In Amenhotep III we can see the lazy and speculative Oriental, too improbable and too vain to bear the rigid routine of his fathers, yet too devoid of energy to formulate a new religion. On the other hand, there is everything about Aton, which completely supplants Atum, has been heard with some frequency in Thebes and elsewhere, but always, it must be remembered, as another word for Ra-Horakhti.
On the other hand, it may be supposed that the Queen Tiy possessed the ability to condition the affirmations of the new thought on her husband’s mind, and gradually to turn her eyes, and those of the court, away from the dark adoration of Amon in the direction of the brilliant. cult of the sun. Those who have traveled to Egypt will realize how completely the earth is dominated by the sun. The blue skies, the sparkling rocks, the golden desert, the green fields, all seem to cry out for the joy of the sun. The extraordinary energy that can be felt in Egypt at dawn and the profound melancholy that accompanies the red night must have been felt by Tiy also in his palace in Thebes. Over the years, the power and influence of the Queen Tiy increased; and now that he had brought a son to the king, the equally important role of the royal mother was added to his great position as royal wife. Never before had a queen been represented so freely in all the king’s monuments, nor had such a fine series of titles been given before to a pharaoh’s wife.
In Serdenga, far from Sudan, her husband erected a temple there; and in the distant Sinai a beautiful portrait of her was found. All visitors to Thebes saw his figure alongside the legs of the two great colossi on the edge of the Western Desert; and the huge statues of herself and her husband, now in the Cairo Museum, will be seen by those who have visited that collection. Of Gilukhipa / anyway, and the other wives of the king, nothing is heard: Queen Tiy has relegated them in the background almost before their wedding ceremonies were over.
When Amenhotep III reigned for about thirty years, he had stopped paying close attention to affairs of state, and the power had almost completely passed into the capable hands of Tiy. Already an influence, which we could presume to have been in large part of her, she felt in many directions: Ra-Horakhti and Aton were brought to the fore, a tone of thought that can hardly be considered as purely Egyptian, the art was undergoing changes and had achieved a level of excellence never before and after. The exquisite bas-reliefs of the end of the reign of Amenhotep III – for example, those that can be seen in Thebes in the tombs of Khaemhet and Ramose, both decidedly dated at the end of the reign – almost like the works of the early Florentine masters elusive grace in the delicate figures carved there, which, through another means and according to other conventional laws, make them appeal with the same force of indefinable sweetness as the figures in the works of Filippino Lippi and Botticelli do. In the mass of Egyptian painting and sculpture of secondary importance such gems were neglected and were not appreciated by the public; but the present writer ventures to think that one day they will put the hearts of all art lovers who dance like those of the great masters of Queen Tiy danced.
The court in which the little prince spent his early years was brighter than ever, and Queen Tiy presided over scenes of indescribable splendor. Amenofi III was truly called “the Magnificent”; and at no time, save that of Thutmose III, the royal treasures were so full or the nobles so rich. Outside a parade of festivities, from the noise of singing and laughter, the little sad-eyed prince emerges for the first time on the stage of history, guided by the hand of Queen Tiy; but as appears before us, above the tinkling of the golden cups of wine, above the sound of the eardrums, it seems to hear the cadence of a simpler song, and the peaceful song of a lark.
ARTHUR WEIGALL – THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AKHENATEN