Akhnaton's Longer Hymn to the Aton

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The Hymn to Aton

There was a revolution in Egypt where the king proclaimed that there was one god and that was the sun, Aton. The king actually changed his name to Akhenaton which means he who may serve the Aton. All of his followers worshiped him as if he were a god. Later his son took over and reinstated the original religion.

The poem, “The Hymn to the Aton,” has two thirds of the hymn remaining intact. It is engraved in hieroglyphs on the wall of a tomb at Tell el-Amarna.


Translation Akhnaton's Longer Hymn to the Aton.

pharaoh akhenaton praising the aten

  1. What is the nature of the Aton? It is all powerful by the example of all beasts are content with their pasturage.

  2. How Does all life react to the Aton? Life depends upon it.

  3. What does the poet’s view of the Aton reveal about the world in which the poet lives? Without the sun the world would be dark gloomy, for example lines 11-20, describe “All Creeping things, they sting. Darkness is a shroud, and the earth is in stillness, for he who made them rests in his horizon.” This describes to the reader the hiding darkness of the animals of the land.

Analyzing Literary Technique

  1. What does the poet achieve by using apostrophe? he attracts the reader by making the sun someone who can be spoken to with reverence. For example “Thou art in my heart. And there is no other that knows thee.”

  2. What is the role of paradox in the poem? It is true that the sun makes everything grow and live, but the sun is not a god. For example “When thou hast risen they live, when thou settest they die.”

  3. How does the poet use contrast? Between how go made humans and how the sun makes nature. For example lines 41-43, describes the “seed in a woman” from “fluid into man” contrasts how the sun provides for animals to “suckle every meadow.”

  4. What is the tone of the poem? How does the poet achieve it? Religious overtone, talking about gods and creation of all beings. Line 59 states “thou didst create the world according to thy desire.”

  5. Why is it a lyric poem? He is one single speaker and used his emption for love for Aton whom he revered as his god.

Assonance The repetition of vowel sounds in non-rhyming words (ship in distress)

Consonance The repetition of consonant sounds within and at the ends of words (e.g. It is blunt and

flat.) Often used with assonance, alliteration, and rhyme to create a musical quality, to emphasize

certain words, or to unify a poem. See Assonance, Alliteration, Rhyme

There were no examples of the words shown above.

Writing about literature.

  1. Stanza three discusses the two lands of Egypt. When the sun arises the people do their work such as “washing their bodies, taking their clothing.” Stanza five talks about the main character in the poem which is Aton the sun, and refers to him as the creator describing him as “thou suppliest his necessities.” The last stanza shows that when the sunsets so does everything else. Line 114 states “all work is laid aside when thou settest in the west.”

Looking out the window and saw my son get washed away by the high tide, as if he had sins that needed to be washed away,

Waking up in a cold sweat knowing it was just a dream but wondering if this was yet to come.

Realizing how lucky I am to still have my son for others have to live with what nature has done.

12th Grade

12.R.1.1 (Synthesis) Students can interpret the meaning of unfamiliar words using context clues to extend vocabulary.

(Encompass): it was an unfamiliar word but the word (rays) in front of it helped interpret the word.

12th Grade

12. R.2.1 (Evaluation) Students can evaluate how style affects the meaning of text.

They wrote in old English terms. It was harder to understand than my everyday vocabulary, but it helped me realize how they worshiped their gods.

12th Grade

12.R.3.1 (Analysis) Students can analyze text for the authors’ style.

He has a hymnal style almost like he is preaching what he thinks.

12th Grade

12.R.4.1. (Evaluation) Students can evaluate the depiction of human experience in literary works from diverse cultures, locations, and time periods.

It was the Egyptian culture in B.C. which then resulted in them having various gods that they looked up to.

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