“Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Sun” is not only an important poetic piece but a glimpse at history and time of ancient civilizations. It shows how people viewed their life and God, paying their respects and making it a representation of all that exists. The cult of the Sun was a contrast to the darkness that existed among the Ancients.
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It was a representation of life on Earth and was thought to be the creator of all living things and a channel of life force. People of Egypt have worshipped the Sun, treating it as a part of heavens. “Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Sun” describes a God which is a key figure to the Egyptian people.
It tells how the sun rises above the mountains, which enclose a valley, with the first rays hitting the Earth, touching upon the roofs of the city and playing on the white walls of cathedrals. People then become the worshippers and pay their respects to life, the Sun, and the God who has created all life. They give their sacrifices to the God and raise their hands towards the sun.
The ruler of Egypt and his family are instrumental to the worship of the God and the Sun, setting an example for all people. The introduction of the poem is a key part in understanding the type of religion—Atonism. It talks about the beauty of the sun, appearing on the horizon, and the effect that it makes when it shines, bringing beauty to the world below.
Because it is the source of light, it is considered the most important part of the world. When the poem states that the rays engulf the earth, which it has created, it shows how people thought about the sun. It makes it clear that Aton was considered to be a world God. It was not a God who was specific to certain people or land, but the creator of all that exists.
Aton is represented as a disk of sun, but his true identity is hidden from people (Krist 17). The fact that no one can truly know or understand is that this God makes him even more mysterious and distant. The fact that he is unreachable, however, does not separate the deity from those who worship him, it only shows how ever reaching and powerful the God is.
The importance of the Sun can be seen when the poem talks about its absence and the darkness that spreads: everything comes to life when the Sun appears, thus making it an all-powerful entity; when it disappears, the earth is covered by darkness and is compared to death. It becomes so dark that people cannot see each other and sleep, covering their heads, unprotected and vulnerable.
Another significant point of the poem is that it makes the Sun and God rather real for the people. It is connected with the dangers of life, the lions, and snakes that might come out and bite people while the creator rests behind the horizon (Hornung 30). Everything that comes to life is only brought about after the sun comes out and shines down on the earth.
It can be noted that there is a non-accidental resemblance to the Bible in the poem. It talks about people putting on their clothes and coming out to worship God. They begin their day by working hard, taking care of the land and animals. The lands become green with grass; birds fly out of their nests and spread God’s rule over the earth.
It also talks about the ships sailing around the globe, and the path is being chosen by God who has put the fish into the water and sun’s rays on earth. There is no doubt that the harmony of humans and nature is made to stand out and show what is really meant by the poem. The hard work that people have to input is aligned with the happiness and defining features of life.
The strength of Aton is made out to be all-reaching, without borders and limits. The poem is also said to be the direction to unify all Gods into one. Aton is shown as the maker of all other Gods and life. It is made out to be a symbol to change all the previous beliefs and create a new system of worship. The first and most important symbol of the sun is the pyramids of all sizes, even ones that were worn as necklaces and other decorations.
Another common symbol was a disk with a pyramid top which can be seen all over Egypt. A connection is also made to a phoenix which would come to people and bring them life. It was thought to burn out in the evening and return to the land of the dead where it would show people the path through darkness. The fact that the poem unites God and the Sun proves how important light was to the ancient people.
It is clear that the natural occurrence was connected to the significant part of life, thus making God a natural and observant part of the world. Ancient Egyptians wrote the hymn as a seeming observation of their God. It is also based on the mutual relationship and benefit between the people and all other living creatures. The poem can be seen as a proof of a cult that is direct evidence of people’s fixation on the sun.
The poem can be even considered as a sign of a revolution. Akhenaten is a representative of the Egyptian people while all others are made out to be unimportant. Even though there is a mention of other races and people, as well as the difference in the languages, they are thought of as insignificant. The division between tribes and lands must be united through the only God who is the true ruler of all life.
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The references between the life and Gods make obvious the importance of the unity between people and higher power. The symbolism of the poem contrasts the darkness of the world and the light which describe all that is evil and good (Krist 22). There is much debate about the parallels that can be drawn between modern cultures and the hymn, making it a rather controversial poetic piece that can be traced to the ancient people.
“Akhenaten’s Hymn to the Sun” is a definite proof of how important the sun and belief in the higher power were. The fact that there is an undeniable connection to the Gods and religion makes obvious the existence of forces that cannot be attained by regular people.
Hornung, Erik. Akhenaten and the Religion of Light. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001. Print.
Krist, Donald. Hymn to the Sun. Lincoln: iUniverse, 2002. Print.