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A question of Akhnaton's name

 
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freeTinker
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:08 am    Post subject: A question of Akhnaton's name Reply with quote

I have a question about Akhnaton's name itself that has been intriguing me for a while; specifically about the use of the akh element of the name
I had understood that the Akh was something formed by the reunification of the Ba and the Ka after the 'death' of the individual (king), that it was something not of this world, but something of the next... like when the king became a star (sah) etc. - could the use of this term/name have been contributory to the acrimony between Akhnaton and specifically the Amun priesthood? (deliberate or not, would it have been offensive?)

Could the use of the 'Akh' element have been akin to him declaring himself as, God de facto(and in his own lifetime), rather than just being a son of the Sun? - could this be likened to someone today kinda declaring themself the 'second coming' (in Christian terminology)?

Are there any other individuals (kings etc.) whose names included the 'Akh' element?
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:57 am    Post subject: Re: A question of Akhnaton's name Reply with quote

freeTinker wrote:
I have a question about Akhnaton's name itself that has been intriguing me for a while; specifically about the use of the akh element of the name
I had understood that the Akh was something formed by the reunification of the Ba and the Ka after the 'death' of the individual (king), that it was something not of this world, but something of the next... like when the king became a star (sah) etc. - could the use of this term/name have been contributory to the acrimony between Akhnaton and specifically the Amun priesthood? (deliberate or not, would it have been offensive?)


No, you misunderstand. /Ax/ also has the meaning of "being effective" "useful" or even "beneficial." So, this has led many to translate Akhenaten's Son of Ra name as

(/itn Ax-n/)| = "serviceable to/beneficial to the Aten/Sun-disc"

Any "acrimony" between Akhenaten and the priests of Amun had to do more with the fact that he elevated his deity above that of Amun in royal favour, and even (horror of horrors to the Amun cult) built a temple to Aten within the Amunic Karnak temple complex (Smith and Redford 1976).

Obviously the cult of Amun did not take lightly to what they would have perceived as an insult by the king (although it must be said that other deities are honoured within the Amun Karnak complex, such as Mut and Sekhmet, amongst others). The Amun cult felt it somewhat controlled the kingship of Egypt since the beginning of the 18th dynasty, and in fact, had taken an active role in the "making" of kings, such as Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, by using their influence to have each one recognised as rulers (Hatshepsut by use of the "divine birth" story (where she claims to be directly conceived by Amun)), and Thutmose III by oracular decree (the story ran that Thutmose III was "chosen" as king by Amun when the statue of Amun stopped and bowed before him while he was a priest within the cult).

But the real problem to Akhenaten was the Amun cult spoke out against his devotion to the deity, which he recounts on the boundary stela at Akhetaten (Murnane and van Siclen 1993). This is what led to the break with the Amun cult and their eventual proscription.

freeTinker wrote:
Could the use of the 'Akh' element have been akin to him declaring himself as, God de facto(and in his own lifetime), rather than just being a son of the Sun? - could this be likened to someone today kinda declaring themself the 'second coming' (in Christian terminology)?


No, the /Ax/ term has to be read in terms of "being useful/effective to X (deity)", rather than as elevation of oneself to godhood. No matter how close Akhenaten may have felt he was as the "son of the Aten" (a phrase he used on occasion), he did not feel he was an immortal being with godlike qualities.

Rather, it is thought that Akhenaten was trying to reimpose the Old Kingdom concept of a "god-king" - a king who was a direct imtermediary with the gods for the entire population opf Egypt, rather than that function being performed by the priests of a cult.

While traditionally speaking the pharaoh was the highest priest of every cult in Egypt, the reality was by the late 18th dynasty, the cult of Amun in particular felt it was more powerful than the royal house (after all, to their minds they made the royal what it was). Their deity was considered the supreme deity because of this royal favour and their own manipulations, somewhat placing the cults of Ra (Heliopolis), Ptah (Memphis), Thoth (Hermopolis), etc., in shadow.

Yet, these cults had their own thoughts about being the "primary" cult of the royal house as well, which is why (I suspect) Akhenaten chose to a) go to an area which, as he said, 'no god or goddess had claimed', and b) declare it the 'home' of a deity, which by other readings, was only a minor deity from about the time of Thutmose I (Cozi 1997), but which the royal house had grown to consider its personal deity in increasing value, through the reign of Amenhotep III - the Aten (Bianchi 1990).

What appears to have caused the major change from a personal royal deity to declaring it a national one was Akhenaten's identification of the deity (the Aten) with his father. Raymond Johnson has argued very persuasively (1993, 1996 and 1999) that the Aten was, for Akhenaten, ihs own father (Amenhotep III) in deified form.

There's something to be said for this concept, as Amenhotep III was the first pharaoh to have himself declared a "living god" - first in Nubia, and then acknowledged in writing in the Temple of Luxor. The fact that Amenhotep III had not one, but three, sed-jubilees, with the last showing him in a 'rejuvenated' form seems to uphold the idea that the king was making in his own lifetime actions to identify himself as a deity, and closely associating himself with the deity, the Aten.

freeTinker wrote:
Are there any other individuals (kings etc.) whose names included the 'Akh' element?


The only other one I can think of right off the top of my head in Siptah's throne name of (/Ax-n-ra/)|, which, again, means "servicable to Ra", with the epithet of /stp n Ra/, 'chosen by Ra' (von Beckerath 1999 (1984): 162-163)

Reference:

Bianchi, R. S. 1990. New Light on the Aton. Göttinger Miszellen 114: 35-41.

Cozi, M. 1997. A propos des origines du culte atonien. Göttinger Miszellen 156: 33-36.

Hornung, E. 1992. The Rediscovery of Akhenaten and His Place in Religion. JARCE 29: 43-49.

_________. 1999. Akhenaten and the Religion of Light. D. Lorton, transl. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Johnson, W. R. 1993. The Deified Amenhotep III as the Living Re-Horakhty: Stylistic and Iconographic Considerations. In Atti, Ed., VI Congresso Internationale di Egittologia, II: 231-236. Turin: International Association of Egyptologists.

____________. 1996. Amenhotep III and Amarna: Some New Considerations. JEA 82: 63-82.

_____________. 1999. The Setting: History, Religion, and Art. In R. E. Freed, Y. J. Markowitz and S. H. D'Auria, Eds., Pharaohs of the Sun: Akhenaten: Nefertiti: Tutankhamen: 38-49. Boston: Museum Fine Arts/Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown and Company.

Murnane, W. J. and C. C. van Siclen III. 1993. The Boundary Stelae of Akhenaten. Studies in Egyptology. A. B. Lloyd. London: Kegan Paul International.

Smith, R. W. and D. B. Redford. 1976. The Akhenaten Temple Project. Vol. I: Initial Discoveries. Warminster: Aris and Phillips.

von Beckerath, J. 1999 (1984). Handbuch der ägyptischen Königsnamen. Münchner Ägyptologische Studien, Bd. 49. G. Burkard and D. Kessler. Mainz: von Zabern.

HTH.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the reply above, yes... I was thinking about it all wrong, I was kinda thinking about 'akh' as a noun rather than a descriptive element relative to 'the god' (to my mind's way of thinking). I have one question that I cannot get out of my mind... re;

neseret wrote:
...it is thought that Akhenaten was trying to reimpose the Old Kingdom concept of a "god-king" - a king who was a direct imtermediary with the gods for the entire population opf Egypt, rather than that function being performed by the priests of a cult.


Do you think this was something that Akhnaton saw as outlasting his own lifetime?
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that I have found the search function on this site Embarassed (embarassed), I have discovered this wonderful (extended) exchange...

http://forum.egyptiandreams.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1304&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=akh&start=0&sid=e53cc853a9da84af80a96c1baf89268e
Many thanks to those who discussed the subject (back in 2005!) - some of whom are still here

I now have a much clearer picture of Akhnaton
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PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

freeTinker wrote:
] (snip)I have one question that I cannot get out of my mind... re;

neseret wrote:
...it is thought that Akhenaten was trying to reimpose the Old Kingdom concept of a "god-king" - a king who was a direct imtermediary with the gods for the entire population opf Egypt, rather than that function being performed by the priests of a cult.


Do you think this was something that Akhnaton saw as outlasting his own lifetime?


I suspect so: considering that Nefertiti and Akhenaten saw themselves (by iconography) as 'children of the Aten' and represented themselves as Shu and Tefnut (respectively), I feel they saw that this way of representing themselves as "divine rulers" also would extend to their children as well, who would be the next rulers after them.

After all, no king is so taken with his position as a divinely chosen monarch to not realise his mortality, I should think.

Whether Akhenaten himself was an egomaniac, I cannot say, but whatever political theology he was creating through Atenism, he saw this as re-establishing him and his progeny as "god-kings" - direct divine intermediaries with the gods, such that the people would turn their attention more toward the king to meet their religious needs, rather than to the cult centres and priests.

HTH.
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PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is soooo interesting... thank you

re; continuation of god-king rule after Akhnaton's lifetime...

neseret wrote:
I suspect so: considering that Nefertiti and Akhenaten saw themselves (by iconography) as 'children of the Aten' and represented themselves as Shu and Tefnut (respectively), I feel they saw that this way of representing themselves as "divine rulers" also would extend to their children as well, who would be the next rulers after them.

Could it be that the 'reinstatement' of the god-king concept went further and that the regime was actually an attempt at a return to Zep-Tepi? and that the allussion to Akhnaton and Nefertiti in the adoptive role-playing characters of Shu and Tefnut went deeper in an attempt to actualize T'huti and Ma'at?

neseret wrote:
Whether Akhenaten himself was an egomaniac, I cannot say...

Given the equality afforded Nefertiti through the regime, can I ask if you have an opinion about her in the same respect?
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