What Was the Role of Egyptian Sun God Ra?


Quick Answer

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the sun god Ra is the supreme deity who creates life and death and brings light and warmth to both living and dead creatures. His chief role is to traverse the sky in a golden ship, shedding light and warmth over the earth as the sun rises and bringing light and air to the underworld as the sun sets. Because of this role, ancient Egyptians depicted Ra as falcon-headed with a solar disc above his head.

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Full Answer

According to numerous and conflicting legends, Ra has many roles. He appears in some creation myths as a primeval god who created the deities of moisture and air. In other myths, he serves as the protector of life, battling Apep, or Apophis, a snake who tries to swallow Ra and his creations. Other myths claim he introduced death into the world by transforming the goddess Hathor into a savage lioness tasked with killing humans who anger Ra with their misdeeds.

Initially, a cult in Heliopolis, known as the City of the Sun, worshipped Ra. Eventually, he was absorbed into the pantheon of other Egyptian gods. Other myths claim he is the only god and that all other deities are mere extensions of him.

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