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Author Topic: THE GREAT ATEN  (Read 12015 times)
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« on: November 09, 2007, 03:24:39 pm »

The above version of the hymn to Aten will serve to illustrate the views held by the king and his followers about this god, and may be compared with the hymns to Ra, which are quoted in the section on the forms of the Sun-god, when it will be seen that many of the most important characteristics of hymns to sun-gods are wanting.

There is no mention of enemies or of the fiends, Apep, Sebau, and Nak, who were overcome by Ra when he rose in the eastern horizon ; no reference is made to Khepera, or to the services which Thoth and Maat were believed to render to him daily ; and the frequent allusions to the Matet and Seket Boats in which Ra was thought to make his journey over the sky are wholly omitted.

The old myths which had grown up about Ra are ignored, and the priests of Aten proclaimed with no uncertain voice the unity of their god in terms which provoked the priests of Amen to wrath. Aten had existed for ever, they said, he was beautiful, glorious, and self-existent, he had created the sun and his path, and heaven, and earth, and every living being and thing therein, and he maintained the life in man and beast, and fed all creatures according to his plans, and he determined the duartion of their life in man and beast. Everything came from Aten, and everything depended upon him ; he was moreover, everlasting.

From the absence of mention of the "gods" or of the well-known great gods of Egypt, it is evident that they wished to give a monotheistic character to the worship of Aten, and it was, manifestly, this characteristic of it which made the king and his god detested at Thebes ; it accounts for the fact that Amen-hetep IV felt it too necessary to build a new capital for himself and his god, and supplies us with the reason why he did not settle in one of the ancient religious centers of his kingdom.

We should expect that, as he styled himself the high-priest of Heru-khuti {i.e.,Harmachis}, where this god was greatly honored, but as he did not, we are driven to conclude that there was in the worship of Aten and in the doctrines of his priests something which could neither brook nor tolerate the presence of another god, still less of other gods, and that something must have been of the nature monotheism.
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