Egyptian Gods: Amun
Amun is considered as one of the most important and powerful gods of ancient Egypt. He existed as early as the primeval times of the Ogdoad cosmogony and evolved as one of the gods responsible for the creation of the world from the chaos that is Nun. He if often represented as bearded man wearing a cap surmounted by two tall plumes made of red ostrich feathers usually seated on a throne holding the ankh on one hand and the was scepter on the other. His name may also be spelled as Amon, Amoun, Ammon, Amoon, or Amen that translates into the “Hidden One” suggestive of his role as the invisible god of the wind and air. His wife and consort in the Hermopolitan worship is Amaunet.
Aside from his human form, he may also be seen in several other representations. He used to take the form of the goose thus acquiring the epithet “the Great Cackler”. He is sometimes seen as a man with the head of the frog, uraeus or cobra. As a snake, he could regenerate himself by shedding his skin. He is also seen as a man with head of the ram or simply just as ram because at some point he was a god of fertility. He may also be seen as lion crouching by the throne or an ape or even a crocodile. During the Ptolemaic Period, he is depicted as a man with four arms, the body of a beetle, the wings of the hawk, the legs of a human, and the paws of a lion.
Amun is believed to be a self-created god. His first wife was named Wosret but later married Amaunet and Mut. With Mut, he sired a son named Khonsu, the god of the moon. He was originally a deity of local importance in Thebes as a creative force. He rose to prominence when he assimilated another Theban god Montu, the deity of war in the Eleventh dynasty. He became the principal god of the city. During the Middle Kingdom, he rose to national importance when the Theban chief Ahmose I expelled Hyskos from the country. The royal family, in honor of the deity, built several temples to his name – the most prominent of which are the Luxor Temple and the Great Temple in Karnak.
During the New Kingdom, Egypt came close to being a monotheistic state with Amun at the center of attraction. Amun was adopted into the Ennead cosmogony. He and the sun god, Ra, became the hybrid god Amun-Ra. Amun-Ra was thought of as the father and protector of all the pharaohs of Egypt since then. His cult was responsible for the rising role of the women in the society – they wielded great powers and held positions of authority and responsibility. Queen Ahmose Nefertari, for example, was granted the title the “God’s Wife of Amun” – an epithet given to the wife of the pharaoh in acknowledgment of her role and position in the state religion of Amun. The pharaoh Hatshepsut even claimed that her mother was impregnated by Amun in the guise of Pharaoh Thutmoses II
His cult spread further even to neighboring states and countries particularly Nubia. Amun-Ra became the principal deity of Napata during the twenty-fifth dynasty. The people there believed he was Gebel Barkal. By this time, he was considered an equivalent of Zeus by the Greeks.
One of the grandest festivals in ancient Egypt is the Opet Festival. Here, the statue of Amun traverses in the route of the Nile from his temples in Luxor to Karnak in celebration of his marriage to Mut. This festival epitomizes his role in procreation as the “Ka-mut-ef” or the “bull of his mother”.
To date, he and Osiris are one of the most chronicled male deities especially in relics and tablets both of which were referred to as the King of Gods.