En este post quiero aportar un fragmento extenso del libro de Dominic Montserrat, de 2000, ‘Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt’ Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt‘, un libro citado a menudo por los grandes especialistas de Amarna, y también por Aidan Dobson:
A hint of the widespread usage and abusage of the Amarna Period by people alive in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries AD can be obtained from the lamented Dominic Montserrat’s superb Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (2000). That book should be compulsory reading for all who consider immersing themselves in the murky waters of Amarna studies.
Dodson, Aidan. (2009) Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb, and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation (p. xxi). I.B.Tauris. Kindle Edition.
En esta cita Montserrat (2000) explica como la historia del faraón hereje parece ser tocado por Herodoto y Manetón, y puesto en Josephus en relación con el éxodo, de tal manera que la narración ha sido recogido por el escritor italiano Civitas Solis (La Ciudad del Sol), Tommaso Campanella (1568– 1639), publicado 1623. El tema central es una cita del viejo Testamento:
Isaias 19: 18:
‘En ese día habrá en Egipto cinco ciudades que hablarán hebreo y que jurarán fidelidad al Señor todopoderoso. Una de ellas se llamará Ciudad del Sol [en otras versiones Ciudad de Herez; Ciudad de Destrucción].
Allí el regidor venerará el sol al estilo de Atón’.
Otro ejemplo es la novela alegórica Sethos (1731) by the French scholar and classicist Abbé Jean Terrasson (1670– 1750) que está basado sobre los escritos de Manetón relacionado con la succesión de Amunohtep al final de la Dinastía XVIII con el principe Sethos, hijo del faraón egipcio Osoroth y la reina Nephte. Este verdadero laberinto se desarrolla antes de que hacia 1840 la figura de Akenaton y la historía de su herejía vieron la luz…
On the level of folklore, the kind of religious, political and human turmoil that characterised the latter part of Akhenaten’s reign is often mythologised. Passages in some Greek and Roman writers suggest that this is exactly what happened, and that Akhenaten was still remembered nearly a millennium after his death.The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the mid-fifth century BCE, mentions a king who ‘first closed all the temples so that nobody could make their sacrifices, then forced all the Egyptians to work for him’ in stone-quarries. This may preserve some memory of Akhenaten transformed into the paradigmatic bad king of Egypt, but the parallel is tenuous (of Herodotus II 124). A more probable echo of Akhenaten’s story is in the third-century BCE author Manetho, whose work has only survived in résumés, quotations and translations by other ancient writers. Manetho had some knowledge of Akhenaten’s reign, perhaps derived from Egyptian-language chronicles in temple libraries, and oral histories which called Akhenaten ‘Osarseph’. He related a story about a certain King Amenophis (i.e. Amunhotep III), who wanted to see a vision of the gods and asked the seer Amenophis son of Paapis to help him do so. The seer predicted that there would be disaster in Egypt for thirteen years, and then committed suicide at the prospect. 76 Manetho also refers to great physical upheaval being involved in the story. He says that there was a movement of 80,000 people to a remote area east of the Nile, which was later abandoned. Could this be some memory of the move to Akhet-aten, the thirteen or so years Akhenaten lived there, and its eventual destruction? Historically there is not much to go on here, especially given the confusion of Manetho’s text. The anecdote may just show that the end of Amunhotep Ill’s reign was somehow connected with a vague memory of troubled times ahead. The surviving résumés of Manetho ascribe various successors to Amunhotep III, some of them with names superficially similar to Akhenaten, such as Akencheres and Akencherses. Other versions of the events of Akhenaten’s reign were circulating as late as the second century CE, though it is not clear to what extent these depend on Manetho’s history. 77 These versions share a strong tradition of connecting Moses with a period of religious iconoclasm and political brutality in Egypt lasting thirteen years. One of them, Against Apion (an apologia for Judaism by the Jewish author Flavius Josephus), is the first to link a folklore version of Akhenaten with the biblical Moses, another idea which will recur throughout this book. In spite of all this confusion among the ancient historians, they do seem to hint that some events of the Amarna period lived on in Egypt’s collective memory. And once recorded in important classical authors like Josephus, the story was set to live on for the educated elites in the west who read Greek and Latin – which was exactly what happened. In the ancient authorities like Manetho one could read about battles, conspiracies and struggles in ancient Egypt that gave insight into human character and were a guide to moral behaviour. In this oblique way, Akhenaten went on to be rediscovered by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers, who created allegories set in Egypt that prefigure the Akhenaten myth. One example is Ciυitas Solis (The City of the Sun) by Tommaso Campanella (1568– 1639), published in 1623. A mystic convinced of his own messianic mission, Campanella was arrested and tortured by the Inquisition, and wrote Ciυitas Solis while he was in prison. Its central text is a verse of the Bible, Isaiah 19: 18: ‘In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt … one shall be called the city of the sun.’ Around this verse Campanella created an elaborate Utopia, an answer to the ecclesiastical and political corruption of his day. The city of the sun was ruled by a pacifist and benign theocracy, who worshipped a sun-god oddly like the Aten. ‘They serve under the sign of the sun which is the symbol and visage of god from whom comes light and warmth and every other thing.’ 78 Another example is the allegorical novel Sethos (1731) by the French scholar and classicist Abbé Jean Terrasson (1670– 1750), which is based closely on Manetho. Sethos is mostly remembered for its influence upon Masonic myth, but Terrasson also created a parallel of the Akhenaten myth without ever having heard of Akhenaten himself. Sethos is a highly moral tale. It tells the story of Prince Sethos, son of King Osoroth of Egypt and Qµeen Nephte. Osoroth cares only for pleasure and nothing for the business of government. He delegates the tedious work of ruling to his capable wife. Sethos is the paradigmatic good prince, and very much his mother’s son. He is keen to take instruction on spiritual and temporal matters from the priests of Memphis in order to rule well; but he finds that they are too corrupt, and goes in search of a purer, older wisdom at the Pyramids. Here he is enlightened, and to mark his new spiritual status, Sethos changes his name to Cheres. Terrasson borrowed this name from Manetho’s account of the successors of Amunhotep III in the Eighteenth Dynasty. Cheres-Sethos suffers many tribulations because of his political rivals, and though he is reviled at the time, his message lives on after his death as an instruction for the future. Who is this hero, sprung from gods, Whom, from afar, my eyes survey? See him approach! His features I can trace: My heart knew Cheres, ere my eyes his face. Is he that hero? Was his valour giv’n To be the instrument of gracious heav’n? 79 Terrasson’s novel corresponds to the basic motifs of the Akhenaten myth closely, even down to ‘Nephte’ being one of the principal characters! Present are the distant lazy father like Amunhotep, the energetic domineering mother like Tiye, the close bond between mother and son, the change of name, the spiritual ascent towards a lost ancient wisdom which is misunderstood at the time but survives because of its transcendent worth. ‘My heart knew Cheres, ere my eyes his face’: the line makes as much sense when Akhenaten is substituted for Cheres. The similarities of Campanella’s and Terrasson’s elaborate fables to Akhenaten’s history are coincidental, but they still show the extent to which Akhenaten’s story had already been written long before his historical rediscovery. This becomes all the more striking in the light of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century interest in the variously named successors of Amunhotep III (Manetho’s Akencheres/ Akencherses/ Achencheres), because of their supposed connection with Moses and the Exodus.