Gallery: Sun Gods and Goddesses
Ra the Sun God
Credit: public domainThe Egyptian sun god Ra was said to sail his boat across the sky by day and carry it back through the underworld by night. This depiction of Ra is from the tomb of Nefertari.
Credit: Johannes Gehrts, 1901Freyr, the Norse god associated with sunlight, fertility and prosperity
Aztec Sun God
Credit: public domainThe Aztec sun god Tonatiuh depicted in the 16th century Codex Telleriano-Remensis. The Aztec believed that human sacrifice was necessary to keep the sun moving through the sky.
Amaterasu in Her Cave
Credit: Utagawa Toyokuni III, Kunisada, 1857In Japanese myth, the sun goddess Amaterasu hid in a cave after becoming angry with her brother. With Amaterasu hidden, the world plunged into darkness. The other gods hung a mirror outside her cave to lure her out, bringing light back again.
Credit: Tanjore School, 19th CenturyThe Hindu solar deity Surya. Yoga devotees will recognize Surya’s name from “Surya namaskara,” the “sun salutations” practiced as a way to worship the sun.
Credit: Photo by Ricardo André Frantz
, distributed under a Creative Commons License
In Greek mythology, the lyre-playing God Apollo became associated with the sun. This statue of Apollo is at the Musei Capitolini in Rome.
Shamash the Sun God
Credit: public domainShamash was the god of the sun in the Babylonian tradition of ancient Mesopotamia. Shamash was also associated with justice and was said to be the inspiration for the Babylonian king Hammurabi to codify laws into Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first written legal documents in history.
Head of Helios
Credit: public domain; Middle Hellenistic periodHelios, sometimes associated with Apollo in Greek myth, was the personification of the sun. This statue includes holes which would have once held a metal crown symbolizing the sun’s rays.