Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Songs of Ancient Egypt

From Ancient History Encyclopedia:
The best-known harper’s song from the Middle Kingdom is The Lay of the Harper which originally appeared in the tomb-chapel of a king named Intef (though which Intef this was is unknown since a number of kings from the period took that same throne name) and expresses a novel skepticism of the traditional view of the afterlife in ancient Egypt. The Lay of the Harper explores a carpe diem theme, encouraging people to enjoy life while they can because what comes afterwards is unknown, and focuses on present pleasures. 
This theme is refuted in the New Kingdom (c. 1570 - c. 1069 BCE) by the best-known harper’s song of that period, A Harper’s Song from the Tomb of Neferhotep, which dismisses the skepticism as nonsense. This piece questions what good can come from doubting eternal life in The Field of Reeds and directs an audience to rejoice and have hope in the traditional view of the afterlife. The New Kingdom is the last period in which harper’s songs were composed. 
Although the harper’s songs have routinely been interpreted as reflecting the eras they were composed in, this claim has, and should, been challenged. A far more certain interpretation is that they reflect the age-old divide between religious faith and skepticism which expresses itself in the modern day in very much the same way as in ancient Egypt or in any culture from any period. (Read more.)

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