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Divinity of Kingship

 
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freeTinker
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:32 am    Post subject: Divinity of Kingship Reply with quote

A question about the divinity of kingship- it is often mentioned that Akhenaten was attempting to 'reintroduce' divinity into kingship. Can someone tell me when this (specifically if poss) started/ended before his time?
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Scribe2
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi freeTinker.

As far as I know the divinity of the king comes out of the pre-dynastic heritage, and had reached its zenith with regard to Ra in the age of the pyramids. Essentially the king was the embodiment of Ra while he was king, and became Osiris once he passed on.

The king was the mediator between humans and gods. The crowning of a new king transformed him into a living god. his most important task was to serve the gods and thus make it possible to maintain order and structure in society and in nature. He is seen as the son of whatever was the main god of his time, the incarnation on earth of Horus, Seth, Ra or Amun and so on.

I think the difference according to some scholars was that Akhenaten made himself the only conduit to the Aten. He therefore cut out the priesthood in Thebes. There was definitely a power struggle developing between the royalty, and specifically the king as divine figurehead on the one hand, and the increasingly powerful and rich priests of Amun in Thebes. This started well before Akhnaten's time (his father and grandfather's reign have evidence of this), and worsened even more after he was gone, into the 20th dynasty until the last Ramesses really only ruled the delta. Then the High Priests of Thebes started to crown themselves king of Upper Egypt.

But IMO it may be a little unfair to see this as megalomania. There seems to be rather more power politics involved.
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