1902 Encyclopedia > Ammon


AMMON, the name of an Egyptian deity, called by the ancient Egyptians Amen or Amun, and one of the chief gods of the country. His name meant the hidden or concealed god, and in this respect was analogous to Hapi or Apis, which conveyed the same idea. He was the local deity of Thebes or Diospolis, and supposed by the Greeks to be the same as Zeus or Jupiter. His type was that of a man wearing on his head the red crown teshr, emblem of dominion over the lower world or hemisphere, surmounted by the sun's disc to indicate his solar nature, flanked by two tail feathers of a hawk, also symbolical of his relation to the gods of light. Ammon was not one of the oldest deities of Egypt, for his form and name do not appear till the eleventh or Diospolitan dynasty, when the kings of that line assumed his name, and built a sanctuary to him at Medinat Habu. From this period the monarchs of Thebes introduced his name into their titles, and the worship of Amen became the predominant one of ancient Egypt; and the embellishment of his shrine and enrichment of his treasury were the chief object of the policy of the Pharaohs. Victory and conquest were the chief gifts he offered to his adorers; and heisoftenseen leading up theconquered nations of the north and south to the monarchs whom he endows with power and victory. In this character Amen is often represented holding the Egyptian scimitar khepsh. In his celestial character his flesh was coloured blue, that of the heaven. He is said to have been called on some monu-ments the son of Hapimaa (or the Nile); but in the hymns addressed to him the title of self-engendered is applied to him, and he was one of the self-existent deities. His principal titles are—lord of the heaven, king of the gods, substance of the world, and resident on the thrones of the world, eternal ruler,—appellatives of his celestial and ter-restrial functions. He was also lord of heaven and earth, streams and hills, and as a demiurgos, the creator of beings. The hymns addressed to him designate him as the sole or only god, in terms applicable to one god who alone exists, who moulds and governs the world. At one time an attempt was made to identify him with the solar orb. Con-sidered as the active, intelligent, and pervading spirit of the universe, he transfuses the breath of life into the nostrils of kings and other persons. In his solar characters, Ammon was allied with Ra, and called Amen Ra, or Amen Ra Harmachis, or "the sun in the horizon," Amen being considered one of the forms of the sun itself. The worship of the celestial Ammon prevailed chiefly at Thebes, where, with the Mut, or " mother " goddess, and his son Khonsu or Chons, he formed the Theban triad, and the sacred name of Thebes was " the abode of Amen." Besides Thebes, his worship has been found at Siuah in Lybia, at Beit Oually, and at Meroe in Ethiopia, marked respect being shown to his worship by the later Ethiopian monarchs. At Philse and Debud his name also appears as one of the dominant deities. In the representations at Hermonthis he assists at the birth of Har-pa-Ba; and in the scenes of the passage of Ra, or the sun, through the hours of the night, the gigantic arm of Amen strangles the serpent Apophis, "the great dragon " of Egyptian mythology, the spirit of dark-ness, who warred against the gods of light. Another of the types of Amen represents him as the reproductive power of nature, still in the human form, but mummied, and holding—instead of the usual sceptre, uasm, or so-called kukupha sceptre—the whip nekhekh. In this type he was supposed to be Amen the father and Horus the child of the triad, which then consisted of Amen, Anient, or the female Ammon, and Harka. His titles in this character are Amen-ka-mut-f,—Amen, "the husband of his mother," considered as the final avatar of the god, the alpha and omega, the oldest and youngest of created beings. He is, considered in his youthful character, called Harnekht, or " the powerful Horus," and identified with Khons, the local god of Chemmo or Panopolis. As Horus he is called the "son of Isis," but this is clearly a later fusion of the two myths. In the inscriptions it is said "he has tall plumes," and in the esoterical explanations of the seventeenth chapter of the Ritual, these plumes are explained by "his two eyes," or Isis and Nephthys, who are seen accompanying Horus in certain scenes. This type of Amen was not usually exhibited, but brought out on the occasion of his festival, called the manifestation of Khem, one of the oldest fetes of Egypt. This type of Amen is principally found at the Ruan, or valley of El Hammamat, on the way to Coptos; and at Wady Haifa, where a temple was erected to him by Amenophis III. As the god of the reproductive powers of nature, the kings of Egypt are seen hoeing the ground before him, or offering various coloured calves and gazelles to him. A great fes-tival in his honour is represented at Medinat Habu, where his statue is carried by twenty priests, and Rameses III. cuts down before him the corn which has just ripened for the sickle. The negroes of Arabia, or else the Regio Barbariea of later geographers, appear as assistants at this festival. Another type of Amen connected him with the god Khnum or Chnoumis, the spirit of the waters. In this relation he has the head of a ram instead of the usual human one. Khnum was one of the demiurgi, and creator of mankind, whom he had made as a potter out of clay on the wheel, as also Osiris and Horus. Sometimes the type of Khnum bears the name of Amen; and with the ram's head he was worshipped in the Oasis of Ammon, as also up the Nile at the cataracts, Syene, Elephantine, Beghe, Beit Oually, and Meroe. It is this type of Amen with which the later Greek and Roman writers were most fami-liar; and Rameses II., as the son of Amen, assumes the ram's horn, which Alexander the Great adopted at a later date. The worship of Khnum was older than that of Amen, as it appears on the Pyramids and at the Wady Magaresh, but became less important, and finally fused into that of Amen. Although it has been supposed that the worship of Amen came from Meroe, it is now known that the Ethiopian civilisation was comparatively of much more recent date than the Egyptian, and that it was implanted in Ethiopia by the conquests of the Pharaohs, and subsequently adopted by the later rulers of Meroe ; and that the statements of Herodotus, that it was brought from thence to the Oasis of Ammon are incorrect, the existing temple at the Oasis not being older than the Persian rulers of Egypt, while the worship of the god at^Thebes dates from a much older epoch. The later chapters of the Ritual, added at the time of the twentieth dynasty, which contain the mystic names and appellatives of the god in the language of the negroes of Punt, are also of too late a date to throw any light on the origin of Amen, which appears prior to the Hykshos, when the Egyptian princes were driven to the south. The sheep was sacred to the god, and the inhabitants of Thebes in consequence abstained from it; but it is said they annually sacrificed a ram to Amen, and dressed the figure of the god in the hide of the animal. The reasons assigned by classical authorities for this action, as well as for the astronomical meaning of his horns, are not confirmed by monumental evidence. On the conquest of Egypt Alex-ander the Great called himself the son of Amnion, and his portraits wear the ram's horn. In this he had only imitated the Pharaohs of the nineteenth dynasty. Amen is only mentioned by the Hebrew prophets in speaking of Diospolis as the city of No or No Amon. Jablonski, Panth. JSgypt., i. 160-184; Birch, Gallery of Antiq., pt. i. 1; Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, iii. 313, iv. 246, ff.; Goodwin, Trans. Soc. Bill. Arch., ii. pp. 353-9; Herodotus, ii. 42, 54; Diodorus, iii. 72; Jer. xlvi. 25; Nah. iii. 8. (s. B.)

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