SIR WALLIS BUDGE
Sir Wallis Budge, the late Keeper of the
Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the
British Museum, whose incomparable
EGYPTIAN MAGIC was lately republished,
makes a study in this volume of the complicated
ideas about the after-life with
which that civilization was so obsessed.
This book is a complete reproduction of the
London edition of 1900, to which has now
been added numerous additional illustrations
from the great collection made by Sir
Sir Wallis quotes at length from the celebrated Book of the Dead: it comprises both the Egyptian’s extraordinary monotheism, with its commanding moral stature, and his coarsely primitive superstition, which run intertwined like threads of gold and hemp from the beginning.
The three main elements of the Egyptian religion were a solar monotheism, a fertility cult and a hog-wild cult of anthropomorphic divinity. The noblest manifestation of the one almighty, invisible God is Ra, the sun god. In his shadow thronged bewildering orders and hierarchies of lesser gods, some feeble indeed, but one of them virtually Ra’s equal. This was Osiris, the god of the resurrection who, having suffered death and mutilation, rose again to become king of the underworld and judge of the dead. A god who had suffered as a man, he received the Egyptian’s torrential prayers that the body might not decay after its death.
After death and mummification, man’s soul passed through the dreaded ordeal of judgment, from which—if he had lived virtuously and recited his prayers and confessions correctly—he would pass into the delights of the well-watered green fields of the underworld. “I have snared feathered fowl and I feed upon the finest of them,” he could then rejoice. “I have seen Osiris, my father, and I have gazed upon my mother, and I have made love ... I am led into celestial regions, and I make the things of earth to flourish; and there is joy of heart ... I have recited the prescribed words with my voice, and I have ascribed praises unto the gods.”
THE FUTURE LIFE