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Hermopolitan Theological System

The Hermoplitan System originated in Hermopolis, in middle Egypt, the seat of Thoth, the god of writing and science. The Hermopolitan theology is referred to in the Pyramid Texts several times indicating that it originated at a fairly early date. The distinctive feature of this system is its abstract character. Whereas the Heliopolitam cosmogony describes the gradual formulation of the universe in stages, the Hermopolitan sees the universe as emerging from four elements of chaos, or four attributes of the chaos itself. On the primeval hillock, which the texts referred to as the Island of Flame, four gods appeared simultaneously each with his feminine counterpart: there were Nun and Naunet, the god and goddess of the primeval ocean; Heh and Hehet, god and goddess of the immeasurable whose mission it was to raise the sun; Kek and Keket, god and goddess of darkness, producing the gloom of night in which light would shine forth; and finally, Amun and Amunet, the god and goddess of mystery or the hidden.

These last two deities also were known as Niu and Niunet, or nothingness, who represented the invisible but active breath of the air. By their unison of action these elementary principles brought into existence the solar star. They were called the "fathers and mothers of the created light." They raised the sun in the sky, so that it, in turn, could create and sustain all the beings in the universe. The four primary gods with their consorts constituted the ogdoad of the eight gods: the male gods were depicted as having heads of frogs, a symbolism of the idea that frogs seem to rise from mud-representing apparent self-creation, while the corresponding goddesses had heads of serpents, which represented having affinities for the depths of the earth.

Because of their theological belief Hermopolis was called "the city of eight" (Khmoun). Hermopolis also was responsible for the myth that the sun was like a lotus flower rising from the ocean waters, which enjoyed great popularity throughout Egypt. A.G.H.


Grimal, Pierre, Larousse World Mythology, Secaucus, New Jersey, Chartwell Books, 1965, p. 32

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