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Ancient Egypt Essay, Research Paper

Ancient EgyptTerm paperGods for the Egyptians were thought of as being human beings of a divine power that controls the past and future of the universe. Each divine being is a deity worthy of being loved; or capable of inspiring awe, obedience, and even fear. The effect of the above feelings on people lead them to setting-up of a system of worship of the deity, code of beliefs and to do things inspired by their religious faith. The Ancient Egyptian religion is much different from today’s modern religions. The many ways in which the Ancient Egyptian religion differed was in their belief of many gods, they didn’t have one universal system of religious belief, no theological commentaries or treatises, and there wasn’t any dogma. The polytheism of the Ancient Egyptians led to tolerance. Except for two brief periods in their history when there was an attempt to promote a monotheism. The Egyptians never suffered from persecutions done in the name of religion, there were no saints, and no martyrs. The Egyptians were gentle which cared a lot for their families. So the religion was based on family life, so the gods had wives, husbands, and children. Temples which were called Houses or Mansions of the gods each had a sancturary which was regarded as the bedroom of the god. The surrounding rooms were the guest rooms for visiting deities. The daily rituals of the priests were to give the god his breakfast in the morning and supper in the evening. The Ancient Egyptians didn’t have bloodbaths with animals or humans sacrifices. Instead, each god lived in their temple in peace with their wife, husband, and children. Inside some of the temples the Egyptains would keep cats, bulls, ibises, hawks, and worship them as gods. When the animals, birds, or reptiles died they would be mummified and buried as they would have buried their kings. When the Ancient Egyptians encountered other people’s gods they were always ready to accept them most of the time. The Egyptian would never remove a god. The Egyptian didn’t feel any need to give so there was not really much attempts to persuade non-Egyptains to worship their gods. In Ancient Egypt their religion was based on cult, mainly the local cult which meant more to the individual. Therefore many of the deities flourished simultaneously and the Egyptians were always ready to adopt new gods or change their view about the old gods.. The early Ancient Egyptian’s (5000BC-3100BC) which were animists identified certain animals, birds, trees or stones as homes of spirits, both bad and good. The Egyptians even consider geographical features to contain spirits such as the highest peaks in the Theban area was worshipped as Ta-Dehenet goddess of Theban necropolis. Slowly the good spirits became gods who were served by magicians which could influence the actions of the good spirits and evil spirits. The early Egyptian’s believe that they could bestow an object with magical and mystical power but not with a living soul.(fetishism) Many different objects were worshipped as fetishes such as a shield and arrows, a scepter ect . What type of fetish worshipped depend on the community or village the worshipper was from. In the prehistoric(3100 BC) era the Egyptians began to give their sacred animals a human form so that the gods could be represented in a human form. The animals chosen depended on the community because different animals were sacred in each community. By giving a sacred animal a human body the animal was consider to be imbued with the spirit of the god or to be a manifestation of the god on earth. The fourth type of deity worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians were the Cosmic gods which were gods of moon, storm, wind, and the sun. These gods represent a more advance form of the previous gods because the comprehension and worship of these gods required a greater intellectual effort. Cosmic gods were fully developed in end on the historic era (3000 BC).Creation of gods Until about the year 3000 BC Egypt was divided into two distinct halves, north and south Egypt which made up of 42 nomes or provinces.By the year 3000 BC all 42 Nomes or provinces merged together and the state god became that of the Royal family deity worship(Sun God). The state god was worshiped by everyone and brought a lot of wealth to the province it came from. The other provinces seeing this they decided that they would do something called syncretism, which is when they merge gods together. The end result of this as that every god would merge into one god but this proved to be impossible. +

So there ended being over thousand gods which could be either Local gods, Universal gods, or Personal gods. Local gods were the inanimate object or animals, birds and other creatures associated with a particular Nome. Universal gods were the Cosmic deities which represent the forces of nature. Personal gods who were objects or animals chosen by a person to be a god. +Creation Myth According to the Heliopolitan tradition the world began as a watery chaos called Nun, from which the sun-god Atum (later to identified with Re) emerged on a mound. By his own power he engendered the twin deities Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture), who in turn bore Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). Geb and Nut finally produced Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. The nine gods so created formed the divine ennead (i.e. company of nine) which in later texts was often regarded as a single divine entity. From this system derived the commonly accepted conception of the universe represented as a figure of the air-god Shu standing and supporting with his hands the out-stretched body of the sky-goddess ut, with Geb the earth-god lying at his feet. Hermopolitan Ogdoad The second cosmological tradition of Egypt was developed at Hermopolis, the capital of the fifteenth Nome of Upper Egypt. According to this tradition, chaos existed at the beginning of time before the world was created. This chaos possessed four characteristics identified with eight deities who were grouped in pairs: Nun and Naunet, (god and goddess of the primordial water), Heh and Hehet, (god and goddess of infinite space), Kek and Keket, (god and goddess of darkness), and Amun and Amunet, (god and goddess of invisibility). These deities were not so much the gods of the earth at the time of creation as the personifications of the characteristic elements of chaos out of which earth emerged. They formed what is called the Hermopolitan Ogdoad (company of eight). Out of chaos so conceived arose the primeval mound at Hermopolis and on the mound was deposited an egg from which emerged the sun-god. The sun-god then proceeded to organize the world. Memphite Theology The third cosmological system was developed at Memphis, when it became the capital city of the kings of Egypt. Ptah was the great creator-god, but eight other gods were held to be contained within him. Of these eight, some were members of the Heliopolitan Ennead, and others of the Hermopolitan Ogdoad. The Soul The way in which the Egyptian viewed the soul was much different from the way we see the soul. They saw the soul as being the personality of a person divided into different components. The ka, for example, was the cosmic double, born with an individual. When a person dies, the ka lives on, residing in the tomb, where it stays in the mummy or the statue of the deceased. Identified by its symbol of two upraised arms, Egyptians believed that the ka also required food and drink, and they made elaborate provisions for it. The deceased’s shadow was similar to our ghost. The ab, or heart, represented the seat of intellect and conscience. The ren, or the deceased’s name, was the most important because if it were not inscribed in the tomb, an individual’s spiritual being vanished forever. The ba, shown as a human-headed bird, symbolized the individual’s general vitality, a dynamic spirit that could emerge to wander the earth and invade the realms of the living. The deceased’s relatives would address letters and prayers to the ba, asking for help or asking it not to meddle with mortal lives. Egyptians believed the ba carried lanterns, creating the stars of the night sky. Unlike the soul of the king, whose union with Osiris seemed assured, souls of ordinary mortals had to be judged. The deceased first declared innocence of wrongdoing to 72 gods of the underworld: “I have not killed; I have not added to the weight of the balance; I have not caused pain; I have not caused tears; I have not held back water in its season. . . .” The individual was led by Horus into the Hall of Truth, where Anubis weighed the deceased’s heart against the feather of Ma’at(universal order and balance). The scales had to balance or the soul would be devoured by Ammut, a monster who was part crocodile, part lion. The royal scribe Thoth recorded the results, and Horus led the pure of heart to Osiris, who granted eternal life.


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