chapter  1
22 Pages

The Mysteries of the Sun Cult

Egyptian solar religion in the New Kingdom appears in tripartite form: (1) as a closely guarded secret cosmology, depicted in royal tombs as

"underworld books" for the use of the king in the afterlife. The relationship of this cosmology to the sun cult, especially the Hour Ritual, is made clear in the Treatise on the King as Sun-Priest discussed below (see p.17ff.); its secret character can be deducted from its exclusive mode of transmission;

(2) as a set of hymns located in countless non-royal tombs, which praise the solar journey in its polytheistic form as a joint operation between the sun god and a "personal sphere" (Sphiire des Seinigen, i.e. a group so intimately related to the god that it forms an integral part of his personality) and are based principally on a few much copied and varied "standard texts";

(3) as a sort of monotheism that regards the sun as the natural manifestation of the uniqueness of god and even precipitates a violent revolution in the form of Amarna religion. The first three chapters of this book will be devoted to unravelling this complicated state of affairs. I shall begin with the "mysteries". This means that I shall merely touch upon the books of the underworld and heaven and confine myself to the liturgical texts and accompanying treatises which feature in non-royal tomb inscriptions, rarely in the New Kingdom and much more frequently in Saite tombs.