I came across an interesting news brief in the Sunday Chronicle of June 19. The article in question dealt with the attempt to remove the names of former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak and his wife Suzanne, from public institutions. The order to do so was, however, suspended by an Egyptian court.
The act of removing the names of public officials was not uncommon in ancient Egypt. During the reign of the Pharaoh Akhenaten (1364-1347 bc), the belief that there was only one god, was introduced by him. This new concept was in direct conflict with the beliefs of the priests of Amen at Thebes. Those priests were wealthy, wielded great power, and were considered to be the real rulers of Egypt, and, they worshipped many gods.
In order to consolidate his power and beliefs, Akhenaten founded a new city in 1359 bc which he called Akhetaten (El Amarna in Arabic); he moved his court to that city in 1358 bc. Akhenaten considered himself to be the great poet of his age. His Hymn to Aten, was said to be the world’s first great religious poem, and was considered to be equal to the Psalms of David. During his reign of seventeen years, Egypt is said to have suffered many military and economic misfortunes, which the ancient Egyptians blamed on Akhenaten’s worship of one god.
About a generation after his death, the city that he had built was in ruins; his name was removed from Egyptian history, and all traces of his teaching were ruthlessly obliterated. His followers went back to the worship of many gods, which they found so easy and natural to do.
Akhenaten’s reign was considered to be one of the darkest in Egyptian history, hence the actions of the ancient Egyptians. He was later referred to, as “that beast of Akhenaten.”
Had the court not stepped in, the modern Egyptians would have done to Mubarak and his wife what their ancient counterparts did to the Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Incidentally, the Pharaoh Akhenaten, though rather uncomely, was the husband of Nefertiti, who was considered to be the most beautiful of Egyptian queens.
In closing, I wish to quote this extract from Akhenaten’s Hymn to Aten:
“Thou appearest most beautiful in the horizon of Heaven, oh living Aten, the beginner of life,
Thou that fillest every land with thy beauty…”
C S Vaughn