Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt
Page: 58There is no doubt, however, that, to the aristocracy of Egypt at least, Ra stood in the position of creator and father of the gods. Osiris stood in relation to him as a son. In fact, the relations of these two deities may be regarded as that between god the father and god the
Isis and Ra—Evelyn Paul
Khepera, the remaining form of Ra, is generally represented in human form with a beetle upon his head. The worship of the beetle was very ancient in Egypt, and we must regard its fusion with the cult of Ra as due to priestly influence. The scarabæus, having laid its eggs in the sand of Egypt, rolls them into a little ball of manure, which it then propels across the sand with its hind legs to a hole which it has previously dug, where the eggs are hatched by the rays of the sun. This action of the beetle seemed to the ancient Egyptians to resemble the rolling of the sun across the heavens, so that Khepera, the rising luminary, was symbolized by it.
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, 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.