|Re, the Sun God|
The sun god was considered the central and original power of creation. The daily rising and setting sun offered tangible evidence of the sun's power to fall into the western sky and be reborn each morning in the eastern sky.
Re brought the concept of Maat -- the principle of truth (Right) and balanced justice -- to the Egyptians. This fundamental concept became the cornerstone of the Egyptian civilization. The cosmic journey of the sun, symbolized by the scarab (dung beetle that pushes the sun disc across the sky), would continue as long as the cult of the sun god and Maat were respected. In the beginning stages of the deities, the kingship of Re was transferred to other forms of the sun god - to Shu, then Geb and, finally, Osiris.
On earth, the kings of the Old Kingdom were considered the mortal embodiment of the sun god. In other words,
a king was a god on earth, and his right actions prevented the world
from falling into chaos.
The sun god is also known as Ra-Horakhty (the "Horus of the Horizon") and Atum (the "All"), the substance from which all creation unfurled. Re-Horakhty is identified as a god with a human body and falcon head who wears a crown in the form of a sun disc surrounded by a cobra, or a crown made from ram horns and ostrich feathers. Atum is depicted as King of Egypt and Lord of the Universe and wears the Double Crown of Egypt. All these forms of the sun god represent the promise of resurrection, an answer to the dilemma of human mortality.
The cult of the sun was maintained by the Egyptian kings over the
centuries. They built pyramids (symbols
of the stairway to the sun or the angled rays of the sun) and later
solar temples in honour of the sun gods.
When a king died, his actions were judged in the afterworld by Osiris, a form of the sun god and ruler of
the underworld. If they were considered just, the king was transformed
into a form of the sun god.