The Cannibal Hymn: A Cultural and Literary Study

Synopsis

The Cannibal Hymn forms a self-standing episode in the ritual anthology that makes up the Pyramid Texts, first appearing in the tomb of Unas at the end of the Fifth Dynasty. Its style and format are characteristic of the oral-recitational poetry of pharaonic Egypt, marked by allusive metaphor and the exploitation of wordplay and homophony in its verbal recreation of a butchery ritual. Christopher Eyre examines the text of the Cannibal Hymn in its performative and cultural context: the detailed mythologization of the sacrificial process in this hymn poses key questions about the nature of rites of passage and rituals of sacrifice in Egypt, and in particular about the mobilization of oral accompaniment to ritual actions.

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