Lecture 2 - Theology

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Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
Zoe Mc Quinn

NMC343 -Ancient Egypt I Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Lecture 2 - Theology Recap • Dyads - Partnership • Triads - Usually family related (3 members; 2 parents and a child) • Ogdoads - Groups of 8, often in multiples of 2 • Enneads:Atum, Tegnut, Shu, Nut, Geb, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Nephthys • The number 9 very powerful - 3 groups of 3 Horus • Horus son of Osiris • Seth murders his brother to become king • But Horus is rightful heir of kingship • This is why the king associates himself with Horus • God of the sky • As celestial deity very powerful • Right eye = sun, left eye = moon • Power resides in breadth of wingspan and strength of his animal characteristic • But also who protects hims • Horus the child • Always children shown naked and sucking on index finger • He is protected by the most powerful Isis His power is also related to that which protects him as a child • • He has many forms • This is a sort of syncretism • All separate yet the same Hathor • Powers related to beauty, who she is married to and who she mothers • Her name is ‘hotor’- the place where Horus lives • Was the mother and wife of Horus Also associated with bovine form • • Cow was the most beautiful creature according to the egyptians • Big sad brown eyes and long lashes of the cow • Cow represents beauty, youth She can represent sexuality • • The god Re is grumpy and sometimes decides to separate himself from the world around him • When he sulks the gods have to bring him back to participate • She is the only one to get him to join back by showing her body - mistress of vagina As such she has an aspect of child rearing • • Awoman cannot give birth till the 7 Hathor’s appear • Multiplicity is totally acceptable in Egyptian religion • Also goddess of drunkenness - this is not really condoned The Sun: Khepri • The beetle god NMC343 -Ancient Egypt I Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Lecture 2 - Theology • In Egyptian hieroglyphs the beetle represents ‘to give birth’or ‘to come forth’ • The sun as it comes forth - its youngest stage Shows cosmological thinking • • Beetles eat poo and lay eggs in poo • Observation would say that they come forth from the poo • The beetle must be pushing the the giant ball of poo through the sky The Sun: Re • Sun at highest most powerful point • Founds kingship • Egypt’s first king • Grumpy most of the time • He is the falcon god with the solar disk and ureaus The Sun:Atum • Old creator god Sun at its weakest - the death of the sun (it’s setting) • • From noon to setting • Shown as a human wearing the double crown of Egypt • Atum created life • The one who gives birth to many • He gives birth to life through masturbation Ptah • Forms life on the potters wheel Although there are two creation stories it is still right in egyptian’s mind • • He is depicted with skull cap • Draped in mummify form - wrapped up (not as a mummy but wrapped rightly with ceremonial robes • The wasp (power and dominance), the ankh (symbol of life - most common symbol in associa- tion of life) and the jet pillar (backbone of Osiris) • Life, power, stability Sakhmet • Wife of Ptah in most literature Very powerful goddess • • Given lion’s head because she is the goddess of destruction • Warfare and pestilence • But there is balance in her form too She holds the ankh - life • • She can also save you from destruction • Probably why we find her so much in temples and culture • Perhaps associated with medicine during plagues • And soldiers would pray to her NMC343 -Ancient Egypt I Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Lecture 2 - Theology Thoth • The wisest Mediator of disputes • • Called in as judge • The god of maths, writing • Multiple of forms Shown as human, half human, or as a baboon • • He is always changing, thoughtful, powerful Anubis • God of death - but really more specifically the god of cemeteries Wild jackals lived near cemeteries • • Egyptian’s associated them with protectors of cemeteries • Guides the soul to the second life and assists in mummification • Often mislabeled god - many jackal head gods in Egypt (over 50,000 gods) Neith • Goddess of hunting and warfare in the north • Red crown of lower Egypt • Weapons are the bow and arrow Goddess of war in the north, where Sakhmet is a southern girl • Popular Religion: Taweret and Bes • Tawaret - giant hippo with pendulous breasts with crocodiles tail and wears female wig on head • She protects pregnant women, and women in child birth - mortality rate is huge; most dan- gerous thing you can do • Average age of death is 21 (for females) • Considered most powerful • Name means “greastest female woman” • Bes looks straight at us - facing us where as in most two dimensional art the god is shown in pro- file • Most powerful way of displaying person • Reserved only for gods, specifically Bes • Dwarf god with lions mane and tale Usually shown carrying knives • • Protects soldiers in battle • And women in childbirth (?) Myth in Egypt: the Myth “Problem” Egyptians did not have one system, but many working acceptable systems • • Hints of myth • Not till late period that we have any full myth written out • Hints of myth in rituals and temple walls but piecing together a coherent myth is impossible NMC343 -Ancient Egypt I Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Lecture 2 - Theology • Most myths from oral tradition - transmitted orally • Probably had very rich varied mythic tradition Most important myths: • • Osiris Myth • Contendings of Horus and Seth • The Deliverance of Mankind from Destruction • Re is grumpy and says that mankind is too loud and asks his daughter Hathor to kill ev- eryone. She turns into Sakhmet and she kills everyone but one village. This village is warned by the gods who pity them. They pour all the beer in front of the village and Hathor thinks its blood. She gets drunk and wanders to the desert • Beer and festivals and religious festivals are all linked • But you should not get drunk Temple inAncient Egypt • One of the most important structures the Egyptians built • Common features in all egyptian temples • Function determines form: • Place of worship • Not everyone allowed full access to gods. We’re talking about ritualized state controlled worship • Houses of the gods Gods live in the temple • • Image of the Cosmos • Symbolism of the universe in which the Egyptians live • Temple recreates the universe in a small scale Temples functioned to preserve the gods they housed and thus to maintain cosmic order • • Egyptians fear nothingness • Temples :. fundamental • Temenos Wall • Keeps that which is impure out, that which is sacred and divine in (profane vs sacred space) • Bubble of the universe • Two very important functions • Processional Way • For the king and for the gods during rituals • Walkway in which one leads to the temple and prepares and protects oneself and purifies you as you pass the statues along the processional way • Usually sphinx’s (divine version of king) • Obelisk Gifts to the gods • • Given at important occasions to honor that god • Usually gifted by the pharaoh for things like jubilees, coronations and royal births • Pylon Entrance Must enter temple through this • • Giant mudbrick towers NMC343 -Ancient Egypt I Thursday Sept 20, 2012 Lecture 2 - Theology • Both symbolic and functionary • Literally repel people from the temple And later in NK may be militarily manned • • They are also grand statements of power • Usually on pylons are figures of the pharaoh’s keeping gods happy and smiting enemies • Can symbolically represent part of the suns journey • Two hills between which the sun enters and sets • Priest stands in for king in all rituals • Naos and Barque (boats) Shrines • Sacred Lake - cannot enter temple without being pure • Egyptian word for priest means the pure one • If you are not part of priest class there are signs on the temple wall saying “only the pure can en- ter” or “employees only” • Nileometers important • Niles flood determines success Mammisi - the birth house • • Where the gods children are born • Gods are continually being born • Either associated with traditional gods or borrowed Personal Piety • How did the individual worship? • That which we know least about or are farthest from • Probably worshipping at small shrines in their households Piety is strong but based on own personal beliefs (often dictated by geography) • • When a new pharaoh comes to the throne form a different area takes gods from their area that are traditional and make them the most important/powerful for their reign • Personal piety is not access
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