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Ancient Egypt: From Belief Systems To A Civilization

1086 words - 5 pages

Culture is the basis of any society present on our earth today and therefore of any ancient civilization we have historically come to know. Culture may simply be defined as a “way of life” but in essence, that can be disembodied into a collection of belief systems based on religion, economy, politics, family, and so on. As with construction companies, schools, or government systems, all people who choose to follow a specific philosophy of life must function as one undivided group- a society. A prime example of vast belief systems coming together as one culture could be found around 4000 years ago, during the times of the Ancient Egyptians. As historian Paul Johnson said, “In the Egypt of antiquity, State, religion and culture formed an indisputable unity.” The one-of-a-kind theocratic religious government, along with other views of the people of Egypt can be presumed to be the cause of the daily behavior of the Egyptians, as well as the continuous development of the civilization- leading it to be such an important part in the ancient world.
The life of an Egyptian, from birth to death, was centered around their religion; whether it was belief in their many polytheistic gods, worship of the pharaoh, or struggle to have a spot in the afterlife. The Egyptian people worshiped their pharaohs equivalently as a god; he or she was considered to possess ‘maat’, which stood for divine order and morality, and was also in charge of dispensing this peace. In order for the god-king to ascend to the throne, he must claim to be the son of the King of the Gods, Ra, rather than the son of a previous king. The pharaoh was looked up to by all members of society in the event of sacrifices, connections/prayers to the gods, and guidance for a moral, spiritual life as the Egyptians believed their destiny was linked to their leader’s. The Egyptian gods were seen as both human and divine and so worship of them was specifically special and important. As in most polytheistic religions, there were different gods for each aspect of daily life or virtue of man, whether it be the sun, wisdom, strength, etc. Everyday, under the Pharaoh’s procedure, rituals and religious festivals would be held to honor the gods in the idea of maintaining the divine order of daily life. The Egyptian’s strong belief in the afterlife and final judgement of the soul led them to consider every action they carried out during their human life on earth. The goal of every non-noble Egyptian was to become an akh- a spirit that is prepared for a life after death. In order to achieve this prepared stage, one must not only build a sturdy tomb and store up treasure, but must also live a truthful and moral life so when their heart is weighed at judgement, it will be balanced. An Egyptian could additionally devote his life to reciting a complicated system of prayers, spells, and other incantations to guarantee a successful trial. The god of the underworld, Osiris, was said to be the most favored god because...

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