"Damned from Akhetaton": Pharaoh, who never became great

"Damned from Akhetaton": Pharaoh, who never became great
"Damned from Akhetaton": Pharaoh, who never became great
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"Damned from Akhetaton": Pharaoh, who never became great

"", - wrote about the greatness of William Shakespeare in his immortal comedy "Twelfth Night". But how did the rulers of different countries and peoples actually become great?

“The Son of the Sun was the unlimited ruler of the city and country. He built dams and irrigated, distributed clothing and food from shops, appointed who needed land and livestock. Numerous officials were executors of his orders. Nobody could say, "This is mine," because everything belonged to the sun. Labor was sacred. Laziness was punishable by death."

Aelita. A. Tolstoy

Great rulers. Today we are starting the publication of materials dedicated to … great rulers: both those who were awarded the nickname "Great" by the people, and those who were really great, but … for some reason did not become such in history, although they seemed to deserve it. But before talking about these people, let's establish the criteria by which this or that ruler could, in principle, become great. That is to say, the scale on which a given person could be considered as such.

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There are quite a few such conditions. Since the function of the ruler very often forced him to fight in the past, he could become “great” by waging successful wars of conquest for his country or by repelling the invasions of the enemy. That is, under him, the state should grow in territories, or at least not lose them. And the population of the country should increase, not decrease.

He had to take care of the welfare of his subjects, that is, the people with him should not starve, but have the opportunity to work and receive for their work a reward befitting time and traditions. That is, during his reign, the productive forces of their society should develop.

Of course, he should also encourage science, arts and crafts.

Be a wise legislator and rule fairly.

In carrying out reforms, he must rely on the opinion of the people in order to achieve support for these reforms in his opinion.

Have worthy companions who support him and give wise advice.

And a great ruler must also take care of the future of the state and the people, that is, leave behind a successor of his work, bring up a worthy successor or heir.

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These are the essential components of "greatness" factors. Although, on the other hand, all the same can be said a little differently, remembering the famous "Code of Tyrants" that existed in Ancient Greece. It said that the ruler, in order to stay in power, must prepare for war or wage war, because in this case the need for one-man power increases dramatically; to build public buildings so that the people have the opportunity to earn money; to arrange holidays, for when people sing and dance, they do not plot evil; and, finally, contain spies in order to know the true state of affairs. It is clear that these recommendations were not the key to greatness, but at least they should have helped the "tyrant" (as in Greece they called the rulers who came to power against the law) to remain in power, and then - to be great or damned - decided the goddesses of fate Moira!

Turning to history, we will see that there were not so few rulers with the nickname “Great”. Therefore, we will only talk about the greatest of the great, whose greatness is not questioned and has global significance.There will be no story about legendary personalities, such as the ancient mythical sovereign Yu in China, about Hayk I the Great, who is considered the progenitor of the Armenian people, or Hiram I the Great - the ruler of Tire and Sidon - his "power" was too small. Pompey the Great was not a ruler, like Gannon of Carthage, and Antiochus III, although he was “the Great,” but rather only as the heir to everything that Alexander the Great had done. So, not everyone will get into our history of the “great rulers” of antiquity. But, apparently, it will need to start with the history of the ruler, who went down in history as a truly great reformer, but … he did not fulfill many of the above conditions of "greatness", and therefore not only did not fall into their number, but, on the contrary, was cursed. This man is Pharaoh Akhenaten!

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Let's start with the fact that he belonged to the XVIII dynasty, bore the name Amenhotep IV ("Amon is pleased"), by which he was known until the fifth year of his reign, and he ruled for 17 years and died somewhere between 1336 and 1334 before n. NS. He is known primarily for his unique reform - an attempt to introduce monotheism in Egypt, moreover, in the image of the Sun God. And the most interesting thing is that he carried out his reform extremely consistently and correctly, from the point of view of modern PR technologies, so it would be nice to learn from him for modern reformers.

He began with that, no later than the second year of his reign, he ordered to build a temple in Thebes for the little-known god Aten, who personified the solar disk, which, most likely, did not surprise anyone, since in Egypt now and then one god, then another, that, accordingly, and affected the income of their priests, so … they had something to fight for. The only unexpected thing was that the rise of Aten began at the behest of the Pharaoh, but who in this country and at that time could challenge the will of a living deity?

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When people gradually got used to revere Aten along with other gods, the king, in the fifth year of his reign, raised his status to the level of the main deity, although the worship of all other traditional gods continued. Perhaps the main difference in the new cult was the absence of a roof in the temples of Aten. The sun god was served right under its rays, which was, in general, understandable and logical. The architects planned the temples to avoid shaded areas as much as possible. Even the lintels over the aisles - and they were now absent, so that the Sun God could see everything! Before Akhenaten, pharaohs became gods after death. Akhenaten declared himself a god during his lifetime and ordered to build temples in his honor. In fact, he equated himself with Aten.

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He changed his old name to a new one - Akhenaten ("Useful for Aton"), and 300 km north of Thebes ordered the construction of a new capital of his state - Akhetaton ("Horizon of Aton", now the settlement of Tel el-Amarna), which was supposed to become the main cult center of the new religion. New names were given to his wife and children, as well as to all dignitaries and adherents, among whom, it is believed, there were many from the lower classes. That is, he again acted like our Peter the Great, who brought Aleksashka Menshikov closer to him, who was selling pies with hare at the bazaar.

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By the ninth or tenth years of his reign, Akhenaten began persecuting the servants and the god of the outcast capital himself, Amun, whose name was forbidden, the temples were closed, and the priests were most likely killed and expelled. About the twelfth year, Akhenaten's hatred of other gods reached the point that he banned the cults of all other gods, closed their temples, and dispersed the priests. The names of the old gods and even their statues were destroyed everywhere. The word "god" itself was now banned, and Aton was not called a god either, but, like Pharaoh, was called a ruler. According to the information that has come down to us, even if it is very vague, all those who disobeyed the will of the pharaoh were executed, and their bodies were to be burned, which was especially scary for the faithful Egyptians because it deprived them of their hope for eternal life.

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Pharaoh's big mistake was that, busy with his reform, he completely stopped engaging in foreign policy. He stopped sending gold to his vassals in Syria and Palestine, and, naturally, they fell away from him. Egypt lost an influx of booty and slaves, which seriously hit the authority of Akhenaten, both outside the country and inside.

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And it turned out that the result of Akhenaten's rule was the weakening of Egypt, a political crisis that gripped the country, economic decline and corruption in the system of government. As for the cult of Aton, it only briefly outlived it. Those who ruled after Akhenaten - Smenkhkar, Tutankhamun, Ey, Horemheb - abandoned atonism and returned to worshiping the old gods.

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Akhenaten's wife, the beautiful queen Nefertiti, gave birth to her husband six daughters, but could not give birth to his son. Whereas the king certainly needed a male heir. So who were those people and what kind of relationship they were with Akhenaten - one can only guess about this. As for Akhetaton, it was abandoned, brought in by the sands of the desert and in this form later appeared before archaeologists, who learned a lot of interesting things during its excavations. By the way, the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti was also found there, which is now the adornment of the New Museum in Berlin.

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The memory of the reformer pharaoh was especially fiercely pursued by the military leader Horemheb, who became pharaoh after the short reign of Tutankhamun and Ey. The name of Akhenaten was cursed and removed from the official correspondence, where he was referred to only as "accursed" or as an "enemy from Akhetaton." It got to the point that in the Abydos list of rulers of Egypt, the name of Horemheb was put right after the name of Amenhotep III.

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So a man came and went, and the desert wind blew his tracks. However, in art, the consequences of Akhenaten's reforms persisted for a long time. Even the concept of "Amarna art" came into use, so much it differed from traditional Egyptian art in literally everything. So, the court sculptor Beck left us a note that Akhenaten asked artists to depict all objects as truthfully as possible, and not as before, when a person's legs were necessarily depicted in profile, the body unfolded in three quarters, and the face again in profile … Now this is a thing of the past, along with the worship of the old gods, so that art, in particular painting and sculpture, has become much more alive and realistic.

The opinions of historians about the personality of Akhenaten today are diametrically opposed. Some consider him almost an ideal ruler, wise and peaceful, ahead of his time; to others he is seen as a kind of philosopher-dreamer, but the talents necessary for a statesman who is deprived; and someone frankly mentally ill. Akhenaten is one of the most cruel Egyptian pharaohs (there is also such an opinion), and to some he seemed "the first person in world history", "fearlessly acting contrary to the immemorial tradition." There is also an opinion worthy of science fiction writers that Akhenaten's activity has clear signs of chronoclasm, which means that he … was from the future!

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However, it is believed that all of Akhenaten's reforms are nothing more than the first attempt in history to establish total power; and the deification of the tsar is only a manifestation of the cult of the personality, next to which no other cults could exist. What can you say about all this? That the truth is always out there somewhere …

P.S. Fans of fictional historical literature can recommend the following books: “Pharaoh Akhenaten” by Georgy Gulia (World of the Retail Book, 2011), “The Shaper of the Pharaoh” by Elizabeth Hering (Panorama, 1991) and the research book “Akhenaten. Apostate Pharaoh”by Arthur Weigall (Tsentrpoligraf, 2010).

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