The Sun in culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Sun plays a central role of most of the world's mythologies.

As the most prominent celestial body visible in the sky, is one of the classical planets


The Sun is sometimes referred to by its Latin name Sol or by its Greek name Helios. The English word sun stems from Proto-Germanic *sunnǭ.[1][2][3]

Solar deities[edit]

Main article: Solar deities

Ancient Near East[edit]

The Egyptians identified the Sun with Ra, one of the major deities in their religion, and the visible disk of the Sun (known as Aten) was either seen as the body or the eye of Ra. The pharaoh Akhenaten established a monotheistic religion during his reign, with Aten as its central figure.

Sun worship was apparently practiced in Pre-Islamic Arabia, abolished only under Muhammad.[4]

Classical Antiquity[edit]

The religious significance of the Sun has its roots in the very earliest of recorded European history. Both the ancient Greeks and ancient Romans worshipped one or more solar deities.

Many Greek myths personify the Sun as a God named Helios, who wore a shining crown and rode a chariot across the sky, causing day. Over time, the Sun became increasingly associated with Apollo. Icarus attempted to fly but the sun melted his wings.

The Roman Empire adopted Helios into their own mythology as Sol. The title Sol Invictus ("the undefeated Sun") was applied to several solar deities, and depicted on several types of Roman coins during the 3rd and 4th centuries. The birth of "the undefeated Sun" was celebrated on the 25th of December from at least as early as 354.

Indian religions[edit]

In Hindu religious literature, the Sun is notably mentioned as the visible form of God that one can see every day. In Hinduism, Surya (Devanagari: सूर्य, sūrya) is the chief solar deity, son of Dyaus Pitar. The ritual of sandhyavandanam, performed by some Hindus, is meant to worship the Sun. Many scripts from Hindu mythology referred the sun as a King, who rides on a chariot seven horses (this is indication of seven colors from Sunlight).

Pre-Columbian Americas[edit]

The Sun was also worshiped in many pre-Columbian societies in the Americas, including the Incas and Aztecs.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In most romance languages the sun is male (e.g. le soleil in French, el sol in Spanish, Il Sole in Italian). In most Germanic languages it is feminine (e.g. Die Sonne in German). In Proto-Indo-European, its gender was inanimate.
  3. ^ "sun". Merriam Webster dictionary. 
  4. ^ "The Sun and the Moon are from among the evidences of God. They do not eclipse because of someone's death or life." Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Translated by Isma'il Razi A. al-Faruqi, The Life of Muhammad, American Trush Publications, 1976, ISBN 0-89259-002-5 [1]

Further reading[edit]

  • Richard Cohen (2010-11-09). Chasing the Sun: The Epic Story of the Star That Gives Us Life. Random House. ISBN 1400068754.