We cannot tell whether Ikhnaton had adopted his theory from Syria, and whether Aton was merely a form of Adonis.
Of whatever origin, the new god filled the king's soul with delight; he changed his own name from Amenhotep, which contained the name of Amon, to Ikhnaton, meaning "Aton is satisfied"; and helping himself with old hymns, and certain monotheistic poems published in the preceding reign.
He composed passionate Hymn to the sun and songs to Aton, of which this, the longest and the best Hymn to the sun, is the fairest surviving remnant of Egyptian literature:
Thy dawning is beautiful,
In the horizon of the sky,
O living Aton,
Beginning of life.
When thou risest in the eastern horizon,
Thou fillest every land,
With thy beauty.
Thou art beautiful,
High above every land,
They encompass the land,
Even all that thou hast made.
Thou art Re,
and thou carriest them all away captive;
Thou bindest them by thy love.
Though thou art far away,
Thy rays are upon earth;
Though thou art on high,
thy footprints are the day.
When thou settest in the western horizon of the sky,
The earth is in darkness like the dead;
They sleep in their chambers,
Their heads are wrapped up,
Their nostrils are stopped,
And none seeth the other,
All their things are stolen
Which are under their heads,
And they know it not.
Every lion cometh forth from his den,
All serpents they sting. . . .
The world is in silence,
He that made them resteth in his horizon.
Bright is the earth when thou risest in the horizon.
When thou shinest as Aton by day,
Thou drivest away the darkness.
When thou sendest forth thy rays,
The Two Lands are in daily festivity,
Awake and standing upon their feet,
When thou hast raised them up.
Their limbs bathed,
they take their clothing,
Their arms uplifted in adoration to thy dawning.
In all the world they do their work.
All cattle rest upon their pasturage,
The trees and the plants flourish,
The birds flutter in their marshes,
Their wings uplifted in adoration to thee.
All the sheep dance upon their feet,
All winged things fly,
They live when thou hast shone upon them.
The barks sail upstream and downstream.
Every highway is open because thou dawnest.
The fish in the river leap up before thee.
Thy rays are in the midst of the great green sea.
Creator of the germ in woman,
Maker of seed in man,
Giving life to the son in the body of his mother,
Soothing him that he may not weep,
Nurse even in the womb,
Giver of breath to animate every one that he maketh!
When he cometh forth from the body ...
on the day of his birth,
Thou openest his mouth in speech,
Thou suppliest his necessities.
When the fledgling in the egg chirps in the egg,
Thou givest him breath therein to preserve him alive.
When thou hast brought him together,
To the point of bursting the egg,
He cometh forth from the egg,
To chirp with all his might.
He goeth about upon his two feet,
When he hath come forth therefrom.
How manifold are thy works!
They are hidden from before us,
O sole god, whose powers no other possesseth.
Thou didst create the earth according to thy heart
While thou wast alone:
Men, all cattle large and small,
All that are upon the earth,
That go about upon their feet;
All that are on high,
That fly with their wings.
The foreign countries,
Syria and Kush,
The land of Egypt;
Thou settest every man into his place,
Thou suppliest their necessities. . . .
Thou makest the Nile in the nether world,
Thou bringest it as thou desirest,
To preserve alive the people. . . .
How excellent are thy designs,
O Lord of eternity!
There is a Nile in the sky for the strangers
And for the cattle of every country,
That go upon their feet. . . .
Thy rays nourish every garden;
When thou risest they live,
They grow by thee.
Thou makest the seasons,
In order to create all thy work:
Winter to bring them coolness,
And heat that they may taste thee.
Thou didst make the distant sky to rise therein,
In order to behold all that thou hast made,
Thou alone, shining in the form as living Aton,
Dawning, glittering, going afar and returning.
Thou makest millions of forms
Through thyself alone;
Cities, towns and tribes,
Highways and rivers.
All eyes see thee before them,
For thou art Aton of the day over the earth. . . .
Thou art in my heart,
There is no other that knoweth thee
Save thy son Ikhnaton.
Thou hast made him wise
In thy designs and in thy might.
The world is in thy hand,
Even as thou hast made them.
When thou hast risen they live,
When thou settest they die;
For thou art length of life of thyself,
Men live through thee,
While their eyes are upon thy beauty,
Until thou settest.
All labor is put away,
When thou settest in the west. . . .
Thou didst establish the world,
And raised them up for thy son. . . .
Ikhnaton, whose life is long;
And for the chief royal wife, his beloved,
Mistress of the Two Lands,
Living and flourishing for ever and ever.