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Social Values in the Book of the Dead and Ancient Egyptian Inscriptions

2015-07-07 来源: 51due教员组 类别: Essay范文

本文主要讲的是关于在死亡之书观和古埃及铭文中去挖掘发现其存在的社会价值的essay范文。死亡之书代表了古埃及人的社会价值基础上的理论精神道德守则。从这个死亡之书在古王国时期的自传,古埃及文献反映了权力的集中在古埃及人的社会价值的影响。

The Book of the Dead, which includes the Great Hymn of Osiris and snatches of description of the great leader, completes a record of Osiris’s experience. In some degree, it integrates the ancient Egyptian mythology system by interweaving snatches of ancient tales, and therefore, it represents the social values of ancient Egyptians as ethic codes based on theory of spirit. From this the Book of the Dead to autobiographies during the Old Kingdom period, ancient Egyptian literatures reflect the impact of concentration of authority on the social value of ancient Egyptians’. 

The theory of spirit lays the ground for telling good and evil in ancient Egypt, which is also reflected in Osiris’s experience. Ancient Egyptians didn’t regard death as the end of life, but instead believing all creatures are in circulations like the nature phenomenon because of their nature worship. This theory is also reflected by Osiris’s murder and reincarnation. 
Since ancient Egyptians thought people has spirit and an afterlife, good deeds done in worldly life therefore became the criteria of entrance another life. After Osiris became the god of the underworld, every soul before going to another world should have a judgment in front of him. Chapter 125 of The Book of the Dead reserves a series of questions and two declarations of innocence, which is helpful for us to understand the moral value in the ancient Egypt. The text set down an inclusive standard of general statements about what was and what was not acceptable behavior—for example, one would declare “I have not caused tears” and “I have not done any harm.” It also records some very specific wrong doings. For example, it mentioned crimes of a cultic nature like stealing from temple offerings or offerings to the dead, blasphemy, and for economic crimes, one should deny cheating with the grain measure or the plummet of the balance. One has not done these evil deals but instead conducting good deeds would be allowed to live in the underworld towards eternity. The judgment of Osiris reveals that in ancient Egypt, people have already established a theory of spirit and on the base of it built up moral codes which reward the good and punish the bad. 
Similar statements can also be seen in Weni’s inscription: “I rescued the weak from one stronger than he as much as in my power. I buried who has no son.” It can be deduced that these social values became clichés in autobiographies during that time, as terms describe ideal behavior in such biographies, including justice, honesty, fairness, mercy, kindness and generosity. But Harhuf’s autobiography starts with long pharaoh-oriented prayers that reflects the moral standard people in six Dynasty in the Old Kingdom Egypt valued: one be praised by the king. In the Book of the Dead we can see that all ancient Egyptian love their gods and they believed that looking out for others was a good moral model in his life. However in those autobiographies, pharaohs’ desire became the standard. 
At the beginning, many gods’ participation in the judgment shows us the tradition of multi-god in ancient Egyptian’s value. Yet, as Osiris takes the main role, it also represents the transition from multi-god to the situation of power centralization. The good variety of “labor division” among ancient Egyptian gods was derived from a tribe culture prior to the formation of a central power, when every tribe has their own god. Later on, this value was replaced by concentrating the power on one role, which is also reflected by the success of Osiris’s son. 
In the Old Kingdom period, the worship of the god of the sun was on its rise and pharaoh claimed to be the son of the god. It can be seen that amid the Six Dynasty, pharaoh has already gained a lot of power and became ‘the god on the earth.’ Pharaohs determine how people live up to the ma’at. As Nefer-seshem-re’s inscription records: “having done ma'at for its lord, having satisfied him with that which he desires." This centralization is evident in autobiographies. The traditional funerary prayer usually begins with sentence like “an offering the king grants.” In the Autobiography of Weni, the respect for Egypt kings, pharaohs, is amplified by repetition. A lot of paragraphs end with sentence like “I was excellent in his majesty’s heart; I was rooted in his majesty’s heart; his majesty’s heart was filled with me.” 
All in all, Ancient Egyptian literature mirrors the transition in the Old Kingdom era, and faithfully records how this outer environment shaped people’s values. 
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