His name is derived from the verb tem, which has either a positive meaning, "the accomplished one", or a negative meaning, "the one who did not come to being yet". He was the primeval mound which rose from the waters of creation and was represented in this aspect by the sacred ben-ben stone, which was worshipped at Heliopolis from the earliest dynasties. As an ape, he was sometimes armed with a bow with which to shoot his enemies. [6] In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king's soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens. Thus he has been interpreted as being the 'complete one' and also the finisher of the world, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the … Though Atum was not particularly a god of the populous, amulets and small reliquaries of lizards, which were one of his symbols, were worn in honor of the god in the Late Period. When distinguished from Re, Atum was the creator’s original form, living inside Nun, the primordial waters of chaos. The tears of joy he shed on their return were the first human beings. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children—the first deities, out of loneliness. Yet, generally in funerary texts, he was certainly more commonly the aged form of the sun which set each evening and traveled through the underworld. Atum did so through masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. This iconography, of course, equates him with the king and in fact one of the only details that distinguishes him from the king is the shape of his beard. Atum was the monad from whom all else originally came. His power is invoked in many of these texts. However, he might also be represented as a mongoose (ichneumon), lion, bull, lizard or ape. Atum's family tree, consisting of the nine gods of the Heliopolitan Ennead and envisioned by the Heliopolitan theologians, eventually led through Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture) who begat Geb (earth) and Nut (sky) who in turn parented Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephthys. He also subdues other hostile forces in the netherworld such as the serpent Nehebu-Kau, who he overcomes by pressing his fingernail onto it's spine. Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, "The Egyptian Creation Myth — How the World Was Born", "OBELISK (Gr. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children—the first deities, out of loneliness. [11][12][13], Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth. Atum was the father of the gods, creating the first divine couple, Shu and Tefnut, who he produced by copulating with himself. As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka. The tears of joy he shed upon their return were the first human beings. However, in the Coffin Texts he is specifically said both to "emerge from the eastern horizon" and to "rest in the western horizon", so that he is in this way the complete sun. The brother and sister, curious about the primeval waters that surrounded them, went to explore the waters and disappeared into the darkness. Atum (/ɑ.tum/, Egyptian: jtm(w) or tm(w), reconstructed [jaˈtaːmuw]; Coptic .mw-parser-output .script-coptic{font-family:"New Athena Unicode","MPH 2B Damase","FreeSerif","Arial Coptic",Quivira,Analecta,Antinoou,"Sophia Nubian","Noto Sans Coptic","Segoe UI Historic","Segoe UI Symbol"}ⲁⲧⲟⲩⲙ Atoum),[3][4] sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem, is an important deity in Egyptian mythology. Nevertheless, the cult of Atum continued to be important at Heliopolis, and he is often called the "Lord of Heliopolis", even after the rise of Re's influence. Separately, Re was usually considered the rising sun of the day, while Atum was the setting sun of the evening. Geni requires JavaScript! He may be seated on a throne but may also be shown standing erect, or even leaning on a staff when his old age is stressed. [5], In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound (benben) (or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters (Nu). [9][10][11] Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children. Essentially, everything which existed was considered a part of the flesh of Atum, and every individual thing was said to be one of millions of the god's kas, a concept which not only stressed the gods primacy in coming before all else, but also his importance as a universal god. Other interpretations state that he has made union with his shadow.