« Amolo Amon, Egyptian Deity Amon, King of Judah »

Amon, Egyptian Deity

AMON, EGYPTIAN DEITY: The local deity of Thebes in Upper Egypt. The etymology of the name, as in the case of most Egyptian deities, is uncertain; the theologians of the later time explained it as meaning “the concealed,” from the root ’MN, “to be veiled, hidden.” Amon appears to have been originally a harvest-god; but as early as the Middle Kingdom he was thought of as sun-god, according to the teaching that all Egyptian deities, whatever might be their names, were only different forms of the one sun-god. As such he was called Amon-Ra-setn-ntēru, “Amon the Sun God, the King of the Gods,” and was later identified by the Greeks with their Zeus (hence the late Greek name for Thebes, Diospolis). His holy animal was a ram with horns curving downward. He is usually represented in human form, blue in color, wearing a close-fitting hat with two long upright plumes. Less often he is represented ithyphallic, in the form of the harvest-god, Min of Koptos, with whom he was often identified. Ram-headed figures of Amon are also found, especially in Nubia.

Amon gained much from the changed political conditions after the fall of the Old Kingdom. Thebes became the metropolis of Egypt and its god took the chief place in the Egyptian pantheon. The Pharaohs undertook their campaigns in Asia and Nubia in the name of Amon and naturally the lion’s share of the booty fell to him. His great temple, near the present Karnak, “the throne of the world,” was begun by the kings of the twentieth dynasty, and was extended and adorned by succeeding generations until it became the most imposing of Egyptian temples (see No). His worship was introduced in the conquered provinces and his sanctuaries arose all over Nubia, in the oases of the Libyan desert, and in Syria. Under the New Kingdom he was preeminently the national god of Egypt. The only check to the growth of his power and wealth was the abortive attempt of Amenophis IV., about 1400 B.C., to introduce the worship of the sun’s disk. Under the Ramessids Amon’s possessions were almost incredible (cf. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, London, 1894, pp. 302-303). His high priest came to be the first person in the State after the king, and eventually, toward the end of the twentieth dynasty, was able to supplant the latter. The priests of Amon did not long retain the throne, but their great wealth perpetuated their political influence until the twenty-sixth dynasty, when their power seems to have declined, and Amon gradually sank back to the position of a local deity. In the oases, however, and in Ethiopia his worship and the authority of his priests lasted till Roman times and the introduction of Christianity.

(G. Steindorff).

Bibliography: C. P. Tiele, History of the Egyptian Religion, pp. 147-150, Boston, 1882; H. Brugsch, Religion . . . der alten Aegypter, pp. 87 sqq., Leipsic, 1885; A. Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt, passim, London, 1894; A. Wiedemann, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, 109-110, New York, 1897 (authoritative); E. A. W. Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, i. 23, 79, 88, ii. 1-16, 324, London, 1903 (the fullest account, in a volume richly illustrated); P.D. Chantepie de la Saussaye, Lehrbuch der Religionsgeschichte, i. 208-209, Tübingen, 1905; G. Steindorff, Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, New York, 1905.

« Amolo Amon, Egyptian Deity Amon, King of Judah »
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