MONOTHEISTIC HYMN-OI TO ATEN,THE HELIOS OF THE AEG-YPTIA-NS


 

[Source: Pritchard, James B., ed., The Ancient Near East – Volume 1: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1958, pp. 227-230].

The prime source, from the tomb of Ay at Amarna, begins with an introduction by Ay. This is as follows :

“Praise of Re Hor-akhti, Rejoicing on the Horizon, in His Name as Shu Who Is in the Aten-disc, living forever and ever; the living great Aten who is in jubilee, lord of all that the Aten encircles, lord of heaven, lord of earth, lord of the House of Aten in Akhet-Aten; (and praise of) the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, who lives on truth, the Lord of the Two Lands: Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re; the Son of Re, who lives on truth, the Lord of Diadems: Akh-en-Aten, long in his lifetime; (and praise of) the Chief Wife of the King, his beloved, the Lady of the Two Lands: Nefer-neferu-Aten Nefert-iti, living, healthy, and youthful forever and ever.
The fan-fearer at the right hand of the King, Ay; he says :

 

It then proceeds with the actual hymn :

“Thou appearest beautifully on the horizon of heaven,
Thou living Aten, the beginning of life!
When thou art risen on the eastern horizon,
Thou hast filled every land with thy beauty.
Thou art gracious, great, glistening, and high over every land;
Thy rays encompass the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made […]
At daybreak, when thou arisest on the horizon,
When thou shinest as the Aten by day,
Thou drivest away the darkness and givest thy rays.
The Two Lands are in festivity every day,
Awake and standing upon (their) feet,
For thou hast raised them up.
Washing their bodies, taking (their) clothing,
Their arms are (raised) in praise at thy appearance.
All the world, they do their work […]
O sole god, like whom there is no other!
Thou didst create the world according to thy desire,
Whilst thou wert alone: All men, cattle, and wild beasts,
Whatever is on earth, going upon (its) feet,
And what is on high, flying with its wings.
The countries of Syria and Nubia, the land of Egypt,
Thou settest every man in his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities:
Everyone has his food, and his time of life is reckoned.
Their tongues are separate in speech,
And their natures as well;
Their skins are distinguished,
As thou distinguishest the foreign peoples.
Thou makest a Nile in the underworld […]
All distant foreign countries, thou makest their life (also),
For thou hast set a Nile in heaven,
That it may descend for them and make waves upon the mountains,
Like the great green sea,
To water their fields in their towns.
How effective they are, thy plans, O lord of eternity!
The Nile in heaven, it is for the foreign peoples
[…]
Thou art in my heart,
And there is no other that knows thee
Save thy son Nefer-kheperu-Re Wa-en-Re,
For thou hast made him well-versed in thy plans and in thy strength […] “

 

Small hymn

(e.g. on a stele in the tomb of Mahu, see mm-12) :

At dawn, the rays of the Aten, the uncreated creator, fill the earth, animate beings and manifest the sovereignty of the God.

At night, the earth and all beings are in a state bordering on death.

At sunrise, life is reborn together with the worship at Akhetaton, the centre of the universe.

The Aten shapes Akhenaton in his image each day; only he knows the God. This one, the eternal Creator of heaven, contemplates his creation and sustains it with his rays. All beings, through their appropriate behaviour, praise him with thanksgiving.

The sun has from now on a noncyclic trajectory, which ceases at night, like the life which it alone conveys with him. The Great Hymn clearly says :

“You arise as they (men) live, you lie down as they die. You are existence by yourself, it is by you that we live”; “as soon as you lie down in the western horizon, the country is plunged into darkness, in a state of death”

 

The universalism of the Aten

This does not prevent the hymns from being magnificent literary pieces, especially for the universalist approach which we find in them for the first time :

“The Aten of the day, great of majesty. All distant foreign countries, thou makest their life (also), for thou hast set a Nile in heaven, that it may descend for them…
The Nile in heaven, it is for the foreign peoples, (While the true) Nile comes from the underworld for Egypt
Their tongues are separate in speech and their natures as well. Their skins are distinguished as thou distinguishest the foreign peoples”

 

Thus, the Aten is presented as the universal god while Akhenaten himself always remains a pharaoh for Egypt and never becomes a prophet for all humanity. Akhenaten is “lord of the two lands” while the Aten is “lord of the world”. One even wonders if Akhenaten really had the intention of imposing the cult of the Aten in all Egypt. It is certainly not written anywhere.
The text about foreign countries continues thus:

” Thy rays encompass the lands to the limit of all that thou hast made:
As thou art Re, thou reachest to the end of them;
(Thou) subduest them (for) thy beloved son.”

 

The Amarnian naturalism

This religion of the Aten appears to be a naturalist one, one of contemplation of nature, a work of the unique solar creator. So, when the Aten rises, we are told :

” Trees and plants are flourishing. The birds fly from their nests. All beasts spring upon (their) feet. All the world, they do their work”

Intimate scene
Berlin Museum

 

The head of a princess
Cairo Museum

The end of the hymns speak of the role of the king himself:

…It is extremely clear: the king is the sole divine intercessor, the only one to have received the revelation of the Aten and who can convey it…

“And there is no other that knows thee save thy son Nefer-kheperu-Re, Wa-en-Re, for thou hast made him well-versed in thy plans and in thy strength”
and he concludes :
” Everything is] made to flourish for the king, …
Since thou didst found the earth
And raise them up for thy son, who came forth from thy body: the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, … Ak-en-Aten, … and the Chief Wife of the King … Nefertiti”

It is extremely clear; the king is the sole divine intercessor, the only one to have received the revelation of the Aten and who can convey it.

THE CULT AT AMARNA 

Offering

SOURCE EXCERPT  FROM https://www.osirisnet.net

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About sooteris kyritsis

Job title: (f)PHELLOW OF SOPHIA Profession: RESEARCHER Company: ANTHROOPISMOS Favorite quote: "ITS TIME FOR KOSMOPOLITANS(=HELLINES) TO FLY IN SPACE." Interested in: Activity Partners, Friends Fashion: Classic Humor: Friendly Places lived: EN THE HIGHLANDS OF KOSMOS THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF AMENTHE
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