"The Egyptian Book of the Dead"
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This paper examines "The Egyptian Book of the Dead", writings sealed in ancient Egyptian tombs, which dealt not only with the pleasures of the afterlife, but also with the journey to that other place. The paper points out that this journey was fraught with dangers that must be overcome were the soul to survive to enjoy its eternal happiness. "The Book of the Dead" represented an early attempt to explain these dangers, and also to impart the esoteric knowledge essential to achieving everlasting contentment. The paper adds that the book also furnishes many clues about ancient Egyptian society and culture. It concludes that the book is an early triumph of art and literature, which continues to inform and inspire.
From the Paper:"The many faces of the Egyptian spirit world also related to the Egyptian concepts of daily life and thought that are so well portrayed in the Book of the Dead. Many of the copies of the Book that have come down to us were found in the tombs of high pharaonic officials. Their supplications of the divine are frequently likened to their duties as servants of Egypt's god-kings. For the pharaoh was both man and god, the "good god" who walked the Earth, and afterwards died and rejoined his divine brethren. Egypt, like the netherworld, was a hierarchical and efficiently-managed state with king and officials at its helm. As in the Egypt of this world, the dead expected to enjoy the bounty of their fields and herds, and also the labor of their dependents. Many passages of the Book of the Dead relate Egyptian concepts of the afterlife that are also idealized descriptions of Egyptian life on this Earth. By describing such actions or conditions, the Egyptians perpetuated them in the hereafter: "To copy, to forge, to double, to represent was as if the action or state was always in effect, at least that was the underlying desire." And the world that the Egyptians were re-doubling was in fact the one that they already knew in life. Modern archeologists and historians can use the Book of the Dead as a tool to unraveling the mysteries of Egyptian daily life. The illustrations serve as clear guides to the appearance of the Egyptians themselves, their dress and hairstyles - even the colors they preferred. One can also get some idea of the appearance of Egyptian houses, gardens, and the like. Even the food eaten by the Ancient Egyptians is carefully described in the rituals accorded the deceased - "The roast for the double rib is from the slaughter house, thy retch-bread is from the Wide Hall. As a god is supplied with the offering meal, Unas is supplied with his bread." It is a ritual formula that, nevertheless; makes clear the diet of the Ancient Egyptians and also the manner in which the gods were served in the temples. Egyptian society comes through clearly in amid the religious and ceremonial passages of the Book of the Dead."
Sample of Sources Used:
- Armah, Ayi Kwei. "The Identity of the Creators of Ancient Egypt: Ayi Kwei Armah Now Takes Us through the Nitty Gritty of Who the Ancient Egyptians Really Were." New African Apr. 2006: 16+.
- Brier, Bob, and Hoyt Hobbs. Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
- Knapp, Bettina. "The Archetypal Woman Fulfilled: Isis, Harmony of Flesh/Spirit/Logos." Symposium 50.1 (1996): 28-39.
- Meskell, Lynn. Object Worlds in Ancient Egypt: Material Biographies Past and Present /. New York: Berg, 2004.
- Pinch, Geraldine. Egyptian Myth: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Cite this Book Review:
"The Egyptian Book of the Dead" (2008, July 29) Retrieved October 14, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-egyptian-book-of-the-dead-106192/
""The Egyptian Book of the Dead"" 29 July 2008. Web. 14 October. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/the-egyptian-book-of-the-dead-106192/>