The Ideology of Life
The pattern of centralization requires an explanation for the conduct of the periphery. Why do the outer countries surrender their goods without mention of any return? No mystery surrounds the determination of the central state to obtain more wealth and establish its power but why does the periphery submit to it?
Egyptian ideology does not ignore this problem. Obviously the reasons proclaimed in the celebrative texts do not make the relationship between centre and periphery more balanced; on the contrary, they provide additional prestige to the former. The reasons are rather stereotyped, and concern the pivotal concept of ‘life'; yet they are applied to different political and military situations in different ways. When the transfer of goods takes place following a battlefield victory or expedition bent on plunder, the outer country receives no return, not even at the ideological level. In fact, since it has refused to enter into any relationship with Egypt and offered nothing but war, its people – a purely passive element – are either killed or despoiled. The stelae of Amenophis II, for instance, insert after every victory of the Pharaoh a ‘list of the booty’ taken, and the same pattern is followed in the Annals of Tuthmosis III. 1
In other cases the enemy, on the point of being defeated, decides to surrender and give up his goods in order to avoid being killed:
Do not overwhelm us! Lo, your might is great, your strength is heavy upon the land of Hatti. Is it good that you slay your servants, your face savage toward them and without pity? Be not hard in your dealing, victorious king! Peace is better than fighting. Give us breath! 2
Pharaoh should reasonably accept the offered submission, since a live servant is more useful than a dead one; not only will he deliver his goods