“THE BEAUTIFUL CHILD OF THE LIVING ATON”
Two hundred years of victorious war had put Egypt at the head of nations in what was, then, — some 1420 years before the Christian Era, — the “known world.” Loaded with the spoils both of Semites and Nubians and Negroes, her young King, Menkheperura — Thotmose the Fourth — ruled in splendour from the waters of the Upper Euphrates to the Fifth and even to the Sixth Cataract of the Nile. And Thebes, his capital, was the most gorgeous city the world had yet seen, and the Great God, Amon, — the old tribal god of Thebes, raised to the rank of the supreme State-god, — the most honoured and the most feared of all gods, and his priests, the richest and the most powerful men in the land — hardly less powerful than the king himself, who was looked upon as son of Amon, and said to hold his absolute authority directly from him.
The sea-lords of Crete and of the Aegean Isles were doubtless great potentates. And so was the king of the Hittites, who ruled over a sturdy and stubborn people in far-away Hattushah, near modern Ankara. And so was the king of Babylon (India and China were too remote to speak of.) But none could be compared with Pharaoh. And that world above which Egypt towered like the Theban god Amon above the other many gods of the Nile Valley and of the Empire, was already thousands of years old. And within its diversity it possessed certain traits of culture which were common to all or nearly all its people, from the easy-going, art-loving Cretans to the merchants, sages and toiling masses of Dravidian India: it placed the authority of the priest (or priestess) above that of the warrior, nay, it sought in the super-natural the normal source of all authority; and it saw in the mystery of death something more important even than life itself. It was an old, old world, in which each people lived slowly and regularly
according to long-established Tradition, the origin of which was lost in the past, the meaning of which was being — or had already been — forgotten by all save perhaps a few initiates. And of all nations, Egypt was perhaps the one that had been living for the longest time to a slow rhythm.
Now, the Gods, who govern all things from within, put a strange desire into Pharaoh’s, heart — an unheard — of yearning to mingle himself with that which lay beyond the limits of the self-contained world that he dominated, — and he asked Artatama, king of Mitanni, for one of his daughters to wife. This was against the immemorial custom of Egypt, where kings usually married their own sisters, or at least close relations. It was also, apparently, against the custom of Mitanni for “six times did Thotmose the Fourth make his request in vain.”1 But it was the first and most decisive of the happenings that had to take place, in order to make possible the appearing of an extraordinary prince — true Child of the Sun — half a century later.
For beyond the boundaries of that self-contained Near and Middle East, in which Egypt was supreme, the young, beautiful — and gifted — Aryan race, whose tremendous destiny was not yet clear, except to the Gods themselves and to its own sages, was pushing forward from the North-West to the South and to the South-East, seeking further living space among the people of the old nations. It was, in duration of years, perhaps as old as they or nearly so, perhaps actually the youngest race on earth. But it was anyhow — and was fated to remain — young in outlook. It believed in the pre-eminence of Action over Speculation. It placed the warrior and king above the priest, and the worship of Life above the thirst of the Unknown which is beyond. It was confident in its own vitality, and confident in its God-ordained mission. And it worshipped Light as the most glorious visible expression of the Energy which is Life Itself, and the Sun as the Source of Light and Life. And the kings, Allies of Egypt, who now held sway over the land of Mitanni, within the great bend of the Upper Euphrates, still controlling what was, one day, to
1 Sir Wallis Budge, “Tutankhamon, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism” (edit. 1923), p. 20.
be known as Assyria,1 belonged to that predestined race (as did, for the last five hundred years, the kings of Babylon).2
Pharaoh’s marriage to King Artatama’s daughter was to bring together — for the first time to our knowledge, — two worlds that had hitherto co-existed without meeting save in occasional war: the “known world” headed by Egypt, with its close and remote connections in time and space: older Egypt, up to pre-dynastic days; minoan Crete, with its two thousand year-old past; immemorial Sumeria, and the kindred peaceful civilisation of the Indus Valley, and the Aryan world of the time and of unsuspected past and future ages, from the Germanic tribes, with their Sun and Star worship already centuries old,3 to rising Sanskrit India. The immediate result — to be experienced within a few decades, after a blaze of splendour, — was disaster, both for Egypt and for the Kingdom of Mitanni (which a weakened Egypt could no longer protect against the growing power of its neighbours). The result for all times was, in the person of the grandson of the royal couple, a lonely, short-lived pioneer of that Golden Age (of the next Time-cycle) that we are still awaiting; a Child of Light living “above Time” — “in Truth, for ever and ever,” — Akhnaton, Founder of the famous Religion of the Disk.
* * *
Six times had Thotmose the Fourth made his request in vain. We know it from a letter addressed by Dushratta, king of Mitanni — Artatama’s grandson, — to Akhnaton.4 Mitanni was a small kingdom; nothing to be compared with the mighty Egyptian Empire. But was not Aryan blood to be kept pure? Was it not more valuable even than the Theban throne and all its glory? One can indeed find no other explanation of King Artatama’s repeated refusal to give his daughter in marriage to the most powerful monarch of his times.
The friendship of the powerful is sweet, however; — sweet... and useful. And, harder than the desire to please
1 R. H. Hall, “Ancient History of the Near East” (edit. 1936), p. 260.
2 The Kings of the Kassite Dynasty.
3 Wilhelm Teudt, “Germanische Heiligtümer” (edit. 1929), p. 38 and following.
4 See Winckler “Die Thontafeln von Tell-el-Amarna,” No. 24, p. 51. The letter is — or was, till 1945, — preserved in Berlin.
Pharaoh — or the awareness that it was good policy to please him, — a Destiny was steadily pressing Artatama to accept, to submit, in the interest he knew not of what. And “after the seventh asking, the king of Mitanni gave his daughter to the king of Egypt.”1 The new Queen forsook her Aryan name and adopted an Egyptian one, more in keeping with her new position — Mutemuya, or “Mut in the sacred bark”2 — and is styled upon the monuments as “hereditary princess, Great Lady, presiding over the South and over the North.”3 Of her personality and actual influence nothing is known. It can only be surmised that she would, in her new home, feel herself drawn to the old Sun-gods of Ann, or On, which the Greeks were one day to call Heliopolis — to Ra-Horakhti of the Two Horizons; to Atem or Aton, the fiery, Disk — more akin than Amon to her native Aryan gods Mithra and Surya, rather than to the exalted tribal god of Thebes. Her real, undeniable contribution to the further history of Egypt (and of religious thought) lies however in the fact that she gave birth to King Amenhotep the Third — Amenhotep the Magnificent — who, whatever may have been his interest or lack of interest in philosophical matters, was himself half-Aryan.
* * *
Amenhotep the Third married one of the most remarkable feminine characters of Antiquity, Tiy, daughter of Yuaa and of Tuau, or Tuaa.
Yuaa, although he was a priest of the age-old Egyptian fertility-god, Min, was a foreigner “from North Syria” or, to be more precise, from Mitanni,4 Queen Mutemuya’s land, the ruling aristocracy of which was, like the king, Aryan, whatever mixture of Semitic and Hittite blood the bulk of its population may have been. Sir Flinders Petrie holds him to have been one of those numerous allied or vassal princes that were then brought up at the Egyptian Court. One does not know whether Queen Tiy’s mother, Tuau or Tuaa, who, according to most scholars, was of royal descent, was a full-blooded
1 Sir W. Budge, “Tutankhamon, Amenism, Atenism and Egyptian Monotheism” (edit. 1923), p. 20.
2 Sir Flinders Petrie, “History of Egypt,” Vol. II, p. 174.
3 Sir W. Budge, l.c., p. 20.
4 Sir Flinders Petrie, “History of Egypt,” Vol. II, p. 183.
Egyptian or partly or wholly Mitannian inspite of her Egyptian name. “In a letter sent by Dushratta, king of Mitanni, to Akhnaton, Tiy is called “my sister,”1 which would indicate that she herself was, through one of her parents at least, if not through both, of royal Mitannian blood.
Much has been written’ about the probable influence of the many Mitannians who lived at the Egyptian Court — and in particular in Amenhotep the Third’s “house of women” — upon the education of the young prince who was to ascend the throne as Amenhotep the Fourth, and to become immortal under the name of Akhnaton. I have, in another book,3 striven to show how difficult such an influence is to prove, and stressed that Akhnaton’s conception of one cosmic Godhead as opposed to the many gods of Egypt, was the outcome of his own direct intuition, rather than that of any external influences ideas of genius always are. The truth is that the Religion of Aton — the Sun-disk, — which Sir Flinders Petrie judged “fit for our tittles,”4 is the one glaring instance of Aryan creativeness within an ancient Egyptian setting. It is so, however, not so much because its Founder was, or might well have been, influenced by people having an Aryan outlook (be it by his Mitannian step-mothers or by his own mother) as because he was himself surely half, if not more than half Aryan: a blending of the old blood of the kings of Thebes with that of the noble race from the North predestined to give the world, along with the heroic philosophy of disinterested Action, the lure of logical thinking and disinterested research — the scientific spirit.
* * *
He was born in the lovely Charuk palace, in Thebes, in or shortly after 1395 B.C.,5 — some thirteen thousand years
1 R. H. Hall, “Ancient History of the Near East” (edit. 1936), p. 201. Arthur Weigall, “Life and Times of Akhnaton” (edit. 1923), p. 26.
2 By Sir Wallis Budge, Arthur Weigall and others.
3 In “A Son of God,” (edit. 1946) p. 25, 26, 27. Also in “Akhnaton’s Eternal Message” (1940), p. 5-6.
4 Sir Flinders Petrie, “History of Egypt,” Vol. II, p. 214.
5 See Sir Flinders Petrie’s “History of Egypt,” Vol. II, p. 205. Other scholars place his birth a few years later (See A. Weigall’s “Life and Times of Akhnaton”; also Sir Wallis Budge’s “Tutankhamen, Amenism, Atenism, and Egyptian Monotheism.”)
after the last traces of the receding Great Ice had disappeared from Germany; two hundred years before the Trojan War; more than eleven hundred years before the Indian Emperor Asoka, like he, a Messenger of peace; two thousand years before the Prophet of Islam, whose faith, monotheistic like his, but of a totally different character, was one day to be the faith of his kingdom; more than two thousand five hundred years before Genghis Khan his most striking “opposite” in world history; — and three thousand three hundred years before the birth of the Man “against Time,” Adolf Hitler, who, accepting the Law of Violence, which he ignored, was to seek to build upon its only possible basis, the reign of Truth towards which he had aspired.