For the Egyptians it was the creator-king Ra, for the Sumerians it was the high god An, from whom kingship descended. Similarly, the Hindu Brahma, the Chinese Huang-ti, Mexican Quetzalcoatl, Mayan Itzam Na and numerous counterparts among other nations, all preside over a paradisal epoch, while establishing the ideals and principles of kingship. Quoting: Global History
In Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, China, Greece, Italy, northern Europe, pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America--in fact, wherever the institution of kingship arose--the general rule is that royal genealogies lead back to this exemplary ruler, celebrated as the first in a sacred line of kings. The different myths recount in rich detail how the god built a great temple or city in primeval times, invented the alphabet, or taught a new language to a pre-literate race. They say it was he who invented the wheel, introduced the science of agriculture, instituted laws, and taught the true religion--in short, brought to a barbarous race all of the arts of civilization.
There is also a crucial connection here. This "ancestor-king" is so completely identified with the Golden Age that it is impossible to separate the one myth from the other. There is no Golden Age without a founding king, no founding king without a Golden Age.
The fabulous chronology of Egyptian kings or pharaohs offers a telling example. In his sweeping history of ancient Egypt, the Greek historian Herodotus enumerates the early lineage of kings. He tells us that there was a first king of Egypt, and his name was Helios. This first king of Egypt was not a mere mortal! He was a celestial power.
Of course Herodotus was simply translating an Egyptian name into Greek. For the Egyptians, the institution of kingship began with the rule of the primeval sun god Atum or Ra, who, prior to his retirement from the world, founded the Zep Tepi, the First Time, or Golden Age.
In Egypt all of the kingship rites point backwards to the age of Ra, a supreme god celebrated from one end of Egypt to the other as the prototype of kings. Indeed, every historical king's or pharaoh's authority derived from a connection to the ancestral king, for as the best Egyptologists have pointed out, the pharaoh was accredited as such by the claim that the blood of Atum-Ra coursed through his veins.
In rites deeply rooted in Egyptian cosmology, each new king symbolically ascended the throne of Ra, took as spouse Ra's own mistress, the mother goddess, wielded Ra's scepter, built temples and cities modeled after Ra's temple or city in the sky, adorned himself with the beard of the god, wore the crown of Ra as his own, and defeated neighboring enemies in just the way that Ra had defeated the hordes of darkness or chaos in the Zep Tepi. Identification of local king and celestial prototype was absolute.
Such is the universal tradition. Every king was, in a magical way, the Universal Monarch reborn. And this is why the chroniclers of king took such pains to establish the unbroken line. Only by proclaiming that the local king carried the blood of his predecessor, the Universal Monarch, could they certify his suitability for the prescribed function of kings.
The ancient Sumerians repeatedly proclaimed that kingship had descended directly from the creator-king An, the most ancient and highest god of the pantheon, and the revered founder of the Golden Age.
Consider the myths and images of the Hindu Brahma, Manu or Yama, the Iranian Yima, Danish Frodhi, or Chinese Huang-Ti--all models of the good king, ruling over a primitive paradise. The respective cultures esteemed these mythical figures as prototypes. In later ages the chroniclers have such figures ruling on earth. But in the earliest traditions the kingdom is in the sky, and the ancient rule of the Universal Monarch is one of the most pervasive archetypes of world mythology.
Natives of Mexico insisted that the great god Quetzalcoatl, a sun god who ruled before the present sun, was their first king and founder of the kingship rites. He not only introduced all of the arts of civilization, but presided over an ancient paradise.
The ancient Maya proclaimed that their once-spectacular civilization had its origins in the rule of the creator-king and god of the Golden Age, Itzam Na. At the center of Mayan culture, stood the sovereign chief, announcing himself as something like "the King of Kings and ruler of the world, regent on earth of the great Itzam Na."
The leading Mayan expert, J. Eric Thompson, saw this as an "inflated notion of grandeurů.a sort of divine right of kings which would have turned James I green with envy." And yet throughout the ancient world, one encounters this divine "grandeur" of kings at every turn.
The original concept may appear as self flattery, but it actually has more to do with a burden of kings, the requirement that the king live up to the mythical aura of the revered predecessor. Never was there a king in early times that did not wear the dress of a mythical god--the model of the good ruler. Whatever the celestial, founding king had achieved, it was the duty of the present king, pharaoh, or emperor to duplicate, at least through symbolic repetition. For such was the first test of a good king.
This historical burden of kings will explain why every king was expected to renew the primeval era of peace and plenty.
Why, for example, was the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III so eager to announce that he had restored conditions "as they were in the beginning", in the Zep Tepi or Golden Age of Ra? Or why did the Pharaoh Amenhotep III congratulate himself so for having made the country "flourish as in primeval times..."? The Pharaoh was expected to repeat the achievements of the celestial prototype.
In the same way, when the Sumerian king Dungi ascended the throne, it was declared that a champion had arisen to restore the original Paradise.. Indeed, every Sumerian king was expected to reproduce the wonders of "That Day," or the "Year of Abundance"--the Golden Age of An. When the famous Assyrian king Assurbanipal took the throne, the chroniclers proclaimed that "the harvest was plentiful, the corn was abundant. . .the cattle multiplied exceedingly." For such was the accreditation of a good king.
Among the Hebrews, the expectation was continually expressed that the king would introduce a new Golden Age. The Irish King, according to the respected expert J. A. MacCulloch, ruled under the same expectation: "Prosperity was supposed to characterize every good king's reign in Ireland," MacCulloch writes, and "the result is precisely that which everywhere marked the golden age."
This is, of course, a very familiar idea. In the words of the eminent psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, the ancient king was "the magical source of welfare and prosperity." It's interesting how often scholars have noticed the theme, without explaining it. How did this universal idea arise--that the earth is fruitful under the good king?
According to the myths themselves, the ideals of kingship were a mirror of the life and personality of the great celestial king whose rule brought abundance and cosmic harmony. Hence, the same state of things should accompany that king's successors who share in the blood-line and charisma of the great predecessor, whether that predecessor is called Ra or An, Quetzalcoatl or Itzam Na.