Re lives in the heavens, where the order was established. Each morning he was reborn in the east and traveled across the sky in a boat, called the Bark of Millions of Years, accompanied by a number of gods who acted as his followers. The sun god was carried across the sky by the scarab god, Khepri, a dung beetle. His chief enemy was the Apep, a huge serpent that lived in the Nile and the waters of Nun. Apep tried to obstruct the solar bark’s daily passage, but the sun god was ultimately victorious.
The sun god was the most important deity in the Egyptian pantheon. He had many names: as the sun disk, he was Aten; as the rising sun, he was Khepri, the scarab; at the sun’s zenith, he was Re, the supreme god of Heliopolis; and as the setting sun, he was Atum. Egypt’s pyramids and obelisks, as well as the sphinx, were associated with the sun god.
In the New Kingdom, the sphinx was a symbol for the sun god as Re-Horakhty, the winged sun disk that appeared on the horizon at dawn.
The sun, a symbol of light and enlightenment, is probably the most enduring symbol found in ancient and modern religions. Living in a land of eternal sunshine, it is little wonder the ancient Egyptians chose the sun as the prime symbol for the creator of the universe.