Thursday, July 9, 2009

(2) Solar Logos

The creator god Atum was also considered a sun god by the
ancient Egyptians. And his son, the sun god Ra, whose symbol
was a sun disk, had his cult center at ancient Heliopolis (located
not far from modern Cairo). In turn Heliopolis was also a center of
learning, and it has been said that both Pythagoras and Plato once
visited this ancient city, and gained historical knowledge of Ancient
Egypt from the priests of Heliopolis.

But way before the time of these presumed Greek visitors, these
two sun gods merged, hence Atum-Ra. It gets complicated,
especially for a practical scientist like myself who never entertained
religious concepts much less Egyptology. But I kept plowing
through, concentrating on at least the greater solar deities of this
ancient culture.

Probably the most well-known Egyptian sun god was Aten (also
known as Aton). He was a monotheistic expression of the Pharaoh
Amenhotep IV, more popularly known as Akhenaten. From what
I could glean, Aten was given the characteristics of Ra and
was symbolically represented by a sun disk--and became known
eventually as Aten-Ra. And during the Armarna Period, during the
reign of Akhenaten, Aten-Ra became the king of all the Egyptian
gods, whose sun energy represented the Light of Life.

However, following the death of Akhenaten the career of the
sun god Aten was quickly halted by the Egyptian priests who
were devotees of the earlier creator god Atum. Sun god or no,
human power politics seem always to intrude into Religion.

Anyway, I felt that I might harken back to Heliopolis, Egypt's
ancient City of the Sun, and dare to speculate about a possible
Greek philosophical connection, i.e. the Pythagorean and
Platonic concepts of the Logos, the Point, the First Cause.
Did these two ancient Greek philosophers get the idea of
Such from the priests of Heliopolis?

Not provable, of course, but it was fascinating to wonder if the
Greek idea of the Solar Logos might have been originally rooted
in Ancient Egypt, in Heliopolis, the City of the Sun.

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