Amum was an Egyptian ram-headed god, often depicted as a bearded man wearing a cap with two tall plumes. The era of this Theban sky god’s greatest ancestry occurred in the 16th century BC when the Egyptians expelled the Hyksos and extended the imperial frontiers into Canaan.

The rivalry with Re was eliminated by emerging Amum with Re as Amon-Re, except during the reign of Akhenaton. As a dynastic guardian, Amon-Re, king of the gods, incarnate in the role of the ruling pharaoh, and out of the tribute of Asia great temples were built for his worship at Luxor and Karnak.

Worshipers thought Amum to be one of the creators of the universe and in prayers besought his generosity. Amon was identified with Zeus, and famous for his oracle at Siwa in Libya. The priests of Thebes told Herodotus that two of their priestesses were abducted by the Phoenicians, who sole one to Libya, and the other to Greece. These women, they said, were the founders of divination in those two countries, establishing there the original oracles.

The cults devoted to many of the gods were officially the prerogative and duty of the pharaoh alone, and the conscientious fulfillment of this duty was of vital importance to the people and him. The cults reflected the contemporary established order, and at the same time served to justify it. Essentially their function was similar to primitive magic, the ritual images and/or ritual declamation of events would seem to make the event occur and give it legal force.

When pharaohs were not able to officiate at ceremonial events, especially at daily ceremonies, priests officiated; thus priests became important men who could take the pharaoh’s place. Also in temple services were priestesses, usually dancing and making music in the forecourt for the entertainment of the god. In many cases these priestesses were deemed to be the god’s concubines particularly in temples of the gods associated with fertility, which was especially true in the temples of Amon-Re where the Divine Consort was often the royal princess. A.G.H.


Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1980, p. 25
Ions, Veronuca, Egyptian Mythology, Feltham, Middlesex, Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd., 1968. pp. 17-18