King of the Gods
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In Polytheistic systems there is a tendency for one divinity, usually male, to achieve pre-eminence as King of the Gods. This tendency is paralleled with the growth of hierarchical systems of political power, in which a monarch eventually comes to assume ultimate authority for human affairs. Other gods come to serve in a Divine Council or pantheon, usually linked by family ties from union of a single husband or wife, or else from an androgynous divinity who is responsible for the creation.
Historically, subsequent social events, such as invasions or shifts in power structures sees the previous "King of the Gods" displaced by a new divinity, who assumes the previous God's attributes and functions.
Examples of this displacement of Kings of the Gods include
- The Ancient Greek Olympian Gods, in which Cronus displaces Uranus, and Zeus in turn displaces Cronus
- In the Armenian Ar, later - Aramazd.
- The Hurrian/Hittite pantheon in which Kumarbi is displaced by Teshub or Tarhunt or Arinna.
- The Canaanite panthon, in which Hadad displaces El
- The Ancient Egyptian Ennead and Ogdoad where Osiris assumes pre-eminence, to be displaced by Seth or Sutekh, who is in turn replaced by Horus, son to Osiris and Isis
- In the Historical Vedic religion, the King of the Gods was Indra. Though Indra still retains the title of the king of the gods and the ruler of heaven, the Trinity of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu assume his protective functions as the Vedic religion evolved into Brahmanical Hinduism. Indra is often considered inferior to the Trinity.
- In the Mesopotamian Anunnaki, Enlil displaces Anu and is in turn replaced by Marduk.
There is also a tendency for kings of the Gods to assume more and more importance, syncretistically assuming the attributes and functions of lesser divinities, who come to be seen as aspects of the single supreme deity. Examples of this include
- Ancient Iranian Ahura Mazda of the Zoroastrians
- Hinduism where Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu are seen as comprising the essence of all other divinities, and are considered aspects of the same monist reality, an impersonal force called Brahman.
- Judaism where Angelology sees previous divinities becoming aspects of a single supreme creator's powers.
Here a list of the leaders of the various pantheons
- Australian Aboriginal pantheon: Baiame
- Algonquin pantheon: Gitche Manitou
- Ashanti pantheon: Nyame
- Aztec pantheon: Huitzilopochtli or Ometeotl or Quetzalcoatl
- Canaanite pantheon: Hadad or Ba'al
- Celtic pantheon: Dagda
- Chinese pantheon: Shangdi or Tian
- Dahomey pantheon: Nana Buluku
- Egyptian pantheon: Ra, later Amun-Ra
- Finnic pantheon: Ukko
- Germanic pantheon: Týr or Wōden
- Greek pantheon: Zeus
- Guarani pantheon: Tupa
- Haida pantheon: Raven
- Hindu pantheon: Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu or Brahman
- Hittite pantheon: Arinna or Teshub
- Hopi pantheon: Angwusnasomtaka
- Inca pantheon: Viracocha or Inti
- Inuit pantheon: Anguta or Anigut but only among the Greenlandic Inuit
- Japanese pantheon: Izanagi-no-Mikoto, then Amaterasu-Ōmikami
- Latin pantheon: Janus, then Jupiter
- Lakota pantheon: Wakan Tanka or Inyan
- Lusitanian pantheon: Endovelicus
- Māori pantheon: Tāne
- Mayan pantheon: Hunab Ku
- Mesopotamian pantheon: Sumerian: An, later Enlil; Babylonian: Marduk
- Miwok pantheon: Coyote
- Mongolian pantheon: Tengri
- Nabatean pantheon: Dushara
- Norse pantheon: Odin
- Persian pantheon: Ahura Mazda
- Pre-Monotheistic Jewish pantheon: originally El or Elyon, later Yahweh
- Sami pantheon: Beaivi
- Slavic pantheon: Perun
- Tagalog/Filipino pantheon: Bathala
- Vodou pantheon: Bondye
- Yoruba pantheon: Olorun