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Who was the Greatest Egyptian God ever to have... Lived??

Updated on July 14, 2011

Why would I do this to myself?

This is a question I have wanted to answer for a long time, and have never really given it much thought, but I do love the Egyptian gods, it is probably my favourite thing about them. There are waaay too many to consider looking at them all, so I will look at a select 5 of the Greatest gods and see which deserves the Title. Ramesses II has pretty much won the title of greatest Pharaoh, will there be such a clear winner here?

Osiris (Right) having offerings being brought to him. A common scene in many Pharaoh's tombs
Osiris (Right) having offerings being brought to him. A common scene in many Pharaoh's tombs

In the Beginning

In Ancient Egyptian Myth it is said that Osiris was the first Pharaoh of Egypt (It was in fact Narmer but this is Myth so lets just go with it ok?) and that he united Upper and Lower Egypt, but as he was originally from the Upper kingdom we see him depicted with the Upper Crown of Egypt, looks a bit like a bowling pin. Osiris ruled for a few years until his brother Seth, the god of Chaos, decided to take the throne, and tricked Osiris by offering him a coffin, and when Osiris tried it on for size, Seth locked the coffin and sent it down the river. However, Osiris' wife and goddess of healing and protection, Isis, tracked down the coffin and freed her Husband. However, Seth still determined to take the thrown, found Osiris and cut him up into tiny pieces. And Osiris was then dead, and even though Isis and Nepthys collected his body parts and brought him back to life, it was only long enough for him to conceive his child with Isis.

So Osiris was the first Pharaoh of Egypt, the one who united of all the lands, or at least so the story says. But the story also says how he was tricked not once, but twice by his evil brother who eventually got the better of him. Even though Osiris then became god of the Underworld, and many pharaohs aspired to take his place in death, he was still too easily tricked, so I cannot say he is the greatest god.

The Protective Eye of Wadjet
The Protective Eye of Wadjet

Like Father Like Son

After Seth had taken the throne it was up to Horus, the only child of Osiris and heir to the throne to challenge him. But Seth was not going to give it up that easily. Horus and Seth decided to go about claiming the throne with a battle. This battle ended with Horus victorious, however, during the fight Seth had lost a testicle, leading to him also being the god of fertility, and Horus had lost an eye, which later became known as the 'Wadjet Eye'. This Wadjet Eye was a great symbol of protection for the Pharaoh but others as well as it showed Horus was protecting you. So Horus was now the Pharaoh, and he ruled until the day he died, which is when he became a god of the sky and protector of the Pharaoh. It is because of this that Pharaohs, who have many names, were sometimes referred to as 'Living Horus' or 'Golden Horus'. If Pharaohs as late as the 20th Dynasty were showing themselves as being part of Horus, it is a point in his favour. That the strongest person in Egypt and possibly in the world, wanted to be like him.

Re on his Solar Barque (Middle) with the deceased pharaoh shown in Akh form (Right)
Re on his Solar Barque (Middle) with the deceased pharaoh shown in Akh form (Right)
Amun (Middle, in colour) receiving offerings from Ramesses II (Kneeling) and flanked by his wife Mut (Left) and son Konsu (Right)
Amun (Middle, in colour) receiving offerings from Ramesses II (Kneeling) and flanked by his wife Mut (Left) and son Konsu (Right)

The Great Ball in the Sky

This is the first god to cover that doesn't have something to do with a Myth. It is also cheating a bit as I have decided to talk about the amalgamated god Amun-Re, instead of talking about Re, the god of the sun in the Old and Middle Kingdom, and talking about Amun, god of the sun for the New Kingdom and later. However, Amun-Re is the god of the Sun in Egypt and is depicted as a man with Ostrich Plumed feathers and a sun disk on his head. In Early religion it is believed that the great Pharaohs wanted to join Re in the afterlife in his solar barque. This is shown not only in texts from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, but also from a number of boat burials at places such as the Great Pyramid at Giza. Unlike the last two, this time the Pharaoh didn't think he was good enough to BE Re, he could only hope to join him, so this alone puts Amun-Re light years ahead of Osiris and Horus. Not only that, but the most beautiful, grandest, monumental cult temple throughout all of Egyptian history is KarnakTemple at Luxor, dedicated to the Theban Triad, and the Theban triad consisted of Amun, his wife Mut, and their son Khonsu. If the Egyptians would put this much time, effort, resources and money into Amun, there must be something extremely special about him. This is shown throughout the temple as there are many depictions of Pharaohs making offerings to Amun. Also I mentioned names for pharaohs in the previous section, well another name the pharaoh had was 'Son of Re', which again not only shows that pharaohs wanted to show they thought Re was great enough to be named after, but they are his 'Son' as opposed to his equal.

Now This Changes Everything. Literally.

In 1352BC there was a Pharaoh called Amunhotep IV, and in his reign he decided to change his name to Akhenaten. This was no normal name changed though. This name change was to accompany a much bigger movement. Akhenaten had decided he would replace every single god and goddess in Egypt, including Amun who he was named after, with 'The Aten'. The Aten was the Sun Disc god, and was depicted as the sun itself with rays coming out with either hands or Ankhs (Symbol of Life) on the ends of them. This one god, The Aten, replaced every single other god, overcoming Osiris, Horus, Amun, Re, Ptah (the creator god) and even gods such as Sekhmet (goddess of war) and Hathor (goddess of happiness). If one god could do this, then surely he must be the greatest god of all? You'd think so wouldn't you? But in fact Akhenaten had himself made additions to Karnak temple, because even he didn't convert completely. He was to try for a gradual movement towards the Aten, but many people, especially priesthoods stood up against him, and in this later period of Egyptian history the pharaoh’s power was matched by high nobles and priests. So despite almost replacing all of the gods and goddesses, this actually just proves how strong the other gods were, that even though the Pharaoh commanded that they be abolished, even he couldn't stop pleasing Amun.

Nefertiti (Right) and Akhenaten (Left) In the presence of the Aten or 'Sun Disk' (Centre)
Nefertiti (Right) and Akhenaten (Left) In the presence of the Aten or 'Sun Disk' (Centre)
Seti I, father of Ramesses II, Offering Maat to a god
Seti I, father of Ramesses II, Offering Maat to a god

To every Yin there is a Yang

Maat. She was what every pharaoh had to wake up fearing. She was the goddess of balance, and if balance was upset Egypt could be punished with a drought, or a plague, or by invaders. You and I know that it was nothing to do with Maat, but the pharaoh and the rest of Egypt knew if they didn't please her, then they were all to die. So you often see in depictions of offerings to other gods, even to gods such as Amun, that the Pharaoh is actually offering them a statue of Maat, in the hope that they help the pharaoh keep Order, keep Maat. We even find miniature statues of pharaohs such as, your 'Greatest Pharaoh to have ever Lived', Ramesses the Great, showing himself flanked by both Horus and Seth, Good and Evil, Yin and Yang, the perfect balance. So we see that the greatest pharaoh wanted to keep Maat in order to help preserve the world. But as we know Egyptians cared more for the life they would lead after they died, in which Maat had no direct power over, or at least none we have found. The pharaohs don't bear her name, she isn't associated with burials, and her purpose is tied to the living world or that of weighing the heart, in which she is just measured against. So she may have been the most important thing while a Pharaoh was young to show how well he was doing, but when they started to age, their attention would have been on many other gods, especially Amun-Re.

A depiction of my winner, Amun-Re, at his huge temple, Karnak.
A depiction of my winner, Amun-Re, at his huge temple, Karnak.

The Final Showdown

So, now it is up to you my viewers to decide who really was the Greatest Egyptian God ever to have... well... I say Lived in the title, but do gods really live? Or just exist? I don't know, I'm no philosopher, someone tell me if you know! Anyhow, this is the bit you all skip because you don't really care what I think. But personally, as you may have guessed from reading this, I would have to say Amun-Re was the greatest Egyptian God. Not only did Amun-Re last all the main Kingdoms, but Pharaohs would have done anything to just be in his presence, it would be a million times better for them, than it would be for you to meet your idol, as they would be meeting the thing that has kept them, and their ancestors alive since the beginning of man. They were meeting the Sun in God form.

I hope you all enjoyed this, and as I can see from the amount of views I got from my first "Who was the Greatest" hub, I have decided to continue with a bunch more. Starting with this topic I have wanted to look at since I started hubbing. Please Comment and Please Please vote for your who you thought was the Greatest God who ever Lived :) Until Next Time :)

Viewer's Choice

Who do you think, was the Greatest Egyptian God??

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      4 years ago


    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 4 years ago from the Ether

      I agree with Charlie, I'm partial to Thoth. :)

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      Khefer Re-Atun 4 years ago

      To Egyptians the most high god is Re (Ra). They worshiped not the sun, but the principle; which Re represented as the sun deity. Re became the trinity, being Atum-Re, (the moning sun,) Atun-Re, (the high noon sun,) and Amun-Re, (the setting sun.) In the fifth dynasty the pharaoh took the title - son of Re.

      During the New Kingdom Re was combined with Amon and became Amon-Re, Har (Horus) was the the last immortal pharaoh, and sybolized the reincarnation of his great, great, grand father Re.

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      JimD 5 years ago

      If Phat was the creator God then wouldn't that indicate he created Amun-Re? If so , isn't it safe to assume that the Godliness within Amun-Re was given to him from Phat? Thanks for your work.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Thanks for the research. Flag up!

    • Divok profile image

      Divok 6 years ago

      damn you have me on the whole married to maat thing... Or do you? Keeping women happy is hard enough, but if shes the god of balance? I feel sorry for him :( haha.

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      Charlie 6 years ago


      He could be one of 2 animals, Ibis or Baboon AND he was married to Maat.