Ancient Egyptian Culture And Its Influence On Poetry

1117 words - 4 pages

Cultured and socially structured, Ancient Egypt was a civilization highly advanced for its time. The Nile River provided the gift of fresh water allowing the surrounding land to be settled. Its yearly predictable flooding created fertile soil for farming. This was the perfect environment in which Egyptian society would prosper. Egypt was equipped with all the amenities of a modern society including people who married, had children, practiced religion, and even had festivals with food, beer, music and dancing. All that is known about ancient Egypt is a result of the hieroglyphic carvings of the Great Pyramid walls and on tombs of dead. Originally from the Book of The Dead, “The Chapter Of Changing Into Ptah” was and remains a significant poem in the culture and traditions of Ancient Egypt.
Religion in Ancient Egyptian society was often used to explain cosmic phenomena and unexplainable events. Their religion used metaphors based on natural cycles and understandable experiences to explain everyday occurrences. All aspects of Egyptian culture and civilization were manifestations of religious beliefs. Astronomy, medicine, geography and art are just a few of the things explained trough religion. In our now modern society it may seem silly to ask why the sun rises, but Egyptians had asked this very question. In order to make sense of the world around them they had decided that the sun god Ra is responsible for the sunrise. With each unexplainable event was the birth of a god and so the Ancient Egyptian religion was created.
“The Chapter of Changing Into Ptah” contains multiple literary themes that are widely used in modern poetry such as power, religion, change, and culture. The title relates the poem to a “chapter”, letting the reader know that this is a moment in time and that it occurred previously. The poem itself is separated into two stanzas. The first stanza contains a total of nineteen lines and is composed of three common literary themes, change, culture and religion. The chapter is about the speaker changing into Ptah who is the “lord of life, he conceived the elements of the universe with his heart and brought them into being with his tongue”(Rothenberg 524). Activities such as dancing, music and various religious festivals or gatherings were common sources of entertainment. Especially crucial to the culture and society of ancient Egypt was beer, also known as the drink of Egypt. All social classes were allowed to consume beer, man or woman. Bread was also of cultural importance because it was one of the main components of the ancient diet and often was presented in the hieroglyphics next to beer. In lines one and two “I eat bread / I drink ale.(1-2)”, the reader becomes aware of the significance of beer and bread within this culture. At the end of the first stanza the reader knows that a man is speaking of his attendance at the festival of a Great God. The theme of power begins to prevail; “All that is abominable, all that is...

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