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Atenism and the Afterlife
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ImageOfAten
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the "word" from the Sun-disk was that all beings plant life, animals, and humans all come from the same place and are equal. They all show appreciation of Aten in their own unique ways from different levels of consciousness. Akhenaten himself, being highly aware of his consciousness of that divine Oneness should be worshipped because he brought the whole concept to light more so than anyone else at that point in time. He was the messenger between the people and living Aten.

As Maahes said, "Earth is no longer sacred sphere of God's handiwork that it once was. " That is very true and I think that is one of the biggest problems of humanity to date. The world could be so much more and full of beauty as it once was.
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
Atenism failed because after the death of Akhenaten, no one new stepped up to take his place as the One to comunicate with the Aten.


Atenism was doomed to fail from the start. It's primary tenet - perhaps its only tenet was that Akhenaten alone knows the Aten. After that how could anyone step up and take over? The whole thing centered on Akhenaten.


ImageOfAten wrote:
If he was the child of Aten, why couldn't someone else be too. As far as I know there was never anything said against the Aten having more than one child.


Because no one else had the gold to bribe people to pretend to follow, or if they did they were not foolish enough to dispense it that way. And no one else had the army at their fingertips to enforce the required gleeful jubilation.
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ImageOfAten
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBadJuJu wrote:
ImageOfAten wrote:
Atenism failed because after the death of Akhenaten, no one new stepped up to take his place as the One to comunicate with the Aten.


Atenism was doomed to fail from the start. It's primary tenet - perhaps its only tenet was that Akhenaten alone knows the Aten. After that how could anyone step up and take over? The whole thing centered on Akhenaten.


ImageOfAten wrote:
If he was the child of Aten, why couldn't someone else be too. As far as I know there was never anything said against the Aten having more than one child.


Because no one else had the gold to bribe people to pretend to follow, or if they did they were not foolish enough to dispense it that way. And no one else had the army at their fingertips to enforce the required gleeful jubilation.



Smenkhare would have had the power and the required resources, and I do not understand why he didn't back Atenism as much as he could have. He must have been a supporter of it since he too ruled from Amarna and did not return to Thebes. Maybe it just seems he did not try very hard since his reign was cut short......
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
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Then after that he [Horemheb] erased everyone associated with Amarna from history. I am willing to believe that that was not the end of the foul play either. That is a lot worse than anything Akhenaten ever did.


Bear in mind it was people like Horemheb who merely got the ball rolling. Powerful officials such as he (and Ay) used Tut as a means to begin the restoration of the old ways, and in his usual fashion, on the famous Restoration Stela the old general declared the return of the old ways was his doing. Horemheb was an energetic usurper of many things Tut. You evidently don't think too fondly of Horemheb. I see him as a stern and no-nonsense man who came along at the right time to re-assert the authority of the government. I'm not speaking from any religious standpoint but from one of an historian; whether you favor Atenism is incidental, for it was the re-establishment of tradition that is key in the study of the history of ancient Egypt. Just the same, the Ramesside rulers were much more vigorous in wiping out Atenism and the city where it had been practiced. It was they who used so many talatats from Akhetaten as fill for their own monuments.

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Atenism just needed a lot more time to take root, and Akhenaten died way too soon before it had a chance to do that.


You're right about that. Seventeen years was not nearly long enough for a new religion to take hold and supplant the religious traditions of thousands of years. In that respect, even had Akhenaten lived a lot longer, and even had he provided an heir who would have been willing to carry on Atenism, I do not see the fledgling religion as ever completely replacing the gods of old. Rather, I see Atenism as becoming at most a sect of worship, and probably never a mjor one. The royal line in Akhenaten's time was virtually played out, and outside the royal Amarna family it's doubtful those who would vie for control of the throne would be Atenists. And as it happens, that's more or less what took place.

Akhenaten's failing was in not making his religion a form of worship that was accessible to the masses--in that respect, as we've argued before in this discussion, Atenism was actually more of a personality cult than a true religion. At home on one's personal shrine, when the familiar figures of Bes and Tawaret are expected to be removed and replaced by statuettes of Akhenaten and his family members, who is one to worship when Akhenaten is dead and his family members bereft of power?

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Akhenaten himself, being highly aware of his consciousness of that divine Oneness should be worshipped because he brought the whole concept to light more so than anyone else at that point in time. He was the messenger between the people and living Aten.


This just made me think of the nature of people like Akhenaten. We too easily vilify him for his ego and eccentricities. We need to keep things in perspective, though. Akhenaten is simply an extreme example of nearly all pharaohs who had been raised in royal families: they were reared to believe they were better than mere mortal man, apart from him and more akin to god than human. This was especially true for crown princes, which Akhenaten was not until the untimely death of his older brother, Tuthmosis. Akhenaten grew up in the household of one of Egypt's greatest pharaohs, Amunhotep III, and no doubt he was accustomed to this self-awareness of his supposed superiority. He was an odd duck, old Akhenaten, but what happened in his time as pharaoh was not entirely his own fault. Wink

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Smenkhare would have had the power and the required resources, and I do not understand why he didn't back Atenism as much as he could have.


One must be carefully when arguing most anything of intents or purpose when it comes to Smenkhkare. We're still not even sure who he was or what exactly his familial relationship was with Akhenaten. He reigned for so brief a length of time and left so little behind in the record, that we have no idea what he may have hoped to accomplish as king.

We can't even be sure how much devotion Smenkhkare exhibited toward Atenism. Some people use Smenkhkare's name as evidence that he wasn't a devout Atenist. To the best of my knowledge it would translate as something like "[He] makes distinguished [or makes manifest] the soul of Re," which some see as a reversion to the old ways. But Atenism was never truly a monotheistic cult because Akhenaten did not prohibit the worship of other solar deities, and the Aten is of course simply a manifestation of Re.

I for one do believe the poorly preserved remains from KV55 are those of Smenkhkare. Unfortunately not enough remains of the body even to hint at cause of death. But you could look at it this way: perhaps Smenkhkare did show devotion to the Aten and intended to continue the religion, a situation untenable to men like Horemheb who had had enough of Atenism and wanted the old ways back, so they poisoned Smenkhkare. The next heir, Tutankhaten, was just a young boy, and therefore easily modled into the type of royal tool that would enable restoration. I don't think I even believe any of this, but it is one more theory to throw on the massive heap of Amarna Period speculation. Very Happy
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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So, is it the fault of the entire populace of about 2 million because they failed to 'get onboard', or the fault of Akhenaten for not providing a more robust theology? The answer 'they werent smart enough to understand it' really isnt good enough.


Not only that, but it's highly doubtful much of that robust population ever even developed a meaningful understanding of what it was Akhenaten was doing out there in the seclusion of Akhetaten. ImageOfAten is definitely correct in wondering how much more Atenism may have taken hold had it not died with Akhenaten, and it's likely it would have gained more followers given enough time. But as both you and I have argued, Akhenaten did not leave an heir who was willing or able to continue the cult of the Aten. The point is moot, then. As I said in my last post, to me Atenism seemed more like a personality cult than a religion.

Beyond the reaches of Akhetaten we see many of the old ways persisting. Even had Atenism gone on, I don't see it as ever replacing all of the old ways. I don't see it even as ever becoming a major cult or sect within the larger sphere of Egyptian religion. I agree with your assessment that for all intents and purposes Akhenaten was a tyrant. Given his personal agenda and what he hoped to accomplish, he had to be. But even the worst of tyrants are never successful; they can oppress the masses and try to stomp out tradition, but tradition lives on.

Even though Atenism was doomed to fail, it never entirely disappeared. It left profound influences on artwork, including coffins and other funerary equipment (one of my favorite areas of study). That spectacular gold, glass-inlaid coffin of Tut is purely Amarna, for instance.
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Bear in mind it was people like Horemheb who merely got the ball rolling. Powerful officials such as he (and Ay) used Tut as a means to begin the restoration of the old ways, and in his usual fashion, on the famous Restoration Stela the old general declared the return of the old ways was his doing.


Speaking of which - here is a twist (speculation) I just read from Murnane, which plays into something you mentioned earlier:

AY, perhaps as the peace 'candidate', induces Akhessenamun to write to the Hatti on the marriage deal. Horemheb learns of it and has the prince killed because the idea of a foreigner on the throne makes his bowels churn.

He hints at seperate reasons for the eventual excising of the Armana kings, but light treatment of Tut (at least as to his tomb). Thus Ay is removed because he is arguably a traitor, Akhenaten because he is a criminal and perhaps Smenkhare by his close association. Tut then HAS to be removed because a) Horemheb cant be a Grover Cleveland and both preceed and succeed Tut and b) Tut has LOTS of worthwhile things to usurp.


Quote:
But Atenism was never truly a monotheistic cult because Akhenaten did not prohibit the worship of other solar deities


More like henotheism - even when the other gods were excised Re, Atum and Thoth were allowed to remain.


Quote:
This just made me think of the nature of people like Akhenaten. We too easily vilify him for his ego and eccentricities. We need to keep things in perspective, though. Akhenaten is simply an extreme example of nearly all pharaohs who had been raised in royal families:


Thats true, but on the other hand, he gives us so much material with which to castigate him. The 'boundary stella' at Atenville ("vile words") sounds like a child throwing a fit: "you said mean things about me, so I'm going over here with all my friends..."

Quote:
We can't even be sure how much devotion Smenkhkare exhibited toward Atenism.


Whoever it is, it doesnt bode well for the later days of Akhenaten that Smenky appears to be dedicating or opening a temple to Amun in year 3.


Quote:
perhaps Smenkhkare did show devotion to the Aten and intended to continue the religion, a situation untenable to men like Horemheb who had had enough of Atenism and wanted the old ways back, so they poisoned Smenkhkare. The next heir, Tutankhaten, was just a young boy, and therefore easily modled


Hey! They arent Romans! Wink

I think the plague made its way to Atenville for so many to go visot Osiris in such quick succession.
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kmt_sesh wrote:
Akhenaten did not leave an heir


Ever heard the notion that the "fall from grace" suffered by Kiya was a result of conflict between Akhenaten's girls and Kiya stemming from her (Kiya) managing to produce a male heir?
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
Smenkhare would have had the power and the required resources, and I do not understand why he didn't back Atenism


a) He was too busy dedicting temples to Amun
b) The unique son of the disk was Akhenaten, not Smenky; who your father is cant be inherited like the double crown
c) Only someone a few hundred blocks short of a full pyramid, would spend gold the way Akhenaten did to bribe followers.
d) All the above
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Claire
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Or maybe he just wasn't a follower of the aten?
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What ever was the exact cause of Atenism failing to take hold on more of the population, Akhenaten did what he could to make it successful while he was alive. I think he did a supreme job at ruling as king in everything he did. I know if someone were to give me an empire I would do very little (or not anything at all) different than the way it was done in the Amarna period.
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VBadJuJu
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
I know if someone were to give me an empire I would do very little (or not anything at all) different than the way it was done in the Amarna period.


Well, lets hope it never comes to that. Wink
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not understand how someone could consider Akhenaten a tyrant. Someone care to fill me in on this odd idea? I do not see it, he was one of the most open-minded and likeable people in the history of the world(too bad there were not more people like that).
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scholars have viewed Akhenaten in different ways.
There was some movement which depicted Akhenaten as this peace-loving philosopher - almost like a fore-runner of the hippie-movement.

Others have viewed him as a tyrant and a despot. The second group would point to the large presence of a police force in Akhet-Aten. They would say that this points to the change over to Atenism was not entirely voluntary. There are other finds (private items with names of gods erased for instance) that could be interpreted as meaning that the society was an opressive one.

Akhenaten making people renounce the gods that they had worshipped for more than a thousand years is something that is very hard to imagine as a peaceful "do-as-you-please" movement. He closed temples. Names of gods were erased. For the common people this must have been a time of bewilderment. They would not even have access to Akhenaten's teachings as some of the courtiers did, so how would they ever understand what was going on?

I personally have a tendency to look for less extreme theories. I just think the situation was likely quite complex. There is the question if some part of the "revolution" was aimed at undermining the power of the priesthood. If so, then that seems to have rather spectacularly backfired through the next centuries when we look at the priesthood during the 19th dynasty.

Akhenaten was likely not the only one involved. It's easy to surround oneself with syncophants, but you still need a core of capable people to rule the country. The nobles were not completely without power, and the Viziers for instance would have had to cooporate. From what I have read, there was no major upheavel of the major political players in his early years. For instance Aperel and Ramose continued to function as Viziers.

I get the impression that for the beginning part of his reign Akhenaten would have rode the coat tails of his father and grand-father. Continuing some policies as he had inherited them. Changing the internal religious and political landscape though by changing from polythism to a (modified) monotheism (well maybe 2- or 3-theism Laughing).

When things got more complicated during that second half of his reign he was not able to cope. I get the impression that during this time the religious oppression became more serious.

But the problem is that you seem to get as many interpretations of Akhenaten as there are people interested in him, and they range over quite a broad spectrum. Even here among our own group you have people who will come to different conclusions about his reign. And we're just enthusiastic lay people Very Happy
There is no more consensus among the egyptologists from what I have read.

Well, enough rambling for one day LOL
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ImageOfAten wrote:
I do not understand how someone could consider Akhenaten a tyrant.


How about forcing people to worship him, for starters? How about denying the entore kingdom the freedom to chose which gods to worship?


ImageOfAten wrote:

he was one of the most open-minded and likeable people in the history of the world


Care to substantiate that? We know YOU like him, but it is not so obvious many of his subjects did.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2005 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBadJuJu wrote:
ImageOfAten wrote:
I do not understand how someone could consider Akhenaten a tyrant.


How about forcing people to worship him, for starters? How about denying the entore kingdom the freedom to chose which gods to worship?


ImageOfAten wrote:

he was one of the most open-minded and likeable people in the history of the world


Care to substantiate that? We know YOU like him, but it is not so obvious many of his subjects did.



I do not see that as work of a tyrant, because what he was trying to accomplish was not just for the good of himself, and his people, but to all life on earth. He did impose on their beliefs and traditions because he considered such fabrications as untrue and therefore dangerous. Open-minded he was since he loved all life whether or not people and creatures felt the same way about him or not. How can one not respect an individual who is that accepting and at one with the world around them?
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