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The Gods of the Egyptians
Or Studies in Egyptian Mythology
By E. A. Wallis Budge
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1970 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
AMEN AND AMEN-RA, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], KING OF THE GODS, AND THE TRIAD OF THEBES
AMONG the gods who were known to the Egyptians in very early times were Amen and his consort Ament, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and their names are found in the Pyramid Texts, e.g., Unas, line 558, where they are mentioned immediately after the pair of gods Nau and Nen, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and in connexion with the twin Lion-gods Shu and Tefnut, who are described as the two gods who made their own bodies, and with the goddess Temt, the female counterpart of Tem. It is evident that even in the remote period of the Vth Dynasty Amen and Ament were numbered among the primeval gods, if not as gods in chief certainly as subsidiary forms of some of them, and from the fact that they are mentioned immediately after the deities of primeval matter, Nau and Nen, who we may consider to be the equivalents of the watery abyss from which all things sprang, and immediately before Temt and Shu and Tefnut, it would seem that the writers or editors of the Pyramid Texts assigned great antiquity to their existence. Of the attributes ascribed to Amen in the Ancient Empire nothing is known, but, if we accept the meaning "hidden" which is usually given to his name, we must conclude that he was the personification of the hidden and unknown creative power which was associated with the primeval abyss gods in the creation of the world and all that is in it. The word or root amen [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], certainly means "what is hidden," "what is not seen," "what cannot be seen," and the like, and this fact is proved by scores of examples which may be collected from texts of all periods. In hymns to Amen we often read that he is "hidden to his children," and "hidden to gods and men," and it has been stated that these expressions only refer to the "hiding," i.e., "setting" of the sun each evening, and that they are only to be understood in a physical sense, and to mean nothing more than the disappearance of the god Amen from the sight of men at the close of day. Now, not only is the god himself said to be "hidden," but his name also is "hidden," and his form, or similitude, is said to be "unknown;" these statements show that "hidden" when applied to Amen, the great god, has reference to something more than the "sun which has disappeared below the horizon," and that it indicates the god who cannot be seen with mortal eyes, and who is invisible, as well as inscrutable, to gods as well as men. In the times approaching the Ptolemaïc period the name Amen appears to have been connected with the root men [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], "to abide, to be permanent;" and one of the attributes which were applied to him was that of eternal.
Amen is represented in five forms:—1. As a man, when he is seen seated on a throne, and holding in one hand the sceptre, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and in the other the symbol of "life;" in this form he is one of the nine deities who compose the company of the gods of Amen-Ra, the other eight being Ament, Nu, Nut, Hehui, HeHet, Kekui, Keket, and Hathor. 2. As a man with the head of a frog, whilst his female counterpart Ament has the head of a uraeus. 3. As a man with the head of a uraeus, whilst his female counterpart has the head of a cat. 4. As an ape. 5. As a lion couchant upon a pedestal. Of the early history of the worship of Amen we know nothing, but as far as the evidence before us goes it appears not to have been very general, and in fact, the only centre of it of any importance was the city of Thebes. Under the XIIth Dynasty we find that a sanctuary and shrine were built in honour of Amen at Thebes in the northern quarter of the city which was called Apt, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], later, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]; from this word, with the addition of the feminine article T, the Copts derived their name for the city Tape, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and from it also comes the common name "Thebes." Over Apt the quarter of the city there presided a goddess also called Apt, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], who was either the personification of it, or a mere local goddess to whom accident or design had given the same name as the quarter; it is, however, most probable that the goddess was the spirit or personification of the place. In the reliefs on which she is represented we see her in the form of a woman holding the sceptre, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and "life," [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], in her hands, and wearing upon her head the disk and horns, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], which rest upon [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], the hieroglyphic which has for its phonetic value Apt, and stands for the name of the goddess. The disk and the horns prove that the tutelary goddess of Thebes was a form of Hathor.
Up to the time of the XIIth Dynasty Amen was a god of no more than local importance, but as soon as the princes of Thebes had conquered their rival claimants to the sovereignty of Egypt, and had succeeded in making their city a new capital of the country their god Amen became a prominent god in Upper Egypt, and it was probably under that dynasty that the attempt was made to assign to him the proud position which was afterwards claimed for him of "king of the gods." His sanctuary at Karnak was at that time a comparatively small building, which consisted of a shrine, with a few small chambers grouped about it and a forecourt with a colonnade on two sides of it, and it remained, practically, in this form until the rise to power of the kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty. It is difficult to decide if the sanctuary of Amen at Thebes was a new foundation in that city by the kings of the XIIth Dynasty, or whether the site had been previously occupied by a temple to the god; the probability is that the god possessed a temple in Apt from the earliest times, and that all that they did was to rebuild Amen's sanctuary. As soon as the Theban princes became kings of Egypt their priests at once began to declare that their god was not only another form of the great creative Sun-god who had been worshipped for centuries at Annu, or Heliopolis, in the North of Egypt, under the names of Ra, Temu, Khepera, and Heru-khuti, but that all the attributes which were ascribed to them were contained in him, and that he was greater than they. And as Thebes had become the capital instead of Memphis, it followed as a matter of course that all the attributes of all the great gods of Memphis were contained in Amen also. Thus by these means the priests of Amen succeeded in making their god, both theologically and politically, the greatest of the gods in the country.
Owing to the unsettled state of Egypt under the XIIIth and XlVth Dynasties, and under the rule of the Hyksos, pretensions of this kind passed unchallenged, especially as they were supported by arms, and by the end of the XVIIth Dynasty Amen had attained to an almost unrivalled position among the gods of the land. And when his royal devotees in this dynasty succeeded in expelling the Hyksos from the land, and their successors the kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty carried war and conquest into Palestine and founded Egyptian cities there, the power and glory of Amen their god, who had enabled them to carry out this difficult work of successful invasion, became extraordinarily great. His priests began by asserting his equality with the other great gods of the old sanctuaries of Heliopolis, Memphis, Herakleopolis, and other ancient cities, and finally they satisfied, or, at all events, attempted to do so, all worshippers of every form of the Sun-god Ra by adding his name to that of Amen, and thus forming a great god who included within himself all the attributes of the primeval god Amen and of Ra. The highest conception of Amen-Ra under the XlXth and XXth Dynasties was that of an invisible creative power which was the source of all life in heaven, and on the earth, and in the great deep, and in the Underworld, and which made itself manifest under the form of Ra. Nearly every attribute of deity with which we are made familiar by the hymns to Ra was ascribed to Amen after his union with Ra; but the priests of Amen were not content with claiming that their god was one of the greatest of the deities of Egypt, for they proceeded to declare that there was no other god like him, and that he was the greatest of them all.
The power and might ascribed to Amen-Ra are well described in hymns which must be quoted in full. The first of these occurs in the Papyrus of Hu-nefer (Brit. Mus., No. 9,901, sheet i.), where it follows immediately after a hymn to Ra; this papyrus was written in the reign of Seti I., and it is interesting to observe that the two gods are addressed separately, and that the hymn to Ra precedes that to Amen-Ra. The text reads:—"Homage to thee, "O Amen-Ra, who dost rest upon Maat; as thou passest over the "heavens every face seeth thee. Thou dost wax great as thy "majesty doth advance, and thy rays [shine] upon all faces. "Thou art unknown, and no tongue hath power to declare thy "similitude; only thou thyself [canst do this]. Thou art One, "even as is he that bringeth the tena basket. Men praise thee in "thy name, and they swear by thee, for thou art lord over them. "Thou hearest with thine ears and thou seest with thine eyes. "Millions of years have gone over the world, and I cannot tell the 'number of those through which thou hast passed. Thy heart "hath decreed a day of happiness in thy name of 'Traveller.' "Thou dost pass over and dost travel through untold spaces "[requiring] millions and hundreds of thousands of years [to pass "over]; thou passest through them in peace, and thou steerest "thy way across the watery abyss to the place which thou lovest; "this thou doest in one little moment of time, and then thou dost "sink down and dost make an end of the hours." How far the attributes ascribed to Amen-Ra in this hymn represent those generally bestowed upon the god in the XlXth Dynasty is unknown, but the points chiefly dwelt upon are the unity, and the invisibility, and the long duration of the existence of the god; nothing is said about Amen-Ra being self-begotten and self-born, or of his great creative powers, or of his defeat of the serpent-fiend N?k, and it is quite clear that Hu-nefer drew a sharp distinction between the attributes of the two gods.
The following hymn, which was probably written under the XXth or XXIst Dynasty, well illustrates the growth of the power both of Amen-Ra and of his priests:—"Praise be to Amen-Ra, the "Bull in Annu, the chief of all the gods, the beautiful god, the "beloved one, the giver of the life of all warmth to all beautiful "cattle. Homage to thee, O Amen-Ra, lord of the thrones of the "two lands, the governor of the Apts (i.e., Thebes, north and south), "thou Bull of thy mother, who art chief in thy fields, whose steps are "long, who art lord of the land of the South, who art lord of the "Matchau peoples, and prince of Punt, and king of heaven, and first-"born god of earth, and lord of things which exist, and stablisher of "creation, yea, stablisher of all creation. Thou art One among the "gods by reason of his seasons. Thou art the beautiful Bull of the "company of the gods, thou art the chief of all the gods, thou art "the lord of Maat, and the father of the gods, and the creator of "men and women, and the maker of animals, and the lord of "things which exist, and the producer of the staff of life (i.e., "wheat and barley), and the maker of the herb of the field which "giveth life unto cattle. Thou art the beautiful Sekhem who wast "made (i.e., begotten) by Ptah, and the beautiful Child who art "beloved. The gods acclaim thee, O thou who art the maker of "things which are below and of things which are above. Thou "illuminest the two lands, and thou sailest over the sky in peace, "O king of the South and North, Ra, whose word hath unfailing "effect, who art over the two lands, thou mighty one of two-fold "strength, thou lord of terror, thou Being above who makest the "earth according to thine own designs. Thy devices are greater "and more numerous than those of any other god. The gods "rejoice in thy beauties, and they ascribe praise unto thee in the "great double house, and at thy risings in (or, from) the double house "of flame. The gods love the smell of thee when thou comest from "Punt (i.e., the spice land), thou eldest born of the dew, who "comest from the land of the M?tchau peoples, thou Beautiful "Face, who comest from the Divine Land (Neter-ta). The gods "tremble at thy feet when they recognize thy majesty as their "lord, thou lord who art feared, thou Being of whom awe is great, "thou Being whose souls are mighty, who hast possession of "crowns, who dost make offerings to be abundant, and who dost "make divine food (tchefau).
"Adorations be to thee, O thou creator of the gods, who hast" stretched out the heavens and made solid the earth. Thou art "the untiring watcher, O Amsu-Amen (or Min-Amen), the lord of "eternity, and maker of everlastingness, and to thee adorations "are paid as the Governor of the ?pts. Thou hast two horns "which endure, and thine aspects are beautiful, and thou art the "lord of the ureret crown [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and thy double plumes are "lofty, thy tiara is one of beauty, and thy White Crown [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] "is lofty. The goddess Mehen [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and the Uatcheti "goddesses [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], i.e., Nekhebet and Uatchet), are about "thy face, and the crowns of the South and North [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and the "Nemmes crown, and the helmet crown are thy adornments (?) in "thy temple. Thy face is beautiful and thou receivest the Atef "crown [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and thou art beloved of the South and the North; "thou receivest the crowns of the South and the North, and thou "receivest the amesu sceptre [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and thou art the lord of the "makes sceptre [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], and of the whip (or flail, [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]). Thou art "the beautiful Prince, who risest like the sun with the White "Crown, and thou art the lord of radiant light and the creator of "brilliant rays. The gods ascribe praises unto thee, and he who "loveth thee stretcheth out his two hands to thee. Thy flame maketh "thine enemies to fall, and thine Eye overthroweth the Sebau fiends, "and it driveth its spear through the sky into the serpent-fiend "N?k and maketh it to vomit that which it hath swallowed.
"Homage to thee, O Ra, thou lord of Maat, whose shrine is "hidden, thou lord of the gods; thou art Khepera in thy boat, "and when thou didst speak the word the gods sprang into being." Thou art Temu, who didst create beings endowed with reason; "thou makest the colour of the skin of one race to be different "from that of another, but, however many may be the varieties of "mankind, it is thou that makest them all to live. Thou hearest "the prayer of him that is oppressed, thou art kind of heart unto "him that calleth upon thee, thou deliverest him that is afraid "from him that is violent of heart, and thou judgest between the "strong and the weak. Thou art the lord of intelligence, and "knowledge is that which proceedeth from thy mouth. The Nile "cometh at thy will, and thou art the greatly beloved lord of the "palm tree who makest mortals to live. Thou makest every work "to proceed, thou workest in the sky, and thou makest to come "into being the beauties of the daylight; the gods rejoice in thy "beauties, and their hearts live when they see thee. Hail, Ra, "who art adored in the Apts, thou mighty one who risest in the "shrine: O Ani [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED], thou lord of the festival of the new "moon, who makest the six days' festival and the festival of the "last quarter of the moon. Hail, Prince, life, health, and strength, "thou lord of all the gods, whose appearances are in the horizon, "thou Governor of the ancestors of Aukert (i.e., the underworld), "thy name is hidden from thy children in thy name Amen.'
"Hail to thee, O thou who art in peace, thou lord of joy of "heart, thou crowned form, thou lord of the ureret crown, whose "plumes are exalted, whose tiara is beautiful, whose White Crown "is lofty, the gods love to look upon thee; the crowns of the "South and North are established upon thy brow. Beloved art "thou as thou passest through the two lands, as thou sendest "forth rays from thy two beautiful eyes. The dead are rapturous "with delight when thou shinest. The cattle become languid "when thou shinest in full strength; beloved art thou when thou "art in the southern sky, and thou art esteemed lovely when thou "art in the northern sky. Thy beauties take possession of and "carry away all hearts, and love for thee maketh all arms to relax, "thy beautiful form maketh the hands to tremble, and all hearts "melt at the sight of thee.
Excerpted from The Gods of the Egyptians by E. A. Wallis Budge. Copyright © 1970 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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