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Amen

Although the god Amen appears to have been numbered among the deities of Egypt as early as the Fifth Dynasty, when he was alluded to as one of the primeval gods,[2] it was not until a later period that his votaries began to exercise the enormous power which they wielded throughout Egypt. With the exception of Ra and Osiris, the worship of Amen was more widespread than that of any other god in the Nile valley; but the circumstances behind the growth of his cult certainly point to its having been disseminated by political rather than religious propaganda. What his attributes were in the time of the Ancient Empire we do not know. The name means 'what is hidden,' or what cannot be seen, and we are constantly informed in votive hymns and other compositions that he is "hidden to his children" and "hidden to gods and men." It has been advanced that these expressions refer to the setting of the sun, but there is far better reason for supposing that they[Pg 138] imply that Amen is a god who cannot be viewed by mortal eyes, invisible and inscrutable. It is not difficult to see that the conception of such a deity would speedily win favour with a priestly and theological class, who would quickly tire of the more material cults by which they were surrounded, and who would strain after a form of godhead less crude than the purely symbolical systems which held sway in the country. In fact, the whole theological history of Amen is that of a priesthood who were determined to impose upon a rather materialistic population a more spiritual type of worship and a higher conception of God.


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