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The Gods Of Egypt
Forms of Amen-Ra


Amen (Amon) and Amen-Ra, King of the Gods | Forms of Amen-Ra | Osiris, Asar | Worship of Osiris | Isis | Anpu, or Anubis | Horus | Nephthys | Asar-Hapi, or Serapis | Nut | The Gods of Heliopolis | Egyptian Mythology | Hieroglyphics | Galery


Forms of Amen-Ra

The definiteness of the assertions of this composition suggest that it formed the creed of the worshipers of Amen-Ra, fro every one of them appears to have been made with the express purpose of contradicting the pretensions urged by the priests of other gods, e.g., Aten and Osiris ; and an examination of the sentences will show that Amen is made the universe. It is,however, important to note that he is not in any way identified with Osiris in this text, a fact which seems to indicate that the national god of the Resurrection in Egypt was ignored by the priests of Amen who composed the contents of Nesi-Khensu's papyrus. From what has been said as to the importance of Amen-Ra it will be evident that a large number of shrines of this god must have lived chiefly upon the endowments which the pious Egyptians had provided for gods other than he. We may now consider the various forms in which Amen-Ra is depicted on monuments and papyri. His commonest form is that of a strong-bearded man who appears upon his head lofty double plumes, the various sections of which are colored alternately red and green, or red and blue ; round his neck he wears a deep collar necklace, and his close-fitting tunic is supported by elaborately worked shoulder-straps. His arm and wrists are provided with armlets and bracelets, in his right hand is the symbol of life, and his left the scepter. Hanging from his tunic is the tail of some animal, the custom of wearing which by gods and kings was common in Egypt in the earliest times. In this form his title is "Amen-Ra, lord of the thrones of the two lands,". Instead of the sign of life, he sometimes holds the khepesh war knife, in his right hand. At times he is given the head of a hawk which is surmounted by the solar disk encircled by a serpent as "Amen-Ra-Temu in Thebes" he has the head of a man surmounted by the solar disk encircled by a serpent ; before him is the ankh, which is provided with human legs and arms, offering lotus flowers to the god. Thus he becomes the god both of Heliopolis and Thebes" In many scenes we find Amen-Ra with the head of a ram, when he usually wears the solar disk, plumes, and uraeus at times, however, he wears the disk and urauus or the disk only. In this form he is called "Amen-Ra, lord of the thrones of the two lands, the "dweller in Thebes, the great god appeareth in the horizon," or "Amen-Ra, lord of the thrones of the two lands, governor of "Ta-Kenset {Nubia}." Another form of Amen-Ra is that in which he is represented with the body of the ithyphallic god Amsu, or Min, or Khem, i.e., as the personification of the power of generation. In this form he wears either the customary disk and plumes, or the united crowns of the South and North, and has one hand and arm raised to support, which holds above his shoulder ; he is called "Amen-Ra, the bull of his mother," and possesses all the attributes of Fa-a, i.e., the god of the lifted hand,. IN one of the examples reproduced by Lanzone Amen-Ra in his ithyphallic form stands by the side of a pylon-shaped building, on the top of which are two trees, an the side of a large lotus flower ; the lotus flower represents the rising sun, which was supposed to issue daily from between two trees. In another form Amen-Ra has the head of a crocodile, and he wears the crown which is composed of the solar disk, plumes and horns, and is called the "disposer of the life of Ra and the years of Temu." Finally,the god was somtimes represented in the form of a goose ; the animal sacred to him in many parts of Egypt, and all over Nubia, was the ram. In very late dynastic times, especially in the Ptolamaic period, it became customary to make figures of Amen-Ra in bronze in which every important attribute of the god was represented. In these he has the bearded head of a man, the body of a beetle with the wings of a hawk, the legs of a man with the toes and claws of a lion, and is provided with four hands and arms, and four wings, the last named being extended. One hand, which is stretched along the wing, grasps the symbols, the knives, another is raised to support, after the manner of the "god of the lifted hand" a third holds the symbol of generation and fertility ; and the fourth is lifted to his head. The face of the god is, in reality, that of the solar disk, from which proceed the heads and necks of eight rams. Resting on the disk is a pair of ram's horns, with a disk on each , and stretching upwards are the two characteristics plumes of the god Amen. From the tip of each of these projects a lion-headed uraeus which ejects moisture from its mouth. This form of the god was a production probably of the period immediately following the XXVIth Dynasty, but some modifications of it are not so old. The idea which underlines the figure is that of representing the pact or company of the gods, of which Amen was the chief, and of showing pictorially how every one of the oldest gods of Egypt was contained in him. In the Saite Recension of the Book of the Dead we find several passages to Amen, or Amen-Ra, which appear to belong to the same period, and as they illustrate the growth of a set of new ides about the god Amen, some of them being probably of Nubian origin, they are reproduced here. The first is found in the Rubric to Chapter clxii, which contains the texts to be recited over the amulet of the cow, and was composed with the view of keeping heat in the body of the deceased in the Underworld. The first address is made to the god PAR, which is clearly a form of Amen-Ra, for he is called "lord of plumes," "lord of transformations, whose skin {i.e., complexions} are manifold," the "god of many names," "the mighty runner of mighty strides," etc. The second address is to the Cow Ahat, i.e.,the goddess Meh-urt or Net, who made a picture of herself and placed it under the head of Ra when he was setting one evening, and is the petition which is to be said when a similar amulet is placed under the head of the deceased, and runs, "O Amen, O Amen, who art in "heaven, turn thy face upon the dead body of thy son, and make "him sound strong in the Underworld." In Chapter clxiii. we have the second message as follows :--- "Hail, Amen, thou divine Bull Scarab, "thou lord of the two Utchats, thy name is Hes-Tchefetch, the Osiris {i.e., the deceased} is the "emanation of thy two Utchats, one of which is called Share- " Shapuneterika. The magical name of the deceased is "Shaka-Amen-Shakanasa er hatu Tem sehetch-nef-taui," and on his behalf the following prayer is made :-- "Grant that he may be of the land of Maat, let him not "be left in his condition of solitude, for he belongeth to this land "wherein he will no linger apppear, and 'An' {?] is his "name. O let him be perfect spirit, or {as others say} a strong "spirit, and let him be the soul of the mighty body which is in "Sau {Sais}, the city of Net {Neith}." The third passage is Chapter clxv., which really a petition to Amen-Ra by the deceased wherein the most powerful of the magical names of the god are enumerated. The vignette of the chapter contains the figure of an ithyphallic god with the body of a beetle ; on his head are the characteristic plumes of Amen, and his right arm is raised like that of Amsu, or Min, the god of the reproductive powers of nature. The text reads, Hail, Prince, Prince ! "Hail Amen, Hail Amen ! Hail Par, Hail Iukasa ! Hail God, Prince of the gods of the eastern "parts of heaven, Amen-Nathekerethi-Amen. Kail,, thou whose skin is hidden, whose "form is secret, thou lord of the two horns {who wast born of} "Nut, thy name is Arethi-kasathi-ka, and thy name is Amen-naiu-an-ka-entek-share, "or Thekshare-Amen-Rerethi,. Hail, Amen, let me make supplication unto thee, "for I know thy name, and {the mention of} thy transformations "is in my mouth, and thy skin is before mine eyes. Come, I pray "thee, and place thou thine heir and thine image, myself in the "everlasting underworld. Grant thou that all my members may "repose in Neter-khertet {the underworld}, or {as others say} "in Akertet {the underworld} ; let my whole body become like unto that of a god, let escape from the civil chamber and let "me not be imprisoned therein ; for I worship thy name. Thou "hast made for me skin, and thou hast understood {my} speech, 'and thou knowest it exceedingly well. Hidden "is thy name, O Letashaka, "and I have made for thee a skin. Thy name is Marqatha, thy name is Rerei, thy name is Nasaqebubu, thy name is Thanasa- "Thanasa, thy name is Sharshathakatha. "O Amen, O Amen, O God, O God, O Amen, I adore thy "name, grant thou to me that I may understand thee ; grant "thou that I may have peace in the Tuat {underworld}, and that "I may possess all my members therein." And the divine Soul which is in Nut saith, "I will make my divine strength to protect "thee, and I will perform everything which thou hast said." This interesting text was ordered to be recited over a figure of the "god of the lifted hand," i.e., of Amen in his character of the god generation and reproduction, painted blue, and the knowledge of it was to be kept from the god Sukati, in the Tuat ; if the directions given in the rubric were properly carried out it would enable the deceased to drink water in the underworld from the deepest and purest part of the celestial stream, and he would become "like the stars in the heavens above." A perusal of the above composition shows that we are dealing with a class of ideas concerning Amen, or Amen-Ra, which, though clearly based on ancient Egyptian beliefs, are peculiar to the small group of Chapters which are found at the end of the Saite Recension of the Book of the Dead. The forms of the magical names of Amen are not Egyptian, and they appear to indicate, as the late Dr., Birch said, a Nubian origin. The fact that the Chapters with the above prayers in them are found in a papyrus containing so complete a copy of the Siate Recension proves that they were held to be of considerable importance in the Ptolemaic period, and they probably represented beliefs which were wide-spread at that time. Long before that, however Amen-Ra was unidentified with Horus in all forms, and Ra in all forms, and Osiris in all forms, and the fathers and mothers of these gods were declared to be his ; he was also made to be the male counterpart of all the very ancient goddess of the South and the North, and the paternity of their offspring was attributed to him.



In connection with the Amen-Ra must be mentioned an important form of the Sun-god which was called Menthu, or Menthu-Ra, though he was commonly described as "lord of Thebes," the chief seat of the worship was at Hermonthis, the Annu-Rest, i.e., "Heliopolis of the South," of the hieroglyphic texts. Menthu was probably an old local god whose cult was sufficiently important to make it necessary for the priests of Amen to incorporate him with the great god of Thebes, and he appears to have been personification of the destructive heat of the sun. The chief centers of his worship were Annu of the South, Thebes, Annu of the North, Tchertet, {Edfu}, Dendera, and perhaps the temples of the First Cataract, and his commonest titles are, "Menthu-Ra, lord "of Thebes, king of the gods, he who is in his throne in Aptet, Merti, mighty one of two-fold strength, lord of the Thebes of the "North, Sma-taui, Governor of Behutet, lord of Annu of the South, "prince of Annu of the North," and "lord of Manu," i.e., the Libyan mountain. Menthu is mentioned in the pyramid Texts {Mer-en-Ra, line 784}, together with a number of ancient gods, in such a way that we may be certain that his worship was widespread, even in the VIth Dynasty. Thus Khepera, and Nu, and Tem and Uash, the son of Seb and Sekhem, the son of Osiris, are entreated to hearken to the words which the dead king is about to address to them. Nekhebet of the Temple of Sar, in Heliopolis is said to protect him, he is identified with the star Apsh, and the gods who transverse the land of the Thehennu, and who live on the "indestructible heavens," are besought to allow him to be with them. Five obscure gods are next mentioned, i.e., Tchent, Kher, Shenthet, Khenu, and Benutch, and then it is said that "Seb harkeneth to him, Tem 'provideth him with his form, Thoth heareth to him. Tem "provideth him with his form, Thoth heareth for him that which "is in the books of the gods. Horus openeth out a path for him, "Set protecteth him, and Mer-en-Ra riseth in the eastern part of "heaven even as doth Ra. He hath gone forth from Pe with the "spirits of Pe, he is Horus and is fortified by the Great "and the Little Companies of the gods. He riseth in the "condition of a king, he entereth into heaven like Ap-uat, he hath "received the White Crown and the Green Crown, "his club is with him, his weapon {or scepter}, "is in his grasp, his mother is Isis, his nurse is Nepthys, and the "cow Sekhat-Heru giveth him milk. Net "is behind him, Serqet is on his two hands ....... Let him pass, "and let his flesh pass, let him pass, and let his apparel pass, "for he hath gone forth as Menth, he hath gone down "like Ba, and he hath haunted like Ba-ashem-f. Of the origin and early history of Menthu nothing is known, but his worship must have been very ancient if we are to judge by the passage quoted above from the text of king Mer-en-Ra, for, although mentioned with the two obscure gods Ba and Ba-ashem-f, it is quite clear that he was a great god and the deceased hoped to resemble him in the Theban Recension Book of the Dead, but curiously enough, only as one of the number of gods. Thus, in Chapter cxl.6, together with Ra, Tem, Uatchet, Shu, Seb, Osiris, Suti, Horus, Bah, Ra-er-neheh, Tehuti, Naam, Tchetta, Nut, Isis, Set, Nepthys, Her-khuti, Hathor, Khepera, Amen, etc., who are entreated to bestow a garment of purity on the deceased. Menthu is usually depicted in the form of a man with the head of a hawk, whereon he wears a crown formed of the solar disk with the uraeus an d two high plumes ; as such he is styled "lord of Thebes." In a figure reproduced by Lanzone he has two hawks' heads, each of which is provided with the solar disk, two uraei, and two plumes ; in his right hand Menthu grasps the scimitar, which indicates that he was a god of war. Another proof of his warlike attributes is a scene in which he is depicted, with a long spear having a bronze or iron head, in the act of spearing a foe, whose hands and feet are tied together. In the city of Tchert, Menthu was worshipped under the form of a man with the head of a bull, but instead of the solar disk, sometimes with and sometimes without plumes. The warlike character of this local form of Menthu is indicated by the bow and arrows, and club, and knife which he was a personification of the fierce, destroying heat of the sun which warred against the enemies of the Sun-god, and smote them to the death with his burning rays which were like fiery spears and darts. In the narrative of the battle of Kadesh we are told that Rameses II. "rose up as up as Ra riseth, and took the weapons "of father Menthu" and that when he saw the foe before him "he raged at them like "Bar in his hour," he leaped into his chariot and drove headlong into the battle, wherein he, of course, gained a great victory. Elsewhere Menthu is often styled the "mighty bull," and it is possible that originally this god was nothing but a personification of the strength and might of the raging bull when fighting a foe, and that his worship in one form or another existed in predynastic times. It must, in any case, be very ancient, because when joined to Ra his name comes first in the compound name and we have "Menthu-Ra instead of Ra-Menthu. The pictures of the god reproduced by Lanzone prove that the god possessed other phases which are not at present well understood. Thus he is represented standing upright, with the head of a hawk, and he holds in the right hand what appears to be an ear of corn and in his left a vase, as if he were in the act of making offerings. In another scene the god, hawk-headed and wearing the solar disk encircled by a uraeus, is seated on a throne and is represented in the act of embracing a young Horus god who wears on his the solar disk with plumes, and a tight-fitting cap with a uraeus in front of it, and who stands on the edge of the throne by the side of the god.