Ra was born from the egg made by primeval matter and sprang into
existence as the Sun. In another myth the Sun was believed to have risen
from a lotus flower floating on the waters that predated life. Ra was
sometimes shown as a child in its petals.
In later mythology he became Ra-Harakhte, a fusion with Horus, son of
lsis and Osiris, who was also represented with the head of a falcon.
Ra assumed several names as his barque carried the Sun across the sky.
When rising he was called Khepri, at his full height, Ra, and when he
On the Sun’s journey he overcame a serpent called Apep, which
laid in wait for him in the Nile. When the sun set, Ra took his barque
through the underworld to battle many more monsters and demons.
Ra and Atum were also represented as an eye and in the uraeus serpent
worn on the crowns of Egyptian royalty denoting the power of rule. Ra
once hurled this eye at the human race, all but exterminating it after
it had been plotting against him.
Like his name, which varied, Ra could assume many shapes, including
the Bennu Bird or the Phoenix, though he is most commonly depicted as
a man with a falcon’s head wearing the disc of the Sun.
The worship of the Sun was turned into one of the first major monotheistic
religions by Akhenaton. But veneration of the Aton, or Aten, was suppressed
after his death and Amarna, his great city, was left to the desert,
and the cult of the god Amon restored.