Aton was the material character of the sun god (Re), the solar disc.
It was in the third millennium BC that the Pharaoh Chephren first declared himself «the son of Re,» but it was the reforming zeal of Amenophis IV (1387-1366 BC) that increased the worship of the sun god to unprecedented heights.
As Akhenaton, «the devotee of Aton,» this unusual pharaoh sought to concentrate devotion on the purely material character of the sun god as a solar disc, Aton.
He rejected the deities of the previous rulers and persecuted the priests of Amum, the ram-headed god of Thebes, whose influence in religious affairs had went unchallenged since the expulsion of the Hyksos.
He built a new city of residence for Re and himself, called Akhetaton, «the horizon of Aton,» located half way between Thebes and Memphis, where Aton was worshipped as the creative principle of all life, father of all men, who gave them different colored skins, different languages and different lands.
To the Egyptians he gave the Nile; to others he gave rain. This worship of Aton was short-lived because Akhenation remained isolated in Akhetation not caring about the possession of Egypt in Canaan.
After his death Tutankhamen returned the court to Thebes; and under the last pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Haremheb, (1353-1319 BC), all traces of the worship of Aton disappeared. A.G.H.
Cotterell, Arthur, A Dictionary of World Mythology, New York, G. P. Putman’s Sons, 1980, p. 43