Season: 2-6, Episodes: 19, Faction: The Others/Himself
Charles Widmore was a former leader of the Others, a wealthy industrialist and the father of Penelope Widmore and Daniel Faraday. He had a long-running and mysterious rivalry with Benjamin Linus (also a former leader of the Others) over control of the Island. The expedition of the freighter Kahana failed to return the Island to his possession.
For unknown reasons, Ben claimed that he was unable to kill Widmore even when given the opportunity, and that they both knew it. This presumably relates to his previous citation of rules governing the two’s dispute, which he said Widmore changed upon his mercenary Keamy killing Ben’s daughter Alex. As a response to this, Ben told Charles that he would find and kill his daughter, Penny. Furthermore, Widmore was apparently plotting to kill Ben, a “common interest” he had with Sun-Hwa Kwon until she learned that Ben’s actions on the Island had not resulted in her husband’s death. It is unknown how either of these facts relates to the rules, or their being “changed”.
In 2007, Widmore finally returned to the Island in a submarine after claiming to have been invited by Jacob, who “convinced [him] of the error of [his] ways” not long after the freighter was destroyed and told him everything he needed to know to stop the Man in Black from leaving. He brought Desmond Hume back with him, as a last resort in case all of Jacob’s candidates died. Widmore was eventually shot to death by Ben in his secret room in front of the Man in Black.
On the Island (1954)
Widmore served as an Other on the Island under the command of Richard Alpert in 1954, as mentioned in conversation to John Locke. He was 17 years old (“The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham”).
5×02 – The Lie
He and two other men, Cunningham and Mattingly, wore stolen army uniforms with name labels (his reading “Jones”). After the beach camp survivors fled from an attack by the Others, Widmore and his group captured Sawyer and Juliet. However, John Locke arrived and killed Mattingly, allowing Widmore and Cunningham to be captured by Locke, Juliet, and Sawyer. (“The Lie”)
5×03 – Jughead
Cunningham attempted to converse with Widmore in secret via Latin, but Juliet understood them and revealed that all Others could speak Latin. She explained that the three soldiers were Others. When Cunningham tried to explain where their camp was to Juliet, Widmore killed him by snapping his neck then fled into the jungle. Locke refused to shoot him as, in Locke’s words, “he’s one of my people”. He unknowingly led Locke’s group to his camp. As Locke entered the camp, Widmore aggressively pointed a gun to Locke’s head ordering him to stand down. After Locke won Richard’s trust, Richard identified Widmore by name, telling him to lower his weapon. Locke then greeted Widmore, revealing knowledge of his first and second name, without saying how he knew him. This encounter with Locke seemed to inspire Widmore, since a man from the future knew who he was (although there is as of yet no evidence that Widmore was informed in 1954 that Locke was from the future). (“Jughead”)
5×12 – Dead Is Dead
When Kate and Sawyer handed the young, gut-shot Ben over to Erik, Widmore was mentioned. Erik indicated that Widmore would be unhappy with Ben’s arrival, and implied that he was in some sort of leadership position at this time. (“Whatever Happened, Happened”) After Richard took Ben to be healed at the Temple, Charles confronted Richard about his decision to help the boy, and his protests were only silenced by Richard’s insistence that Jacob wanted them to help Ben. Charles entered the tent where young Ben was being kept and introduced himself. He told Ben that he had to return to living with the DHARMA Initiative, but he would still be “one of us.” (“Dead Is Dead”)
5×15 – Follow the Leader
After Daniel Faraday was shot in the Other’s camp Charles approached Jack on his horse and knocked him out with his rifle’s butt. Charles brought Jack and Kate captive to the Other’s camp and Richard explained the situation to him. Widmore inquired why the DHARMA Initiative people would declare war on them, but Eloise told him that the three intruders were not DHARMA people.Widmore then took notice of Daniel’s body and remarked that he looked familiar. As Eloise informed Widmore that she was taking Jack and Kate to the bomb, he began to argue with her and rejected the idea but eventually gave in. (“Follow the Leader”)
5×12 – Dead Is Dead
During his time as leader of the Others, Widmore made routine trips off the Island. During one of those trips, he fathered Penny with an unknown woman who lived in the outside world.
In 1989, Widmore assigned Ben and Ethan to kill Danielle Rousseau. When Ben returned to camp with Rousseau’s baby, Alex, he was angrily confronted by an aging Widmore, who demanded to know why Ben was holding a baby. Ben was angered that Widmore had not informed him of the baby prior to accepting the mission. Widmore demanded that Ben kill her, claiming it to be the will of Jacob. Ben refused, and instead proposed that if it were indeed the will of the Island, Widmore should be able to do it instead. Scoffing, Widmore turned his back and walked away, leaving Ben holding the baby.
As leader of the Others, it is presumed that Widmore played an active role in the purge of the DHARMA Initiative in December 1992. However it is still unclear where he stands on the event, although Ben claimed that it was “the leader’s” decision to kill the Initiative members. (“Cabin Fever”) It is currently unknown whether he meant Widmore or Jacob. It should be noted that since Ben is a known liar, this might not be necessarilly true.
Some time after the Purge, Ben had Widmore exiled from the Island and supplanted him as leader of the Others. As Widmore was led to the submarine by armed guards, Ben came to say farewell. Widmore, however, felt Ben had come to “gloat” about his victory in having him exiled. Widmore had been exiled for “breaking the rules”: namely, for regularly leaving the Island, and for having a family off the Island (specifically, a “daughter with an outsider”). Widmore scornfully told Ben that one day he would have to choose between Alex and the Island. He was then led to the submarine and exiled. (“Dead Is Dead”)
On the mainland
Off the Island, Charles Widmore became known as a prolific entrepreneur and an executive at his own company, Widmore Industries. Little is known about when or how he acquired his business empire.
Although Charles was apparently not involved in the upbringing of his son Daniel (and never told Daniel that he was his father), he did bankroll Daniel’s research at Oxford, and when Daniel’s girlfriend Theresa Spencer suffered catastrophic psychological damage as a result of one of Daniel’s experiments, Charles took responsibility for her care.
Relationship with Desmond
3×08 – Flashes Before Your Eyes
Charles was visited by Desmond Hume, who intended to ask Charles for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Charles, under the impression that Desmond was looking for a job, looked over his resume, noting Desmond’s job as a theatrical set designer, as well as Desmond’s failure to graduate from university. After Desmond took note of Widmore’s beautiful model of a boat, Widmore informed him of a solo race around the world that his company was sponsoring. He offered Desmond a job in his administrative department, after which Desmond told him that he had not come looking for a job, but instead wanted Charles’s permission for himself and Penny to wed. Though noting that Desmond was making a noble gesture, Widmore stated that Desmond was unworthy of marrying his daughter, because he would never be a “great man,” using Anderson MacCutcheon, the namesake of a brand of whiskey, as an example of a great man. Desmond then left, saddened and ashamed. (“Flashes Before Your Eyes”)
4×05 – The Constant
In 1996, Widmore purchased the journal of the first mate of the Black Rock, a 19th century British slave ship, at a Southfield’s auction. Desmond found him at the auction, demanding to know Penny’s new contact information. Widmore asserted that it was Desmond’s cowardice that separated Desmond from Penny. Desmond asked why Widmore hated him; Widmore retorted that it wasn’t he who hated Desmond. He then gave Desmond Penny’s address. (“The Constant”)
Widmore’s disapproval of his daughter’s relationship with Hume led to his interception of letters that Desmond wrote to Penelope while serving time in a military prison. Widmore attempted to bribe Desmond to cease the relationship and never see Penelope again. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1”)
He sponsored the sailing race around the world that Desmond, in an attempt to regain his honor, was participating in when he crashed onto the Island. (“Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2”)
Search for the Island
4×06 – The Other Woman
As seen in a video tape, Widmore brutally beat a blindfolded, unnamed Other, purportedly in his efforts to extract information about the location of the Island. (“The Other Woman”)
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
At some point, Widmore learned that Oceanic Flight 815 crashed on the Island. According to documentary evidence Tom presented Michael, Widmore had purchased a Boeing 777 fuselage and disinterred 324 graves in Thailand to create staged wreckage of Oceanic Flight 815 in the Sunda Trench. Tom told Michael that Widmore had done this because he wanted the Island all to himself.
He also hired Martin Keamy to lead a mercenary team to breach the Island, locate and apprehend Benjamin Linus, and, according to Ben, kill every other living person on the Island, including the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, if Keamy’s team found that they existed. (“Meet Kevin Johnson”)
4×07 – Ji Yeon
Widmore sent the freighter Kahana to the Island, hiring Gault to captain the expedition, and telling him that, in fact Ben had planted the wreckage of Flight 815. (“Ji Yeon”)
5×14 – The Variable
On the day the fake wreckage was discovered and shown on television, Charles paid a visit to Daniel in Essex, Massachusetts. He told Daniel that the wreckage shown on television was a fake, and that he knew this because he had planted it himself. He then offered Daniel an opportunity to travel to the Island, telling him that the Island’s unique properties would allow him to further his research, and suggesting that the Island could heal the memory problems Daniel had been experiencing ever since his accident at Oxford. (“The Variable”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations
Decoded Family Members & Associated Characters
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 & 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Decoded Season 6 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
During his reign on the Island
(Amoun, Amon, Amen, Ammon) ‘The Hidden’, a Theban God who rose to the pinnacle of national prominence, particularly in fusion with the Heliopolitan solar God Re as the fusion deity ‘Amun-Re’. The main temple of Amun at Karnak remains the largest religious structure ever built. Amun is depicted typically as a man with deep blue or black skin, wearing a crown with two high segmented plumes, and sometimes ithyphallic. His sacred animal is the ram with curved horns (Ovis platyura aegyptiaca, as distinct from the ram associated with Banebdjedet, Arsaphes, and Khnum, Ovis longipes palaeoaegypticus) and he can be depicted as a man with a ram’s head. Amun’s consort, aside from his female complement Amaunet, whose chief importance is in the context of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad, is Mut and their son is Khonsu. Regardless of the political factors which brought Amun to prominence as the city of Thebes became more powerful, and which maintained his prominence for the rest of Egyptian history as a symbol of national unity, Amun’s ability to exercise such broad appeal can be traced to the potency of the concept of a God of hiddenness as such, particularly at a time (the Middle Kingdom and later) when Egyptian society was engaged in speculative thought of increasing sophistication.
Amun is, by virtue of being hiddenness itself, ubiquitous, and the idea of hiddenness implies potentiality as well as mystery and otherness. This ubiquity based upon the concept of hiddenness was reinforced by the identification of Amun with the omnipresent breath of life as well as the force of sexuality. Amun’s appeal was by no means abstract, however. Commoners, and especially the poor, could appeal to the omnipresent Amun for justice and compassion (see especially the themes of social justice in the prayers to Amun used as school texts in the Ramesside era, trans. in Lichtheim 1976 vol. 2, 111-112), travelers for protection (as Amun-of-the-Road, see esp. the ‘Report of Wenamun’ in Lichtheim, ibid. 224-230) and kings to legitimize the extension of Egyptian sovereignty into foreign lands (see, e.g., the inscription of Thutmose III in Lichtheim, op cit. p. 30, where Amun commands the king to extend the borders of Egypt). Amun featured in juridical oaths, which is noteworthy inasmuch as it is not Amun-Re but Amun who is invoked, and thus not simply the symbol of royal power but the symbol of all-pervading justice (Widson 1948). Amun’s ubiquity allows him to witness everything that occurs and to hear all requests; stelae are dedicated to “Amun who hears,” and a hymn from Hibis describes him as having “777 ears, with millions upon millions of eyes,” (Klotz 2006, 167, 169f).
The conjunction of Amun’s association with sexuality and his self-sufficiency results in the epithet of Kamutef, ‘bull of his mother’, given to his ithyphallic form, which signifies that Amun has conceived himself upon his mother and is thus his own father. BD spell Pleyte 167 calls upon the phallic potency of Amun to protect the body of the spell’s possessor. The Kamutef concept is also embodied in Amun’s complex relationship to the Gods of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. Amun is a member of this group of precosmic Gods but also transcends them in two ways: first, at Thebes Amun is identified with Kematef (‘He who has completed his time’) and Irta (or Iri-ta) (‘Earth-maker’), mysterious primordial serpents that preexist the Ogdoad; second, Amun is identified with the light which the Ogdoad bring forth into the world. Hiddenness (Amun) is thus at once the origin of the cosmos, the medium through which it comes to be, and that which expresses itself in the splendor of phenomena. A hymn to Amun (P. Leiden J 350) which traces the involvement of Amun at each successive stage of the generation of the cosmos says that after the creation of the heavens and Amun’s withdrawal into occultation or concealment, “You returned in the fathers as creator of their sons.” Two rulers of the 18th Dynasty, Hatshepsut and Amenhotep III, claim to have been conceived by the union of their mothers with Amun. In a hymn from Hibis to the “ten Ba‘s,” or manifestations, of Amun, the sixth is “the Living Royal Ka,” that is, the divine potency in the king deriving from Amun’s impregnation of the king’s mother (Klotz 2006, 35f).
The alliance of the chief deities of Thebes and Heliopolis in the compound deity Amun-Re, although it clearly served political ends, is not without theological subtlety. Re, as preeminent solar deity, embodies all that is manifest, while Amun is that which is concealed. Their combination results in a divine potency distinct from either alone. In a variant of BD spell 15, Amun-Re crosses the sky, “everyone seeing thee,” as would be expected of the sun. But the author adds “thou prosperest; (and so do) they that row thy Majesty, (for) thy rays are in their faces, though unrecognized.” The ‘rays’ of Amun-Re are not simply sunlight, therefore, for those rays are hardly unrecognized. The author goes on to explain that “no tongue could understand its fellow except for thee,” indicating that the light which is bestowed by Amun-Re is, rather, a light of understanding. In a sunrise hymn to Amun from Hibis temple, the Aten, the sun’s visible disk, is said to “represent” or “stand in for” Amun, through a pun on itn, the sun’s disk, and idn, to represent or replace (Klotz 2006, 165-167).
Amun’s hiddenness is the condition of his ubiquity, and vice versa. In another hymn from the Hibis temple, it is said that Amun “hides himself with his eyes,” with his “brilliant visible forms,” (Klotz 2006, 82-83) because “one sees through his seeing,” (ibid., 154). Because Amun allows us to participate in his power of sight, we see everything but his essential nature, which is precisely hiddenness. Thus vision itself is Amun’s invisibility. Amun is called “protector of that which is and that which is not,” (ibid., 129) because hiddenness is common to both: that which is, has come to be from the state of nonbeing, in which it was ‘hidden’, and it is through the concept of absence or hiddenness that the nonexistent as such is conceivable. “You support them [‘that which is made’] as you create them,” the same hymn says, for during the whole of the process by which things come into being, they are guided and supported by their hidden potential.
Some assume that Amun (Amen, Amon) was a relatively modern god within the context of ancient Egyptian religion. His worship at Thebes, where the earliest known Temple dedicated to him was located, is only documented from the 11th Dynasty onward.
It is true that he gained most of his prestige after replacing the war god Montu as the principle god of Thebes during Egypt’s New Kingdom, when he was recognized as the “King of Gods”. At that time, because of Egypt’s influence in the world, he actually became a universal god. In fact, by the 25th Dynasty, Amun-Re was even the chief god of the Nubian Kingdom of Napata and by the Ptolemic, or Greek period, he was regarded as the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus. However, he is actually mentioned in the pyramid text from the Old Kingdom (5th Dynasty, Unas – line 558), which show him to be a primeval deity and a symbol of creative force. This text seems to assign great antiquity to his existence.
Amun-Re grew so important spiritually and politically by the time of the New Kingdom that Egypt became something of a Theocracy. At the apex of his worship, Egyptian religion approached monotheism. The other gods became mere symbols of his power, or manifestations of Amun-Re. In essence, he became the one and only supreme deity.
He was one of the eight Heh gods of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, where his original consort was Amaunet (Ament). His worship may have originated at Hermopolis, but another possibility was that he functioned early on as a less prominent god at Thebes, where he eventually flourished. The Nubians, however, believed that he originated at Gebel Barkal, located in the modern north of the Sudan.
In the middle of the 16th Dynasty, with the expulsion of the Hyksos rulers of Egypt, Amun’s growth was accelerated due to the vindication of both Egyptian power and Amun-Re as a protector of both the Egyptian state and the Monarchy. At that time, temples were built and dedicated to Amun throughout Egypt, including the Luxor Temple and the Great Temple at Karnak. His importance during this and later periods is evidenced by the grander and extravagance of these temples. They were enlarged and enriched over the centuries by rulers of Egypt who were eager to express their devotion to Amun-Re.
In fact, his growth to that of a national god mirrored the growth of Thebes in importance. This growth was accelerated when Amenemhet I took control of the thrown at Thebes, and founded the 12th Dynasty. However, the apex of his worship probably occurred during the New Kingdom onward at Thebes, where the important Opet festival was dedicated to Amun. During the Opet festival, the statue of Amun was conveyed by boat from the temple of Karnak to Luxor in order to celebrate Amun’s marriage to Mut in his aspect of Ka-mut-ef (literally, “bull of his mother”). In this capacity, Amun was recognized for his procreative function. Together, Amun and Mut conceived their son, Khonsu, a moon god, to make of the Thebes Triad.
The sacred animal of Amun was originally the Goose, and like Geb, he was sometimes known as the “Great Cackler”. Later, Amun was more closely associated with the Ram, a symbol of fertility. At various times he also sometimes appears as a man with the head of a frog, the head of a uraeus, the head of a crocodile, or as an ape. However, when depicted as a king, he wears the crown of two plumes, a symbol borrowed from Min, and often sits on a throne. In this form, he is one of nine deities who compose the company of gods of Amen-Ra. In the Greek period (and somewhat earlier, in order to ascribe many attributes to Amun-Re, he was sometimes depicted in bronze with the bearded head of a man, the body of a beetle with the wings of a hawk, the legs of a man and the toes and claws of a lion. He was further provided with four hands and arms and four wings.
The worship surrounding Amun, and later, Amun-Re represented one of ancient Egypt’s most complex theologies. In his most mature form, Amun-Re became a hidden, secret god. In fact, his name (Imn), or at lest the name by which the ancient Egyptians called him, means “the hidden one” or “the secret one” (though there has been speculation that his name is derived from the Libyan word for water, aman. However, modern context seems to negate this possibility). In reality, however, and according to mythology, both his name and physical appearance were unknown, thus indicating his unknowable essence.
Stated differently, Amun was unknown because he represented absolute holiness, and in this regard, he was different then any other Egyptian deity. So holy was he that he remained independent of the created universe. He was associated with the air as an invisible force, which facilitated his growth as a supreme deity. He was the Egyptian creator deity par excellence, and according to Egyptian myth, was self-created. It was believed that he could regenerate himself by becoming a snake and shedding his skin. At the same time, he remained apart from creation, totally different from it, and fully independent from it.
However, while hidden, the addition to his name of “Re” revealed the god to humanity. Re was the common Egyptian term for the sun, thus making him visible. Hence, Amun-Re combined within himself the two opposites of divinity, the hidden and the revealed. As Amun, he was secret, hidden and mysterious, but as Re, he was visible and revealed. In some respects, this even relates to his association with Ma’at, the Egyptian concept of order and balance, and reflects back upon the ancient Egyptian’s concepts of duality.
The secret, or hidden attribute of Amun enabled him to be easily synchronized and associated with other deities. At Thebes, Amun was first identified with Montu, but soon replaced him as the city’s protector. His association with Re grew in importance when Amenemhet I moved the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy at the apex of the Nile Delta, where the relationship was probably expedient both theologically and politically. However, this association with Re actually grew as Thebes itself gained importance. Soon, Amun was identified with other gods as well, taking on the names (among others) Amun-Re-Atum, Amun-Re-Montu, Amun-Re-Horakhty and Min-Amun. However, it should be noted that with all of this synchronization, Amun was not absorbed to create a a new god. Instead, there was a unity of divine power with these other gods.
Amun-Re was associated with the Egyptian monarchy, and theoretically, rather than threatening the pharaoh’s power, the throne was supported by Amun-Re. The ancient theology made Amun-Re the physical father of the king. Hence, the Pharaoh and Amun-Re enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, with the king deriving power from Amun-Re. In return, the king supported the temples and the worship of Amun. In theory, Amun-Re could even take the form of the king in order to impregnate the chief royal wife with the successor to the throne (first documented during the reign of Hatshepsut during the New Kingdom). Furthermore, according to official state theology during the New Kingdom, Egypt was actually ruled by Amun-Re through the pharaohs, with the god revealing his will through oracles.
In reality, the god did in fact threaten the monarchy, for the cult of Amun-Re became so powerful that its priesthood grew very large and influential, and at one point, priests of the deity actually came to rule Egypt (during the 21st Dynasty). At other times, Amun-Re created difficulties for the king, such as in the case of Akhenaten, who sought to change the basic structure of Egyptian religion. In this instance, Amun-Re eventually proved more powerful then the king, for though Akhenaten desperately tried to change the nature of Egyptian religion, for such efforts he himself became the scorn of later pharaohs. After Akhenaten’s reign, Egyptian religion almost immediately reverted back to its prior form and to the worship of Amun-Re.
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen, and rarely Imen or Yamun, Greek Ἄμμων Ammon, and Ἅμμων Hammon), was a God in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt. Whilst remaining hypostatic deities, Amun represented the essential and hidden, whilst in Ra he represented revealed divinity. As the creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor and central to personal piety. Amun was self created, without mother and father, and during the New Kingdom he became the greatest expression of transcendental deity in Egyptian theology. He was not considered to be immanent within creation nor was creation seen as an extension of himself. Amun-Ra did not physically engender the universe. His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other Gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods. He was also widely worshipped in the neighboring regions of Libya and Nubia.
Rise of cult after expulsion of Hyksos
When the army of the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty expelled the Hyksos rulers from Egypt, the victor’s city of origin, Thebes, became the most important city in Egypt, the capital of a new dynasty. The local patron deity of Thebes, Amun, therefore became nationally important. The pharaohs of that new dynasty attributed all their successful enterprises to Amun and they lavished much of their wealth and captured spoil on the construction of temples dedicated to Amun. The cultural advances achieved by the pharaohs of this dynasty brought Egypt into a cultural renaissance, restoring trade and advancing architectural design to a level that would not be achieved by any other culture for a thousand years.
As the Egyptians considered themselves oppressed during the period of the Hyksos rule, the victory accomplished by pharaohs worshiping Amun was seen as a champion of the less fortunate. Consequently, Amun was viewed as upholding the rights of justice for the poor. By aiding those who traveled in his name, he became the Protector of the road. Since he upheld Ma’at (truth, justice, and goodness), those who prayed to Amun were required, first, to demonstrate that they were worthy by confessing their sins. Votive stela from the artisans village at Deir el-Medina record:
[Amun] who comes at the voice of the poor in distress, who gives breath to him who is wretched..You are Amun, the Lord of the silent, who comes at the voice of the poor; when I call to you in my distress You come and rescue me…Though the servant was disposed to do evil, the Lord is disposed to forgive. The Lord of Thebes spends not a whole day in anger; His wrath passes in a moment; none remains. His breath comes back to us in mercy..May your ka be kind; may you forgive; It shall not happen again.
Much later, because of the evidence of the adoration given to Amun in many regions during the height of his cult, Greek travelers to Egypt would report that Amun—who they determined to be the ruler of the Egyptian pantheon—was similar to the leader of the Classical Greek pantheon, Zeus, and therefore they became identified by the Greeks as the same deity. Likewise, Amun’s consort Mut became associated by these Greeks with Zeus’s consort in the Classical pantheon, Hera.
Praises of Amun on stelae are strikingly similar in language to those later used in the reign of Akhenaton, in particular the Hymn to the Aten :
“When thou crossest the sky, all faces behold thee, but when thou departest, thou are hidden from their faces.. When thou settest in the western mountain, then they sleep in the manner of death..The fashioner of that which the soil produces,…a mother of profit to gods and men; a patient craftsmen, greatly wearying himself as their maker..valiant herdsman, driving his cattle, their refuge and the making of their living..The sole Lord, who reaches the end of the lands every day, as one who sees them that tread thereon..Every land chatters at his rising every day, in order to praise him.”
Subsequently, when Egypt conquered Kush, they identified the chief deity of the Kushites as Amun. This Kush deity was depicted as ram-headed, more specifically a woolly ram with curved horns*—so Amun became associated with the ram: indeed, due to the aged appearance of the Kush ram deity.
Since rams were considered a symbol of virility due to their rutting behavior, Amun also became thought of as a fertility deity, and so started to absorb the identity of Min, becoming Amun-Min. This association with virility led to Amun-Min gaining the epithet Kamutef, meaning Bull of his mother, in which form he was found depicted on the walls of Karnak, ithyphallic, and with a scourge, as Min was.
As the cult of Amun grew in importance, Amun became identified with the chief deity who was worshipped in other areas during that period, Ra-Herakhty, the merged identities of Ra and Horus. This identification led to another merger of identities, with Amun becoming Amun-Ra. In the Hymn to Amun-Ra he is described as “Lord of truth, father of the gods, maker of men, creator of all animals, Lord of things that are, creator of the staff of life.” By then Ra had been described as the father of Shu, Tefnut, and the remainder of the Ennead, so Amun-Ra likewise, became identified as their father.
Ra-Herakhty had been a solar deity and this nature became ascribed to Amun-Ra as well, Amun becoming considered the hidden aspect of the sun during the night, in contrast to Ra-Herakhty as the visible aspect during the day. Amun clearly meant the one who is hidden. This complexity over the sun led to a gradual movement toward the support of a more pure form of deity.
During the later part of the eighteenth dynasty, the pharaoh Akhenaten (also known as Amenhotep IV) disliked the power of the temple of Amun and advanced the worship of the Aten, a deity whose power was manifested in the sun disk, both literally and symbolically. He defaced the symbols of many of the old deities and based his religious practices upon the deity, the Aten. He moved his capitol away from Thebes, but this abrupt change was very unpopular with the priests of Amun, who now found themselves without any of their former power. The religion of Egypt was inexorably tied to the leadership of the country, the pharaoh being the leader of both. The pharaoh was the highest priest in the temple of the capital and the next lower level of religious leaders were important advisers to the pharaoh, many being administrators of the bureaucracy that ran the country.
When Akhenaten died, the priests of Amun reasserted themselves. His name was struck from Egyptian records, all of his religious and governmental changes were undone, and the capital was returned to Thebes. The return to the previous capital and its patron deity was accomplished so swiftly that it seemed this almost monotheistic cult and its governmental reforms had never existed. Worship of the Aten ceased and worship of Amun-Ra was restored. The priests of Amun even persuaded his young son, Tutankhaten, whose name meant “the living image of Aten”—and who later would become a pharaoh—to change his name to Tutankhamun, “the living image of Amun”.
As Amun-Re he was petitioned for mercy by those who believed suffering had come about as a result of their own or others wrongdoing.
Amon-Re “who hears the prayer, who comes at the cry of the poor and distressed…Beware of him! Repeat him to son and daughter, to great and small; relate him to generations of generations who have not yet come into being; relate him to fishes in the deep, to birds in heaven; repeat him to him who does not know him and to him who knows him…Though it may be that the servant is normal in doing wrong, yet the Lord is normal in being merciful. The Lord of Thebes does not spend an entire day angry. As for his anger – in the completion of a moment there is no remnant..As thy Ka endures! thou wilt be merciful!”
In the Leydon hymns, Amun, Ptah, and Re are regarded as a trinity who are distinct gods but with unity in plurality. “The three gods are one yet the Egyptian elsewhere insists on the separate identity of each of the three.” This unity in plurality is expressed in one text: “All gods are three: Amun, Re and Ptah, whom none equals. He who hides his name as Amun, he appears to the face as Re, his body is Ptah.” The hidden aspect of Amun and his likely association with the wind caused Henri Frankfort to draw parallels with a passage from the Gospel of John: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going.”[John 3:8] A Leydon hymn to Amun describes how he calms stormy seas for the troubled sailor:
The tempest moves aside for the sailor who remembers the name of Amon. The storm becomes a sweet breeze for he who invokes His name… Amon is more effective than millions for he who places Him in his heart. Thanks to Him the single man becomes stronger than a crowd.
Although the capital was moved back to Thebes and the power base of Amun’s cult had been revivified, the authority of Amun began to weaken after the Twentieth dynasty. Under the Twenty-first dynasty the secondary line of priest pharaohs of Thebes upheld his dignity to the best of their power, and the Twenty-second favoured Thebes, but they became weak and ineffective.
As the leadership weakened, division between Upper Egypt, the southern portion, and Lower Egypt, the northern portion, reasserted itself. The unification of Egypt failed, falling into regional autonomy again. Nubia took over the rule of southern Egypt. Southern Egypt includes Thebes and it would have decayed rapidly had it not been for the piety of the rulers of Nubia toward Amun, who had been worshiped in their own country for a long time. Initially, they made Thebes their Egyptian capital and they honoured Amun greatly, although neither their wealth nor their culture was sufficient to reverse the decline of the cult.
In the rest of Egypt, however, the popularity of the cult of Amun was rapidly overtaken by the rise of the new cult of Isis and Osiris. And so outside Thebes, Amun’s identity first became subsumed into Ra (Ra-Herakhty), who initially remained an identifiable figure in the Isis and Osiris cult, but ultimately, Amun became an aspect of Horus.
Cult in Nubia, Libya, and Greece
In areas outside of Egypt where the Egyptians had previously brought the cult of Amun his worship continued. In Nubia, where his name was pronounced Amane, he remained a national deity, with his priests, at Meroe and Nobatia, regulating the whole government of the country via an oracle, choosing the ruler, and directing military expeditions. According to Diodorus Siculus, these religious leaders even were able to compel kings to commit suicide, although this tradition stopped when Arkamane, in the 3rd century BC, slew them.
In Libya there remained a solitary oracle of Amun in the Libyan Desert at the oasis of Siwa. The worship of Ammon was introduced into Greece at an early period, probably through the medium of the Greek colony in Cyrene, which must have formed a connection with the great oracle of Ammon in the Oasis soon after its establishment. Ammon had a temple and a statue, the gift of Pindar, at Thebes (Paus. ix. 16. § 1), and another at Sparta, the inhabitants of which, as Pausanias (iii. 18. § 2) says, consulted the oracle of Ammon in Libya from early times more than the other Greeks. At Aphytis, Chalcidice, Ammon was worshipped, from the time of Lysander, as zealously as in Ammonium. Pindar the poet honoured the god with a hymn. At Megalopolis the god was represented with the head of a ram (Paus. viii. 32. § 1), and the Greeks of Cyrenaica dedicated at Delphi a chariot with a statue of Ammon.
Such was its reputation among the Classical Greeks that Alexander the Great journeyed there after the battle of Issus and during his occupation of Egypt, where he was declared the son of Amun by the oracle. Alexander thereafter considered himself divine. Even during this occupation, Amun, identified by these Greeks as a form of Zeus, continued to be the principal local deity of Thebes during its decay.
Several words derive from Amun via the Greek form, Ammon: ammonia and ammonite. The Romans called the ammonium chloride they collected from deposits near the Temple of Jupiter Amun in ancient Libya sal ammoniacus (salt of Amun) because of proximity to the nearby temple.
Ammonia, as well as being the chemical, is a genus name in the foraminifera. Both these foraminiferans (shelled Protozoa) and ammonites (extinct shelled cephalopods) bear spiral shells resembling a ram’s, and Ammon’s, horns.
The regions of the hippocampus in the brain are called the cornu ammonis – literally “Amun’s Horns”, due to the horned appearance of the dark and light bands of cellular layers.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
After his exile from the Island
Poseidon was the god of the sea, storms, and, as “Earth-Shaker,” of earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon. Linear B tablets show that Poseidon was venerated at Pylos and Thebes in pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, but he was integrated into the Olympian gods as the brother of Zeus and Hades. Poseidon has many children. There is a Homeric hymn to Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although he lost the contest for Athens to Athena.
Worship of Poseidon
Poseidon was a major civic god of several cities: in Athens, he was second only to Athena in importance, while in Corinth and many cities of Magna Graecia he was the chief god of the polis. In his benign aspect, Poseidon was seen as creating new islands and offering calm seas. When offended or ignored, he supposedly struck the ground with his trident and caused chaotic springs, earthquakes, drownings and shipwrecks. Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a safe voyage, sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice; in this way, according to a fragmentary papyrus, Alexander the Great paused at the Syrian seashore before the climacteric battle of Issus, and resorted to prayers, “invoking Poseidon the sea-god, for whom he ordered a four-horse chariot to be cast into the waves.”
According to Pausanias, Poseidon was one of the caretakers of the oracle at Delphi before Olympian Apollo took it over. Apollo and Poseidon worked closely in many realms: in colonization, for example, Delphic Apollo provided the authorization to go out and settle, while Poseidon watched over the colonists on their way, and provided the lustral water for the foundation-sacrifice. Xenophon’s Anabasis describes a group of Spartan soldiers in 400–399 BCE singing to Poseidon a paean — a kind of hymn normally sung for Apollo.
Like Dionysus, who inflamed the maenads, Poseidon also caused certain forms of mental disturbance. A Hippocratic text of ca 400 BCE, On the Sacred Disease says that he was blamed for certain types of epilepsy.
Poseidon in mythology
Birth and triumph over Cronus
Poseidon was a son of Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts he is swallowed by Cronus at birth but later saved, with his other brothers and sisters, by Zeus. However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. He was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which she gave to Cronus to devour.According to John Tzetzes the kourotrophos, or nurse of Poseidon was Arne, who denied knowing where he was, when Cronus came searching; according to Diodorus Siculus Poseidon was raised by the Telchines on Rhodes, just as Zeus was raised by the Korybantes on Crete.
According to a single reference in the Iliad, when the world was divided by lot in three, Zeus received the sky, Hades the underworld and Poseidon the sea. In the Odyssey (v.398), Poseidon has a home in Aegae.
Consorts and children
Poseidon was the father of many heroes. He is thought to have fathered the famed Theseus.
A mortal woman named Tyro was married to Cretheus (with whom she had one son, Aeson) but loved Enipeus, a river god. She pursued Enipeus, who refused her advances. One day, Poseidon, filled with lust for Tyro, disguised himself as Enipeus, and from their union were born the heroes Pelias and Neleus, twin boys. Poseidon also had an affair with Alope, his granddaughter through Cercyon, his son and King of Eleusis, begetting the Attic hero Hippothoon. Cercyon had his daughter buried alive but Poseidon turned her into the spring, Alope, near Eleusis.
Poseidon rescued Amymone from a lecherous satyr and then fathered a child, Nauplius, by her.
After having raped Caeneus, Poseidon fulfilled her request and changed her into a male warrior.
Not all of Poseidon’s children were human. In an archaic myth, Poseidon once pursued Demeter. She spurned his advances, turning herself into a mare so that she could hide in a herd of horses; he saw through the deception and became a stallion and captured her. Their child was a horse, Arion, which was capable of human speech. Poseidon also had sexual intercourse with Medusa on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor and Pegasus emerged from her neck. There is also Triton (the merman), Polyphemus (the cyclops) and, finally, Alebion and Bergion and Otos and Ephialtae (the giants).
Poseidon in literature and art
In the Odyssey, Poseidon is notable for his hatred of Odysseus who blinded the god’s son, the cyclops Polyphemus. The enmity of Poseidon prevents Odysseus’s return home to Ithaca for many years. Odysseus is even told, notwithstanding his ultimate safe return, that to placate the wrath of Poseidon will require one more voyage on his part.