Cover image for Daily life of the Egyptian gods
Title:
Daily life of the Egyptian gods
Author:
Meeks, Dimitri.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Dieux égyptiens. English
Publication Information:
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1996.
Physical Description:
vii, 249 pages, 22 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Subject Term:
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780801431159

9780801482489
Format :
Book

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BL2450.G6 M4413 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
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Summary

Summary

This is the first English translation of a highly appealing volume originally published in French in 1993. Informed by a sense of wonderment at divine doings, it treats the ancient Egyptian gods as if they were an ethnic group that captured the fancy of ethnologists or sociologists. The book begins with the discussion of the gods' community as a society unto itself. The authors describe the structures of the society of the gods and some of the conflicts that frequently upset it, with individual gods acting to protect their own positions in an established hierarchy and struggling to gain power over their fellows. The nature of their immortal but not vulnerable bodies, their pleasures, and their needs are considered. What did they eat, the authors ask, and did they feel pain? The second part of the book cites familiar traditions and littleknown texts to explain the relationship of the gods to the pharaoh, who was believed to represent them on earth. By performing appropriate rites, the pharaoh maintained a delicate equilibrium, balancing the sky home of the sun god, the underworld of Osiris and the dead, and the earth itself. While each world was autonomous and had its own mythological context, the separate spheres were also interdependent, requiring the sun's daily course and the pharaoh's ritual actions to ensure the cohesion of the universe.


Summary

This is the first English translation of a highly appealing volume originally published in French in 1993. Informed by a sense of wonderment at divine doings, it treats the ancient Egyptian gods as if they were an ethnic group that captured the fancy of ethnologists or sociologists.The book begins with a discussion of the gods' community as a society unto itself. The authors describe the structures of the society of the gods and some of the conflicts that frequently upset it, with individual gods acting to protect their own positions in an established hierarchy and struggling to gain power over their fellows. The nature of their immortal but not invulnerable bodies, their pleasures, and their needs are considered. What did they eat, the authors ask, and did they feel pain? The second part of the book cites familiar traditions and little-known texts to explain the relationship of the gods to the pharaoh, who was believed to represent them on earth. By performing appropriate rites, the pharaoh maintained a delicate equilibrium, balancing the sky home of the sun god, the underworld of Osiris and the dead, and the earth itself. While each world was autonomous and had its own mythological context, the separate spheres were also interdependent, requiring the sun's daily course and the pharaoh's ritual actions to ensure the cohesion of the universe.


Reviews 4

Library Journal Review

The Egyptian religion was grounded in a thought system so totally foreign to the Western mind that it presents an almost unbridgeable conceptual gap. The Meekses‘Dimitri (Université de Provence) and Christine (Sorbonne)‘attempt in this translation of their La vie quotidienne des dieux egyptiens (Hachette, 1993) to enable us to enter this strange world by observing the daily life of the gods and appreciating the inner logic of their activities. This is a difficult task because the authors must work from scattered and indirect bits and pieces of evidence with very few patches of satisfying detail. While the work's organization is sound, it also makes an abstract, often dry presentation that is foreign to the Egyptian mind, an inadvertent confirmation of the Meekses' exposition of the conceptual gap. They do not try to conceal the conjectural nature of much of their reconstruction, but perhaps it ought to be emphasized more heavily for the unwary neophyte. Nevertheless, this book does a good job of synthesizing, reconstructing, and explaining a very esoteric subject.‘Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

To write a genuinely original book is difficult, but Meeks and Favard-Meeks have done so. Most books on Egyptian religion fall into one of three categories: descriptions of Egyptian ritual and religious organization; accounts of the Egyptian pantheon; and analyses of Egyptian religious ideas and myths. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods follows none of these familiar paths. Instead, its authors have compiled essentially an "ethnography" of the Egyptian gods. After a brief but illuminating account of the history of Egyptian religious scholarship since Champollion, the authors provide a detailed reconstruction and analysis of the history and life of the gods before they withdrew from earth and left it to humans alone. The result is a fascinating introduction to a view of history in which the history of humanity is essentially little more than an epilogue. This remarkable work has, however, one serious flaw. By mixing sources from all periods of Egyptian history, the authors unfortunately reinforce the idea of Egyptian religious thought as static instead of developing over time. Still, it is an innovative study that belongs in all college and university libraries. All levels. S. M. Burstein; California State University, Los Angeles


Library Journal Review

The Egyptian religion was grounded in a thought system so totally foreign to the Western mind that it presents an almost unbridgeable conceptual gap. The Meekses‘Dimitri (Université de Provence) and Christine (Sorbonne)‘attempt in this translation of their La vie quotidienne des dieux egyptiens (Hachette, 1993) to enable us to enter this strange world by observing the daily life of the gods and appreciating the inner logic of their activities. This is a difficult task because the authors must work from scattered and indirect bits and pieces of evidence with very few patches of satisfying detail. While the work's organization is sound, it also makes an abstract, often dry presentation that is foreign to the Egyptian mind, an inadvertent confirmation of the Meekses' exposition of the conceptual gap. They do not try to conceal the conjectural nature of much of their reconstruction, but perhaps it ought to be emphasized more heavily for the unwary neophyte. Nevertheless, this book does a good job of synthesizing, reconstructing, and explaining a very esoteric subject.‘Eugene O. Bowser, Univ. of Northern Colorado, Greeley (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

To write a genuinely original book is difficult, but Meeks and Favard-Meeks have done so. Most books on Egyptian religion fall into one of three categories: descriptions of Egyptian ritual and religious organization; accounts of the Egyptian pantheon; and analyses of Egyptian religious ideas and myths. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods follows none of these familiar paths. Instead, its authors have compiled essentially an "ethnography" of the Egyptian gods. After a brief but illuminating account of the history of Egyptian religious scholarship since Champollion, the authors provide a detailed reconstruction and analysis of the history and life of the gods before they withdrew from earth and left it to humans alone. The result is a fascinating introduction to a view of history in which the history of humanity is essentially little more than an epilogue. This remarkable work has, however, one serious flaw. By mixing sources from all periods of Egyptian history, the authors unfortunately reinforce the idea of Egyptian religious thought as static instead of developing over time. Still, it is an innovative study that belongs in all college and university libraries. All levels. S. M. Burstein; California State University, Los Angeles