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Amon (Egyptian deity)

Amon (ā´mən, ä´–), Ammon (ă´mən), or Amen (ä´mĕn), Egyptian deity. He was originally the chief god of Thebes; he and his wife Mut and their son Khensu were the divine Theban triad of deities. Amon grew increasingly important in Egypt, and eventually he (identified as Amon Ra; see Ra) became the supreme deity. He was identified with the Greek Zeus (the Roman Jupiter). Amon's most celebrated shrine was at Siwa in the Libyan desert; the oracle of Siwa later rivaled those of Delphi and Dodona. He is frequently represented as a ram or as a human with a ram's head.

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Egyptian mythology

Egyptian mythology Polytheistic mythology that developed in small agricultural communities, each with its own local deities, united under the Pharaohs. A vast pantheon of gods and a multiplicity of myths emerged. Each religious centre had its own creation myth justifying itself as the centre of existence. Although there is an account of the Flood, there is no Eden, no past ‘golden age’, no prediction of the end of the world.

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Amun

Amun (Amon) Ancient Egyptian deity of reproduction or the animating force. The ‘invisible one’, Amun is commonly represented as a human being wearing ram's horns and a twin-feathered crown. He gradually assimilated other Egyptian gods, becoming Amun-Ra (the supreme creator). During the dynasties of the New Kingdom, Amun was worshipped as a victorious national god. His cult temple was at Weset (Luxor).

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Amon

Amon

According to an ancient grimoire, Amon is the great and powerful marquis of the infernal empire. He is represented as a wolf with a serpent's tail, vomiting flame. When he appears in human form, his head resembles that of a large owl with canine teeth. He is the strongest of the princes of the demons, knows the past and the future, and can reconcile friends who have quarreled. He commands 40 legions.

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Amun

Amun a supreme god of the ancient Egyptians, identified with the sun god Ra, and in Greek and Roman times with Zeus. As a national god of Egypt he was associated in a triad with Mut and Khonsu. A variant form of the name is Ammon.

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Amon

AMON

National god of Egypt. His name is spelled also as Amun. Amon was originally one of the local gods of thebes (Noh), but when that city became prominent in the Twelfth Dynasty (19911786 b.c.), he became the chief god of Thebes, which then became known as No-Amon (City of Amon), as it is called in Nehemiah 3.8; see also Jeremiah 46.25. st. jerome translated nō' 'āmôn in Nehemiah 3.8 erroneously as Alexandria populorum (Alexandria of the nations); therefore Amon's name does not appear in the Vulgate. In the Eighteenth Dynasty (1570c. 1304) Amon emerged as the supreme god of the whole nation, having been identified with ra (Re) the sun-god and called Amon-Ra, "the King of the gods." The main sanctuary of Amon was the enormous temple in the section of Thebes now known as Karnak, but he was worshiped throughout Egypt and even in Libya and Nubia (Biblical Ethiopia). His wife Mu (the mother) and his son Chonsu (the wanderer, i.e., the moon) formed a triad of gods. Amon's name (Egyptian imn, "hidden") stresses his mysterious and inscrutable nature; he was difficult to find and was often associated with the invisible wind that could only be heard and that, as breath, was the mysterious source of life in man and beast. Amon was also worshiped under several names with different attributes. As Khen or Kin he was the god of reproduction, and as Khnum he was "the maker of gods and men." He was sometimes represented by a human body with the head of a ram, the animal sacred to him, or simply by a pair of ram's horns. More often, however, he was featured in wholly human form with two long feathers on his head. The Greeks and Romans identified Amon with Zeus or Jupiter and called the Egyptian city of Thebes Διόσπο λιS (city of Zeus).

See Also: egypt, ancient, 1

Bibliography: Encylopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman, (New York 1963), from a. van den born, Bijbels Woordenboek, 7071. h. jacobsohn, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 1:327. h. stock, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Frieburg 195765) 1:464. k. sethe, Amun und die acht Urgötter von Hermopolis [Abhandlungen der Deutschen (Preussischen, to 1944) Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin 4; 1929]. j. a. wilson, The Burden of Egypt: An Interpretation of Ancient Egyptian Culture (Chicago 1951) 130131, 169172. h. frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion (New York 1961).

[h. mueller]

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Amon

AMON

AMON (Heb. אָמוֹן, אָמֹן), son of *Manasseh; became king of Judah (642–640 b.c.e.) at the age of 22. The author of Chronicles considered the "transgressions" of Amon to have been "more numerous" than those of his father Manasseh (ii Chron. 33:23). The reasons for Amon's assassination by members of his court are not explained in the Bible, but the conspirators were put to death by the am ha-areẓ (i.e., "the people of the land," probably the large landowners). They enthroned his young son Josiah. It has been argued that the conspirators were opponents of the pro-Assyrian policies of Manasseh and Amon, while the am ha-areẓ were pro-Assyrian. Support for the hypothesis is based on synchronizing Amon's reign with the period of a rebellion in Syria against Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, which is reported in Assyrian sources. On this analysis, Amon, who is said to have followed the ways of his father Manasseh (ii Kings 21:20–21), would have remained loyal to the Assyrian régime and opposed this rebellion, while the intervention of the am ha-areẓ and their crowning of the eight-year-old Josiah were intended to forestall eventual complications after the suppression of the rebellion by the Assyrians. But a revised chronology of Ashurbanipal's inscriptions militates against the suggested synchronism.

In the Aggadah

Talmudic tradition considers Amon, in the light of what is said in Chronicles, as the worst of Judah's kings and concludes that his sins surpassed those of Ahaz and Manasseh. Ahaz put his seal on the Torah to prevent the reading of it; Manasseh erased the names of God from the Torah; while Amon ordered all of the Torah scrolls burned. Only one Torah scroll, which was found during the reign of Josiah, managed to escape his decree. The sins of Amon in the interruption of the Temple cult were also extremely severe (Sanh. 103b; sor 24). Nevertheless, Amon is not enumerated among the kings (Jeroboam, Ahab, and Manasseh) who do not have a portion in the World to Come. This was a consequence of the merit of his son Josiah (Sanh. 104a).

bibliography:

Malamat, in: Tarbiz, 21 (1949/50), 123 ff.; idem, in: iej, 3 (1953), 26–29; Bright, Hist, 294–5; M. Streck (ed.), Assurbanipal, 1 (Ger., 1916), ccclxi ff.; em, s.v. (includes bibliography); S. Yeivin, Meḥkarim be-Toledot Yisrael ve-Arẓo (1960), 254, 289, 317. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (1988), 275–76. in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1947), 281; 6 (1946), 267, 376.

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Amun

AMUN

AMUN was originally one of the eight primordial gods of Hermopolis in Middle Egypt. Together with his consort Amaunet, Amun represented the precreation chthonic aspect of "hiddenness." This pair, with the three other pairs comprising the Hermopolitan ogdoad, produced the egg from which the creator god came forth.

In the Middle Kingdom (20501756 bce), when a Theban family took the throne of Egypt their local god, Montu, a war god, became assimilated with Amun and also with Min, the ithyphallic fertility god of Coptos, Thebes' neighbor and ally. This new, all-powerful, anthropomorphic god also incorporated the attributes of his predecessor, Re, the chief god of the Egyptian pantheon in the later Old Kingdom (26862181 bce). Amun-Re, "king of the gods," who was sometimes represented as a ram-headed sun god, had as his consort Mut ("mother"); their son, Khonsu, was the local moon god.

The cult center and chief temple of Amun-Re, at Karnak in the Theban nome of Upper Egypt, was begun in the Middle Kingdom and was added to and greatly enlarged through the next two thousand years. This cult temple became the religious center of Egypt; it benefited greatly from the victorious campaigns of New Kingdom pharaohs (15671160 bce) and eventually was controlled by a family of priests who also became kings of Egypt in the twenty-first dynasty.

Henotheistic hymns to Amun-Re were very near to the tone of Akhenaton's hymn to Aton. The so-called Amarna Revolution that Akhenaton fostered seems to have been as much a political move against the growing power of the priesthood of Amun as a religious move to supplant Amun-Re, though the reaction to Akhenaton's changes appeared as a condemnation of heresy.

The chief festivals of Amun-Re included the Opet Feast and the Beautiful Feast of the Valley. In the former the image of the god in his shrine was carried in procession on a bark between Karnak and the Luxor temple, which was known as the Southern Harem. For the Feast of the Valley, the statue of the god was ferried to the west bank of the Nile for visits at several of the royal mortuary temples and shrines in this vast Theban necropolis.

To the south of Egypt, in Nubia, devotion to Amun was at least as fervent as it was in Egypt during the Late Period. When Piye (Piankhy) conquered Egypt (c. 750 bce) he intended to set things right for Amun in his native land. He even left his own daughter to serve as Divine Adoratress of Amun at Karnak. Some of the largest additions to the Karnak temple were made during the last native dynasties, and important additions were made by the Greek rulers after Alexander's conquest.

See Also

Akhenaton.

Bibliography

Otto, Eberhard. Osiris und Amun: Kult und heilige Stätten. Munich, 1966. Translated by Kate B. Griffiths as Ancient Egyptian Art: The Cult of Osiris and Amon (New York, 1967).

Sethe, Kurt H. Amon und die acht Urgötter von Hermopolis: Eine Untersuchung über Ursprung und Wesen des ägyptischen Götterkonigs. Berlin, 1929.

Leonard H. Lesko (1987)

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Amun

Amun

Sources

The Hidden One . Amun, whose name means “the hidden one,” was originally associated with the area of Thebes. When Theban families rose to prominence and became the rulers of all Egypt, first in Dynasty 12 (circa 1938-1759 b.c.e.), and again in Dynasty 18 (circa 1539-1295/1292 b.c.e.), Amun’s power and influence also increased. As the Dynasty 18 kings expanded Egypt’s empire into Asia, they attributed their successes to Amun’s blessings and rewarded his priesthood accordingly. Eventually, Amun joined with Re and rose to become the state god of Egypt, known as Amun-Re, king of the gods, lord of the thrones of the two lands. During the Third Intermediate Period (circa 1075-656 b.c.e.) the priesthood of Amun at Thebes became the

virtual rulers of southern Egypt, and one of the most important priestly offices was that of God’s Wife of Amun.

Wind and Air . Amun was usually depicted as a human wearing a cap adorned with two tall, multicolored feathers. His skin is blue, perhaps related to Amun’s association with the wind and air. His principal cult center was at Karnak, where he was worshiped in conjunction with his consort Mut (goddess representing motherhood) and their son Khonsu (the wanderer, representing the Moon). He was associated with the ram and the goose.

Progenitor . In the Hermopolitan cosmogony (so-called because it is thought to have originated in Hermopolis, before being transferred to Thebes) Amun is one of the sixteen gods representing the state of the world before creation. These gods make up an ogdoad, or group of eight pairs of deities. This group includes Nu(n) and Naunet (representing the primeval water and formlessness), Huh and Huhet (spaciousness), Kek and Keket (darkness), and Amun and Amaunet (hidden-ness). Another tradition describes how Amun, in his form of Kematef (a serpent deity), fathers the ogdoad. This idea of Amun being his own progenitor and therefore having no creator is also encountered in the form of Amun Kamutef, “Amun, bull of his mother,” that is to say, Amun was his own father.

Kingship . Amun was closely associated with kingship. Reliefs from New Kingdom (circa 1539-1075 b.c.e.) temples describe the divine birth of the king. Amun was said to have fallen in love with the queen of Egypt. He visited her in the guise of her current husband, the reigning king, and fathered the next king of Egypt. When the child was born, Amun acknowledged his paternity and presented the child to the gods as the future king of Egypt.

Sources

Jan Assmann, Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom: Re, Amun and the Crisis of Polytheism, translated by Anthony Alcock (London & New York: Kegan Paul International, 1995).

Assmann, The Search for God in Ancient Egypt (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001).

Eberhard Otto, Egyptian Art and the Cults of Osiris and Amon, translated by Kate Bosse Griffiths (London: Thames & Hudson, 1968).

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Amun

Amun

Nationality/Culture

Egyptian

Pronunciation

AH-muhn

Alternate Names

Amon, Amun-Ra

Appears In

Egyptian creation myths

Lineage

Father of the Pharaohs

Character Overview

At first, Amun (pronounced AH-muhn) was only one of many deities (or gods) worshipped by the Egyptians. As he became more important, he was combined with the sun god Ra to form a new deity called Amun-Ra. Egyptians honored Amun-Ra as king of the gods and creator of the universe. They also believed him to be the father of the pharaohs, or kings of ancient Egypt, and believed he would help these rulers triumph in battle. The worship of Amun-Ra remained strong throughout Egypt until almost the time of the birth of Jesus. The ancient Greeks associated Amun-Ra with Zeus , their own supreme god.

Major Myths

According to an Egyptian creation myth, Amun is one of sixteen gods that, when paired off within the group, represent some different aspect of the pre-created world. The pairing of Amun and Amaunet represents “concealment.” In at least one tradition, Amun actually fathered this group of gods, and Amun's importance can be seen in that he himself had no father. In other words, he did not need another god to create him.

Changing Identities of Egyptian Gods

The ancient Egyptians often combined different gods into a single deity, a process that scholars call “syncretism.” There are many reasons why the Egyptians practiced syncretism. In some cases it was a political decision meant to encourage loyalty and maintain peace—as during the reign of the Ptolemies (a Greek dynasty that ruled Egypt for three hundred years), when the Greek deities Zeus and Helios were linked with the Egyptian deities Osiris and Apis to form the Greco-Egyptian deity Serapis. In other cases, there is not any clear reason why gods were linked. In general, however, these linkages did not prevent Egyptians from continuing to worship the gods individually. The identities of Egyptian gods were not fixed or stagnant, but changed to accommodate political and social changes, so the Egyptians could worship both Serapis and Osiris at the same time.

Reliefs from New Kingdom temples describe a myth in which Amun falls in love with the queen of Egypt. He visits her in the form of her husband, the king, and fathers a child. When the child is born, Amun declares the child to be his and presents his son to the other gods as the future king.

Amun in Context

For much of the history of ancient Egypt, Amun was honored as the supreme god in the Egyptian pantheon, the entire collection of gods and goddesses recognized by a group of people. But political changes in Egypt affected his popularity at different times. He was originally a local deity in Hermopolis, a city in southern Egypt, and had power over the air or wind. By 2000 bce, Amun's popularity had spread to the capital of Thebes, and rulers—perhaps in an effort to increase their own popularity amongst the people—began to honor him as the national god of Egypt. However, after invaders known as the Hyksos (pronounced HICK-sus) conquered northern Egypt in the 1700s bce, only people in the south continued to worship Amun. When the Egyptians drove out the Hyksos in the 1500s bce, Amun's influence expanded rapidly, as did the size and splendor of his temples. Two of the largest temples of ancient Egypt, located at Luxor and Karnak, were devoted to the worship of Amun, and his followers controlled great wealth.

Key Themes and Symbols

Amun usually appears in Egyptian art as a bearded man wearing a headdress of two ostrich feathers, a broad necklace, and a close-fitting garment. His skin is typically blue, perhaps to show his connection to the wind and the air. In one hand, he has an ankh (pronounced AHNK), the Egyptian symbol of life, and in the other, he holds a scepter, a symbol of authority. He is often portrayed sitting on a throne like a pharaoh. As Amun-Ra, the god is sometimes shown with the head of a hawk topped by a golden disk representing the sun, which is encircled by a serpent. He is also associated with the ram and the goose.

Amun in Art, Literature, and Everyday Life

Amun was one of the most popular subjects of ancient Egyptian art. His image appears on ancient monuments throughout Egypt and remains a popular symbol of ancient Egyptian beliefs. It has been suggested that the Judeo-Christian use of the word “amen” at the end of a prayer is derived from the name Amun, though many scholars dispute this claim.

Read, Write, Think, Discuss

What does the history of Amun indicate about ancient Egyptian religious beliefs? Do they seem to remain fixed and unchanging, or do they seem to change and evolve over time? Do you think this is also true for other religions?

SEE ALSO Egyptian Mythology; Ra; Zeus

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Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

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Notes:
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  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.