Osiris II wrote:
People are mis-guided in referring to Akhenaton's monothesism. There were still various gods worshipped at Aketaten. And it's quite true--no one, except Akhenaten, was allowed to worship the Aton without praying first to Akhenaten to "speak" to Aton for him. The closing of the other temples and the eriadication of the name of Amun seems to have been more of a political ploy than a religious war. It was only the priesthood of Amun that was so severely perscuted. In fact, Akhenaten had an image of the Apis bull--or was it the bull itself?--brought to his city.
Osiris I believe the term that best describes your words would be henotheism
. A term coined by the 19th Century German Orienatlist, Max Müller. It's meaning can be described as a belief in, and possible worship of, multiple gods, one of which is supreme. It is also called inclusive monotheism
or monarchial polytheism
. According to Müller, it is "monotheism in principle and a polytheism in fact".
Henothism (as a form of polytheism) is evident throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. In the Old Kingdom, The Great One stays foremost in the background (Atum in the dominant Heliopolitan cosmology). In the Middle Kingdom the first henotheistic attempts occur (Amun as the "King of Gods"). In the new solar theology of the Early New Kingdom, the Great One comes to the fore as Re or as the assimilated Amun-Re. However in the case of Akhenaten, if we shall consider him a henotheist, it is undeniable the most extreme form of henotheism, with respect to Ancient Egypt.
I think we will all agree, regardless of whether we identify Akhenaten's idol worship as henotheism or a monotheism there is no doubt that his religious reform had a major impact on the people, society, and state of Egypt during his time, as well as foreign relations due to his fanaticism. Certainly by 'murdering' Amun, closing the temples, and stripping the Amun priesthood of power, this sent a message to the rest of Egypt. He changed traditions that stood for over 1400 years. Think of how the people
of Egypt must have felt. Angry? Resentful? Fearful? I find it hard to believe that is was a joyous time. Yes he had his "devotees" follow him to Akhetaten. Why? Political gain? Fear of not supporting the new chief "God" (Aten)?, Fear of Akhenaten himself and what he might do next if they were not followers? After all he was Pharaoh and had the power to denounce and destroy the chief deity Amun, and many other gods. Also, because he made Nefertiti and himself the sole liaisons between Egypt and the Aten, they held all power over the land of Egypt. People could not worship the new chief deity freely, they had to worship Akhenaten and Nefertiti. It is now that we start to see images of people on their hands and knees bowing their heads to ground in the presence of the Pharaoh and his Queen.