The Egyptian History and Its Kingdoms: The Literature and Evolution
The Egyptian History was traced back among the three major kingdoms: The Old, Middle and New Kingdom. These had produced the historical and significant legacies that were brought down to the present generation and is still being studied. It is important to note that the three kingdoms had been divided based on the cultural and historical changes that had been happening then. These changes had been reflected on the literature that was produced by significant personalities of the past.
This paper aims to be able to establish how the literature of each of the three kingdoms had reflected its rich history and culture. This should also explain the extent of what can be seen and perceived of the evolution of the Egyptian history from the produced literature that will be discussed in this paper. Such will be done through the effective means of identifying political and cultural features that identified each kingdom from the other, using literature to note the transformation from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom.
The Old Kingdom can be observed as highly focused on nature and their gods. As what can be read from a text (Primary Source, Page 2)
“I. Adoration to the Nile!
Hail to thee, O Nile!
Who manifests thyself over this land,
And comes to give life to Egypt!
Mysterious is thy issuing forth from the darkness,
On this day whereon it is celebrated!
Watering the orchards created by Ra,
To cause all the cattle to live,
Thou givest the earth to drink, inexhaustible one!
Path that descends from the sky,
Loving the bread of Seb and the first fruits of Nepera,
Thou causest the workshops of Ptah to prosper!”
It can be observed by how the writers extensively used the Nile as an object of adoration and a point where even the gods use it as a life support for all other living creatures. This is a manifestation of the centralized way of living of the Egyptians from the Old Kingdom who also solely follows the Pharaoh as a god and leader. “Because of their belief in the unchanging, cyclical nature of the universe, history and historical events were of little or no interest to them.” (Secondary Source, page 12). Instead, the entire Egypt’s focus is on their leader and will be one of their known gods, the Pharaoh. As mentioned in a text (Primary Source, Page 2),
“Then he torments the flocks of Egypt,
And great and small are in agony.
But all is changed for mankind when he comes’
He is endowed with the qualities of Nun.
If he shines, the earth is joyous,
Every stomach is full of rejoicing,
Every spine is happy,
Every jaw-bone crushes (its food).”
This kind of practice had continued on and made the Pharaoh’s rule flourish with the support of the Old Kingdom’s literature. It turns out that the flourish of literature was equated to respect and greatness (Secondary Source, Page 13) and this drove the need for Egyptians to be learned and educated.
The period was marked with an abundant culture as reflected along the lines of, “You create the grain, you bring forth the barley, assuring perpetuity to the temples.” (Primary Source, Page 2) It is clear that there is a clear demarcation of the society because the literature was assuring of those with designated tasks of who is in-charge of the grains, bread, and even the rise of the said “temples” that is now known as pyramids. The rise of the pyramids had defined the power and greatness of the period.
However, despite the effort to display the glory of the Pharaoh’s rule (Secondary Source, Page 17), the same prompted the start of restlessness and dissatisfaction among men. Famine had started and the angst of the people was echoed as, “A fugitive fled his surroundings — I am famed at home. A laggard lagged from hunger — I give bread to my neighbor. A man left his land in nakedness, I have bright clothes, fine linen.” (Primary Source, Page 07). This was what marked the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. Change and quick transition of power marked this period, as stated in the Primary Source, “I plundered its cattle, carried off its families, seized their food, and killed people by my strong arm, by my bow, by my movements, and my skillful plans.” (Page 7)
The Middle Kingdom is not only marked by chaos but notable is the unity of governors and leaders of smaller provinces as the glory of the Pharaoh’s rule started to diminish. The people had more sympathy towards the minor leaders. It can be noted that deceit and treachery also governed this period as mentioned in their writings, “The ruler conferred with me and I said: “I do not know him; I am not his ally, that I could walk about n his camp. Have I ever opened his back rooms or climbed over his fence? It is envy, because he sees me doing your commissions. And indeed like a stray bull in a strange herd, whom the bull of the herd charges, whom the longhorn attacks. Is an inferior beloved when he becomes superior? No Asiatic makes friends with a Deltaman.” This clearly meant that the government of the Pharaoh had lost control because of the immigration of “Western Asians and Nubians” (Secondary Source, Page 22).
Despite the weakness of the central government, the rich culture of Egypt was preserved among its peoples and was manifested as a clear desire to “go home” (Primary Source, Page 06). This need to go back to the old glory of Egypt can be clearly denoted on the script, “—may they give life and joy to your nostrils, they may endue you with their bounty, may they give you eternity without limit, infinity without bounds! May the fear of you resound in lowlands and highlands, for you have subdued all that the sun encircles!” (Primary Source, Page 06)
The unsung desire to experience the glory of the Old Kingdom brought about the rise of the New Kingdom. The old centralized rule of the Pharaoh had dominated and was ensured by the government that leaned more towards “militarianism” (Secondary Source, Page 23). This meant that there was a system that is being followed within the government as can be denoted with the reference to the “Two Justices” mentioned in “The Book of the Dead” (Primary Source, Page 13). Furthermore, a glimpse on the system of how the civilization at this time works can be seen as very systematic and strategic at that: “Hail to you, ye gods who are in the Broad-Hall of the Two Justices; I know you; I know your names. I shall not fall for dread of you”…”Ye have spoken truth about me in the presence of the All-Lord, because I acred justly in Egypt. I have not been abusive to a god. No deed of mine has come from a king who is in his day.”
It is clear that the literature that had walked the history of Egypt clearly manifested not only the governments that ruled the land but the culture that dominated it as well. The views of the writer/s of the old texts were very vivid as well as their experiences to manifest the events of those times.
What was even more revealing was the refined manner of how the literature was created. It had a smooth flow of thoughts that showed education and status of those who wrote and / or contributed to the texts. It reflected the true glory of the ancient civilization because of the literature was delivered and created. More so, it was also very expressive to the extent that it was used true to the purpose of any form of literature, which is to express the thoughts and ideas of the writer. It was able to magnify the experiences of an individual during the times when Egypt had experienced both bounty and chaos.
There was a remarkable transition over the different periods that each text was able to convey. Although there was the initial challenge of finding out the different facets behind the Old Kingdom if the sole source of information would be their literature, the improved and enhanced texts of the New Kingdom though had provided a better view of how life was during the Old times. This was clearly depicted by the texts that indicated the writer/s’ desire to go “home” to the old glory of Egypt, which was the Old Kingdom.
The lessons learned from each of the period had been clearly conveyed and carried over to generations, making the modern world realize that there had been little or small difference to the changes of how the life cycle goes from before and today, save the modern technology being enjoyed today.