Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East

By Theodor H. Gaster | Go to book overview

2. The Memphite Drama

INTRODUCTION

What is known conventionally as the Memphite Creation Drama is inU+0AD scribed on the so-called "Shabako Stone," now in the British Museum1 -- a basalt slab set up by King Shabaka (reigned 716-701 B.C.), founder of the Twenty-fifth or Ethiopian Dynasty, in the temple of Ptaḥ, south of MemU+0AD phis. The inscription was copied from an older, half-obliterated original,2 dated by Sethe to the First Dynasty (c. 3300 B.C.) but by Rusch3 -- with more probability -- to the Fifth (c. 2500 B.C.). It contains the "presenter's" narrative and the accompanying libretto of a sacred drama dealing with the contest of Horus and Set, the accession of the former to kingship over Upper and Lower Egypt, and the death and resurrection of Osiris. To the main drama is appended a hymn to Ptaḥ, prime god of Memphis.

The text was evidently designed for the annual festival which took place on the last days of the month of Khoiakh and on the first day of spring (Prōyet). This festival, mentioned in the famous Calendar from Dendereh,4 celebrated the periodic eclipse and revival of the topocosm. Special emphaU+0AD sis was placed on the death and resurrection of Osiris, i.e. the topocosmic spirit, and on the coronation of the king (mythologically identified with Horus) as the symbol of the regenerated community. At Edfu, it was actuU+0AD ally known as the "New Year of Horus"; while at Memphis, where it was associated with the god Sokar, it featured also a mimetic combat between two teams.

The program of the festival followed the standard Ritual Pattern. THE FIGHT BETWEEN HORUS AND SET is but the typical Ritual Combat between Old Year and New, Summer and Winter, Life and Death, Rain and Drought, etc., which we find in seasonal festivals everywhere and which is reproduced in Ancient Near Eastern mythology in the battle of Baal and Yam (or Môt) in Canaan, of the storm-god and the dragon Illuyankas among the Hittites, of Marduk and Tiamat among the Babylonians, and of Yahweh and Leviathan (or Rahab) among the Hebrews. THE DEATH AND RESURRECU+0AD TION OF OSIRIS is but the mythological counterpart of the eclipse and reinU+0AD statement of the king at the seasonal festival, and is paralleled in the myths

____________________
1
"It is stated to have been presented to the Museum by Earl Spencer in 1805; we have been unable to trace its previous history." F. W. Read and A. C. Bryant, PSBA 23 ( 1901), 160.
2
Blanks are left where the original was illegible.
3
OLZ 32 ( 1939), 145-56; cf. CIX, 19, n. 1. The same date was assigned by Read and Bryant, op. cit., p. 164.
4
Cf. Loret, V., in Rec. Trav. 3 ( 1882), 43 ff.; 4 ( 1883), 21 ff.; 5 ( 1884), 85 ff.; Brugsch, H., in ZÄS 19 ( 1881), 77 ff.

-405-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Thespis: Ritual, Myth, and Drama in the Ancient Near East
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Author's Preface ix
  • Table of Contents xiii
  • Part One 1
  • Chapter One - The Components of Drama 3
  • Chapter Two - The Seasonal Pattern in Ritual 6
  • Chapter Three - The Seasonal Pattern in the Ancient Near East 34
  • Chapter Four - The Seasonal Pattern in Myth 49
  • Chapter Five - The Seasonal Pattern in Literature 73
  • Part Two 109
  • Canaanite Texts 113
  • Appendix - Unplaced Fragments 223
  • Introduction 225
  • Introduction 257
  • Hittite Texts 315
  • Appendix 336
  • Introduction 337
  • 3. the Myth of Telipinu 353
  • Egyptian Texts 381
  • Introduction 405
  • Act One 407
  • Act Four 409
  • Act Six 410
  • Hebrew Texts 413
  • Greek Texts 429
  • The English Mummers' Play 439
  • Appendix - Philological Notes 445
  • Index of Motifs 461
  • Index of Subjects and Authors 467
  • Bibliography 483
  • Abreviations 497
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 500

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.