The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The Eye of Ra, also called the Eye of Horus
This article is about the Egyptian god. For more meanings of Ra, see Ra (disambiguation).

Ra (sometimes spelled Re) is the sun-god of Heliopolis in ancient Egypt. From the fifth dynasty (ca. 2400 BC) onward he was combined with the Theban god Amon to become the foremost deity of the Egyptian pantheon. He remained paramount for centuries except for a brief suspension during the time of Akhenaten (1350-1334 BC) when direct and exclusive worship of Aten, the sun disk itself, was imposed on the kingdom of Egypt. In later times, he was associated with Heryshaf.

He was also the father of Heget.

Ra is a self-creating god, fashioning himself from Mehturt, a mound (see Ogdoad) that came from the waters of Nu, or a lotus flower. He also created Shu and Tefnut out of his semen or mucus, Hu and Sia from the blood from his penis and humanity from his tears.

A Pharaoh makes an offering to Ra
A Pharaoh makes an offering to Ra

The sun is either the entire body of Ra, or just his eye. In Heliopolis (the capital of his cult), Ra was worshipped as Atum (the setting sun), Re-Harachte (Venus) and Khepri ("the rising sun"). He was later associated with Horus.

Though Ra and Atum ("he who completes or perfects") were the same god, Atum was used in distinctive fashions. He was primarily the symbol of the setting sun and was also a substitute for Ra as the creator of Shu and Tefnut from either masturbatory semen, (perhaps via autofellatio) or mucus. Atum was himself created by Ptah in some mythologies. Atum was the father of Hike.

Atum was the head of the Ennead and was represented by Mnewer, the black bull. He was associated with the snake, lizard, beetle, mangust , lion, bull, and ichneumon (mongoose).

Ra traveled through the underworld every night in a ship, and was protected (such as from the monster Apep) by Set and Mehen. During this journey, he was known as Auf or Efu Ra.

Hathor and Ra once argued, and she left Egypt. Ra quickly decided he missed her, but she changed into a cat that destroyed any man or god that approached. Thoth, disguised, eventually succeeds in convincing her to return.

Amon-Ra's identity with Zeus or Jupiter was acknowledged by the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks even gave the name Diospolis, City of Zeus, to Thebes. He was also associated with the Phoenix.

The symbols of Ra are a golden disk or the symbol ⊙ (Circle with a point at its centre), see Solar symbols.

Last updated: 09-02-2005 00:13:19