Tag Archives: akhenaten

Secrets of a Rebel Pharaoh

 Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of heaven,

O living Aten, beginning of life.

 

Transformation came to ancient Egypt when Pharaoh Akhenaten banished the old gods and established monotheism around 1350 BCE.

  • The priestly caste lost its power and prestige.
  • Thebes and other royal destinations no longer served as the Paris and Riviera of their time.
  • Pharaoh moved the entire court to an obscure northern desert location that he named Akhetaten after his god.
  • There he built a marvelous white and gold city to honor his deity, a sublime entity depicted by the disk of the sun with cascading rays.
  • For a time during his 17 year reign he lived in pleasant circumstances with his beautiful wife Nefertiti and their daughters.
  • The art of the period relaxed into informality and naturalism.
  • Pharaoh wrote exquisite poems to his beloved god, Aten.
  • He offered a new way to his people, and all seemed well.

 

That was only on the surface, of course, and only among Pharaoh’s most loyal family and supporters.

  • Beneath, in the beating heart of long-remembered Egypt, the old gods stirred.
  • The old priestly caste of Amen-Ra connived to reassert its power.
  • The common people of Egypt longed to demonstrate their unfailing devotion to the deities that had served them well for millennia.
  • Never mind this unrelatable, usurper god who appeared distant and unfeeling.
  • Never mind this heretical Pharaoh who had disrupted eons of stability and tradition.
  • Also, with disproportionate emphasis placed on radical change in religion and little on national security, the wolves were at the gate.

 

Egypt was headed for reversal, with the end result a return to the old gods and old beliefs.

  • Pharaoh, his gleaming white and gold city, and his god Aten were scratched off the stones and monuments, covered by the desert sands, and forgotten by history.
  • He remained unknown until the discovery of his long lost city, now called Amarna, in the 1800s.

 

Upon discovery, the modern world became captivated by the Amarna period.

  • Pharaoh and his revolution were admired.
  • Nefertiti became a subject of fascination and awe.
  • The subsequent discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb shook the world.
  • My favorites Smenkhkare and Meritaten emerged as mysterious figures that scholars fervently seek to pin down.
  • Some scholars, including Freud, theorize that Pharaoh’s beliefs were instilled by the visiting Hebrew Moses.

 

Again, revel in the beauty of Akhenaten’s words:

Thy dawning is  beautiful in the horizon of heaven,

O living Aten, beginning of life.

 

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic in Romance