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Amun


Amun, the hidden one, was a sun-god, supreme god of creation, lord of the sky, and king of the Egyptian world. He was one of eight Egyptian deities composing the ogdoad in the Hermopolitan Theological System who represented chaos. He is one of the four masculine deities who had heads of frogs representing their apparent self-creation. His consort was Amunet and together they epitomized hidden powers. Amun is portrayed as a pharaoh with blue skin and wearing a turban surmounted by two large plumes of feathers symbolizing dominance over both Upper and Lower Egypt. In addition to the major temples at Luxor, other sanctuaries honoring him were built beyond the first Nile cataract Amada, Soleb, Gebel Barkal, and Abu Simbel.

The ram with curved horns symbolized Amun, and the Nile goose was sacred to him. As a deity he was regarded as hidden but spreading throughout the cosmos. Though Amun was depicted in anthropomorphically in temple hymns, other deities described him as "hidden of aspect, mysterious of form." In the New Kingdom, from 16th century BCE onward, Amun was drawn as the manifestation of the ancient sun-god of Heliopolis, which, in effect, increased his prestige and entitled him to be called the "king of the gods." Literally he was regarded as being the father of each pharaoh. At Thebes he was revered as a snake deity with inferences to immortality and endless renewal.

Amun's ithyphallic form most likely originated from the legendary conception that he was "first formed" of the gods, since he had no father he had to impregnate his own mother. He was generally regarded as a god having great sexual attributes. The Temple of Queen Hatsepsut at Deir el-Bahari bears a relief of her mother impregnated by Amun. A similar scene exists in the Temple of Hmenhotep III at Luxor. Many wall painting of Amun and the pharaoh fill the Great Hall of Hypostyle as well as several possessions honoring Amun. The Amun priesthood had become very powerful by the 12th century BCE, thus eventually leading to a contest between Amun and Aten, the god "created" by Amenhotep IV. Amun's experienced a short eclipse and returned to power until the end of ancient Egyptian history. A.G.H.


Sources:

Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 32
Jordan, Michael, Encyclopedia of Gods, New York, Facts On File, Inc. 1993, p. 15


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