakhu, but in later times the a was probably dropped, and then the value of  would be akh, as Birch read it sixty years ago. If this were so, the name will be correctly transliterated by

                                                                 "Akhenaten."

How the name was pronounced we do not know and never shall know, but there is no good ground for thinking that "Ikhnaton" or "Ikh-en-aton" represents the correct pronunciation.

In passing
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« Reply #128 on: March 16, 2008, 10:34:40 am »











p. 86



we may note that Aten has nothing to do with the Semitic 'adhon, "lord."

At this time Amenhetep IV adopted two titles in connection with his new name, i.e.,

                                                      "Ankh-em-Maat"

and

                                                        "Aa-em-aha-f" 

the former meaning, "Living in Truth" and the latter "great in his life period." What is meant exactly by






Thoth, lord of the writing of the god,
i.e., hieroglyphs.
He was the of the primeval God and
translated into speech the will of this God.
 





Maat, the goddess of truth, reality, law,
both physical and spiritual,
order, rectitude, uprightness, integrity, etc.
 



                                                                  "living in truth"

is not clear.

Maat means what is straight, true, real, law, both physical and moral, the truth, reality, etc.

He can hardly have meant "living in or by the law," for he was a law to himself, but he may have meant that
in Atenism he had found the truth or the "real" thing, and that all else in religion was a phantom,
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« Reply #129 on: March 16, 2008, 10:42:43 am »









p. 87



a sham. Aten lived in maat, or in truth and reality, and the king, having the essence of Aten in him, did the same.

The exact meaning which Amenhetep IV attached to the other title, "great in his life-period," is also not clear.

He, as was every Pharaoh who preceded him, was a "son of Ra," but he did not claim, as they did, to "live like Ra for ever," and only asserted that his life-period was great.

Amenhetep IV called his new capital Aakhutaten, i.e., "the Horizon of Aten," and he and his followers regarded it as the one place in which Aten was to be found. It was to them the visible symbol of the splendour and benevolence and love of the god, the sight of it rejoiced the hearts of all beholders, and its loveliness, they declared, was beyond compare.

It was to them what Babylon was to the Babylonians, Jerusalem to the Hebrews, and Makkah to the Arabs; to live there and to behold the king, who was Aten's own son, bathed in the many-handed, life-giving rays of Aten, was to enjoy a foretaste of heaven, though none of the writers of the hymns to Aten deign to tell us what the heaven to which they refer so glibly was like.

Having taken up his abode in this city, Amenhetep set to work to organize the cult of Aten, and to promulgate his doctrine, which, like all writers of moral and religious aphorisms, he called his

                                                           "Teaching," Sbait.

Having appointed himself High Priest, he, curiously enough, adopted the old title of the High Priest of Heliopolis and called himself

                                                     "Ur-maa," i.e., the "Great Seer."

But he did not at the same time institute the old
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« Reply #130 on: March 16, 2008, 10:43:38 am »



Amenhetep IV,
accompanied by his queen and family,
making offerings to Aten
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« Reply #131 on: March 16, 2008, 10:51:40 am »









p. 89



semi-magical rites and ceremonies which the holders of the title in Heliopolis performed. He did not hold the office very long, but transferred it to Merira, one of his loyal followers.

When still a mere boy, probably before he ascended the throne and rejected his name of Amenhetep, he seems to have dreamed of building temples to Aten and so, when he took up his residence in his new city, he at once set to work to build a sanctuary for that god.

Among his devoted followers was one Bek, an architect and master builder, who claims to have
been a pupil of the king and who was, undoubtedly, a man of great skill and taste.

Him the king sent to Sun, the Syene of the Greek writers, to obtain stone for the temple of Aten
and there is reason to think that, when the building was finished, its walls were most beautifully decorated with sculptures and pictures painted in bright colours.

A second temple to Aten was built for the Queen-mother Ti, and a third for the princess Baktenaten, one of her daughters; and we should expect that one or more temples were built in the western half
of the city across the Nile.

With the revenues filched from Amen Aakhunaten built several temples to Aten in the course of his reign. Thus he founded



Per-gem-Aten in Nubia at a place in the Third Cataract; Gem-pa-Aten em.

Per-Aten at Thebes;

Aakhutaten in Southern Anu (Hermonthis);

the House of Aten in Memphis; and

Res-Ra-em-Anu.



It will be noticed that no mention is made of Aten in the name of this last temple of Aten.

He also built a temple to Aten in Syria, which is mentioned on one of the Tall
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« Reply #132 on: March 16, 2008, 10:52:34 am »



Amenhetep IV and his queen and family worshipping Aten.

al-'Amarnah tablets in the
British Museum under the form

Hi-na-tu-na. 1

p. 90
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« Reply #133 on: March 16, 2008, 10:59:05 am »









p. 91



As the buildings increased in Aakhutaten and the cult of Aten developed, the king's love for his new city grew, and he devoted all his time to the worship of his god.

Surrounded by his wife and family and their friends, and his obedient officials, who seem to have
been handsomely rewarded fortheir devotion, the king had neither wish nor thought for the welfare
of his kingdom, which he allowed to manage itself. His religion and his domestic happiness filled his life, and the inclinations and wishes of the ladies of his court had more weight with him than the counsels and advice of his ablest officials.

We know nothing of the forms and ceremonies of the Aten worship, but hymns
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« Reply #134 on: March 16, 2008, 11:04:33 am »



Amenhetep IV and his Queen Nefertiti bestowing
gold-collars upon favourite courtiers.

Between the king and queen is the princess
Ankh-s-en-pa-Aten, who married Tutankhamen
and, behind the queen, are two of her other daughters.

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