The earlier Pharaohs were not improbably regarded as incarnations of the dominant god. The falcon god Horus sits behind the head of the great statue of Chephren.
It was Cheops and Chephren and Mycerinus of this IVth Dynasty who raised the vast piles of the great and the second and the third pyramids at Gizeh. These unmeaning sepulchral piles, of an almost incredible vastness, erected in an age when engineering science had scarcely begun, exhausted the resources of Egypt through three long reigns, and left her wasted as if by a war.
Opinions upon Amenophis IV, or Akhnaton, differ very widely. There are those who regard him as the creature of his mother’s hatred of Ammon and the uxorious spouse of a beautiful wife. Certainly he loved his wife very passionately; he showed her great honour—Egypt honoured women, and was ruled at different times by several queens—and he was sculptured in one instance with his wife seated upon his knees, and in another in the act of kissing her in a chariot; but men who live under the sway of their womenkind do not sustain great empires in the face of the bitter hostility of the most influential organized bodies in their realm. Others write of him as a “gloomy fanatic.” Matrimonial bliss is rare in the cases of gloomy fanatics.
Because it developed in the comparatively warm and tranquil waters of the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the western horn of the Indian Ocean, the shipping of the ancient world retained throughout certain characteristics that make it differ very widely from the ocean-going sailing shipping, with its vast spread of canvas, of the last four hundred years. “The Mediterranean,” says Mr. Torr, “is a sea where a vessel with sails may lie becalmed for days together, while a vessel with oars would easily be traversing the smooth waters, with coasts and islands everywhere at hand to give her shelter in case of storm. In that sea, therefore, oars became the characteristic instruments of navigation, and the arrangement of oars the chief problem in shipbuilding. And so long as the Mediterranean nations dominated Western Europe, vessels of the southern type were built upon the northern coasts, though there generally was wind enough here for sails and too much wave for oars.... The art of rowing can first be discerned upon the Nile. Boats with oars are represented in the earliest pictorial monuments of Egypt, dating from about 2500 B.C.;
Egyptian peasants seized for non-payment of taxes ... (Pyramid Age)
The long list of gods was further increased in two ways. The priests sometimes made a new god by uniting two or three, or four into one, and at other times by dividing one into two or three or more. Thus out of Horus and Ra they made Horus-Ra, called by the Greeks Aroeric. Out of Osiris and Apis the bull of Memphis made of Osiris-Apis or Serapis. He carries the two sceptres of Osiris and has a bull's head.
Pasht, the goddess of Virtue, has a cat's head. She belonged to Lower Egypt, and was the wife of Amun-Ra and gave her name to the city Aphroditopolis.
Isis, or Isitis, the Earth, or rather the corn-bearing Land, the mother of all creation was another, and perhaps the chief favourite with the nation. She is known by the throne upon her head, because a throne form the first syllable of her name.
Horus has a hawk's head, and wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, formed of a plate of gold over and around the mitre. sometimes he is a crowned hawk.
Other goddesses were attributes or feelings, made into persons, such as Athor the goddess of ove and Beauty. She has cow's horns, and sometimes a cow's head.
Anubis has the head of a dog or a jackal, or is represented as the animal a jackal. He never takes a foremost place among the gods, but usually stands at the attendant or servant of Osiris.
There was a third class of gods, who were spoken of as if they had once been mortal and had lived upon earth. These were Osiris, the husband of Isis; and their sone Horus, so named from Chori (Strong); and Anubis, Nephtthys, and the wicked Typhon, who put Osiris to death. Osiris, like Pthah is bandage as a mummy.
Typhon is a hippopotamus, usually walking on its hind legs, and with female breasts, sometimes with a sword in his hand, to show his wicked nature. He is th chief author of evil.
When the land was divided into separate estates or properties, Thoth, the Pillar or Landmark at the corner of the field, became an important god; and as the owner's name was carved upon it, he was the god of letters and of all learning.
Having thus created for themselves a number of gods, their own feelings, and what they saw around them, would naturally lead them to create an equal number of goddesses. Of these Neith, the Heavens, was one.
She is often drawn with wings stretched out as if covering the whole earth. At other times she is formed into an arch, with her feet and fingers on the ground, while her body forms the blue vault overhead and is spangled with stars. At other times she is simply a woman, with the hieroglyphical character for her name as the ornament on top of her head.
Kneph, the Wind or Air, or Breath of our bodies, was supposed to be the god of Animal and Spiritual Life. He has the head and horns of a ram.
Pthah, the god of Fire, was more particularly the god of Memphis, as Amun-Ra of Thebes; and the kings in that city were said to the "Beloved by Pthah." His figure is bandages like a mummy and his head shaven like a priest.
Another great god was their narrow valley, the country in which they lived, clearly divided from the yellow desert by the black Nile-mud, y which it is covered and made fertile, and hence called Chemi, the Black Land, or when made into a person, Chem, or Ham. He was the father of their race, called in the Bible, one of the sons of Noah, and considered by themselves the god of increase, the Priapus of the Greeks.
Chem has a cap with two tall feathers like that of Amun-Ra, so large that it was necessary to give him a metal support to hold it on the head. His right arm is raises and holds a whip, his left arm is hid under his dress, which is the tight garment of the Egyptian women.
Next was Hapimou, the Nile, whose waters were the chief source of their food, whose overflow marked the limits between the cultivated land and the desert; to him they owed nothing but grateful thanks. He is a figure of both sexes, having the beard of a man and the breastes of a child-bearing woman. He carries in his arms fruits and flowers and sometimes waterfowls.
In the Western half of the Delta, the Sun is worshipped as Mando-Ra. Like Amun-Ra, he wears the two tall feathers and the Sun on his head, but he differs from him in having a hawk's face.
First among these gods of the Egyptians was Ra, the Sun, or Amun-Ra, the Great Sun, whose warmth ripened their harvests, but whose scorching rays made his power felt as much as an enemy as a friend.
Over the portico of the Theban temple there is usually a ball or sun, ornamented with outstretched wings, representing the all-seeing Providence thus watching over and sheltering the world. From this sun hang two asps wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Details of decoration
Ani, a scribe 1450 B.C.
An Egyptian queen
A goddess, 700 B.C., is an exact copy of an Egyptian drawing.
THuthu, wife of Ani
The God Osiris
The illustration shows a priest wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a leopard skin.