Egyptian Mythology Most of the People Would Essay

  • Length: 11 pages
  • Sources: 11
  • Subject: Mythology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #20747239

Excerpt from Essay :

Egyptian Mythology

Most of the people would define a myth as a story. But this is not the correct meaning of a myth. The debate over the accurate meaning of myth has been going through since last 2000 years. The most generally accepted definition of a myth is that, myths are stories regarding the gods. They are sacred stories and they give an explanation about the way the world is. They are traditional stories that contain knowledge and information. (Pinch 1-5)

Mythological stories have been told by the Egyptians for thousands of years. They, however, properly started recording and writing these mythological stories from 2000 BC. In the ancient times the Egyptians had a number of gods. People belonging to different regions had different gods whom they worshiped. With the development of society, people of different regions started living together, and the stories regarding the culture, traditions, religion and way of living of people of different region started to blend together. The people from one region started to include the gods from another region in their myths. The structure of these myths somewhat overlapped but the Egyptians were completely satisfied with this structure. The myths from different regions contradict each other at times, for instance in one myth god Seth is represented as the protector and savior of the southern region, whereas, in another myth he is represented as the enemy of all other gods. (Hamilton 8-10)

In the ancient times some myths were written to teach people certain lessons, for example, in one myth goddess Isis disguised herself as a poor woman to check who would help her. A rich woman met Isis but Isis and refused to help her whereas, a poor fish woman helped Isis and took her to her home. As a result a scorpion bit the rich woman and she suffered great pain. This myth teaches the people the importance of humanity and generosity. With the passage of time the structure of myths kept on changing and the myths about few gods and goddesses became very popular. (Hamilton 8-10)

The ancient Egyptian mythology was not predominantly discriminated. But it contained certain kinds of discrimination. One of these was racial discrimination as most of the myths are written about the male deities and their power, therefore, it may lead towards a sense of discrimination against female gender. (Massey 51-53)

The mythology was kept hidden from a certain class of people and it was prohibited to share the sacred mythology with the lower class of people so this leads towards social discrimination. As the people belonging to the lower class were not included in the ancient Egyptian mythology, neither was the information contained in this mythology was shared with the people belonging to the lower class of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Kings in the ancient times were considered to be the link between humanity and gods and hence they were given supreme importance over others. (Massey 51-53)

History of the Egyptian Myths

According to a number of scholars, myths were not present in the early time of the Egyptian history and they were developed in the latter times. This fact is supported by the scarce number of the mythological stories. The basic reason behind the development of Egyptian mythology was to give an account for the rituals that existed in the ancient Egypt. In the beginning myths did not play an important role in explaining the rituals that were prevalent in Egypt. In the later stage of the development of the mythologies, Egyptian rituals were being honored as holy, first by the inclusion of deities, the people possessing supernatural powers, and then by the inclusion of events that took place in the world of the gods as these events were important for adding authenticity to the Egyptian rituals. (Dijk 1697-1700)

However, according to some scholars, the early stages of the development of the Egyptian mythology were hypothetical and were based on the events that did not exist in the reality. The scholars have commented that only the later stage of the development of the Egyptian mythology is well documented and it reflects the Egyptian rituals and culture in a detailed manner. (Dijk 1697-1700)

Creation of Myths

The Egyptians were always curious about knowing about the origin of the world and of the universe as well. This speculation gave way to the creation mythology, theology and even philosophy. The curiosity in this area led towards the creation of the major religious concepts of Heliopolis, Memphis, Hermopolis and Thebes. The theologies related to each of the discussed religious concepts often compete with each other and this led towards an increase in the curiosity to know more about each of the religious centers and hence it led towards the creation of increased number of myths. (Dijk 1697-1700)

Mystery in the Egyptian Mythology (Reason for the Absence of Myths in The Early Egyptian Period)

A reason for the absence of the Egyptian mythology from the early documents of the Egyptian history is that in the earlier times the myths were communicated orally and they were not documented in the written form. This is because the knowledge contained in these myths is restricted to the specific religious class of the Egyptian society including the kings and some high officials. And these people were asked not to reveal this information to any other party as it was regarded as a mystery. In the myth of Re and Osiris it is stated that, 'he who will reveal it will be executed, for it is a great mystery, it is Re, it is Osiris'. The information contained in these mythologies was revealed to a selected group of people who then turned towards priesthood. The small amount of historical myths that were documented cannot be easily accessed as they were the eternal part of Egyptian history and are hidden in the innermost parts of the temples or are hidden in the tombs at Thebes in the Valley of the Kings. This proves that the early mythologies were to be kept as hidden mysteries. (Dijk 1697-1700)

Sources of Egyptian Mythology

The religion of ancient Egypt did not have any authentic religious book such as the Bible or the Quran. The relationships between different gods and deities were not developed in a single moment in time, instead they kept on changing with the passage of time. The priests and the scholars in the ancient Egypt did not compile the Egyptian mythology in one appropriate document like the Greek mythology. There are only a few relevant well documented forms of mythology that comes from different Egyptian languages and regions. The Egyptian mythology had to be gathered from various written documents so that it could be compiled into relevant sources. There are various numbers of such sources. (Pinch 1-5)

Impact of the Egyptian Mythology on the Egyptian Culture

The Egyptian mythology formed the basis for the Egyptian religion. The basic purpose of the Egyptian religion was the maintenance of Ma'at and Egyptian mythology contained the actions that led towards its maintenance. For this purpose, Egyptian rituals generally consisted of the actions that somewhat represented the mythical events. But the Egyptian rituals do not usually include the reenactment of the entire mythical event. Usually the Egyptian rituals consisted of basic actions, such as giving offering to different gods and myths acted as a guidance or basis of these rituals. Myths and rituals influence each other greatly. In the ancient times if a ritual did not have a myth it was interpreted that it had one as ancient myths inspired the Egyptian rituals. Mythology also provided a basic guideline for the structure of government in the ancient Egyptian society. ("Egyptian Mythology")

Ancient mythology has greatly influenced the art of that time as the drawings or pictures of gods and other mythological events are present in all of the temples, tombs and funeral texts. The art was designed in a way so that it may evoke the themes of the Egyptian mythology. Apart from that, the symbols, representing mythical events were, designed in a manner so that they could be reinterpreted in a number of ways. This is because the meaning of myths kept on changing with the passage of time and so does the meaning of their symbols. ("Egyptian Mythology")

The Egyptian literature is also heavily influenced by the themes of mythology. Apart from religious texts, the mythical themes can also be found in non-religious texts. The non-religious texts adopt the mythical themes to convey some moral lessons and they use the mythical themes for purposes other than religion. The diversified functions performed by various religious and non-religious texts elaborate the ways in which the mythology has affected the Egyptian culture, religion and traditions. ("Egyptian Mythology")

Importance of Egyptian Mythology in Understanding the Global History

Myths are the basic structure of the global history. We were given the first systematic explanation of the world and its working by myths. The primary mode of understanding the purpose of life and its beginning, we…

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