Akhenaten

Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) was a Pharaoh of Egypt's 18th Dynasty, who by all accounts was kind of a dick. Or at least, enough of a dick to really piss some people off. And by "some people," we mean "all of Egypt."

Just The Facts

  1. He was a pain in the ass from day one.
  2. He implemented monotheism in Ancient Egypt...
  3. ...only to have the entire country do its best to pretend he never existed.

The Man

To his credit, Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) never really tried to hide how much of a dick he was, nor how little of a shit he gave about Egyptian tradition. As the son of Amenhotep III, he inherited a vast fortune and the right to do whatever the fuck he wanted.

Which is exactly what he did, pretty much from day one. In his first year, he built a Temple to his favorite deity, Aten (the sun God he elevated to "the only God"). In his third year, he threw himself a Sed-festival--normally reserved for a Pharaoh's thirtieth anniversary of Pharaohoodness.

Upon his ascension, he threw away his royal name, demanded that he be worshiped, and started the cult of the Sun Disk--the Aten. Basically, he was just letting everyone else know what a pain in the ass he planned on being during his reign.

The Religion

Possibly being inspired by Joseph or Moses, Akhenaten went balls-to-the-wall with the idea of monotheism, ramping it up each time nobody killed him.
At the time, Thebes was the religious capital of Egypt, with worship focused on the god Amun. Our protagonist took one look at what was going on and decided that Amun kind of sucked, and that he liked Aten more.
He started small at first, just testing the what-can-I-get-away-with waters. After nobody tore down his Temple to Aten, he built a whole bunch more. And then a city (modern-day Amarna) dedicated to Aten.
By his ninth year as Pharaoh, Akhenaten had declared that Aten was the only God, that he was the only one who could communicate with Aten, and subsequently, that it made sense for everyone to worship the Royal Family instead of the actual deity. He erased parts of inscriptions that used the plural word for "god," and defaced his own father's name for containing the word "Amun."

The Aftermath

Akhenaten was such a colossal dick that when he finally died, the entire nation of Egypt breathed a sigh of relief and went about destroying all evidence that he ever existed. His image and names were chiseled off of pretty much everything he touched. His temples to Aten were dismantled, the city he built was deserted, and the traditional polytheistic views were immediately restored.

Oh, and his name was left off the (roughly-translated) Grand List O' Pharaohs, which was published shortly after his death.