A Handbook of Egyptian Religion

By Adolf Erman; A. S. Griffith | Go to book overview

A HANDBOOK OF EGYPTIAN RELIGION

CHAPTER I

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF THE EARLY PERIOD

WHEN the subject of Egyptian religion is mentioned, our thoughts turn instinctively to the beliefs held at the period during which was achieved the building of the temples of Karnak and Luxor, of Medinet Habu, and Abu Simbel, palaces where the gods sat enthroned, and where their magnificent festivals were celebrated. But this period, so well known to us, is separated by a vast interval from the time when the Egyptian religion first acquired its external forms. An examination of these external forms will show how faithfully the representations of the gods were adhered to, and how modest and simple must have been the conditions of the nation that first created them.

The people had already learnt to carve rough figures of gods

either in human or animal form, and these they chose to distinguish by a variety of crowns, but as yet their imagination did not go beyond diadems formed either of handfuls of reeds, the horns of sheep or cows, or of ostrich feathers. For a sceptre, their gods carried a staff such as every Bedouin cuts for himself at the present day, and their goddesses were contented with a simple

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