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Ra

Ra. God of the Sun.

Ra (also known as Re) was the primary name of the sun god of Ancient Egypt. He was often considered to be the King of the Gods and thus the patron of the pharaoh and one of the central gods of the Egyptian pantheon. He was also described as the creator of everything. Ra was so powerful and popular and his worship was so enduring that some modern commentators have argued that the Egyptian religion was in fact a form of veiled monotheism with Ra as the one god. This seems to be somewhat of an overstatement, but underlines his primary position within religious texts throughout Egyptian history.

It is sometimes proposed that the pyramids represent the rays of light extending from the sun and thus these great monuments connected the king with Ra. The Egyptians also built solar temples in honour of Ra. Unlike the standard type of Egyptian temple, these temples were open to the sunlight and did not feature a statue of the god because he was represented by the sunlight itself. Instead the temple centred on an obelisk and altar. The most significant early solar temple is thought to be the one erected in Heliopolis, sometimes known as "Benu-Phoenix". Its location was thought to be the spot where Ra first emerged at the beginning of creation, and the city took its name ("Iwn") from the word for a pillar.


In ancient Egyptian myth, Ra was the sun god, and chief of the cosmic gods of the Egyptian people. Ra was often regarded as the creator, or the father. Although not all myths depict Ra as the first god, many popular versions of Egyptian mythology tell that Ra emerged from chaos at the beginning of time. (A common beginning myth, much like the emergence of Gaea in Greek mythology). Ra was most commonly depicted as a hawk, and sometimes as a lion.

Many early rulers of Egypt claimed that they were descended from Ra, and even used the gods name as a part of their own. The title sa Ra (or sa Re), which means “son of Ra”, was first used by the pharo Djedefre.

According to ancient myth, Ra lived on the Earth at the beginning of the world, as the king of all—god and human alike. As Ra grew older, he grew tired of his duties. This caused many humans to question his abilities. Ra sent his Eye—which is deified as the goddess Hathor—to kill those who doubted him. He then left the Earth for the Sky.

The ancinet Egyptians saw Ra's departure as a result of a flaw of humanity, not of the god. After all, Ra did help to repair the damages caused by his ascension: He had the god Thoth take his place in maintaining order while he voyaged through Duat during the night. Ra also appointed a king to reside on Earth. First, other gods filled this role, including Geb and Osiris, and the role was latter passed on to human succesors—the pharos.

Ra was often identified with Amon.