Religion in Ancient Egypt: Society and Priesthood

Religion in Ancient Egypt: Society and Priesthood

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In Ancient Egypt, religion invaded everything. Maybe he ended'encroach' contains a negative connotation, but actually the religious element in the ancient civilization of Kemit it occupied the totality of life, history, culture, and thought of Egyptian society.

When we talk about the history of Pharaonic Egypt, in fact, we are talking about a history in which man's relationship with his deities conditions each and every one of the multiple areas of human activity: the economy, politics, social organization, artistic development, daily life ... That is why the Egyptians were largely concerned with satisfying their gods, for whom they erected majestic buildings and made all kinds of artistic representations.

In Ancient Egypt, the division between official and private religion it was very marked. Although private practices are not well known at all, within the official ones, of which a large number of records of all kinds are documented, the cults and festivals that were celebrated in the main temples were included, as well as the solemn practices funeral services that were carried out at the death of the great personalities of the Kingdom, the pharaoh, his family and the high dignitaries.

We therefore see that the official religion in Egypt is closely tied to the social hierarchy. Only a small and select group of people had access to these great rites and temples: the pharaoh, his court and the priests. At the top of the ladder it has been found since the most remote times of Ancient Egypt the pharaoh, who in addition to bringing together political power, was the head of the church (understood here as the religious organization, not in its Christian concept) and had important religious functions.

It was understood that as visible heads of the kingdom and with dynastic powers granted by the gods, the pharaohs were to act as intermediaries between the divine and the earthly world and, with this, take care of the approval of the deities to ensure the welfare of the people.

The pharaoh represented man among the gods and the gods before humanityHence, it was up to him to organize all kinds of cultic ceremonies to win divine favor and avoid misfortunes to his subjects, in short, he was in charge of imposing order on chaos through worship.

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Precisely for all this, the official Egyptian religion had to follow a whole series of terms and norms that regulated religious life in temples and other sacred centers. But not for that reason it was a public religion, because as has already been said only a few privileged people participated in it.

Hence also that on many occasions he will identify with the deities, although in general he never received a personal cult in life, with some exceptions such as monotheism that imposed Akhenaten during the Amarna Revolution, and was treated as a distinctive and intermediate element.

What happened when he died is very different: when he died, the pharaoh had to follow an introspective process of passing from the world of the living to the Hereafter; a process governed by the Book of the Dead that led to the apotheosis of the pharaoh, that is, to his conversion into a god.

During the time of the New Kingdom, the foundations of a permanent and specialized priestly caste. In previous times, the priesthood did not involve an exclusive dedication and its functions were limited to those of officiating funeral rites and little else.

But from the dynasty XVIII, the heyday in the construction of temples, is reborn as a cohesive and hierarchical social group, whose privileges used to be transmitted from father to son, although the pharaoh always had the last word in the appointment of its officiants.

In the temples, the basic needs of worship were met by all kinds of officiants, ritual specialists, readers, scribes, and even artists who immortalized the events. At the head was the priest of Amun, who headed a large staff under his charge.

There were also rules of behavior and guidelines of purity, although they were not as strict as in other societies such as Mesopotamia.

Romantic, in the artistic sense of the word. In my adolescence both family and friends reminded me over and over that I was an inveterate humanist, as I spent time doing what perhaps others not so much, believing myself to be Bécquer, immersed in my own artistic fantasies, in books and movies, constantly wanting to travel and explore the world, admired for my historical past and for the wonderful productions of the human being. That is why I decided to study History and combine it with Art History, because it seemed to me the most appropriate way to carry out the skills and passions that characterize me: reading, writing, traveling, researching, knowing, making known, educating. Disclosure is another of my motivations, because I understand that there is no word that has real value if it is not because it has been transmitted effectively. And with this, I am determined that everything I do in my life has an educational purpose.

Video: Introduction to Priests in Ancient Egypt


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