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The Egyptian Book of the Dead

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Author Topic: The Egyptian Book of the Dead  (Read 8696 times)
Josie Linde
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Posts: 4493

« on: December 21, 2008, 10:00:36 pm »

Influence of the priests of Annu on its compilation.

pyramid texts are versions of ancient religious compositions which the priests of the college or school of Annu[1] succeeded in establishing as the authorized version of the Book of the Dead in the first six dynasties. Ra, the local form of the Sun-god, usurps the place occupied by the more ancient form Tmu; and it would seem that when a dogma had been promulgated by the college of Annu, it was accepted by the priesthood of all the great cities throughout Egypt. The great influence of the Annu school of priests even in the time of Unas is proved by the following passage from the text in his pyramid: "O God, thy Annu is Unas; O God, thy Annu is Unas. O Ra, Annu is Unas, thy Annu is Unas, O Ra. The mother of Unas is Annu, the father of Unas is Annu; Unas himself is Annu, and was born in Annu."[2] Elsewhere we are told that Unas "cometh to the great bull which cometh forth from Annu,[3] and that he uttereth words of magical import in Annu."[4] In Annu the god Tmu produced the gods Shu and Tefnut,[5] and in Annu dwelt the great and oldest company of the gods, Tmu, Shu, Tefnut, Seb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys.[6] The abode of the blessed in heaven was called[7] Annu, and it was asserted that the souls of

[1 Annu, the metropolis of the thirteenth nome of Lower Egypt; see Brugsch, Dict. Géog., p. 41; de Rougé, Géographie Ancienne de la Basse-Égypte, p. 81; and Amélineau, La Géographie de Égypte a l'Époque Copte, p. 287. Annu is ###, Genesis xli., 45; ###, Genesis xli., 50; ### Ezekiel xxx., 17; and Beth Shemesh, ### 4:11 Jeremiah xliii., 13; and the Heliopolis of the Greek writers (H?liou'polis, Strabo, XVII., 1., §§ 27, 28; Herodotus, II., 3; Diodorus, I., 57, 4).

2. ###. Maspero, Unas, II. 591, 592; and compare Pepi I., II. 690, 691.

3. See line 596.

4. ###.

5. ###. Maspero, Pepi I., 1. 465, 466.

6. The Pyramid of Pepi II., 1. 665.

7. In reading Egyptian religious texts, the existence of the heavenly Annu, which was to the Egyptians what Jerusalem was to the Jews, and what Mecca still is to the Mubammadans, must be remembered. The heavenly Annu was the capital of the mythological world (see Naville, Todtenbuch (Einleitung), p. 27), and was, to the spirits of men, what the earthly Annu was to their bodies, i.e., the abode of the gods and the centre and source of all divine instruction. Like many other mythological cities, such as Abtu, Tattu, Pe, Tep, Khemennu, etc., the heavenly Annu had no geographical position.]

{p. xxviii}

the just were there united to their spiritual or glorified bodies, and that they lived there face to face with the deity for all eternity.[1] judging from the fact that the texts in the tombs of Heru-hetep and Neferu, and those inscribed upon the sarcophagus of Taka, all of the XIth and XIIth dynasties, differ in extent only and not in character or contents from those of the royal pyramids of Sakkâra of the Vth and VIth dynasties, it has been declared that the religion as well as the art of the first Theban empire are nothing but a slavish copy of those of northern Egypt.[2]

The Theban version.

The Theban version, which was much used in Upper Egypt from the XVIIIth to the XXth dynasty, was commonly written on papyri in the hieroglyphic character. The text is written in black ink in perpendicular rows of hieroglyphics, which are separated from each other by black lines; the titles of the chapters or sections, and certain parts of the chapters and the rubrics belonging thereto, are written in red ink. A steady development in the illumination of the vignettes is observable in the papyri of this period. At the beginning of the XVIIIth dynasty the vignettes are in black outline, but we see from the papyrus of Hunefer (Brit. Mus. No. 9901), who was an overseer of cattle of Seti I., king of Egypt about B.C. 1370, that the vignettes are painted in reds, greens, yellows, white, and other colours, and that the whole of the text and

[1. The importance of Annu and its gods in the VIth dynasty is well indicated by a prayer from the pyramid of Pepi II. (for the texts see Maspero, Recueil, t. x., p. 8, and t. xii., p. 146), which reads:

"Hail, ye great nine gods who dwell in Annu, grant ye that Pepi may flourish, and grant ye that this pyramid of Pepi, this building built for eternity, may flourish, even as the name of the god Tmu, the chief of the great company of the nine gods, doth flourish. If the name of Shu, the lord of the celestial shrine in Annu flourisheth, then Pepi shall flourish, and this his pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Tefnut, the lady of the terrestrial shrine in Annu endureth, the name of Pepi shall endure, and this pyramid shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Seb . . . . . flourisheth the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Nut flourisheth in the temple of Shenth in Annu, the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Osiris flourisheth in This, the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Osiris Khent-Amenta flourisheth, the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity. If the name of Set flourisheth in Nubt, the name of Pepi shall flourish, and this pyramid shall flourish, and this his work shall endure to all eternity."

2. Maspero, la Religion Égyptienne d'après les Pyramides de la VIe et de la VIIe dynastie, (In Revue des Religions, t. xii., pp. 138, 139.)]

{p. xxix}

Palæography of the version.

vignettes are enclosed in a red and yellow border. Originally the text was the most important part of the work, and both it and its vignettes were the work of the scribe; gradually, however, the brilliantly illuminated vignettes were more and more cared for, and when the skill of the scribe failed, the artist was called in. In many fine papyri of the Theban period it is altar that the whole plan of the vignettes of a papyrus was set out by artists, who often failed to leave sufficient space for the texts to which they belonged; in consequence many lines of chapters are often omitted, and the last few lines of some texts are so much crowded as to be almost illegible. The frequent clerical errors also show that while an artist of the greatest skill might be employed on the vignettes, the execution of the text was left to an ignorant or careless scribe. Again, the artist at times arranged his vignettes in wrong order, and it is occasionally evident that neither artist nor scribe understood the matter upon which he was engaged. According to M. Maspero[1] the scribes of the VIth dynasty did not understand the texts which they were drafting, and in the XIXth dynasty the scribe of a papyrus now preserved at Berlin knew or cared so little about the text which he was copying that he transcribed the LXXVIIth Chapter from the wrong end, and apparently never discovered his error although he concluded the chapter with its title.[2] Originally each copy of the Book of the Dead was written to order, but soon the custom obtained of preparing copies with blank spaces in which the name of the purchaser might be inserted; and many of the errors in spelling and most of the omissions of words are no doubt due to the haste with which such "stock" copies were written by the members of the priestly caste, whose profession it was to copy them.

Theban papyri.

The papyri upon which copies of the Theban version were written vary in length from about 20 to go feet, and in width from 14 to 18 inches; in the XVIIIth dynasty the layers of the papyrus are of a thicker texture and of a darker colour than in the succeeding dynasties. The art of making great lengths of papyrus of light colour and fine texture attained its highest perfection in the XIXth dynasty. An examination of Theban papyri shows that the work of writing and illuminating a fine copy of the Book of the Dead was frequently distributed between two or more groups of artists and scribes, and that the sections were afterwards joined up into a whole. Occasionally by error two groups of men would transcribe the same chapter; hence in the papyrus of Ani, Chapter XVIII. occurs twice (see within, p. cxlviii.).

[1. Recueil de Travaux, t. iv., p. 62.

2. Naville, Todtenbuch (Einleitung), pp. 41-43.]

{p. xxx}

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