Study Guide

Ra (Re)

  • Profile

    Who is the sun god? Who's the most fun god? Ra, Ra, Ra! Okay, so maybe he's not the best cheerleader, but Ra is definitely important when it comes to ancient Egyptian gods. Nobody's more important than the sun. Yes, he really is the boss of you.

    Basic Information

    Name

    Ra

    Nickname

    King of the Universe, Mighty One, Lord of the Horizon, Sunshine

    Sex

    Male

    Current city

    Anywhere it's daytime

    Work & Education

    Occupation

    Ruler of all, living in the boat of the sun

    Education

    The universe teaches me, and so does my loyal servant Thoth, god of wisdom.

    Beliefs

    Political views

    Me

    Family & Friends (& Enemies)

    Parents

    I created myself.

    Siblings

    None, though I consider Ptah and Amun my brothers

    Friends

    Thoth, Seth, Wadjet, Aten

    Enemies

    Apep, the serpent of chaos, who attacks my boat every sunrise. Then Seth stabs him with a spear and he goes away until tomorrow morning. Ever noticed that sunrise is red?

    Relationships

    Relationship status

    Married to Rait, though nobody's ever seen us in the same place, so some people think she's just me in a dress. It's complicated.

    Interested in

    Women

    Favorites

    TV Shows

    Thundercats (Third Earth is almost as cool as regular Earth! And just like in our Egyptian myths, cats kill evil.) 
    Stargate SG-1 (Not sure why all my children are bad guys, but it's fun to watch!) 
    Major League Baseball (It's always sunny on the boat, and we have all day to watch, so why not watch something that takes all day to finish? I don't stay up for night games, though.) 

    Quotations

    "Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling."
    – Walt Whitman

    "Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight."
    – Benjamin Franklin

    "There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."
    – Pablo Picasso

    "The sun goes up / and the sun gets down / but like the heart of the sun / my heart continues to pound."
    – Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Behind the Sun"

    "When you've lost your lights / the sun will rise / it'll be all right"
    – Kelly Clarkson, "The Sun Will Rise"

    Books

    One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Only a hundred years? I've been alone in the sky for millions.) 
    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (I rise on the bad days as well as the good days.) 
    Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas (I fight my way to sunset every day. Why not? Darkness is scary.) 
    Fire and Ice by Robert Frost (I'm convinced the world ends, every day, at sunset. But then it starts up again the next morning!) 
    Sunday Morning by Wallace Stevens (I object to verse VII. What do you mean, 'not as a god'?) 
    The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet by Bob Berman (I'm not just bright. I'm mysterious.) 
    Sun Observer's Guide by Pam Spence (Make sure to keep your eyes safe when you gaze upon my boat.) 
    Understanding Photosynthesis with Max Axiom, Super Scientist (Graphic Science Series) by Liam O'Donnell (More than light comes out of my sun. Sunlight makes the plants grow, too.) 
    The Sun King (New York Review Books Classics) by Nancy Mitford (They called Louis XIV of France "The Sun King," too, but I don't dress quite that strangely.) 
    Solar Power Your Home For Dummies by Rik DeGunther (My heat also makes electricity, and it's free!) 

    Music

    The House of the Rising Sun by The Animals (My house never ruined me, but maybe I'm just lucky?) 
    Say My Name by Destiny's Child (If you say my name, it's the power of the whole universe. Nice, huh?) 
    Here Comes the Sun by George Harrison (And I say it's all right.) 
    Perfect World from The Emperor's New Groove (I am the hippest cat in creation.) 
    Do You Call My Name by Ra (I didn't sing this, but there is a band named after me! Cool!) 
    Sun King by the Beatles (I'm the brightest.) 
    Circle of Life from The Lion King (My boat sails the circle of the sky, and everything lives. And I have a baboon for a wise man, too! We call him Thoth. Sometimes, he's also a bird.) 
    Blaze of Glory by Bon Jovi (My glory is so blazing, you can't even look at it.) 

    Movies

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I remember everything. And I prefer it that way, but maybe these people don't.) 
    Grumpy Old Men (Some days, I think this is me and Thoth, fishing off the side of the sun boat…) 
    Absolute Power (Clint Eastwood should play me in a movie.) 
    Pitch Black (Ooh, a place where it's dark all the time. Sounds terrifying.) 
    Up (An adventure across the sky? Come with me, and you can have one every day.) 
    Groundhog Day (This is what happens if time doesn't go the way it's supposed to… oops.) 
    Raiders of the Lost Ark (Without my light, they wouldn't have found the ark in the first place.) 
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid (When I was young, I was kind of a wimp, but then I got a lot tougher. Until I got old, anyway.) 

    Activities & Interests

    Likes

    Pyramids and Obelisks
    Space Weather (always good to know how my sun's doing)
    Sunflowers
    Sundials

    Interests

    Astronomy
    Remote-controlled planes
    Grilled food
    Ice cream (though I can only eat it at night, sigh)

    Groups

    Royalty
    Ancient Egyptian Gods 
    Omnipotent deities
    Coppertone 
    Ray-Bans 

  • Spotter's Guide

    You can't really miss Ra—he's the sun, after all. If you walk outside and start squinting, you'll know he's around. Also, he sometimes looks like a cat, so that helps. But make sure you catch him during the day, because at night, he heads down to the Duat, and he doesn't really like to be bothered.

    Sex: Male
    Age: Adult
    Build: Starting to get a little old in human form; looking fine as the Great Cat.
    Complexion: Ra has a great tan.
    Hair Color: If his falcon head has a wig, it's usually lapis blue. If he's in cat form, he's gold with black spots, like a cheetah. Every once in a while, he has a bull's head or a ram's head, and even more rarely, he grabs a big black beetle to put over his face! (Ew.)
    Facial Hair: A nice pharaoh's beard
    Scars/marks/tattoos: None
    Jewelry and accessories: Royal necklaces; a crown with a round sun-disk and a cobra; various royal scepters
    Clothing: A white kilt with red and gold accents
    Armor: A shirt of golden scale mail
    Type of Weapon: Sometimes Ra has a khopesh (a curved long sword), and sometimes he just lets his bodyguards handle things.

    Typical Companions:

    Thoth
    Ra's bodyguards: Hu (words), Sia (wisdom), and Heka (magic)
    Seth
    Various other gods who visit the Sun Boat

    Known Hangouts:

    The Sun Boat
    The sky (during the day), the Duat (the place the sun goes at night)
    The beach

  • Sightings

    Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

    Iunu or Heliopolis

    Ra's ancient city is probably much older than this, but the 2nd and 3rd Dynasties of Egypt's Old Kingdom are when we first see it mentioned in texts. Egyptians called it Iunu, or "pillar city," after its many obelisks. Greeks called it Heliopolis, or "city of the sun." Today, it is still called Heliopolis, and it's a suburb of Cairo.

    Jan 1, 1970

    The Sons of Ra

    Solar power was important to the pharaohs of Dynasty 4. They created pyramids (symbols of Ra's power), and carved magical texts (called Pyramid Texts) inside. These texts showed how they could rise to the sky after death and become like Ra. During life, they were the first kings to call themselves Sa-Ra, the Sons of Ra, and introduced a second royal name to show this to everybody.

    Dec 21, 2019

    Sun Temples

    Userkaf, the first king of Dynasty 5, built a new kind of temple. It was outside, with a small obelisk, and dedicated to Ra. Kings after him liked these sun temples so much that they built lots of them near their tombs and pyramids at Abusir and Abu Ghurab, near Cairo.

    Dec 21, 2019

    Amun-Ra, King of the Gods, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands

    During the Eleventh Dynasty, there was a split. In northern Egypt, Ra was King of the Gods. In southern Egypt, Amun was King of the Gods. This wasn't a problem until both parts of the country had royal palaces. During Dynasty 11, when the rulers were coming from the south instead of the north, both gods merged, like a giant solar Voltron, to become a new god, called Amun-Ra.

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    Obelisks

    These big stone needles that look like a tiny pyramid on top of a giant square pillar are supposed to be symbols of sun rays. During the New Kingdom, they got bigger and much fancier. Dozens of obelisks were put up at the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak (in Luxor, Egypt). Many of these are now in Rome or other cities around the world. One, the biggest of all, never left its quarry in Aswan—it cracked while they were carving it, and so they left it in the ground. (Source.)

    Dec 20, 2019 - Dec 20, 2019

    The Aten

    During Dynasty 18, a pharaoh, born with the name Amunhotep, decided he didn't like the Amun-Ra version of the sun god. For him, the sun itself, called Aten, was much more interesting. He changed his name to Akhenaten ("the shining one of the sun"), and even moved the capital of Egypt to a new city, where only Aten worship was permitted. Unfortunately for Akhenaten, this wasn't very popular, and after he died, things returned to normal.

    Jan 1, 1970 - Dec 20, 2019

    Mer-wer (Mnevis)

    During the Late Period Egypt, Ra had a sacred bull called Mer-wer (or Mnevis in Greek). Only completely black bulls could be dedicated to Ra this way, and they were sacrificed (beef brisket, anybody?) and then mummified at the temple of Heliopolis in Ra's honor. No bull! (Source.)

    Rising of the Sacred Bark

    Each morning, Ra's boat, sometimes called the Boat of Millions of Years, starts to climb the sky as it heads from sunrise to sunset. Each morning, Apep, the serpent of chaos, tries to stop Ra from rising, and various gods destroy it, and literally save the day. But chaos is not easy to get rid of, so every morning, it happens again. Each red sunrise is Apep's blood, from Seth's spear or Isis's chains or other gods' knives, and proof of good triumphing over evil.